BLUE RIDGE ENVIRONMENTAL DEFENSE LEAGUE ~ Glendale Springs, North Carolina 28629 ~ 4617 Pearl Rd. Raleigh NC 27610 ~ (919) 345-3673 ~


For Immediate Release: November 14, 2011

Therese Vick
(919) 345-3673

North Carolina Science Advisory Board Recommends Increasing “Acceptable” Ambient Air Levels of Arsenic “Nine-fold”

Raleigh- Today, the Blue Ridge Environmental Defense League (BREDL) submitted comments on the risk assessment North Carolina’s Science Advisory Board (SAB) conducted on arsenic, a toxic heavy metal and known human carcinogen. The League expressed its opposition to any increase in arsenic levels. The SAB is recommending that North Carolina’s current health-based limit be increased over nine-fold. BREDL community organizer Therese Vick pointed out that, “By the time a child is 10, they could inhale the same amount of arsenic as a 90-year old.”

Vick also remarked on North Carolina’s long and colorful history with arsenic poisoning: “North Carolina is famous for its problems with arsenic. The public is very familiar with its more well-known dangers and sensational uses. Blanche Taylor-Moore, convicted of killing her boyfriend by putting arsenic in his food and suspected of several other murders sits on Death Row.

On November 2, 1984, North Carolina executed Velma Barfield for the arsenic poisoning of her boyfriend Stuart Taylor, just one of many who succumbed to her home cooking. While we may joke about “Death Row Granny” as Barfield came to be known, arsenic exposure is no laughing matter.”

The League questions the motivation behind the re-evaluation. “With the North Carolina Department of Environment and Natural Resources under such severe budget constraints, why is the expense of the reexamination of a well-known toxin being incurred now? In addition, substantial evidence demonstrates that arsenic contributes to many serious diseases; the impact on the health care costs to North Carolina citizens could be significant. It begs the question, what industry (or industries) are behind the impetus?

Arsenic has been used in poultry feed and can be released during the combustion of poultry litter, is used by the semiconductor industry, the metal working industry, and is released by the combustion of fossil fuels, such as from coal power generation. Additionally, arsenic emissions can occur from the incineration of biomass, sewage sludge and solid waste. The draft risk assessment can be found at: _for_Arsenic_DRAFT_FOR_PUBLIC_COMMENT.pdf


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