Greeley Neighborhood Airborne Metals
Historic mining pollution in Butte-Silver is well known to residents in part because of Butte’s longstanding status as a Superfund site, but current mining operations may also impact human health, according to two new studies that have recently been released. KBMF’s Daniel Hogan and Dave Hutchins have both done reporting on the work of Dr. Katie Hailer and Dr. Suzanne McDermott, two scientists who are both tracking the human health impacts of historic and current mining practices in Butte.
How does current mining in the Continental impact human health? Some in the Greeley neighborhood of Butte are concerned that these new scientific studies are uncovering some important findings, and may point to gaps in how we monitor air quality in the Summit Valley.
Ed Banderob, President of the Greeley Neighborhood Community Development Corporation, is asking the Butte-Silver Bow Chief Executive and Council of Commissioners to commission a study to determine if airborne metals from active mining pose a health risk to Butte-Silver Bow citizens. He says Greeley’s proximity to the mine is unique, first of all.
Mr. Banderob is asking the local government to look into the issues raised by the recent studies of Dr. Hailer and Dr. McDermott.
What he’s referring to there, with PM 2.5 and PM 10, are the sizes of particulate matter monitored in air quality studies. 2.5 micrometers or smaller is considered a fine particle, where 2.5 all the way up to 10 micrometers are considered a coarse dust particle. A coarse dust particle is still less than the width of a human hair, but can still cause irritation of the eyes, coughing, reduced lung function, asthma attacks, and even premature death, with prolonged exposure.
John Rolich is Manager of Butte-Silver Bow’s Environmental Health Division, which conducts food safety inspections, oversees septic and sanitation compliance, and monitors air quality.
[John Rolich 1]
Mr. Banderob of the Greeley Neighborhood Community Development Corporation says that monitoring for organic PM 2.5 is not sufficient for their neighborhood, and is asking for the local government to commission a more extensive study of air quality in the Greeley. He says the purpose would be
When I asked him how urgent he thinks this issue is, Mr. Banderob feels the matter of airborne metals in the Greeley neighborhood has become a matter of life and death.
Mr. Banderob says the local government has thus far been responsive to his concerns, and he is appreciative. John Rolich at the Health Department says they just don’t have enough information at this point to call a public meeting or even to determine what specifically they should be studying.
[John Rolich 2]
We’ll have more as the story continues.
For KBMF, I’m Clark Grant.