The EPA released new numbers that show additional chemicals were in the smoke during the Bethlehem Steel Fire, earlier this month.
The test show elevated levels of particulates the day of and after the fire, just like the DEC’s results.
The DEC tested for VOC’s – volatile organic compounds. In these new numbers, the EPA tested for PAH’s – polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, which is a type of VOC.
They found slightly elevated levels of some, including fluorine and naphthalene.
The EPA did not provide an analysis of whether these levels of PAH’s can problematic to anyone’s health. A spokesperson for the EPA says they are providing all their test results to the state and Erie County Department of Health, as well as the DEC, so they can better analyze their results.
The DEC and DOH released an analysis of their results a week after the fire. They said what they found in the air would only cause minor, short term health issues. They say there is no cause for concern for anything long term, even when finding high levels of benzene in the air.
We have reached to chemistry experts to better explain these new numbers. A member of the Clean Air Coalition says evacuations should have started sooner. A chemistry professor from the University of Buffalo is calling for more testing to be done on the particulates that maybe in the homes of communities surrounding the fire, including South Buffalo and Orchard Park.
We have also reached out to the DEC to see if they can better analyze the EPAs test results, they said they will be providing a response shortly.
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