JACKSON COUNTY, MS (WLOX) - Paint particles cover their cars and an "acid mist" occasionally threatens their health. Residents of one Pascagoula neighborhood blame the problems on air pollution from nearby industry. Citizens shared those concerns Monday with Jackson County supervisors.
"It was covered. I could write my name all over it," said Barbara Weckesser, as she pointed to her car and recalled the time it was covered with a thick, powdery dust.
She lives on Cherokee Drive and blames neighboring industries for the occasional pollution fallout that lands on cars and worse.
"I had blisters, and it was from the sulphuric acid. And it was called chemical dermatitis. A doctor diagnosed it," said Weckesser.
Monday morning, she shared the neighborhood concerns with county supervisors.
"I don't know what the solution is, other than just come in there and buy us out and turn us all into a buffer zone. Maybe that's the solution. I don't know. But I know one thing. I know we all can't continue to live in it," she told the board.
Paint chips or dust covering cars can certainly be a nuisance, but among neighbors, the far greater concern involves possible adverse health effects: What is the effect of breathing the fumes and fallout?
"And from the mother of a chronically ill child, that I believe is because of the industry we live in," Karen Kilbern told county supervisors.
She also lives on Cherokee Drive and is a part of the citizens group that's involved with this issue.
"Whenever we allow the kids to go play outside, and they're sucking all this up and they're constantly getting sick. At what point are you guys going to say, okay, industry is good because everybody needs jobs, but something needs to change. Because it's not healthy," she told supervisors.
"Our concern along with theirs is that the appropriate authorities are doing the right thing," said Jackson County Supervisor Mike Mangum. "Every time there's been a complaint, we have been forwarding that complaint to the proper authorities, which in this case would be DEQ."
DEQ is involved along with the Mississippi Department of Health. The citizens group has also held meetings with representatives from the nearby industries.
A door-to-door health survey was done in the Cherokee Forrest neighborhood in Pascagoula. About 100 households took part in the survey, which found high rates of pneumonia and other respiratory ailments among residents of the subdivision.