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Continuing public concern about cancer rates and exposure to toxic substances, specifically those in landfill gases, prompted the New York Department of Health (NYSDOH) to conduct a study of cancer incidence among people living near landfills. From the hundreds of landfills located in New York State, NYSDOH selected 38 landfills for inclusion in this study. These landfills were selected because information indicated that gas production and movement could create conditions for possible exposures. Of these landfills, 30 began operation before 1970. These landfills were not lined or capped as they would be if constructed today because New York State and the federal governments did not begin regulating landfills until 1973 and 1976, respectively. Gas collection systems had been installed in 22 of the study landfills at the time of the NYSDOH study. By the end of the 1980s, only three of the study landfills were operating; currently none are active.
At each of the 38 landfills selected for study, NYSDOH identified potential exposure areas and reference areas where no exposure was expected. The potential exposure areas were identified as a ring around the landfill boundary where landfill gas was migrating according to sampling data. For most of the landfills, this area extended 250 feet from the landfill boundary. At four landfills, sampling data indicated that the area of potential exposure should extend 500 feet from the landfill boundary, and at one landfill the area extended 1,000 feet from the landfill boundary. The reference areas were identified as the area within the same zip code as the landfill, but beyond the ring that defined the potential exposure areas.
New York has many landfills within the state, and most of these landfills need professional attention. Terra-Petra has in-house expertise with the management of landfills, and how to properly close and dispose of landfills. Many underutilized landfills are developed into sustainable properties that benefit the entire community. Terra-Petra takes pride in participating in community re-development.