Date: Thu 22 Mar 2018
Source: Yahoo New [edited]
Doctors in a Russian town treated dozens of children complaining of dizziness and nausea on [Wed 21 Mar 2018] because of noxious fumes coming from a local dump, authorities said. Residents of Volokolamsk, some 120 km [approx. 75 mi] west of the Russian capital, have long complained about high levels of hydrogen sulfide and nitric oxide from the Yadrovo landfill. Riot police were called in this month to disperse a protest calling for the closure of the site. Doctors treated 50 children from different schools in the town, the regional authorities said in a statement, adding that the main complaints were nausea and dizziness.
Andrei Vorobyov, the governor of the Moscow region, said plans were in place to send the affected children out of the area. "The situation is getting worse and worse with each passing day... because of the gases coming from the landfill," town mayor Pyotr Lazarev told Business FM radio. Around 200 people had gathered outside the Volokolamsk hospital [Wed 21 Mar 2018], an AFP journalist said. One person was holding a sign reading: "We are suffocating! We so want to live, you know." "Don't kill our kids," another placard read.
Anna Luzova, 10, said she had worn a medical mask to school on [Wed 21 Mar 2018] because the smell outside was so strong. "It smelled like something had exploded. I almost couldn't breathe. Sometimes, almost every night, we wake up from that smell. What will it be like in summer? I don't know how we can live like this," she told AFP. "It's been impossible to breathe here for 2 months. Our children are suffering from nausea and hypertension," Anna Grapeh, a 50-year-old resident said.
Governor Vorobyov visited the landfill site in the afternoon, his press service said. He then arrived at the Volokolamsk hospital, where residents shouted "Shame!" and threw snowballs at him, an AFP journalist saw. Three buses of riot police were also at the scene. "This is unfortunately not the first story of its kind. This is a very complicated situation," Vorobyov said. He added that a new facility would be built which would not emit gases.
The Yadrovo landfill should be covered with earth within the next few days, authorities said. The ministry for emergency situations said the landfill was the source of "pollution in the air" in Volokolamsk and the surrounding area. But following an air quality test, it said "no threat to residents of the town had been detected".
On social media, several people complained of an unpleasant smell in the town and said their children were forced to leave school earlier than usual because they felt ill. [Byline: Maxime Popov]
[Hydrogen sulfide has many synonyms including dihydrogen sulfide, sulfur hydride, sulfurated hydrogen, hydrosulfuric acid, "sewer gas," "swamp gas," hepatic acid, sour gas, and "stink damp."
Hydrogen sulfide is a colorless, highly flammable and explosive gas produced naturally by decaying organic matter and by certain industrial processes. Hydrogen sulfide has a characteristic rotten-egg odor.
Hydrogen sulfide is well absorbed through the lungs; cutaneous absorption is minimal. Exposure by any route can cause systemic effects.
Inhalation is the major route of hydrogen sulfide exposure. The gas is rapidly absorbed by the lungs. The odor threshold (0.5 ppb) is much lower than the OSHA ceiling (20 ppm). However, although its strong odor is readily identified, olfactory fatigue occurs at high concentrations and at continuous low concentrations. For this reason, odor is not a reliable indicator of hydrogen sulfide's presence and may not provide adequate warning of hazardous concentrations. Hydrogen sulfide is slightly heavier than air and may accumulate in enclosed, poorly ventilated, and low-lying areas.
Children exposed to the same levels of hydrogen sulfide as adults may receive larger doses because they have greater lung surface area/body weight ratios and increased minute volumes/weight ratios. In addition, they may be exposed to higher levels than adults in the same location because of their short stature and the higher levels of hydrogen sulfide found nearer to the ground. Children may be more vulnerable to corrosive agents than adults because of the relatively smaller diameter of their airways.
It may also cause skin and eye irritation.
Hydrogen sulfide is produced naturally by decaying organic matter and is released from sewage sludge, liquid manure, sulfur hot springs, and natural gas. It is a by-product of many industrial processes including petroleum refining, tanning, mining, wood-pulp processing, rayon manufacturing, sugar-beet processing, and hot-asphalt paving. Hydrogen sulfide is used to produce elemental sulfur, sulfuric acid, and heavy water for nuclear reactors.
We are not told about contents of the land fill but the situation is very detrimental to health and safety. One wonders if there is industrial waste as well as usual household waste there. Covering up the land fill may solve the problem for a time, but any leaks in the covering earth when hard rains come may allow the situation to return, and therefore requires continued monitoring. Furthermore, if another land fill is started in the area, it is likely the same situation could re-occur.
Portions of this comment were extracted from: