“I can’t necessarily say that it’s atypical,” Hamlin said of one test result showing 7.9 micrograms of ethylene oxide per cubic meter.
The federal Environmental Protection Agency says exposure to anything over 0.02 micrograms of per cubic meter over many years could pose an elevated cancer risk.
“This is a very small snapshot,” Hamlin said of the test results, adding that more testing is needed.
Sterigenics declined to comment.
The testing is being carried out at a cost of $130,000 by GHD, an international environmental consulting firm, on behalf of Smyrna, Atlanta and Cobb County. The results were shared during a meeting of an air quality oversight committee made up of mostly local officials.
Emrys Treasure, an Atlanta resident, said the test results were a good start but he still had concerns.
“I think it shows a good faith effort on the part of Atlanta, Cobb and Smyrna to collect real data, which is what we asked for,” he said. “There was a huge missed opportunity in getting this deployed prior to the (plant’s) suspension of operations … but at least we have something that resembles baseline.”
Meanwhile, the state announced the ethylene oxide test results for additional air samples it took in south DeKalb County, miles away from any known source. A previous sample taken in June showed a level 15 times higher than the EPA's threshold.
On Monday, the state Environmental Protection Division released the results of three more tests from the same location, none of which showed detectable levels of ethylene oxide.
“It is not unexpected to see variability in these results and EPD is conducting a long-term sampling study to account for that variability,” said spokesman Kevin Chambers. “EPD will continue to take samples from south DeKalb and will be adding data from a rural site in south Georgia in addition to air monitoring in Smyrna and Covington, which will begin in the next two weeks.”