Saturday, October 11, 2014

No. 27 – January 3, 2013 - Size Does Matter in Ashtabula

by Melinda Pillsbury-Foster

We have an exciting development to share regarding monitoring for Manganese poisoning this week. The lack of monitoring, and any related expense, for what all of us had believed was a costly installation for monitoring in Ashtabula, may not be the problem we believed it to be.

For anyone who has not been following the articles appearing in the Star Beacon and my column, the issue was the alarming level of symptoms for Parkinson's Disease and other neurological disorders in and around Ashtabula. The only monitor for emissions is today located in Conneaut, miles from Millennium Inorganic Chemicals, located on Middle Road, just outside the city of Ashtabula.

A potential solution appeared in an article published by Environmental Science & Technology, titled, “Use of X-ray Absorption Spectroscopy To Speciate Manganese in Airborne Particulate Matter from Five Counties Across the United States,” which cites monitoring devices which work reliably and provide the monitoring needed. The unit is about the size of a mail box. Samples removed can be tested, providing strong evidence on whether or not dangerous levels of Manganese are being released.

But more information is needed, for instance.

Particulate matter is captured, as dust, on a filter, then the dust is analyzed at a lab. But how large are the particles? It matters. The smaller, the deeper they are inhaled into the body and it is the smaller particles, especially nano-sized, which cause the most damage. Larger particles are not absorbed, these go down and do not come back up.

TiO2 is what Millennium is producing, according to their literature. Fine and ultra-fine particles, according to National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health are responsible for a statistically significant increase in adenocarcinomas.

The collection device, and servicing, might cost less than the $50,000 a year the company now generally pays yearly in fines to the EPA.

Additionally, a unit to test blood for levels of Manganese is now available for $800. Anyone who is concerned could be tested. Certainly, Millennium will want to buy one of these and supply it to a local lab. This is good news for the new year.

These developments would certainly relieve the anxiety of residents and also serve the company, allowing them to stand on the evidence they are not polluting. Positive proof is something they definitely need, in case a law suit.

We eagerly await more information on particle size.

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