Intel, Public Health, and ‘Pollution’

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Last night’s meeting about public health and Intel’s plant in Rio Rancho, held at the Old San Ysidro Church in Corrales, was … interesting.

Two officials with the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, a division of the Public Health Service of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, presented their findings on air quality and the chip-fabrication factory.

Several residents in the area have convinced themselves that their maladies are due to “pollution” emanating from the plant. But after years of analysis — a process that the ATSDR admitted took “too long” — the agency released its “final public health consultation” last month.

It was somewhat disappointing that inadequate data rendered the ATSDR unable to “draw health conclusions” about volatile organic compounds and acid aerosols. Similarly, the agency could not verify an “increased rate” of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (better known as Lou Gehrig’s disease), since the “prevalence rate of ALS has not been well established and sufficient reporting data are not currently available.” More research is needed.

But scientists did determine that “measured levels of carbon dioxide … were below levels of health concern,” and the community is not “exposed to elevated levels of crystalline silica.” Furthermore, an “epidemiologic investigation” by the New Mexico Health Department “did not observe a cluster of idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis.”

A peer reviewer summarized the report’s bottom line: “[T]here are very little if any health effects posed by environmental emissions from the Intel facility.”

Rest assured, that won’t be good enough for the ecochondriacs who are convinced that Intel is sickening them, and that state officials — and now, possibly the feds — are in on the conspiracy. Activists’ militancy, well-covered by media outlets, doesn’t advertise greater Albuquerque as an attractive place for manufacturers to make investments.

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