Gladstone air all clear

THE Clean and Healthy Air for Gladstone Project (CHAG) Human Health Risk Assessment Report was released by Queensland Health to the public yesterday.

The CHAG project was established in July 2007 to gain a better understanding of the impact of industrial air pollution on the quality of outdoor air in the area, and identify possible risks to health in the community.

Presenter of the report, Queensland Health Public Health Physician Dr Margaret Young said a large number of pollutants were monitored at multiple sites across the Gladstone area.

“None was found to be at levels exceeding the relevant health-based standards or guidelines or otherwise pose unacceptable risks to health.

“We now have a very good understanding of the air quality in Gladstone. I hope the results of this review of extensive air quality monitoring help to allay the concerns of Gladstone residents,”

Dr Young said.Despite the reasurances, many residents in South Gladstone have raised concerns regarding the emissions of QAL and the adverse health effects from living so close to the refinery.

Dr Young said the issue is the ability of some acid and caustic depositions, which effect things such as metals, has on human health.

“The Department of Environment and Resource Management has commissioned some work on acid and caustic emissions,” Dr Young said.

“That work is not completed as there was some difficulties along the way with that, so I guess there is still some further work to be completed.”

Independent reviewer Professor Brian Priestly, Director of the Australian Centre for Human Health Risk Assessment at Monash University in Melbourne assisted with the report and the methodology being used.

“The report has been very well prepared and written in a way that looks at all the data very objectively,” Professor Priestly said.

“The community expressed concerns about the air quality in Gladstone so this report has addressed those concerns."

Professor Priestly said the pollutants which were measured were selected on the basis of what is normally present in ambient air around Australia and what is likely to be admitted here in Gladstone.

“In terms of taste and smell it is not unusual for pollutants to be discernable at levels well below those that produce any health effects,” he said.

“At the forefront of some concerns have been respiratory irritation and the ability to acerbate asthma and that can occur in some individuals who are sensitive at quite low levels.

“Although some of the substances that would be of concern to people a relatively toxic, their present at levels well below anything that would be likely to cause a health affect.

”The Gladstone Industry Leadership Group (GILG) welcomed the release of the Clean and Healthy Air for Gladstone (CHAG) Health Risk Assessment.GILG Chairman, Mr Glenn Schumacher said the report provided an independent and thorough evaluation of the air quality in the Gladstone region.

“As community members ourselves, we now have a far better understanding of the quality of Gladstone's air and that's good news for all people in our community.”

For full report and more detailed data go to www.derm.qld.gov



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