Are we breathing oil contaminated air? MS National Guard testing - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

Are we breathing oil contaminated air? MS National Guard testing

WAVELAND, MS (WLOX) -

By Al Showers – bio | email

WAVELAND, MS (WLOX) - Reports of heavy oil odors is the spark that puts this air monitoring survey team into action. 

"You have certain individuals who have breathing problems already. Asthma and others and this could aggravate it. Certain smell, certain chemicals in the air definitely aggravates it for those who have breathing problems already," Lt. Col. Stephen McCraney with Mississippi Air National Guard said. "I think it's very important that we identify if we have that hazard coming toward our beaches that we're able to tell them early on."

The gadget the crew members use is called an areaRAE. The smaller unit, a multiRAE, is designed to sniff out bad air.

Survey Team Member Jasen Rodgers said, "It has a pump. Basically, [it] throws the air over several censors. What it is at that point, you can tell whether it's harmful to the public."

"We've set those up specifically to deal with this oil hazard to be able to read some of those products that might be off gassing that could actually cause harm to individuals," McCraney said. "We check the oxygen level to make sure it's within a good rate. We also check the VOC's, the volatile organic compound level, to make sure that there is none coming off of the water, any suspected oil products that might be impacting the coastline."

However, McCarney said just because you smell oil, doesn't mean it's harmful to your health.

"Up to this point, on the beaches as our assessment teams have been working the beach, we have not come up with any hazards yet," McCraney said.

The information the survey team gathers goes to local Emergency Operation Centers and to DEQ and DMR.

Again, the air quality reports show no contaminants in the air from the oil spill.

Copyright 2010 WLOX. All rights reserved.

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