2003 CPEO Military List Archive

From: CPEO Moderator <cpeo@cpeo.org>
Date: 3 Jan 2003 17:43:08 -0000
Reply: cpeo-military
Subject: [CPEO-MEF] ATSDR releases air pathways PHA for Vieques Bombing Range
The air pathway public health assessment referred to below can be
downloaded as a pdf document at:

ALSO, Highlights of the Groundwater and Drinking Water Public Health
Assessment for Vieques, Puerto Rico, released on October 17, 2001, can
be viewed at:

ATSDR releases public comment version of focused public health
assessment on air pathway for the Isla de Vieques Bombing Range site,
Vieques, Puerto Rico


For Immediate Release: December 18, 2002

The Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR), a public
health agency of the U.S.
Department of Health and Human Services, is releasing today for public
comment a focused public health
assessment (PHA) on the air pathway for possible contaminants from the
U.S. Navy's bombing range site on
the island of Vieques, Puerto Rico.

ATSDR conducts PHAs to report information about hazardous substances in
the environment and evaluate
whether exposure to those substances in the past, present or future
could harm people in the area.

This PHA on air was conducted to determine if exposure to air
contaminants potentially released from Navy
property on Vieques could have adverse effects on a person's health.

ATSDR found that the residents of Vieques have been exposed to
contaminants released during the Navy's
military training exercises, but these exposures are much lower than
levels known to be associated with
adverse health effects. As a result, ATSDR finds that the air exposure
pathway on Vieques presents no
apparent public health hazard.

To characterize the air quality at Vieques, ATSDR identified and
obtained a wide range of relevant data.
Specifically, ATSDR initiated an air sampling study during a recent
military training exercise and reviewed
relevant studies prepared by the following parties: the Puerto Rico
Environmental Quality Board (PREQB),
several academic and independent researchers from universities and
private organizations in Puerto Rico, the
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and the Navy and its contractors.

In May 1999, an island resident asked (petitioned) ATSDR to evaluate
whether any health problems of Vieques
residents might be associated with potential releases of hazardous
substances from military training activities
on the island. ATSDR responded by conducting a series of focused public
health assessments, on
groundwater/drinking water, soil, fish and shellfish, and air pathways.
After completing its evaluations, ATSDR
will assess the public health implications of the cumulative or overall
exposures from the pathways the agency
has considered.

For the air exposure pathway, ATSDR also concludes the following:

     Air samples have shown that levels of particulate matter are much
lower than health-based air quality
     standards. Thus, wind-blown dust from the live impact area (LIA) is
not a health hazard.

     Additional sampling data are needed to characterize potential
exposures during the military training
     exercises that use practice bombs, which release various
contaminants to the air. The available sampling
     data indicate that ambient air concentrations of particulate
matter, metals and explosives do not reach
     levels that present a public health hazard. Nevertheless, part of
ATSDR's recommendations call for a
     continuation of routine air sampling of particulate matter and

     Most of the contaminants released to the air during past military
training exercises involving live bombs
     were dispersed to extremely low concentrations over the 7.9 miles
that separate the center of the LIA from
     the nearest residential areas of Vieques. ATSDR's best estimates of
ambient air concentrations suggest
     that past exposures during the live bombing exercises were at
levels below those associated with
     adverse health effects. Because live bombing has not occurred in
several years, and there were no data
     to permit ATSDR to evaluate actual conditions associated with live
bombing, This conclusion is
     based entirely on modeling results and therefore involves some
uncertainty., although ATSDR, however,
     believes its approach to evaluating the live bombing exercises
provides a reasonable account of past

     Open burning and detonation operations to treat unused munitions
and unexploded ordnance have
     released contaminants to the air, but these operations account for
a small fraction (<10%) of the high
     explosives that were previously detonated during military training
exercises using live bombs. However,
     ATSDR's modeling analysis indicates these emissions do not cause
levels of pollution that could present
     a public health hazard in Vieques residential areas.

     Residents of Vieques are not exposed to levels of environmental
contamination that could present a
     public health hazard, whether chemical or radiological, as a result
of the Navy's limited past use of
     depleted uranium penetrators during military training exercises.
Further, no adverse health effects are
     expected to result from the Navy's usage of chaff, because this
material disperses considerably between
     the time it is released (several thousand feet above sea level) and
the time it settles to the ground.
     Ambient air sampling during future military training exercises can
provide additional insights into potential
     exposures associated with chaff.

