- A survey by the St. Louis County Department of Public Health (DPH) of residents near the Bridgeton Landfill did not find seriously higher asthma rates in the area.
- DPH, working with the St. Louis University College for Public Health and Social Justice, interviewed 170 residents within a two-mile radius of the landfill and 173 residents from other parts of the county.
- While residents near the landfill reported slightly higher rates of asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), the area also had a higher rate of households with smokers.
In its report, DPH stresses the fact that this survey was a first step in better understanding the community's health needs and does not show any cause and effect between the landfill and respiratory issues. However respondents who lived near the landfill did report more shortness of breath, allergies, and experience with bad odor, and DPH Director Faisal Khan said these conditions can lead to higher stress levels and are worth further study.
Health concerns about fumes from the landfill's underground fire have been a hotly contested issue for years. Landfill owner Republic Services released a statement saying that the results further show there is no public health risk from the site. While some residents were reportedly positive about the results, others were concerned about the findings on local health rates regardless of the cause.
The DPH report included an action plan outlining the need for further research, education, and health services in the community. The agency will also continue air quality monitoring in collaboration with the Missouri Department of Natural Resources.
Russ Knocke, spokesperson for Bridgeton Landfill, said to Waste Dive in an email: "This survey is a useful addition to the immense body of science that has been accumulated about Bridgeton Landfill. It adds some perspective to the chorus of activists and their fundraisers. Since 2012, air conditions around Bridgeton Landfill have been intensely monitored by scientists, environmental professionals, and regulators. These evaluations have involved ambient air downwind, upwind, and on-site, as well as detailed chemical analysis of landfill gas testing for more than 170 compounds. In addition, last week the EPA released the data from its most recent three quarters of testing. These new findings are consistent with data from more than three years of comprehensive monitoring, testing and study. All findings demonstrate that there is no public health risk associated with air conditions at and around the site."