Friday, February 3, 2012

St. Bernard's air quality reports

St. Bernard Parish Air Quality Reports

Highest Air Monitor Readings

A monthly report of some of the highest air quality readings in the ambient air in Chalmette and Meraux, Louisiana.


This report is a recap of some of the higher air quality readings from St. Bernard Parish’s ambient air monitors in Louisiana. Two monitors operated by LDEQ are:  the ‘Ch_Vista’ site at Chalmette Vista’s Bluebird Park northwest of ExxonMobil’s Chalmette refinery and Rain CII Carbon’s coke plant; and, the ‘Meraux’ site at the Joe Davies elementary school, just east of a municipal sewage treatment plant and somewhat northeast of Valero Energy’s oil refinery. The third monitor – ‘Ventura’ – operated by Valero Energy on Ventura Drive in Chalmette, is northwest of Valero’s refinery in Meraux and just southeast of a new elementary school construction site in Chalmette, LaCoste Elementary.  LDEQ’s former area monitors: ‘Entergy’ site in Algiers across the Mississippi River, dismantled after Hurricane Gustav; and, ‘Ch_High’ site at the local high school, discontinued sometime after Hurricane Gustav and LDEQ's 2009 Air Quality Final Report  (a thirty month study of St. Bernard Parish air quality; at that time the sulfur limit was a 24-hour average of 140 ppb SO2 and an annual average of 30 ppb. It is now an hourly average of 75 ppb SO2).  Prior to 2006, there was a monitor on Mehle Avenue in Arabi.   Annual means, percentiles, and other statistical data are asssessible on EPA's EPA's AirData website , left hand column menu, under Monitor Values.

January 2012 Recap on Air Quality

Ambient Air monitors are fixed location monitors which measure certain air toxins.  Fixed air monitor locations are dependent on the wind direction being just right to make direct hit or "air strike" from the source point to the monitor. 

Ch_Vista ambient air monitor at Bluebird Park in Chalmette Vista neighborhood of Chalmette, adjacent to both Rain CII Carbon petroleum coke plant and ExxonMobil's Chalmette Refining. The LDEQ’s Ch_Vista data is accessible at link below or on the LDEQ website's right hand column menu, ON AIR icon, select Site Data, select Ch_Vista, enter date, click Submit.  Note display time changes for Daylight Savings Time. Air toxin results are only available through public records request.

Valero's Ventura Drive community air monitor in Floral Estates neighborhood of Chalmette, situated between Valero's St. Bernard Parish refinery in Meraux  and a new elementary school construction site in Chalmette.  Ventura Drive data is accessible at link below, select Readings, select date, click Apply.  Valero’s Ventura Drive data is recorded using the same sample methods as the LDEQ monitors, however, Valero displays some values in ppm instead of ppb.  Convert parts per million data to parts per billion by multiplying the value by 1,000. (i.e., 0.024 ppm = 24 ppb).    For benzene, and other air toxin sample results, select Documents , click report to view.   Daily exposure limits to these air toxins can be found on EPA's  Integrated Risk Information System website, bottom menu listing "Compare IRIS Values" 

Meraux ambient air monitor at Joe Davies Elementary School playground area in Meraux, just over a mile northeast of the Valero - Meraux Refinery.  The LDEQ’s Meraux data is accessible at link below or on the LDEQ website as described above.  Air toxin results are only available through a public records request.

Health standards and recommended exposure level limits

Sulfur Dioxide - SO2, measured in parts per billion (ppb), the EPA one-hour health standard for SO2 is 75ppb. The LDEQ recently designated St. Bernard Parish non-attainment for sulfur dioxide health standards. LDEQ has also stated that sulfur dioxide levels at 12 ppb SO2 trigger headaches and other adverse quality of life.  We do not have access to the 5-minute and 30-minute peak exposure levels, which also have health limits.

Hydrogen Sulfide – H2S, measured in parts per billion (ppb).  The World Health Organization (WHO 1981) advises ambient concentration levels of hydrogen sulfide "should not exceed 5 ppb (or 0.005 ppm), with a 30-minute averaging time.” We do not have access to the 30-minute averaging time values.  An EPA "technical evaluation concluded that hydrogen sulfide can reasonably be  anticipated to cause chronic health effects in humans"  .  In another toxicological review, EPA infers a daily exposure to H2S withouth risk to be 1.4  ppb (or 0.0014 ppm). {page 52 of EPA report}    According to EPA,  1.4 ppb H2S is the recommended daily exposure limit for H2S   …..  inhaling more than this concentration on a daily basis poses an appreciable risk of deleterious effects. . "Exposure to lower concentrations can result in eye irritation, a sore throat and cough, nausea, shortness of breath, and fluid in the lungs."  "Long-term, low-level exposure may result in fatigue, loss of appetite, headaches, irritability, poor memory, and dizziness."

Particulate pollution (PM2.5) is limited to 35 ug/m3 24-hour average, 99th percentile averaged over three years, and 12 ug/m3 annual mean, averaged over three years (updated 2013).  Particulate pollution (PM10) is limited to 150 ug/m3, 99th percentile averaged over three years.   The Ch-Vista monitor is the only monitor in Louisiana does not display the PM2.5 readings as a 24-hour average.

Ozone is limited to 75 ppb on an 8-hour average, fourth highest reading averaged over three years.

Link to EPA NAAQS (National Ambient Air Quality Standards)

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