Dr. Benitez Question and Answer Session on Fly Ash Spill


What does your department already know about the potential health effects of fly ash?

In general, what we’ve seen in the limited medical literature out there is that it’s a relatively nontoxic type of material. We know that, [in] the particular measurements already obtained, that the levels are actually pretty far down and that even eating a certain amount (and I’m not recommending this to anybody), but if they’re eating a certain amount of fly ash even per day, even for a little kid, over a long period of time they [the levels] would not get to anywhere where we know there’s a problem with some of these particular chemicals. So, even though, for example, arsenic was already high, even eating some of it on purpose, per se, is not going to give you enough of an arsenic level to cause a problem – IF conditions stay the same. The problem then becomes if it starts accumulating in specific water wells or that type of thing, then it could change the perimeters under which those measurements were obtained and then they would find that that could cause a problem. Hence the other reason for doing a baseline evaluation and then doing periodic evaluation to make sure nothing’s happening.