Operating Industries, Inc. Health Effects Study
The Operating Industries, Inc (OII) waste disposal site located in Monterey Park, CA, opened in 1948 as a municipal landfill and began accepting hazardous materials from 1976 until operations ended in 1984. Odor and health complaints by individuals living near the site and a general concern about the possible adverse health effects resulting from chemicals dumped there were the basis of a community request for an epidemiologic study. The Los Angeles County and California Departments of Health Services developed a plan in which the health status of people living near the site could be compared to unexposed area 10 miles to the east. Environmental monitoring indicated that airborne emissions from the site were the most probable route of exposure. However, as there was only minimal characterization of community exposures, the study used odor perception as a surrogate measure of exposure.
The study collected information on 1349 adults and 472 children living in the neighborhood around OII. As compared to the 928 adults and 434 children in the comparison area, no significant excesses consistent with exposures from the site were seen for any major medical problems, including overall mortality, cancer, liver disease, and adverse pregnancy outcomes. However, in general, two to four times as many people living downwind of the site complained of symptoms as did those who lived furthest from the site or in the comparison area. After controlling for some of the other factors which might have caused this increase, headaches, eye and throat irritation, nausea, trouble sleeping, and feeling tired were most strongly related to odors from OII.
The study was not designed to evaluate possible long-term health problems. Environmental monitoring of the area indicated that with the levels of the chemicals found, long-term problems would not be expected. However, as part of the site clean-up, the US Environmental Protection Agency will perform a thorough chemical characterization of the site.