LEAVITTSBURG Health officials seek to clear the air on landfill concerns

Health experts are assessing the level of hydrogen sulfide in the area, and its effects on health.
LEAVITTSBURG -- Representatives from the Ohio Department of Health will meet with Warren Township residents next week about their concerns surrounding a landfill facility.
Officials from the Ohio Department of Health will have a community meeting from 6 to 9 p.m. Aug. 6 at the Johnson Community Center.
Representatives from the Atlanta-based Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry also are expected to attend. ATSDR is an agency of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
"Residents and community people can come in and talk to them regarding health issues and their concerns," said Debbie Roth, president of Our Lives Count, a citizens group formed earlier this year because of concerns about Warren Recycling.
Kristopher Weiss, a spokesman for the Ohio Department of Health, said the meeting is part of an ongoing assessment.
"It's an assessment of the level of hydrogen sulfide in the area and the extent of adverse health effects that we're hearing about," he said.
Upon completion of the assessment, the health department will recommend waysto correct the problem, Weiss said.
A time frame for completion depends on the information gathered.
Some residents are concerned that the construction and debris landfill on Martin Luther King Avenue in the city is producing hydrogen sulfide, which smells like rotten eggs and can be harmful at levels of high or prolonged exposure in enclosed areas.
Roth said her organization and Warren Township officials are distributing fliers throughout the community to try to get people to attend.
"I hope the residents come out and respond," Roth said. "It's important for people to tell them what their concerns are."
Officials have said hydrogen sulfide levels have not exceeded what's deemed harmful by the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency and the Ohio Industrial Commission.
The company paid MS Consultants Inc. of Youngstown to place monitors at different locations in the township, including LaBrae High School and Leavitt Elementary School, to log the hydrogen sulfide levels. Warren Township and the school board selected the company to do the monitoring.
The company reported that the facility could be one of the sources of hydrogen sulfide but said it may be coming from other sources such as residential trash and debris burning, lawn mowing equipment and open ditches containing raw sewage from failed septic systems.
Some of the monitors showed brief spikes in the readings that leveled off after a few minutes.
Trustees' letter
Terry Ambrose, township trustee, said the meeting was set up in response to a letter the attorney representing the township and the school board sent to several agencies asking for assistance.
The agency wrote back that it considered the letter a petition requesting a public health assessment. An assessment involves evaluation of "data and information on the release of hazardous substances into the environment to assess any current or future impact on public health," ATSDR literature says.
"We're very pleased with their response," she said. "They said it was going to be a fact-finding mission, and they wanted to speak to residents with regard to their health concerns one on one."

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