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


For Immediate Release:
January 25, 2012

Therese Vick
(919) 345-3674

NC Science Advisory Board on Toxic Air Pollutants recommends increasing acceptable ambient levels (AALs) of arsenic nine-fold

Raleigh- Despite latest research calling arsenic “the number one environmental chemical of concern in the US and worldwide, today the North Carolina Science Advisory Board on Toxic Air Pollutants (SAB) voted to recommend the increase of “Acceptable Ambient Levels” of arsenic nine-fold. This, despite the SAB’s own listing of arsenic as the number one substance to be reviewed under their “Prevention Paradigm.”

Certain industries stand to benefit from this change, for example Blue Ridge Paper in Canton, Titan Cement in Castle Hayne, and hundreds of combustion sources burning waste wood and other products containing arsenic across the state. Additionally New South Lumber Company located in Graham is not allowed to fire all of its boilers at one time because they would violate North Carolina’s current health-based arsenic limit. Titan Cement’s “Draft Permit Revision” states: ““PSD Preliminary Review – modification 300 construction/operation permit (Draft Revision 8, July 2011 – Assistant Secretary)” for Carolinas Cement Company LLC (aka Titan Cement) proposed to be located in Castle Hayne, North Carolina, the modeled arsenic levels are at 30% of the AAL— according to the company’s own modeling and after pollution control. The amount of arsenic potentially emitted into the air of the surrounding community is significant and dangerous. In the Draft Revision, DAQ attempts to diminish the potential concern over these levels by saying “Finally, the Scientific Advisory Board is considering adjusting the Arsenic AAL.” As troubling as 30% is, it pales in comparison to the almost 48% of the AAL modeled in an earlier draft.

The North Carolina’s Division of Air Quality’s “2009 Annual Air Toxics Report” states that: “...median arsenic concentrations measured across the state in 2009 exceed the AAL for arsenic by 3–4 times.” Trinity Consultants, a North Carolina environmental consulting firm posted this on their website:

“For a variety of emission source(s), particularly combustion sources, the arsenic AAL has often been problematic in TAP air dispersion modeling. In some cases, affected facilities have had to improve pollution control systems, increase stack heights or place operational limits to demonstrate compliance with the arsenic AA(L)[emphasis added].”

Therese Vick, BREDL community organizer advised the SAB that “You can pass the responsibility down the line, but the buck stops with you. You are the scientists that communities depend on to protect their health. The impetus behind this is not protection of public health.” Of additional concern are those who work in industries already exposed to arsenic. These workers could be inhaling an amount almost 10 times more than previously allowed, if the acceptable level of arsenic is increased for the convenience of polluting industries.


Download the BREDL Report - "First They Came For, The North Carolina Legislature's Assault on the Public-A is for Arsenic"