Following a 1986 decision by Montgomery County in Maryland to construct a municipal waste resource recovery facility near the town of Dickerson, local residents expressed concern regarding the potential health risks associated with the proposed facility. In response, the county conducted a multiple pathway health risk assessment for a generic facility in 1989. The Dickerson facility was then constructed and began operation in 1995. In 2003, the county conducted an update to the 1989 study. This article presents results from both the 1989 study and the 2003 update.
In 1989, Montgomery County in Maryland retained Roy F. Weston to conduct a multiple pathway health risk assessment for a proposed solid waste resource recovery facility (RRF) to be constructed near Dickerson, MD.1 The health risk assessment was based on a review of the literature on engineering (i.e., stack design) and emissions data for existing RRFs in the United States, Canada, and Europe, and also incorporated one year’s worth of meteorological data collected from the Potomac Electric Power Co. generating station, located one-half mile northwest of the proposed site. The health risk assessment focused on pollutants for which there were no established air quality standards, but for which there was a body of evidence that indicated potential effects on human health. It used established procedures that were accepted by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and many state agencies at that time.