Officials: Air quality around Hillsborough fire tests safe

Officials say that the air quality around the Hillsborough fire tested safe to breathe.

Officials say that the air quality around the Hillsborough fire tested safe to breathe. (2/12/16)

HILLSBOROUGH - Environmental officials say that the air in the area surrounding a massive warehouse inferno in Hillsborough has tested within safe parameters.

Representatives from the Environmental Protection Agency and Department of Environmental Protection have been in the area since Thursday continually testing the air for toxins. They say that earlier Friday they saw two spikes. However, since then the tests have come back safe.

Residents had been worried about if the air was safe to breathe, because of the burning plastic pellets that were stored in the warehouse off U.S. 206.

Hillsborough Health Officer Dr. Glen Belnay says that there is nothing to worry about.

"We've been measuring for toxic constituents and have not measured any of the things that would come off of burning plastic,” he says.

Those measurements are being taken in six locations downwind of the blaze, including at Manville High School.  Officials are using two devices at each monitoring station; one device tests for chemicals, the other for smoke.

"Our main concern has been particulates because of the smoke leaving the site,” says Dr. Belnay. “We're seeing those are coming down considerably as the fire is contained.  The wind is also helping to disperse the smoke."

The DEP and EPA also have agents driving around with six additional air monitors.

Although the tests have said the air is safe to breathe, some residents in the area remain skeptical.

"When was the last time the EPA told you the air was safe to breathe?” asks one Hillsborough resident. "You smell and see plastic coming down from the sky.”

Officials say that people who live in the area of the fire should try to limit their exposure to the outdoors for the time being as a precaution.

Air quality assessments will continue.

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