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Bay Area Environmental Health Expert Questions Air Quality Tests

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Smoke rises from the Richmond Chevron refinery fire (CBS)

Smoke rises from the Richmond Chevron refinery fire (CBS)

HollyQuan20100908_KCBS_0017r Holly Quan
Holly was born and raised in Oakland and she graduated from San...
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CBS SF Bay (con't)

Affordable Care Act Updates: CBSSanFrancisco.com/ACA

Health News & Information: CBSSanFrancisco.com/Health

SAN FRANCISCO (KCBS) – Some environmental health experts are questioning air quality tests that show no negative effects from the black cloud of smoke coming from Monday’s Richmond refinery fire.

The tests looked at 23 compounds classified by the state as contaminants. The results showed 22 compounds came up safe and one didn’t. That one is called Acrolein, which is like a formaldehyde, a by-product of combustion that can cause eye, skin and breathing problems.

KCBS’ Holly Quan Reports:

Over 1,700 people flooded local hospitals complaining of shortness of breath following Monday’s incident.

Paul Blanc, chief of environmental medicine at UCSF, said there are other chemicals that should be tested for.

Complete Coverage: Richmond Refinery Fire

“For example, there’s a metal element called vanadium, which is a common by-product of petroleum burning,” said Blanc. “That’s not something on their list of things to test but that’s something I would test for.”

Vanadium is often associated with bronchitis. Lisa Fasano with the Bay Area Air Quality Management District said they believe the tests were done thoroughly.

“You’re left with heavy particulate matter and smoke but the chemical components get burned off because the fire is burning so hot,” said Fasano. “Based on that, I wouldn’t expect that there would be anything that was missed in the tests that we did.”

Fasano said they are still waiting for test results to come back for particulate matter, which can also cause breathing problems.

As of Wednesday, about 1,000 claims forms have been filed since Chevron’s Richmond refinery sent 950 area residents to local hospitals. Anyone wishing to file a claim is encouraged to call the company’s claims hot line at (866) 260-7881.

(Copyright 2012 by CBS San Francisco. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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