ATSDR recommends the following actions be taken:

     To provide more information on long-term exposures to air
contaminants, ATSDR recommends that
     PREQB continue its routine air sampling of particulate matter and
metals in Esperanza and Isabel

     To provide more information on short-term exposures to air
contaminants during military training
     exercises involving practice bombs, ATSDR recommends that PREQB
continue to collect air samples for
     particulate matter and metals daily during these exercises. ATSDR
recommends that the Navy coordinate
     similar sampling on its property, such that researchers can
identify the sources of air pollution that
     contribute most significantly to the measured levels of
contamination. ATSDR recommends that such a
     sampling study take place during a typical exercise involving
practice bombs.

     No live bombing has occurred on Vieques since 1999.ATSDR has no
knowledge whether live bombing
     will ever resume at Vieques If it doesthe Navy ever were to resume
live bombing exercises, ATSDR
     recommends that PREQB collect daily samples in Esperanza and Isabel
Segunda of particulate matter,
     metals, volatile organic compounds, and semi-volatile organic
compounds. Moreover, ATSDR
     recommends that the Navy coordinate similar sampling on its
property such that researchers can identify
     sources that most likely contribute to air concentrations of
contaminants that are detected.

     ATSDR recommends that any residents using rainfall collection
systems for a drinking water supply read
     the documents that ATSDR has placed in the records repositories
regarding good sanitation practices
     for harvesting rain water. These good sanitation practices will
help ensure that water obtained from these
     systems is safe to drink and relatively free of contamination from
all local sources.

     ATSDR plans to review cancer registry information and data gathered
by the Puerto Rico Department of
     Health (PRDOH). This review will consider the data documented in
ATSDR's PHAs and will evaluate the
     general health status of the communities on Vieques. ATSDR's review
will follow the official release of
     PRDOH's review of the cancer registries, but it is not known when
thatisthis will occur.

     ATSDR will periodically review air sampling data that PREQB and
other parties collect at Vieques, as
     these data become available. In particular, ATSDR will review
ambient air monitoring data that PREQB
     has collected on metals, once those become available.

The draft health assessment will be available for public review and
comment on or about Dec. 18, 2002, at the
following records repositories:

             Municipio de
             Calle Carlos Le
             Brun 449
             Vieques, PR

             El Fideicomiso de
             Conservacion E Historia
             Biblioteca, Municipio de
             The Vieques Conservation and
             Calle Carlos Le Brun 449
             Historical Trust Vieques, PR
             Calle Flamboyan 138
             Vieques, PR

             University of Puerto
             School of Public
             Medical Sciences
             Campus Library
             Industrial Hygiene
             San Juan, PR

The public comment period will end February 24, 2003. ATSDR welcomes
comments from the public.
Send written comments to the following address:

              Chief, Programs, Evaluation, Records and Information
Services Branch
                         Division of Health Assessment and Consultation
                                      ATSDR Mailstop E-32
                                      1600 Clifton Road NE
                                        Atlanta, GA 30333

Comments received during the public comment period will be logged into
the administrative record of the health consultation. Public comments
and ATSDR's responses will be included in an appendix to the final
health consultation when it is released. Although the names of those who
submit comments will not be included in the final health consultation,
the names are subject to release in response to requests made under the
U.S. Freedom of Information Act.

Community members who would like more information about the PHA may
contact Jeff Kellam, health
assessor, in Atlanta at 1-888-422-8737, ext. 0373; or Maria
Teran-MacIver, community involvement specialist, in Atlanta at
1-888-422-8737, ext. 1754. Callers should mention the Vieques air
pathway PHA. Regional Representative Arthur Block may also be contacted
in New York at 212-637-4307.

Members of the news media may request an interview with ATSDR staff by
calling John Florence or
Elaine McEachern in the ATSDR Office of Policy and External Affairs at
(404) 498-0070.

  Prev by Date: [CPEO-MEF] Camp Lejeune veterans haunted by illnesses
Next by Date: RE: [CPEO-MEF] Depleted uranium: a killer disaster? by TRAVIS DUNN
  Prev by Thread: [CPEO-MEF] Camp Lejeune veterans haunted by illnesses
Next by Thread: [CPEO-MEF] concerns on the NMD interceptor missile deployment status

CPEO Lists
Author Index
Date Index
Thread Index