Study to focus on health, environmental risks to city residents

April 22, 1992|By Timothy B. Wheeler | Timothy B. Wheeler,Staff Writer

A listing of Earth Day-related events in The Sun yesterday stated incorrectly that the Earth Science Fair at Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt would be open Friday.

In fact, the fair is open to the public only on Sunday, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

+ The Sun regrets the errors.

Seizing on the 23rd observance of Earth Day, federal, state and local officials announced a series of steps yesterday aimed at cleaning up Baltimore, including a new study of the health and environmental risks faced by urban residents.

But the announcement struck a sour note with some environmentalists, who accused government officials of dodging their responsibilities to crack down on pollution.


The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced it has chosen Baltimore and Washington, D.C., to launch a new program aimed at identifying and reducing the public health and environmental hazards to which city dwellers may be exposed.

The EPA plans to spend $400,000 in the next year to assess the risks for the cities' residents, officials said.

Future funding and actions will depend on what those studies reveal.

"We are beginning to recognize that the environment doesn't just mean open spaces," said Edwin B. Erickson, EPA's regional administrator.

The top hazards faced by city dwellers may be poisoning from lead-based paint or pollution from automobiles, he said, but studies also may point to more traditional health issues such as cigarette smoking and diet as the biggest threats to the quality of life of urban dwellers.

EPA officials said the new program would be more comprehensive and detailed than a similar EPA-funded study of environmental hazards in the Baltimore area performed in the late 1980s.

That effort focused on indoor air pollution and the harbor, among other things.

Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke also used yesterday's event, featuring children planting dogwoods and wildflowers at Lyndhurst Elementary School in West Baltimore, to unveil his second annual list of environmental "initiatives" for the city.

The plans include cleaning up buildings contaminated with asbestos and other hazardous materials, removing leaking underground fuel tanks and reducing emissions from the city's fleet of cars and trucks by buying cleaner vehicles.

Most of the actions on the mayor's list are intended to comply with federal and state requirements, acknowledged Mary Dolan, environmental planner.

But she said the city is preparing a forest conservation plan that will go beyond what state law now requires in preserving remaining wooded areas and in planting new ones.

"I think it's great they're concerned about these issues," said Dan L. Jerrems, president of the Baltimore Recycling Coalition, which is supporting a five-year moratorium on building new garbage incinerators in the city. "But I'd like to see him put his money where his mouth is."

David Monsma, a spokesman for the Environmental Action Foundation in Takoma Park, called the EPA plan "another deliberately ill-fated study" intended to "lay the cost and blame for urban pollution on city inhabitants."

The foundation is giving "poisoned planet" awards today in Baltimore, including one to Willard Hackerman, the owner of the Pulaski incinerator, which has been cited repeatedly recently for air and water pollution violations.

TTC Mr. Hackerman wants the city to approve a new waste-to-energy plant to replace the Pulaski burner.

But the environmental group is giving praise to City Councilmen John Cain and Perry Sfikas, sponsors of the incinerator ban bill, which the Schmoke administration opposes.

Earth awareness events


Maryland Mass Transit Administration distributes pine seedlings at Metro stops and MARC train stations. Maryland Transportation Authority plants trees and flowers along John F. Kennedy Highway. For information, call Rebecca Reid, 859-7300.

Students Acting for the Environment (SAFE) hold an Earth Day program at Towson State University featuring music, speakers and information booths from 4 to 11 p.m. For information, call 830-2256, or Dave Frieman at 655-3598.

Department of the Army celebrates Earth Day at Aberdeen Proving Grounds, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Call Save Our Streams, 969-0084.

Anne Arundel Community College holds Earth Day Festival, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Call Frank Alduino at 541-2430.


Towson Gardens has an environmental exhibit, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. in Towson. Call Betty Myers, 631-3001.


Maryland Department of the Environment gives "Together We Can Clean Up Awards" at 10 a.m. at Mount Clare Stable in Baltimore County. Call Betty Myers, 631-3001.

Seedling giveaway takes place at Annapolis Mall. Call Steve Stadelman at 768-0830.

Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt holds "Earth Science Fair" showcasing research by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration on the ozone hole, Kuwaiti oil fires, the greenhouse effect and other subjects. The fair will be from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. in the Building 8 Auditorium. For information, call Susie Marucci, (301) 286-7504.


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