Power Plants & Incinerators
We provide consulting services and expertise in the assessment of the potential health impacts of atmospheric emissions from electric power plants, and both municipal and hazardous waste incinerators. Our evaluations of human health and environmental impacts from these sources cover a wide range of capabilities and settings. We perform, direct, or use air quality analyses, food-chain studies, ecological impact evaluations, and human health risk assessments to meet the requirements of federal, state, and local regulatory agencies. We have conducted these studies to assess local effects of relatively small sources, as well as regional effects of large power plants. We frequently present the results of or work at public hearings where we respond to questions from elected officials and citizens. We also apply our expertise and experience in these areas to support companies and organizations engaged in litigation and regulatory hearings, and to provide comments on regulatory proposals.
Coal-fired power plants and atmospheric particulate matter
We performed an extensive assessment of the scientific evidence supporting the often cited view that common atmospheric concentrations of sulfates can be quantitatively linked to increased mortality rates. This assessment was conducted for expert testimony concerning the potential for adverse health effects to arise from exposures to secondary atmospheric particulate matter generated by sulfur dioxide emissions from coal-fired power plants. Based on our review of the scientific and medical literature, and our experience in toxicology, epidemiology, and health risk assessment, we found that the various common sulfates in ambient air — neutral sulfate salts, metallic sulfate salts, and sulfuric acid — are not present in ambient concentrations at or near levels at which they may cause chronic disease or death. We also assert that it is not toxicologically plausible that any and all forms of fine particulate matter (PM2.5) are alike in their potencies — and specifically that ambient sulfates are as toxicologically potent as some other forms of PM2.5. We have written and spoken on this matter on numerous occasions.
Food chain impacts of atmospheric emissions from municipal solid waste incinerators
Several years ago, we conducted a multipathway (i.e., food chain) human health risk assessment of emissions from the Maine Energy Recovery Company's municipal solid waste-to-energy facility. Because this assessment was performed prior to establishment of most of the official guidance and support programs to conduct such a task, the work was done based on our fundamental knowledge and experience assessing the fate and transport of chemicals in the environment. In the decade following this risk assessment, the U.S. EPA developed numerous regulatory guidelines and models to conduct such multipathway risk assessments. Additionally, the city where the facility was located enacted its own health-based Air Toxics Control Ordinance, conditions and operations at the facility were modified, and a significantly more extensive and detailed set of measurements was made of the facility's emissions. Recently, we performed an updated multipathway risk assessment for the facility incorporating the most recent emissions data from all portions of the plant, the U.S. EPA's newest atmospheric dispersion and deposition modeling programs, as well as EPA's finalized multipathway risk assessment guidance. The updated risk assessment confirmed the previous work's conclusions - that emissions from the facility would not pose significant direct or indirect (i.e., food chain) risks to the health of nearby residents, farmers, or fishers.