Johnson County Monitoring Air Quality as Landfill Continues to Burn

By Jillian Petrus, Reporter

Smoke from a fire at the Iowa City Landfill creates a haze in western Johnson County on Monday, May 28, 2012. (Matt Nelson/The Gazette - KCRG-TV9)

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By Katie Stinson

IOWA CITY, Iowa - Officials with the Johnson County Health Department have teamed up with personnel the State Hygienic Lab to monitor air quality as a fire continues to burn at the Iowa City landfill.

Geoff Fruin, assistant to the Iowa City city manager, said samples were taken Sunday night in three locations throughout Iowa City, Coralville and North Liberty. All three areas tested showed normal levels of chemicals expected in smoke.

Officials said one sample had levels of two chemicals higher than the other two samples, but was still below standards for long-term occupational exposure.

The city and the health department plan to continue to monitor and test the air quality as the fire continues under the advisement of the Department of Natural Resources.

The fire, which started Saturday evening, is still burning on approximately 7.5 acres of land and confined to the unused portion of the newest landfill cell. The liner system, made of shredded tires, has sent heavy black smoke into the air since it began burning.

In the mean time, city officials are continuing to contain the fire and expect it will burn for several days.

As winds are expected to shift pushing the smoke over different populations, the Johnson County Health department is still cautioning those with respiratory and heart conditions to use caution.

Fruin said tests from last night were sent to the Department of Natural Resources, which has jurisdiction over air quality issues. He also said officials with the city and Johnson County Health Department plant to reconvene this afternoon to discuss the results and whether further action will need to be taken.
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