Bottom line on health risk assessment
by Cat Urbigkit, Pinedale Online!
February 25, 2011
Bottom line on the health risk assessment report
The health risk assessment report prepared for the Sublette County Commission was based on a 14-monitoring station project where 51 toxic air contaminants (TACs) were measured, as well as ozone, during a 14-month period.
Data analysis screening looked at three items:
• The potential for acute health impacts;
• Excess cancer risks; and
• chronic non-cancer health impacts.
The assessment concluded this:
• This screening analysis indicates that there is no potential for significant acute health impacts from the TACs measured by this study.
• The potential excess cancer risk is significantly lower than the risks found in most urban areas, and even in rural areas.
• The chronic health hazard indices are well below the value typically used as a significance threshold for individual industrial facilities, and so are extremely low in the context of a large industrial development such as the gas fields in Sublette County.
"In summary, the estimated health impacts of the 51 TACs monitored in the study are not high enough to suggest a need for a more refined health risk assessment of the TACs in the ambient air in and near Sublette County."
It is important to note that the 158-report does not address the following:
• Detailed analysis of ozone data collected during the monitoring program; and
• Health effects of each TAC during the different stages of life and at different ages, including any potential genetic effects on a developing fetus.
Sublette County Commissioner John Linn responded a request for comment on the repor with the following statement:
"I am happy the results of the study are in. This was a necessary project and ended up costing a lot of money (around $900,000.00). There are other counties around the West that have done this sort of study in similar response to concerns from citizens and it isn't that novel that Sublette County sponsored and paid for the study to be done, but this study is a major deviation from standard Wyoming county responsibilities.
"I have no problem having spent the money but wonder how we are going to manage this kind of expense and sort of setting precedent for other counties to duplicate or augment the Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality research and/or monitoring network.
"This study does not make us experts in any sense of the word in air quality and is only a snapshot in time.
"I wish we would have had a lot better pre-development air quality data to compare to the results of this study. This study will at least add one chapter to help future concerns.
"One of the first motions I made as a County Commissioner in 2004 was to put money aside to put up a monitoring station on the west side of the valley to better understand the air quality situation from upwind sources.
"I hope the HRA study gives the citizens of Sublette County assurance that the Commission is responsive to their concerns and that we are keeping a close eye on all of the many aspects and challenges to our ever changing life in Sublette County."
The Sublette County Commission will host a public meeting to review the health risk assessment’s findings and address questions on March 31 at 6 p.m. in the meeting room of the Sublette County Library in Pinedale.