In-Depth Look at Air Testing Results in Attica
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The Environmental Protection Agency's test results, released last week, showed four chemical compounds at higher-than-acceptable levels in the Village air (according to EPA and Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease standards): benzene, ethylbenzene, styrene and toluene.
The worst chemical offender was benzene. At testing site number one in the village -- on top of the actual pile of burning recyclables at Hillcrest Industries -- studies showed benzene particles in the air at almost twenty-four times the standard short-term exposure level.
According to the results and the doctors YNN spoke with, its likely that if Hillcrest workers were breathing in benzene around the pile at those levels for even just two weeks, they'll likely suffer adverse health effects.
"It's going to be absorbed into your body," says Doctor Michael Merrill. Merrill is the Vice-President of Medical Affairs at United Memorial Medical Center in Batavia. "(The benzene will) go everywhere in your body, and affect the DNA - causing mutations which along with other factors in your body, will lead up, eventually, to cancer."
At one residential testing site within the Village, just yards from the Hillcrest plant, benzene was again found at unsafe levels. However, this statistic was different: the benzene was found at three times the standard long-term exposure level. That long-term result means if residents in the village were breathing these levels of benzene for an entire year, only then would they be likely to suffer direct health effects from it.
"The one spot across the street on that (testing) day had levels that were high enough to concern OSHA, if it was a workplace," says Dr. Merrill. "These are real risks; they're small, but they're real risks.
"The only safe level of Benzene to be breathing in, is zero."
The other three chemicals on the EPA list - ethylbenzene, styrene and toluene - were all found offensive at the long-term exposure level as well. Those levels were only found directly on Hillcrest property.
The other pollutant, which the DEC and EPA have confirmed, is particulate matter: small particles of glass and soot floating through the air in Attica. Dr. Merrill tells YNN that the particles, too, are unsafe in the long-term.
Much of the actual health threat for residents relies upon just how long the pile of recyclables has been burning. YNN questioned the EPA supervisor on-site in Attica Wednesday, if there is any way of knowing just how long the pile has been burning. The supervisor says there is no way to be sure.
To read the EPA air testing results for yourself, click here.