WORST ENVIRONMENATL HEALTH RISKS NAMED Indoor air pollution, radon and pesticide residues
WORST ENVIRONMENATL HEALTH RISKS NAMED
Indoor air pollution, radon and pesticide residues on food
present the greatest environmenatl health risks in five
Mid-Atlantic states, according to a study released recently by the
federal Environmental Protection Agency.
The risk study estimated that these three forms of pollution
accouinted for as many as 4,700 additional cases of cancer a year in
the region comprising Pennsylvania, Maryland, Delawarde, Virginia
and West Virginia.
It was estimated in the regional risk assessment report that air
pollution and acid rAin were causing more than $1.1 billion in
damage a year to building, agriculture crops and forest in the
five-state region. All these estimates were part of a wide-ranging
study of environmental risks facing the five-state region
administered by the EPA's Philadelphia office.
The study examined three basic area: health , welfare, and
ecology. It was begun in an effort to identify the relative risk of
the areas environmental problems and allow the EPA to focus its
attention on reducing those risks, said EPA Reginal Administrator
Edwin B. Erickson.
Among 18 possible areas of health risks examined, the most
serious, according to the study, were:
*Indoor air pollution, caused by formaldehyde, chlordane,
asbestos, and tobacco smoke. The EPA estimate that indoor air
pollution many result in 1,700 additional cases of cancer a year and
as many as 4,800 other health problems, such as respiratory ailments
and heart disease.
*Radon, a nautrally occurring gas created by the decomposition
of uranium deposits in the ground.Radon can seep into basements and
collect in homes. The EPA estimates that radon may be causing 1,700
additonal cases of cancer annually.
*Pesticide residues on food. These traces of chemicals on
produce and other foodstuff may account for a many as 1,300 additional
cancer cases a year.
Toxic air pollution, Superfund toxic waste sites and
contaminated ground were ranked much lower on the risk scale. In
part, this is attributed to the fact that not as many prople are
exposed to those risks, which are highly localized, said Jeffrey
Burke, of the EPA.
Burke added that risks have been reduced to some extent
through federal regulations and environmental programs.
The top welfare risks,which measured social and economic
impacts, were air pollution and acid rain, followed by storm runoff
pollution, which affects water quality. Air pollution was estimated
to result in $1 billion worth of damage each year, primarily to
buildings and crops. Acid rain is the cause of $105 million in
forest damage each year, according to EPA estimates.
Development of land and filling in of wetlands are the greates
risks to the regions ecology according to the EPA study. These
activites, the report stated,"cause exteremly widesperead,
devastating and typically irreversible impacts."
Falling next among the risks to eco-systems was pollution
from storm runoff, also known as non-point pollution. The study said
that water quality studies done by the states "showed non-point
souorces as far as the leading cause of degradation in streams,
lakes and estuaries."
In gerneral , the EPA study found that broad, generalized risks
such as radon, air pollution, storm runoff and acid reain were much
greater threats than those that often draw public attention, such as
toxic waste sites, industrial wastes and solid waste, according to
---ADVANCE for Medical Technologists (7/16/90)
E-Mail Fredric L. Rice / The Skeptic Tank