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Public Comment Release



In evaluating the four chemicals for potential relationship to concerns expressed by the petitioner, it is important to note the timeframe of the concerns expressed by the petitioner and the possible impact of other nearby facilities on air quality in the local residential area. The petitioner noted in the original letter that other facilities exist nearby which emit chemicals into the air, including the Young Refinery site (to which the petition letter attributed some health effects and which ATSDR will review in a separate document). In addition to the potential impact of Young Refinery, ATSDR notes that the petition letter expresses concern that a variety of health outcomes beginning in 1986 may be associated with Austral Products' emissions. However, the available data to ATSDR, both from GA-EPD files and Austral Products files, indicate that the Austral facility on Shadix Industrial Blvd. was not built until 1989 and so could not have been the likely cause of health effects before that time. Therefore, ATSDR has conducted our evaluation only in regard to the potential relationships between the facility and the health effects stated in the letter as starting in 1989 or later.

In the petition letter, three health effects are stated for the time period after 1988. These three issues are: incapacitating migraine headaches, a 38-year old suffering a stroke, and a case of prostate cancer. Given the lack of data on specific VOC emissions from the facility and the possibility of fugitive emissions from exhaust vents at the facility, ATSDR is not able to fully evaluate these health concerns in regard to Austral's emissions. ATSDR does note that most cancers typically take a number of years to develop and be detected and believes it is unlikely that prostate cancer detected in 1993 would be related to a facility that did not start emitting VOCs until late 1989. ATSDR is unable to evaluate the potential relationship between migraine headaches and a stroke at an early age without more specific information about the facility's emissions.

ATSDR Child Health Initiative

ATSDR's Child Health Initiative recognizes that the unique vulnerabilities of infants and children demand special emphasis in communities concerned about contamination of air, soil, or water. Children are at greater risk than adults from certain kinds of exposures to hazardous substances released into their environment. Children may be more likely to be exposed to contaminants by playing outdoors, bringing food into contaminated areas, or breathing dust, soil, or heavy vapors closer to the ground (due to smaller height). If exposed, children are also smaller than adults which may result in higher doses of chemical exposure per body weight, and the developing body systems of children can sustain damage if toxic exposures occur during critical growth stages.

ATSDR evaluated the likelihood that children living in the vicinity of the Austral Products facility could be exposed to airborn chemical releases at levels of public health concern. However, ATSDR was not able to evaluate potential exposures to children due to the lack of data regarding specific air emissions.

Health Hazard Conclusion

Under ATSDR's Public Health Hazard Conclusion categories, the above findings lead ATSDR to conclude that the ambient air conditions around the Austral Products facility in Douglasville, GA are within the "Indeterminate Public Health Hazard" category due to the data gaps of both permitted discharges and potential fugitive air emissions.

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