This is a re-post of a press release relevant to the Open Hour on Dust
New Report: Seward Residents Prove Their Air is Polluted and Unhealthy from Coal Dust and Known Cancer Causing Substance
Groups Call on Coal Facility to Follow Their Experts Own Recommendations on Dust Control
Anchorage: A coalition of Seward residents and environmental health organizations are releasing a report detailing a year’s worth of air quality data. Seward residents trained by Alaska Community Action on Toxics (ACAT), Global Community Monitor, and Resurrection Bay Conservation Alliance, collected air samples from multiple sites up to a mile away from the Seward Coal Loading Facility. Samples were analyzed by three independent laboratories. The analyzed samples contain unhealthy levels of pollution. The two culprits polluting the air: coal dust and carcinogenic crystalline silica–from the transportation and storage of coal. A forensic laboratory fingerprinted the dust collected by the community monitoring devices and compared it to samples of coal from near the Seward Coal Loading facility and confirmed the fingerprints matched.
The study found levels of coal dust containing crystalline silica. Crystalline silica is known to cause cancer and is present in the air around Seward which causes concern for public health, especially in children, seniors, and people who experience chronic health problems. Additionally, breathing crystalline silica dust can cause silicosis, which in severe cases can be disabling, or even fatal. The breathable silica dust enters the lungs and causes the formation of scar tissue, thus reducing the lungs’ ability to take in oxygen. Exposure to air pollution can increase asthma attacks in children which worries some parents in Seward. In addition to asthma, air pollution is linked to health issues such as pulmonary disease, cancer, heart disease, stroke, and dementia.
Dr. Paul Forman commented, “For 8 years, I practiced family medicine in Seward. Residents, including patients of mine, expressed concerns about the health effects of breathing coal dust. This research project found the air in Seward is polluted with coal dust. There are negative health effects associated with breathing any amount of coal dust, so it is important for the Seward Coal Loading Facility to do more to clean up the air.”
It is possible to keep the air in Seward cleaner. Three consultants, hired by the Alaska Railroad, recommended measures that would greatly improve the air quality and mitigate the dust problem; however, these recommendations have been ignored by the Alaska Railroad and Seward Coal Loading Facility.
The study, titled Coal Dust in Alaska: Hazards to Public Health, will be made public during a press conference on July 16, 2014.
Alaska Community Action on Toxics (ACAT) is a statewide environmental health and justice organization established in 1997. ACAT’s mission is to assure justice by advocating for environmental and community health. Everyone has the right to clean air, clean water, and toxic-free food. www.akaction.org.
Global Community Monitor, founded in 2001, trains and supports communities in the use of environmental monitoring tools to understand the impact of pollution on their health and the environment.
1 Lockwood, AH. 2012. The Silent Epidemic: Coal and the Hidden Threat to Health. MIT Press.
2 American Lung Association. 2011. State of the Air 2011. Available: http://www.stateoftheair.org/2011/assets/SOTA2011.pdf
3 Pope, CA III, et al. Lung cancer and cardiovascular disease mortality associated with ambient air pollution and cigarette smoke: shape of the exposure-response relationships. Environmental Health Perspectives. 19(11): 1616-1621
6 Seward Coal Loading Facility. http://alaskarailroad.com/Portals/6/pdf/projects/2010%20Seward%20Coal%20Loading%20Facility_Facts.pdf
7 HMH Consulting. Air Quality Observations and Recommendations for the Seward Coal Loading Facility. March 2007. Available: http://www.alaskarailroad.com/Portals/6/pdf/projects/2007_March_SCLF_HMH%20Recommendations.pdf
8 AMEC, INC. Ventilation Evaluation and Recommendations, Alaska Railroad Seward Coal Loading Facility. July 2007. Available: http://www.alaskarailroad.com/Portals/6/pdf/projects/2007_Jul_SCLF_AMEC%20Recommendations.pdf
9 The Raring Corporation. Memo re: Dust Control Issues and Recommendations Seward Port Site. May 22, 2007. Available: http://www.alaskarailroad.com/Portals/6/pdf/projects/2007_May_SCLF_Raring%20Recommendations.pdf
11Seward PM10 Air Monitoring Program January 2011 to May 2012 Final Report. http://www.dec.state.ak.us/air/am/projects&Reports/Seward%20PM10%20Air%20Monitoring%20Program%20Jan%202011-%20May%202012% 20Final%20Report.pdf
13 Lockwood, AH. 2012. The Silent Epidemic: Coal and the Hidden Threat to Health. MIT Press.
14 Holzman, David C. 2011 Mountaintop Removal Mining, Digging into community health concerns. Environmental Health Perspectives. 19(11): A476-A483
15 International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC). Coal Dust. IARC Monographs Volume 68. pgs 337-406. http://monographs.iarc.fr/ENG/Monographs/vol68/mono68-12.pdf
16 National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH). 2011. Coal Mine Dust Exposures and Associated Health Outcomes. Current Intelligence Bulletin 64
17 Global Community Monitor. http://gcmonitor.org/index.php
19 Sharif, Sami. “Chemical and mineral composition of dust and its effect on the dielectric constant.” Geoscience and Remote Sensing, IEEE Transactions on 33.2 (1995): 353-359
20 Hopke, P.K., & Kim. E. (2005) “Analysis of Speciation Trends Network Data Measured at the State of Delaware.” http://regulations.delaware.gov/register/november2008/general/Appendix9-11.pdf
21 International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC). Coal Dust. IARC Monographs Volume 68. pgs 337-406. http://monographs.iarc.fr/ENG/Monographs/vol68/mono68-12.pdf
23 Brook, RD, et al. 2010. Particulate matter air pollution and cardiovascular disease: an update to the scientific statement from the American Heart Association. Circulation. 2010;121:2331-2378
24 American Lung Association. 2011. State of the Air 2011. Available: http://www.stateoftheair.org/2011/assets/SOTA2011.pdf
25 World Health Organization Guidelines for particulate matter, ozone, and nitrogen dioxide and sulfur dioxide Global Update 2005. Summary of risk assessment. http://whqlibdoc.who.int/hq/2006/WHO_SDE_PHE_OEH_06.02_eng.pdf
26 Bell, et al. (2009) “Hospital Admissions and Chemical Composition of Fine Particle Air Pollution,” Am J Respir Crit Care Med, 179:1115–1120.
27 Even in urban areas, levels of EC in air samples almost never exceed 1 μg/m3 unless the sample is within a few hundred feet of road traffic. See: “Traffic emissions of elemental carbon (EC) and organic carbon (OC) and their contribution to PM2.5 and PM10 urban background concentrations (figures 2-12 and 2-13 on page 25).” http://www.mnp.nl/bibliotheek/rapporten/500099011.pdf
28 Ostro, et al. (2008) “The impact of components of fine particulate matter on cardiovascular mortality in susceptible subpopulations,” Occup. Environ. Med., 65;750-756.
29 Bell, et al. (2009) “Hospital Admissions and Chemical Composition of Fine Particle Air Pollution,” Am J Respir Crit Care Med, 179:1115–1120.
30 California OEHHA (December 2008) “Individual Acute, 8-Hour, and Chronic Reference Exposure Level Summaries”, at page 486. http://oehha.ca.gov/air/hot_spots/2008/AppendixD3_final.pdf#page=486
31 Collins, J. F., Salmon, A. G., Brown, J. P., Marty, M. A., & Alexeeff, G. V. (2005). Development of a chronic inhalation reference level for respirable crystalline silica. Regulatory Toxicology and Pharmacology, 43(3), 292-300.