People in Jihlava are burdened by formaldehyde more than is usual

20.2.2008 - Jihlava

Thanks to Kronospan, people live and work in an environment, that does not meet hygienic norms. According to an extensive study, elaborated by the National Institute of Public Health (NIPH). The largest problems of the enterprise are noise and increased concentration of formaldehyde, mainly in work environment (1). Despite these facts, the company has labelled health risks as insignificant or small in press news, and affirmed the study has met expectations. “Kronospan’s management has probably read a different study. We definately do not agree with their conclusions,” said Ing. Jana Vitnerova, head of the local branch of Arnika Association in Jihlava. After assessment of formaldehyde concentration found in outside atmosphere, the NIPH’s study admits that “certain (health) risks do exist” and evaluates them as “acceptable”. According to dispersion model, more than 7000 people are exposed to formaldehyde concentrations that are higher than usual (2).

“It is the first study of such extension applied to one enterprise in Jihlava. We requested it as a part of approbation of OSB line,” said about origin of the study RNDr. Jiri Kos from the Hygienic Station of Jihlava Region. Emissions were measured during days 28. – 31.8. and 30.10. – 1.11. 2007 at five points in Jihlava (2). Level of concentration was checked for formaldehyde, nitrogen dioxide, soft particular matter (PM10), lead, cadmium, hydrogen chloride, acetaldehyde, benzene, benz (a) pyren, alfa-pinen and isoprene. “Despite its scope, the study doesn’t involve all situations of pollutants dispersion and worst inversion situations are not included at all. The real impact of Kronospan should be comprehended by perennial measurement,” specifies Arnika’s reservations RNDr. Jindrich Petrlik, head of the Toxics Free Future campaign.

The NIPH’s study also evaluates the possible health impacts of nitrogen dioxide. 230 people are exposed to increased concentration, 31 of them are children. The study admits “possible negative symptoms” mainly for children, allergic and asthmatic people, and general risk is evaluated as “small and acceptable”. Due to traffic and local heating, concentrations may be higher in some places, especially during impaired dispersion conditions. Since new biomass boiler has been in operation, Kronospan’s production of nitrogen oxides is 43% higher.

Excessive noise in the enterprise surroundings and increased formaldehyde concentration in work environment of the assembly line – these are the reasons why KHS did not agree with approbation of OSB line. “Many Jihlavans are affected not only by emissions but also by noise from Kronospan,” said Vitnerova. “According to study, more than 300 people (40 of them are children) live in houses that have been exposed to noise from nonstop operation for couple of years,” said Vitnerova (3). Company representatives promised to design and implement noise precaution and improvement of inner work conditions to 30 May 2008.

“NIPH’s study is an important step, but complex assessment of Kronospan’s impact on the environment in Jihlava is still missing. This could be done only by process of integrated permission for the whole complex of operations. Nevertheless, Kronospan refuses it. Why, if everything is in order or at least in a fair way,” closes Petrlik.

(1) According to study “Evaluation of Emission Measurements in Jihlava” that has been elaborated by National Institute of Public Health in Brno on the basis of measurements made between days 28. – 31. 8. and 30. 10. – 1. 11. 2007 were determined average concentrations in residential areas in Jihlava:


Formaldehyde concentration in μg/m³

Number of inhabitants continually living in area

Children (from number of inhabitants)

10,0

5 800

780

12,5

850

115

15,0

120

16

22,5

170

23

Total

6 940

934

WHO – World Health Organization quotes guiding figure for non-carcinogen effects of formaldehyde on 100 μg/m3 for half hour concentrations. National Institute of Public Health has determined the reference threshold concentration for some matters in the outside atmosphere according to § 45, law number 86/2002, about the preservation of atmosphere and about the changes of other laws (law about air preservation), in a valid version. Hour reference concentration of formaldehyde is 60 μg/m3.

(2) Measurements took place in these areas:

-Masaryk’s Square
-site of Kollarova basic school
-site of Prometal company, U Rybnicka street
-site of SWOTES company
-site of Demlova basic school

(3)“Noise from the Kronospan enterprise in recent work regime is a source of annoyance and sleep disturbances to affected inhabitants. Because it is a permanent exposition burden, this impact will increase possible health risk of affected people. Moreover, acoustic study does not include impact of noise coming from current noise background in the area (road and railway transport), therefore is legitimate to expect further increase of number of disturbed and annoyed people in the exposed area. Total health risk coming from this exposition does exist and is quantifiable as provable.” Evaluation of health risks, NIPH Brno.

 


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