USE OF NATIONAL AIR TOXICS ASSESSMENT DATA TO EVALUATE DUST AND VOLATILE ORGANIC EXPOSURES IN COAL AND NON COAL MINING COMMUNITIES OF WEST VIRGINIA: A PRELIMINARY STUDY
We used modeled ambient concentrations of ten air toxics at the census tract level for three long standing coal mining communities using 2005 NATA data. Ambient air levels of these elements and compounds were merged by FIPS code to the census tracts (CT) of interest and compared with three similar communities in non coal mining areas. Tests of differences in mean levels between coal and non coal communitys’ CTs revealed: levels of admium and arsenic although low were higher in coal community CTs. (p=.028 and p= .019). Benzene levels were not significantly different between the two groups, nor were levels of chlorine, chromium, manganese, nickel or lead. Although not significant, average Diesel PM Levels were greater in non coal CTs (.269 ug/m3) compared to coal (.164 ug/m3). Finally, mean selenium levels were greater in coal community CTs (.0007 ug/m3 compared to .000025 ug/m3).
According to the EPA standard, the average level of lead over a three month period is not to exceed 0.15 µg/m3. All WV counties are well below this limit. The California EPA has established a chronic inhalation reference level of 0.01 µg/m3 for cadmium based on kidney and respiratory effects in humans. The modeled cadmium and arsenic levels found in coal and non coal communities were orders of magnitude lower than these standards. It is important to note these levels are not coal mining specific; they represent numerous sources of both industrial as well as consumer-produced levels. The same can be said for all of the ambient air pollutants. All other sources of such emissions must be considered when evaluating coal and non-coal mining communities.