ANSWER: 03 Apr 2006
Hearing about the health implications your residential area has had upon
your daughter is very distressing
and shows us that the air quality in your area may have been a significant and
immediate threat to your family. Even if the carbon
in the air was not a direct cause of your daughter developing asthma, the
air quality in your area will only exacerbate the condition, and inhibit the
health and recovery of an already vulnerable and weakened immune system and
If it was me personally I would move residence if I could afford it, because
the long term
effects on residents with more vulnerable
immune systems such as your daughter is certainly not worth risking.
However, if you choose not to move, your
presence amongst a community of other asthmatic and respiratory problem
sufferers would be extremely valuable, in promoting greater awareness about
pollution, and by bringing the matter to further attention of the DEM, and
other influential bodies.
The results from the DEM may not be acceptable to them because black carbon
levels do not correlate directly with toxicity, and therefore there is no
definitive health benchmark determined for exposure to the substance.
However, the accumulative effects of diesel fumes and jet exhaust on the
environment are widely known carcinogens, and although the fumes may not
directly exceed air quality levels, reporters such as staff writer Dave
Cranshaw report that levels should be kept as low as possible.
(Providence Business News, "T.F. Green plans draw criticism", Published
03/25/2006, available at www.pbn.com/ Published
What the results may also mean is that the levels were not high enough to
that they cause an immediate toxic effect on a population. There may not be
any observable rapidly accelerating toxic
effect on residents of the area and the environment.
The results of the tests may also have been influenced by whether the
emission standards of the carbons released were based on results that test
chemical emissions individually, or whether they were being studied as part
of an entire co-contributing pollutant that interacts with other chemicals
an overall toxicity polluting the air.
There are many other variables involved too, for example, sizes of
particulate matter, which
can range from 0.005 microns in diameter to coarse particles of 100 microns,
which I imagine would impact the study, as well as the areas in which the
samples were taken.
(Air Quality Division of Pinellas
"Most airborne pollutants are small molecular weight chemicals that must be
coupled with other substances (e.g., proteins or conjugates) before they can
be recognized by the immune system and cause an effect."
Environment Automotive Exhaust Chemicals: disease causing effects)
"The effects of airborne pollutants on the immune system have been most
widely studied in the respiratory tract. An airborne pollutant may enter the
respiratory tract as a volatile gas (e.g., ozone, benzene), as liquid
droplets (e.g., sulfuric acid, nitrogen dioxide), or as particulate matter
(e.g., components of diesel exhaust, aromatic hydrocarbons). These
pollutants interact with the immune system and may cause local and systemic
responses ranging from overactive immune responses to immunosuppression."
(The Ailing Environment)
It has been widely proven that the toxic chemicals in environmental air
stimulate the immune system to activate leukocytes and macrophages that can
produce tissue damage. This damage occurs especially to the cells that line
human blood vessels. Although the damage is initially slight and may not
produce significant limitation to blood flow, repetitive exposure to toxic
substances eventually interferes with the ability of these lining cells to
The toxic effects upon an individual is gradual, meaning repetitive exposure
would be needed, depending on the individual, to cause harm.
The standards that were used to test ambient air quality are used to test
the safe level at which exposure in the air at one given point in time would
be responsible for immediate toxicity, rather than repetitive gradual
EDRF is a substance called endothelial-derived relaxing factor
that relaxes the smooth muscle in blood vessel walls. Blocking the release
of EDRF leads to systemic hypertension. At the same time, leukocytes on the
endothelium's surface appear to play a part in promoting the
arteriosclerotic disease process. The combined effect of these events is to
accelerate the changes that eventually lead to hypertension and ischemic
Another thing to note, is that as the environment also becomes polluted, the
plants ability to provide
fresh oxygen is also inhibited.
Carbon tetrachloride, one of the carbons identified in the DEM proposal, can
be used as a fumigant, and/or as a solvent. It's Toxicity Data may be
obtained from the PAN Pesticides Database - Chemicals, which nominates it as
a "Bad Actor chemical", indicating it has a high toxicity in the given
Specific details on each toxicity category and more, including environmental
hazards, may be obtained from the website PAN
Pesticides Database - Chemicals
which this data is obtained.
In conducting the project the RI DEM.s Air Pollution Emissions Inventory
identified approximately 18 stationary air toxics sources in the area of
Warwick near the Airport. Emissions data for these sources, as well as other
Rhode Island sources, have been submitted to the National Toxics Inventory.
The locations of the stationary sources and high volume roadways are clearly
displayed the two attachments with this email, which is from a copy of the
grant proposal for the study, (Update July 9 2010 "Draft
Environmental Impact Statement")
Carbon tetrachloride, for example, has been assessed as "Acute Toxicity:
Study type defines the toxicity endpoint used for a particular study. There
are many study types, and these are also found at the site. For the U.S.
National Toxicology Program data, the only endpoint evaluated is mortality.
The LD50 is the dose of the pesticide in milligram (mg), microgram (µg), or
nanogram (ng) of pesticide per kilogram (kg) of body weight. It must be
lethal to 50% of the test organisms.
Follow the code I've given you below to work out the findings for these U.S.
National Toxicology Program (NTP) Acute Hazard Rankings. I've added the
information for each underneath the code.
