2003 CPEO Military List Archive

From: info@cswab.com
Date: 14 Mar 2003 14:59:40 -0000
Reply: cpeo-military
Subject: [CPEO-MEF] Pediatrician Offers Comments on Badger Burning
Open Burning Requires Careful Assessment of
Health Risks to Adult and Children
By Ann T. Behrmann, MD

Barbara Pavliscak
Air Management
Wisconsin Dept. of Natural Resources
1500 N. Johns Street
Dodgeville, WI 53533

Dear Ms Pavliscak;

As a pediatrician practicing in South Central Wisconsin, I am very
concerned about the potential health risks posed by open burning
hazardous materials at Badger Army Ammunition Plant(BAAP), particularly
the risks to children's health. According to a report provided by the
Army's consultant, Plexus Scientific, air emissions from burning
buildings will include lead, polychlorinaed biphenyls (PCBs), benzene,
and other pollutants. While cancer risks posed by inhalation of these
toxins were assessed for adults, there was no assessment of cancer risk
to children.

A report released by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency on 3/5/03
stated that fetuses and children under 2 years of age have a 10 times
greater cancer risk than adults when exposed to specific gene-damaging
chemicals.  The same report indicated that children from 3 to 15 may
face at least a three fold greater risk than an adult if exposed to
specific mutagenic chemicals.  As you are well aware, children are
particularly vulnerable to health risks from environmental toxins.
Children, because
of their greater body surface area, eat proportionately more food, drink
more fluids, and breathe more air per pound of body weight than an
adult. As a result, they inherently have a greater risk of significant
health effects (though increased absorption of a toxin) from the same
environmental threat.

Not only are children at greater risk of cancer, the continued growth
and development of a child's immune, endocrine, gastrointestinal and
nervous systems and their relatively immature detoxifying systems via
the liver and  kidney, from fetal development through age 15, put them
at greater risk of permanent damage to their brain and other vital
organs with exposures to chemicals classified as neurotoxins, endocrine
disruptors and teratogens as well as known carcinogens.

The safe and effective clean up of contaminated buildings (as well as
soils and ground water) at the BAAP is critically important.  Before the
Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (WI DNR) considers open
burning of these buidings, it is imperative that a complete
environmental assessment of air, soil and water pollution from this open
burning be done first.  Burning will cause, no doubt, an increase in
airborne particulate matter, a pollutant closely linked to increased
respiratory illness such as asthma and emphysema.  The release, not only
of carcinogens, but also of particulates, and of chemicals classified as
teratogens, neurotoxins, and endocrine disruptors must be carefully
studied for ALL age groups.  Measures of potential exposure from
inhalation of airborne contaminants as well as exposure to soil and
further ground water pollution from open burning should be examined as

Should the WI DNR determine, through this careful environmental
assessment, that the potential risks of open burning to the exposed
workers and adjacent communities will not affect their health, then it
is imperative that comprehensive environmental monitoring of on and off
site air, water and soil quality be undertaken by the responsible
party.  These assessments must then be reviewed in an ongoing manner by
the WI DNR.  Not only adults working at BAAP, but also families with
small children as well as pregnant women who live in neighboring
communities, will be exposed to changes in air quality from open
burning.  Some of these same families all ready have been exposed to
volatile organic compounds polluting their water systems via
longstanding off site ground water run off from BAAP.  Any environmental
and health assessment should certainly factor in this past and ongoing
exposure when determining health risks for these populations.

The citizens who work and those families who live as neighbors to the
BAAP depend on the wise decision of the WI DNR to safe guard their
health.  A decision whether to allow open burning of contaminated
buildings at BAAP should not be made without a comprehensive assessment
of all the possible health risks to exposed children and adults.  I ask
as a health professional that the WI DNR to do its foremost as a
scientific governmental agency to ensure that public health will not be
compromised by the proposed open burning of buildings at Badger.

/s/Ann T. Behrmann MD
Pediatrician, Group Health Cooperative
Madison, Wisconsin

Laura Olah, Executive Director
Citizens for Safe Water Around Badger
E12629 Weigands Bay S
Merrimac, WI 53561
phone: (608)643-3124
fax: (608)643-0005
email: info@cswab.com
website: http://www.cswab.com <http://www.cswab.com/>

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