For Immediate Release:
August 11, 2022
Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services
Media Inquiry Form
JEFFERSON CITY, MO – The Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services (DHSS) evaluated air data collected near Bridgeton Landfill in Bridgeton, Missouri, to determine the impacts of landfill gas emissions on people's health. The evaluated air data were collected by the Missouri Department of Natural Resources (DNR) and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) from 2013 to 2018. DHSS previously released a document for public comment from September 21, 2018 to January 18, 2019 and hosted a public meeting on January 7, 2019. DHSS is now releasing the final health consultation document. This final document has been revised from the previously-released version to incorporate responses to public comments and includes evaluation of additional air monitoring data. A thorough scientific review has been conducted between DHSS and the federal Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR). The conclusions of this final report have not changed from the public comment version.
Bridgeton Landfill is a solid waste landfill located within the boundaries of the West Lake Landfill in the Greater St. Louis metropolitan area. Sub-surface smoldering at the landfill, which was first reported in December 2010, resulted in increased gas and odor emissions from the landfill. Today, chemical and odor emissions have been substantially reduced.
The findings of the report are:
- Prior to completion of corrective actions at the landfill in 2014, breathing sulfur-based compounds (including hydrogen sulfide and other reduced sulfur compounds) in the air near the landfill may have aggravated existing respiratory and cardiopulmonary conditions, caused respiratory effects such as chest tightness or difficulty breathing, or increased the risk of respiratory infection. Children, elderly adults, and people with chronic respiratory conditions such as asthma would have been at greater risk.
- Sulfur-based compounds may have been responsible for much of the odor from the landfill. Odors may have caused headache, nausea, or fatigue. Repeated exposure to odors may have increased stress and/or impaired mood.
- Fugitive emissions of sulfur-based compounds from the landfill decreased significantly after completion of corrective action at the landfill and are unlikely to harm people’s health. Odors may be occasionally objectionable, especially during construction or instances of equipment malfunction at the landfill.
- Breathing other (non-sulfur based) chemicals detected in the air is not expected to have harmed people’s health.
- Estimated cancer risks from living and breathing volatile organic compounds (VOCs) near the landfill are similar to the risks from living in other urban environments in the United States.
“In this final report, we have added more recent data and responded to the community’s comments received during the public comment period. The conclusions of this document have not changed. We appreciate the community’s input to help make this report clearer and for the opportunity to address concerns. If additional air monitoring is warranted in the future, DHSS will continue to work with regulatory agencies and review data as it becomes available for any potential health impacts,” said Jeff Wenzel, Chief of the Bureau of Environmental Epidemiology with DHSS.
Because odors may occasionally be considered offensive, especially during invasive work or instances of equipment malfunction at the landfill, DHSS recommends:
- Staying indoors as much as possible and avoiding outdoor exercise during periods of objectionable odor. This is especially important for children, elderly adults, and people with chronic breathing conditions.
- Seeking immediate medical advice for any acute respiratory symptoms such as difficulty breathing. Offensive odors from any source may cause changes in breathing or trigger an asthma attack.
- Seeking medical advice for any persistent symptoms that do not subside when the odors diminish, including symptoms associated with stress.
As always, DHSS recommends taking usual health-protective measures. Important preventive measures include following recommended nutrition guidelines and getting regular exercise. Individuals at risk of chronic stress are advised to seek advice on developing a comprehensive stress management plan.
DHSS will continue to work with DNR to address community health concerns and evaluate any additional monitoring data as they becomes available for potential health impacts.
DHSS encourages people to read the final 2022 Bridgeton Landfill Health Consultation document. The document may be viewed online or at the St. Louis Public Library, Bridgeton Trails Branch, 3455 McKelvey Rd, Bridgeton, MO, 63044.