(U.S. EPA Categories and Warning Labels given)
Category ; PAN Narrative Rating ; Warning Label
(Acute Toxicity to Rats by route doses effect )
Oral LD50 (mg/kg) ; Dermal LD50 (mg/kg) ; Inhalation LC50 (mg/L)
Eye Effects ; Skin Effects
1 ; Highly Toxic ; Danger-Poison* 50 200 0.05 = n/a ; n/a
1 ; Highly Toxic ; Danger ; 50 ; 200 ; 0.05 ;
Corrosive (irreversible destruction of ocular tissue) or
corneal involvement or irritation persisting for more than 21 days ;
Corrosive (tissue destruction into the dermis and/or scarring).
2 ; Moderately Toxic ; Warning ; RESULTS 50-500 ; 200-2,000
Corneal involvement or irritation clearing in 8-21 days
Severe irritation at 72 hours (severe erythema or edema)
3 ; Slightly Toxic ; Caution ; 500-5,000 ; 2,000-5,000 ; 0.5-2 ;
Corneal involvement or irritation clearing in 7 days or less
Moderate irritation at 72 hours (moderate erythema)
4 ; Not Acutely Toxic ; None ; > 5,000 ; > 5,000 ; > 2
Minimal effects cle aring in less than 24 hours
Mild or slight irritation (no irritation or slight erythema)
*This signal word is used for acute systemic poisons.
The original table, and other information, is by PAN, and is available at www.pesticideinfo.org/Docs/ref_toxicity2.html#NarrativeTox
Here is another example of results, obtained from PAN.
WHO does not rate inhalation, but rates the following as "Extremely
Hazardous" as being :
5 mg of chemical per kilo of body weight for solids (oral)
20 mg of chemical per kilo of body weight for liquids (oral)
10 mg of chemical per kilo of body weight for solids (dermal)
40 mg of chemical per kilo of body weight for liquids (dermal)
The proposal document also states that HEALTH issued a preliminary analysis
cancer incidence rates in Warwick census tracts. Lung cancer rates were at
least 30% higher than the State average for both women and men in five
census tracts and at least 20% higher for both genders in eight census
tracts east and south of the Airport. All of the six census tracts west of
the Airport had lung cancer rates similar to or less than the State average.
From these figures it may be granted that respiratory problems may be a
result from contaminants in the environment, related to the airport.
According to the DEM study, average levels of black carbon in Warwick were
found to be lower than they are in urban Providence. A majority of the 79
measured compounds were found to be below recommended levels for short- and
long-term exposure, although there were six compounds found in excess of or
very close to the target levels.
Cerny, The Brown Daily Herald,
Levels of black carbon at two of the six compounds were possibly connected
to the airport and contained levels of black carbon higher than or the same
as sites tested in Providence. (The Daily Brown Herald).
The following information may also be of interest to you:
Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs)
PAHs are a group of chemicals that are formed during the incomplete burning
of coal, oil and gas, garbage, or other organic substances. PAHs can be
man-made or occur naturally. Although the health effects of the individual
PAHs vary, the following 15 PAHs are considered as a group with similar
toxicity: acenaphthene acenaphthylene anthracene benz(a)anthracene
benzo(a)pyrene benzo(b)fluoranthene benzo(ghi)perylene benzo(k)fluoranthene
chrysene dibenz(a,h)anthracene fluoranthene fluorene indeno(1,2,3-cd)pyrene
Several factors will determine whether harmful health effects will occur and
what the type and severity of those health effects will be. These factors
include the dose (how much), the duration (how long), the route by which you
are exposed (breathing, eating, drinking, or skin contact), the other
chemicals to which you are exposed and your individual characteristics such
as age, sex, nutritional status, family traits, life style, and state of
health. As pure chemicals, PAHs generally exist as colorless, white, or pale
yellow-green solids. Most PAHs are found as mixtures of two or more PAHs.
They can occur in the air either attached to dust particles, or in soil or
sediment as solids. They can also be found in substances such as crude oil,
coal, coal tar pitch, creosote, road and roofing tar. Most PAHs do not
dissolve easily in water, but some PAHs evaporate into the air. PAHs
generally do not burn easily and they will last in the environment for
months to years.
PAHs that are attached to dust and other particles in the air and originate
from vehicle exhausts, asphalt roads, coal, coal tar, wildfires,
agricultural burning and hazardous waste sites. Background levels of PAHs in
the air are reported to be 0.02-1.2 milligrams per cublic meter (mg/m3) in
rural areas and 0. 15-19.3 mg/m3 in urban areas. You may be exposed to PAHs
in soil near areas where coal, wood, gasoline, or other products have been
burned or from the soil on or near hazardous waste sites, such as former
manufactured-gas sites and wood-preserving facilities. PAHs have been found
in some drinking water supplies in the United States. The background level
of PAHs in drinking water ranges from 4 to 24 nanograms per liter (ng/L).
For many people, the greatest exposure to PAHs occurs in the workplace.
PAHs can enter the body through the lungs. PAHs enter the body quickly and
easily by all routes of exposure. The rate at which PAHs enter your body is
increased when they are present in oily mixtures and tend to be stored in
the kidneys, liver, and fat, with smaller amounts in the spleen, adrenal
glands and ovaries. Results from animal studies show that PAHs do not tend
to be stored in for a long time and are excreted within a few days in the
feces and urine.
Although these tests can tell that you have been exposed to PAHs, it is not
yet possible to use these tests to predict the severity of any health
effects that might occur or to determine the extent of your exposure to the PAHs. These tests are not routinely available at a doctor's office because
they require special equipment for sampling and detecting these chemicals.
(Extracts obtained from "The Ailing Environment").
Thankyou for your question and I hope this helps you.
Volunteer Information Officer