Guest editorial: Treasure, if developed, may have health implications | ParkRecord.com

Guest editorial: Treasure, if developed, may have health implications

James E. Lockey, M.D., and Grace LeMasters, Ph.D.
Park City

This week we attended an open space bond information session held in Park Meadows. We are residents of Park City and university-based health professionals in the area of health consequences from occupational and environmental exposures. After recognizing the massive amount of rock and soil excavation from an old mining hillside required for constructing the proposed Treasure Hill development, we have serious questions regarding the health implications regarding the intrusion of airborne rock and soil dust over Park City and in particular the Old Town district.

Large amounts of airborne dust will be generated through blasting, bulldozing and other heavy equipment operation, and dump truck loading and movement through the city. We heard from Wendy Fisher and her colleague that they are estimating hundreds of dump trucks of dirt will be removed over a 4-6 year period amounting to thousands of cubic yards; roughly 12 times the area of a football field. What will be the health impact to Park City residents? It is highly likely that homes, schools and businesses in Park City will be contaminated with construction dust emitted into the air including dust that contains lead, arsenic, other heavy metals and crystalline silica. Of particular concern is lead and the known impact that low level lead exposure can have on the developing nervous system in children. Once this type of environmental contamination occurs including intrusion of harmful dust into buildings, remediation is costly and difficult.

We are cautioning the community that if this development does take place, the community and the owners and contractors involved with the Treasure Hill development must be proactive in putting environmental safeguards in place. These safeguards should include establishment of environmental monitoring platforms around the construction site and within buildings to provide baseline and on-going qualitative and quantitative analysis of: airborne dust, dust brought into buildings from clothing and shoes worn outdoors, and through intrusion of outdoor air into home environments. In addition, all dump trucks should be completely covered so the contents do not blow into the surrounding areas, and the trucks should be completely washed down before departure from the construction site. All other vehicles should also be washed down before leaving the construction site. Workers themselves should change out of their work cloths and shower before going home. The construction site will need a dust suppression system in place; water run-off from the site should be monitored and controlled. The Treasure Hill development presents a potential serious environmental health hazard to our community. It is the obligation of the owners and contractors involved with the development and our city officials to completely protect the environmental integrity of our community and the health of our citizens.