Study: Gas levels aren't likely to cause harm

LEAVITTSBURG -- Some residents might be exposed to hydrogen sulfide coming from their wells and into their homes, but exposure is not likely to cause lasting serious health effects, according to a federal agency.
The Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry will meet from 6 to 8 p.m. Friday at the Warren Township Administration building, West Market Street, to discuss results of its hydrogen sulfide ground water investigation.
The purpose of the public meeting is to release the results of ATSDR's analysis of water data collected to measure hydrogen sulfide levels in the local ground water. ATSDR is a nonregulatory arm of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Results of air monitoring are expected to be released in early summer.
The agency started the study at the request of township and LaBrae School District officials and members of the residents group Our Lives Count. Residents have complained for about two years about the hydrogen sulfide odor, likened to rotten eggs, wafting through the community.
The findings
After evaluating the environmental data, ATSDR concluded:
UHydrogen sulfide gas occurs naturally in the geological formations beneath Warren Township, but not at significantly high levels.
UThe residential wells in the township are known to have fair water quality, with naturally elevated concentrations of iron, manganese and sulfate. The levels of metals in the residential wells tested do not present a health problem.
USome residents might be exposed to hydrogen sulfide from gases coming out of the wells. Still, this exposure would be brief and sporadic, and it likely won't bring serious health effects.
ATSDR also observes that residents without water filters who notice the hydrogen sulfide smell might decrease exposure by taking the following steps:
UUse bathroom ventilation fans when bathing or showering.
UIf there is an odor, ventilate the basement or laundry room with fans, open windows and vents when washing or folding clothes.
UInstall a water-treatment system. Some systems can decrease or eliminate hydrogen sulfide from water. Local water treatment companies can advise residents of the types of systems available.
ATSDR also recommends that Warren Recycling Inc. install and periodically sample monitoring wells on the site property to ensure that its operations don't harm area sources of drinking water.