On May 22, 2000, United States Senator Mike DeWine (Ohio) petitioned the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) to determine whether air pollution was affecting the health of Marietta, Washington County, Ohio residents.
At ATSDR-sponsored community meetings in 2002, concerns focused on the facilities at the former Union Carbide complex. The facilities currently include Eramet Marietta, Eveready Battery, Solvay, and Chevron Oil. The residents were concerned about each facility, but believed Eramet Marietta was releasing the most air pollution.
To find out whether residents were exposed to elevated levels of chemicals in the air, ATSDR began by looking at existing outdoor air data. One monitor was collecting data at the Washington County Career Center (WCCC), about 4 miles from the complex. After finding that single monitoring station did not provide much data, ATSDR asked the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency (Ohio EPA) to collect additional data.
In 2003, ATSDR worked with Ohio EPA to decide where to locate an additional air monitor. Using air monitors to identify those chemicals present in the air and at what levels they are present is known as an air investigation.
The information ATSDR obtained from the air investigation revealed higher than normal airborne amounts of some metals. In 2004, ATSDR decided to put another monitor in the community to determine whether higher levels of metals could be found in the air closer to the complex. To decide where the air monitor should be located, ATSDR generated an air model.
Air modeling uses math and computer programs to learn how weather, wind, and soil might move a chemical in the air. This model also helps to predict the amount of the chemical that could be present at locations downwind from the contamination source (or emission source). When the air model was finished in 2004, it showed that the amount of manganese in the air could be higher in some parts of the community than in others. The areas with higher projected amounts manganese in the air are the areas where ATSDR decided to locate the extra monitor. It was installed on Blue Knob Road (BKR) and began collecting data in late 2004. That monitor found higher amounts of metals than the one at WCCC. It also showed that the amounts were very close to those predicted by the air model.
During the air investigation, the community asked for a community health study. ATSDR responded that before a health study decision could be made, good air data had to show that the community was exposed to higher than normal amounts of manganese in the air. To help get good air data, ATSDR added three more air monitors around the former Union Carbide complex. The additional monitors have been collecting air data since April 2007. They will continue to collect data through March of 2008. In addition to looking for manganese, the air samples will also detect any other metals in the air. The data will not only determine whether a health study is needed—it will also help ATSDR decide where to look for health effects in community residents.
- Health Consultation: Marietta Area Air Investigation - July 1, 2009 [PDF - 497 KB]
- Health Consultation: Washington County Air Quality - June 18, 2007 [PDF - 1030 KB]
All reports are available at http://www.atsdr.cdc.gov/HAC/PHA/HCPHA.asp?State=OH
The results from the air sampling are summarized in the newsletters linked below. Quarterly air monitoring results will be released in future newsletters that can be found on this Web site:
Marietta Air Emissions Newsletter 1 [PDF - 523 KB]
Air investigation April—June 2007 Results
Marietta Air Emissions Newsletter 2 [PDF - 426 KB]
Air investigation July—September 2007 Results
Marietta Air Emissions Newsletter 3 [PDF - 426 KB]
Air investigation October—December 2007 Results
Marietta Air Emissions Newsletter 4 [PDF - 427 KB]
Air investigation January—March 2008 Results