13 Key Points: Rockwool and Air Quality in Jefferson County
Below is a summary from Michael Glenn of the potential effects of Rockwool’s emissions in Jefferson County, West Virginia.
DAVID MICHAEL GLENN PhD.
Summary – Thirteen Facts to Oppose Rockwool in Jefferson County, WV
- Rockwool projects it will annually emit 239 tons of Nitrogen Dioxides (NOx’s) and 472 tons of volatile organic compounds (VOC’s) which will react with UV during the May to September temperature patterns to produce ozone.
- Jefferson county presently has ozone levels just below the 50 ppb ‘Moderate’ threshold for EPA-designated-‘Good’ ozone level.
- Increasing ozone levels to the ‘Moderate’ level will adversely affect ‘sensitive’ individuals working outdoors.
- The current level of ozone in Jefferson county is already reducing soybean yield 5-10% through a chronic stress on photosynthesis. Any additional ozone will further decrease soybean yields of this major crop in the county.
- Rockwool projects it will annually emit 134 tons of particulate matter less than 2.5 microns (PM2.5) and 154 tons of particulate matter less than 10 microns (PM10).
- The World Health Organization of the United Nations has stated that there is no threshold for PM2.5 and PM10 below which no damage to health is observed (https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/ambient-(outdoor)-air-quality-and-health).
- “Each 10 μg/m³ m^3 elevation in fine particulate air pollution was associated with approximately a 4%, 6% and 8% increased risk of all-cause, cardiopulmonary, and lung cancer mortality, respectively”. Pope III, C.A., Burnett, R.T., Thun, M.J., Calle, E.E., Krewski, D., Ito, K. and Thurston, G.D., 2002. Lung cancer, cardiopulmonary mortality, and long-term exposure to fine particulate air pollution. Jama, 287(9), pp.1132-1141.
- Jefferson county currently has approximately 8 μg/m³ of PM2.5. Increasing PM levels will adversely affect human health in the area.
- On average Jefferson county has calm winds (<3.5 mph) 30% of the time and one out of every 5 days, Jefferson county has calm air periods between 14 and 18 hours.
- These calm periods are sufficient for PM2.5, PM5, ozone and PM10 to settle to ground level within Jefferson County.
- The development of any air quality permit requires an air dispersal model of the potential effects in the area. This is performed by West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection (WVEP) using the EPA model-AERMOD. Emission dispersal with calm winds (<3.5 mph) cannot be accurately modeled. Calm wind data are selectively eliminated from the AERMOD model using an established EPA protocol.
- The West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection did not take the 30% calm wind characteristics of the area into consideration for the Rockwool Air Quality Permit.
- The failure of WVDEP to account for calm wind conditions jeopardizes the health and safety of the population and the agricultural industry in Jefferson county.