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Air quality data lacking, but EPA says no danger

By KRISTY FOSTER

6/16/2003



LISBON — The Ohio Environmental Protection Agency announced Friday that a portion of air quality data collected in East Liverpool was lost because of human error.
The testing, required by the Air Quality Act, is a source of information about Von Roll WTI.
Pat Madigan, spokeswoman for the EPA, said the data collected showed there were no violations of air quality standards.
She explained there are three monitors in East Liverpool — at the port authority building, school administration building and city water plant.
According to Madigan, the monitors measure and record the amount of sulfur dioxide in the air, suspended particulates (which is considered to be soot) and small particulate matter. Particulate matter is material in the air smaller than a strand of human hair.
The monitors also measure ambient air, which is the air we breathe, and the number of metal particulates.
According to Madigan, this is important information because the metal particulates, which are the smallest materials found in the air, can be the most harmful because a large amount can be ingested into the body causing damage before it can be noticed.
For East Liverpool and other county residents, the lost data brings worries. WTI, a hazardous waste incinerator in the city, causes some residents to worry about pollutants being released into the air. It’s been in operation since the early 1990s.
Madigan said that all of the data for the sulfuric acid was recorded in 2002 but only part of the particulate matter was recorded and there is no information recorded for metals.
She blamed the lost data on human error.
The seven monitors run constantly for six days and automatically shut down. A technician is then supposed to change the filters and turn the machines back on to begin recording the results.
However, Madigan said the technician was not diligent — maintaining some of the monitors some of the time, but not all of them all of the time.
A personnel investigation was launched by the EPA and the technician resigned from her position Friday.
Madigan said the employee was reassigned in November when it was discovered through quality checks that there was no data available. So data is available from the month of November through now.
“The data that is being gathered currently matches with the past information in 2001, so no problems are suspected,” Madigan said.
She said that the current information compared to the past shows no reason for the public to be concerned with the safety of the air.
“We have no reason to believe there were any violations of the air quality standard,” Madigan said.
kfoster@mojonews.com

 

Morning Journal News
2003