As a result of legislation passed in the 2011 General Assembly, Virginia DEQ Office of Air Quality Monitoring (OAQM) will be conducting an air monitoring study at selected fumigation sites in Suffolk. DEQ will be working with the Department of Health to assess the air monitoring data, evaluate whether health concerns exist at these fumigation sites, and whether additional preventative measures are needed at other fumigation sites to protect public health.
Why was Suffolk chosen for this monitoring study?
Suffolk was selected as the location for this study because there are two large fumigation facilities located within the city limits. In addition to these larger facilities Suffolk also has several smaller operations as well. The map on the right illustrates the locations of these operations. The monitoring study will focus on the two large facilities; Royal Fumigation on Finney Avenue and Western Fumigation on Pruden Boulevard.
What is methyl bromide?
Methyl bromide is a colorless, odorless nonflammable gas used extensively to kill pests such as rodents and insects to prevent damage to stored foods, seeds, and other items and to keep the pests from being transported to other parts of the United States or to other countries. Both Suffolk facilities, Western Fumigation and Royal Fumigation use methyl bromide primarily to fumigate logs for export. After the logs or other products are fumigated, the methyl bromide is released into the air.
What does the study involve?
Beginning in spring of 2013, DEQ will begin measuring the methyl bromide concentrations outside the Western Fumigation and Royal Fumigation facilities. These monitoring events will take place over the course of several months. At first, DEQ will measure background levels of methyl bromide near the fumigation facilities when buildings are not actively aerating. DEQ will collect the background information such as wind speed, wind direction, temperature and relative humidity near each facility. The investigation will involve collecting 1-hour as well as 8-hour samples to access the background methyl bromide levels in the communities near the fumigation facilities.
A future study is planned to investigate methyl bromide levels during active fumigation and aeration where an infrared camera will be used to photograph the emissions of the methyl bromide during the fumigation process. The results from the infrared camera will be evaluated to determine the best placement of a network of canister samplers and portable monitors to measure the concentration of methyl bromide in the outdoor air around the facilities. DEQ will also set up a temporary station to collect information for longer periods of time; up to 24 hours a day. This longer term information will help show how the concentrations change over time.
What reports will come from this study?
- Initial Data Report - This is a highly data intensive report that evaluates the validity of the results of the testing.
- A Quality Assurance Report - This will be sent to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to evaluate the quality of the data gathered during the study.
- DEQ Risk Assessment Report - DEQ will analyze the data results from the testing and will translate the concentrations in the air into actual risk numbers. This report will be sent to VDH for use in their final report.
- Health Assessment - Prepared by the Virginia Department of Health, this assessment will contain the evaluation of all data and risk information generated from the study and will include recommendations on reducing health risks.
How can I get involved?
DEQ has formed a group of interested local officials, affected citizens, industry representatives, health officials and educators. This “stakeholder” group’s main purpose is to keep other people living in the community informed about all parts of the monitoring project. The first meeting of this group was held on June 26, 2012 at the Suffolk Public Health Building where DEQ presented information on the Monitoring Study and VDH made a presentation about the Health Assessment. If you would like more information on the project and the stakeholder process, please contact, please contact Chuck Turner at DEQ.
How can I learn more about this study?
Information about this effort and data that is generated during the study will be posted on this web page as it becomes available. If you have any additional questions regarding this study, its goals, direction or purposes please e-mail either Chuck Turner of DEQ or Dwight Flammia of VDH.