WORST ENVIRONMENATL HEALTH RISKS NAMED Indoor air pollution, radon and pesticide residues

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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 the report. ---ADVANCE for Medical Technologists (7/16/90)

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