Air Quality Along the Gulf Coast Raises Questions

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by Glynn Wilson

FORT MORGAN – As the multi-national British Petroleum corporation continues to test what’s left of the Deepwater Horizon oil well 50 miles offshore in the Gulf of Mexico to see if the latest well cap will hold back the gusher and not blow out the sea floor, residents along the coast are still concerned about the quality of the air they are breathing in addition to the polluted water.

The Environmental Protection Agency is supposed to be monitoring the air as well as the water, but so far, the monitoring stations set up along the coast are not showing highly dangerous levels of pollutants in the air. There have been citizens complaints about the location of the monitoring stations, sometimes far inland of direct impact zones where people live on the beaches.

As citizens struggle to get solid information upon which to make informed decisions about how to protect the health of their families, some say good data is hard to find.

On EPA’s Web site set up to provide information to the press and the public, the agency says it has observed odor-causing pollutants associated with oil on the shore in the Gulf region “at low levels.”

“Some of these chemicals may cause short-lived effects like headache, eye, nose and throat irritation, or nausea,” the agency says, yet it adds: “Some people may be able to smell several of these chemicals at levels well below those that would cause short-term health problems.”

EPA is also conducting additional air monitoring for ozone and airborne particulate matter.

“The air monitoring conducted through July 14 has found levels of ozone and particulates ranging from the ‘good’ to ‘unhealthy for sensitive groups,’ the agency says, referring to levels on EPA’s Air Quality Index.

The agency just put up a new Web site, however, that shows real time data for air quality.

As it happens, when this story was posted, a red ball was showing on the Baldwin County side of Mobile Bay today from the air monitoring station on Fort Morgan, meaning the air there was “unhealthy.”

Check out our latest video on the subject of air quality along the coast.

We also ask the question:

What happens if or when a hurricane comes ashore with millions of gallons of oil still in the water?


Another MoJo Video by Glynn Wilson

© 2010 – 2011, Glynn Wilson. All rights reserved.

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