Is the air safe? EPA releases East Palestine air monitoring data
Concern has continued to linger about air quality within East Palestine, especially after the controlled explosion that took place February 6.
Officials told 21 News earlier this week the air they've tested stood within a safe zone, so we looked into what data they are referencing to back their claims.
"It's hard to imagine having this [air quailty] for a period of an hour or two would have been particularly hazardous," explained David Kaplin, Director of Environmental Studies at Kent State University.
The EPA's air monitoring results show real-time readings of airborne contaminants. The highest numbers that stood out in the results before the controlled release were airborne particle matter mainly north of the site. Out of all monitored chemicals including chlorine, carbon monoxide, hydrogen sulfide, hydrogen chloride, and more, some airborne particle matter readings increased after the controlled explosion that caused the plume of black smoke to rise in the air.
The highest airborne particle matter readings reported was on February 8 at 2:55 a.m. showing 0.553 PM 10 (mg/m3).
"They can come out from exhaust or from dust and by themselves, they can be quite dangerous," Kaplin said. "They can cause asthma and they're often what you see when you think about air pollution. This is the visible aspect of air pollution."
Unlike data from Saturday through Tuesday, the EPA's post-controlled burn data from Wednesday did not disclose where the readings showed the highest numbers after the controlled burn.
"Because of this, it's hard to make any guesses as to what's happening here," Kaplin explained. "For about a couple of hours, you had a particular matter that was about 20 times the average of the United States."
"Once it dissipated from the air, it wouldn't have presented a hazard," he added.
Kaplin agreed the controlled burn was the best option and compared the air quality after the burn to being about 10 times higher than Los Angeles, but assured it was only for a brief period of time as numbers continue to dissipate.
"I really wouldn't be able to second guess that decision since it didn't lead to what seemed to be a sustained elevation of the particular matter in the atmosphere," Kaplin said.
Kaplin pointed out that other chemicals including volatile organic compounds, hydrogen chloride, and hydrogen sulfide were very low or not present at all in these air monitoring readings, which proved the burn was successful and there will not be any lasting health effects.
Kaplin added the main concern people in the village should keep in mind is possible contaminants on the ground near the crash site.
Follow this link to view updated charts of the EPA's air monitoring of East Palestine.