By Brad Bauer, firstname.lastname@example.org
n Manganese was the only metal identified which warrants additional evaluation.
Available data suggest manganese exposures are higher for residents who
live closer to the Eramet and Eveready facilities; however, to date
there are only two monitoring locations in the area. The existing data
are insufficient to adequately characterize the extent of exposure.
Health outcomes due to manganese inhalation exposure at low levels have
not been well documented. However, research suggests that subtle
neurological effects may occur with chronic, low-level exposures.
n Very few studies exist that evaluate manganese exposure in sensitive populations and outside of occupational settings.
Additional ambient air sampling locations should be installed to
measure exposure levels in communities impacted by manganese emissions.
(This already has occurred.)
n If supported by the results of the
sampling conducted in the community, a health study should be conducted
to measure impacts of manganese exposure on the health of area
Source: Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry
manganese levels within a five-mile radius of the Eramet Marietta
industrial complex register two to 60 times higher than the U.S. EPA
health standard, according to an Agency for Toxic Substances and
Disease Registry document published last month.
The report calls
for additional air sampling locations in the immediate area to measure
exposure levels in those communities impacted by manganese emissions,
which is already under way. It also suggests a study to measure the
impact of manganese exposure on the health of area residents, if
supported by the second round of monitoring.
Very few studies
exist that evaluate manganese exposure in sensitive populations,
including children, and outside of occupational settings, according to
Last year, a pilot study from the University of
Cincinnati sought 25 residents living near Eramet for tests to
determine how much manganese and other materials were in their blood.
emission levels reported last month are an average that was taken over
an extended period of time, said Melissa English, program director at
Ohio Citizen Action.
“What does it mean? We don’t know yet,”
English said. “But we are learning more and more about health effects
associated with manganese exposure. Some studies show symptoms in
adults that are similar to Parkinson’s disease.”
Parkinson’s is a degenerative disorder of the central nervous system that impairs motor skills and speech.
Additionally, English said, manganese exposure can cause developmental problems in children.
to the report, the most impacted neighborhoods are just north of the
Eramet facility, located south of Marietta on Ohio 7. Other areas of
concern include residents living in Marietta and Devola and
Williamstown, Boaz and Vienna, W.Va. Those areas were exposed to
manganese levels in excess of EPA standards.
could not be reached for comment Monday or Tuesday. In the past,
officials with the company have said they have taken steps to reduce
Dick Wittberg, a biologist and executive director of
the Mid-Ohio Valley Health Department in Parkersburg, has studied the
effects of manganese exposure for several years. He said they can be
very subtle and hard to identify.
“There aren’t people dropping
over dead from this,” Wittberg said. “Manganese exposure can rob
potential. What if a few points are being shaved off the IQ of our
children? All the sudden all of our brilliant children are just smart,
and all of our smart kids are just average.... It’s not something you
would necessarily notice unless you were looking.”
Wittberg is scheduled to address the U.S. EPA in two weeks to express his concerns about manganese exposure.
not out to close Eramet. I hate to see plants close. But if they are
hurting people, I do believe we need to do something to control
emissions and the technology exists to do that,” Wittberg said. “My
main goal is just to get someone to come in and tell us if we are being
exposed to too much of this. I’m not sure there is a problem, but I am
very, very concerned.”
A door-to-door campaign against Eramet
Marietta is set to launch this week in area neighborhoods, officials
with Ohio Citizen Action said Monday. The group is leading a campaign
to encourage residents to send letters asking the specialty metal
producer to decrease emissions from the plant.
“We’re going to
be going door-to-door hoping to educate the public and encouraging them
to generate letters,” English said. “So far we’ve written over 33,000
letters to Eramet on this issue from all over the state. But letters
from their own back yard are especially important.”
Marietta resident Joan Dearth said she has been concerned with local air quality for some time.
heard people say these plants are cleaning up and doing all of these
things, but if so, why are we still getting all of these bad reports?”
Dearth asked. “I fear we live in one of the most unhealthy areas
Local air monitoring began in 2001, at the request of
U.S. Sen. Mike DeWine, R-Ohio. He charged the Agency for Toxic
Substances and Disease Registry to begin an investigation of local air
quality, focusing on emissions from industries located in the area of
Over the past several years the agency, in cooperation
with other federal, state and local environmental health agencies, has
been monitoring and analyzing air samples to determine if a health
study could be warranted for this area.
Data obtained from air
monitors installed by Ohio Environmental Protection Agency on Blue Knob
Road and at the Washington County Career Center revealed several
compounds in the air, but manganese levels were consistently high.
February, three new monitoring stations were added in Harmar Village
and Boaz and Vienna. The latest air sampling study is set to end in