News

April 7 smoke was loaded with chemicals

Negative long-term effects not expected, report says

Elevated levels of several chemicals drifted down the Peninsula April 7 in the smoke from the Sims Metal fire in Redwood City, a Bay Area Air Quality Management District report has revealed.

The fire, which burned a pile of cars, car interiors, appliances and other materials 40 feet high, caused alarm as a plume of black smoke billowed over Redwood City, Woodside, Menlo Park, Atherton, Palo Alto, East Palo Alto, Hayward, Fremont and San Jose.

The chemicals, most notably benzene, styrene and 1, 3 butadiene, were at levels significantly higher than 24-hour, typical-day comparisons, according to the report.

Benzene, a possible carcinogen and respiratory irritant, was found at 79 parts per billion. In a 24-hour period on a typical day, the range is .1 to 1 part per billion, according to the report.

Styrene, which the Environmental Protection Agency also classifies as a possible carcinogen, measured 498.10 parts per billion. A third compound, 1,3 butadiene, normally .15 to .3 parts per billion, was elevated to 13.20 parts per billion.

Other compounds with elevated levels included toluene, acetone, xylene, 1,2 dichloroethane and ethylbenzene.

Significant, long-term effects associated with the fire are not expected, the district noted. The compounds are consistent with those found in combustion emissions.

View the complete report here: http://www.baaqmd.gov/enf/incidents/2007/i040707_sims_metal.pdf

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