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Residents say odor from JP landfill causing health problems

"Like bronchitis symptoms, and then in addition to what we smell and feel like, sometimes there's like a weight on your chest."

People who live in the River Ridge area continue to complain about the odor coming from the landfill, and they say it is causing them health problems, such as nose bleeds and respiratory and eye irritation.

People say there are other issues too. At the Jefferson Parish public hearing several days ago, people in River Ridge were noticing something happening, not only to their health, but inside of their homes.

"Last Monday was the worst. Last Monday people were talking, it was actually making them nauseous," said Nancy Pearson of River Ridge.

Retired Jefferson Parish Deputy Nancy Pearson is concerned about the higher levels of hydrogen sulfide gas that may be coming from the landfill. She is coughing. Her sinuses are irritated and like another couple, who complained to the Jefferson Parish Council, her AC filters are turning dark with black spots in them in a matter of just 10 days.

"I've been in this house for 30 years and it's never been like that before," said Pearson.

Also in River Ridge, Rene' Marse has health concerns regarding the odor.

"Like bronchitis symptoms, and then in addition to what we smell and feel like, sometimes there's like a weight on your chest," said Marse.

She's especially concerned about her 22-month-old who woke up upset in the middle of the night.

"She was crying, 'Mama change diaper. Change diaper.' So I went to change her diaper and it wasn't dirty, and what I realized is she was smelling what I had been smelling," remembers Marse.

Dr. Daniel Harrington is a certified industrial hygienist at LSU Health Sciences Center. He is not involved in the landfill problem. He says hydrogen sulfide can be smelled in low concentrations, more so at night because it's heavy and settles without the wind. In the current levels, it is a nose and eye irritant, but while low levels are not known to have permanent health effects, there is another concern that impacts people's lives.

"But what about the psychological side and that's something in talking with people over the years. That's something that really hits home. You're not going to go outside and play if it stinks. It has a way of affecting people's health more broadly," said Dr. Harrington who is also an Assistant Professor in Environmental and Occupational Health Sciences at the LSU School of Public Health.

Dr. Harrington says the hydrogen sulfide gas is colorless so it would not turn filters dark, but you remember from the Chinese drywall with the same gas, it turned metals black from corrosion, so it is unknown if there is something in the filter fabric reacting with the gas, or is there another pollutant in the air making it black.

He also says children are more vulnerable to pollutants.

"Children are naturally exposed to higher levels of pollution than adults because of their physical make up. They breath more air compared to how much they weigh," he said.

Meg Farris can be reached at mfarris@wwltv.com.

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