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A Study on the Affected Population Surrounding the Industries Releasing OSHA Carcinogens in Jefferson County Using Toxic Release Inventory

Robert W. Peters, University of Alabama at Birmingham, Department of Civil, Construction and Environmental Engineering, 1075 13th Street South, Birmingham, AL 35294-4440 and Shammi Rahman, Civil, Construction, and Environmental Engineering, University of Alabama at Birmingham, 1075 13th Street South, Birmingham, AL 35294-4440.

The Toxics Release Inventory (TRI) is a publicly available EPA database that contains information on toxic chemical releases and waste management activities reported annually by certain industries as well as federal facilities. The data obtained from the TRI can be used to determine the actual number of people living in the two mile zone of each facility releasing carcinogens in Jefferson County, Alabama. The study was conducted with the help of data obtained from TRI. The information regarding the location of facilities releasing OSHA carcinogens in Jefferson County were gathered from the TRI Explorer. There were 49 such facilities within the Birmingham metropolitan area. With the help of GIS, the information was incorporated with the population map of Jefferson County to determine the number of people who live within a two mile area of the facilities.

The study also looked at the number of people of different age groups within the area. The population with age below 5 years and those above 65 are most susceptible to the carcinogens. Therefore, emphasis has been given particularly to these two age groups. Variations in the different racial groups were studied, i.e., which racial groups dominate in the sphere of influence of the industries.

The limitation of the study is that the data uses only the OSHA carcinogens which is comprised of only 4 groups of chemicals: arsenic compounds; dioxin and dioxin-like compounds, chromium compounds, lead compounds, and polycyclic aromatic compounds (PACs). Further study on all carcinogens could benefit the local population and policy makers to establish reduction targets and measure progress toward those targets.