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Wednesday, October 05, 2005

BREAKING: New Orleans Being Environmentally Tested for Real; SERIOUS Warnings Issued

This was just sent out by the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC). The group will be in New Orleans this week "to establish a program of independent toxicity testing, meet with community groups and scientists, and talk with local, state and federal officials."

The group is issuing some very serious warnings regarding the environmental health hazards, until testing can prove the area is safe:

Given the EPA's failure to properly inform returning residents, many are being exposed to toxic water, air, and sludge without protective clothing, respirators, or even simple face masks. Even emergency workers and local police have been going without protective clothing, which is required by EPA and Occupational Safety and Health Administration regulations for toxic and oil cleanup efforts.

"People are getting sick today from the contamination in New Orleans," said Dr. Gina Solomon. "Worse still, this city is a time-bomb for future risks of asthma, respiratory disease, and even cancer from the pollution in the city."

The announcement also elaborates on where EPA testing is substandard:

Instead of using a more realistic two-week exposure duration to calculate the threat posed by such toxins as benzene and xylene, Dr. Solomon explained, the agency is using a much less realistic 24-hour exposure comparison, which understates the danger. According to EPA's own monitoring data, many returning residents are being exposed to benzene -- a known carcinogen and nerve toxin -- at levels significantly over the federal government's safety level for two-week exposure. In places near oil refineries, the agency found benzene levels higher than 40 times this safety level.

God bless the NRDC, the only ones looking out for the people of New Orleans.

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