BRISTOL, Va. (WJHL) — Officials have released the results of a public health assessment on the airborne emissions coming from the Bristol, Virginia landfill.
The assessment was conducted by Green Toxicology for the City of Bristol, Tennessee in response to odors impacting communities on both sides of the state line.
According to the report, air samples taken at and around the landfill had elevated levels of benzene, but were “otherwise typical of ambient air in similar small cities in the U.S.”
“Our conservatively estimated benzene concentration in some neighborhoods close to the landfill are within health-based benchmarks established by the Virginia DEQ and U.S. EPA, but are indeed elevated relative to typical ambient air in small U.S. cities,” the report states.
The assessment acknowledged that the landfill’s odors may be harmful to people’s sense of well-being and quality of life and induce headaches, nausea, and other symptoms. However, assessors concluded that there does not appear to be sufficient levels of pollutants to constitute health hazards.
“Odors aside, it does not appear that potentially hazardous air pollutants are present at sufficient concentration in Bristol, TN neighborhood air to constitute health-hazards; although the measured concentration of benzene do range up to fifteen times higher than typical long-term averages for small cities in the U.S. In Bristol, VA nearer to the landfill, the measured concentrations (which are all short-term) may be up to seven times higher still.”Green Toxicology LLC
News Channel 11 spoke to Bristol residents about the symptoms they say are caused by the landfill gases.
Marsha Schorr lives in Bristol, Virginia. She said when the smell hits, it causes her allergies to flare up and causes headaches and brain fog.
“This whole year I have just had really a lot more allergies, even during the winter months, which normally you don’t have allergies with,” Schorr said.
Schorr also bought N95 masks to wear inside her home to protect herself from the gases.
“I thought ‘I’m going to go get the masks and wear them in the house.’ It’s not very comfortable either,” Schorr said. “Anything you can do at this point.”
Becky Hale, a Bristol, Tennessee resident, said she experienced dizziness, headaches, sore throat and nausea during smellier nights.
“The most aggravation is just knowing that it’s coming when the nose starts burning, the throat starts burning, knowing the smell’s on its way,” Hale said.
Several of the symptoms reported are consistent with symptoms of Benzene exposure described by the Environment Protection Agency.
An EPA report said drowsiness, dizziness, headaches, vomiting, upper respiratory tract irritation, skin and eye irritation and vomiting are all symptoms of benzene exposure.
The CDC said breathing in benzene can cause drowsiness, dizziness, irregular heartbeat, tremors and confusion.
Most of the symptoms listed above have been reported by landfill victims.
Both Schorr and Hale expressed concern over the long-term health
Click here to read the full report.