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Member Letter: Environmental Issue Near Alexandria, Potential Public Health Risk

Posted over 4 years ago by Rebecca Thibodaux


Currently, a company known as Clean Harbors is openly burning munitions and waste explosives near Colfax, Louisiana, which is approximately 35 miles northeast of Alexandria. This manner of disposal has the result of the release of perchlorates, lead, and cadmium, among other substances, into the environment.

As with many other environmental toxicants, research has implicated perchlorates to impaired thyroid functions, which also includes disruption of the thyroid axis which is important to healthy growth and development of children, to say nothing of maintaining healthy overall body functions in adults (Mervish et al., 2016). This finding alone is enough to warrant advisement of assessing cumulative risk for coexposures as a means of ensuring the protection of public health (Suh et al, 2014). Perchlorates have also been shown to have a pulmonary toxicity, causing pulmonary toxicity in rabbits in recent research (Wu et al., 2013). Cumulative effects of perchlorate may also impair renal function in women (Schreinemachers et al, 2015). Lead exposure has been associated with increased risks for several types of cancers, including meningioma, brain cancer, and kidney cancer (Liao et al, 2016).

Camp Minden was recently embroiled in a controversy involving the open burning of large amounts of military propellant. However, this was resolved by the employment of a closed-burning system which greatly reduces the unfettered release of such harmful compounds into the environment.

I am asking that you assist in protecting the public welfare by asking your legislators to vote in support of House Bill 11, which will restrict the open burning of munitions and waste explosives in the state. This article is scheduled to go before the Committee on Natural Resources and Environment on Wednesday, April 27.

John R Wilson, RN, MSN, FNP-BC, LNC

Liao, L. M., Friesen, M. C., Xiang, Y. B., Cai, H., Koh, D. H., Ji, B. T.,Yang, G., Li, H. L., Locke, S. J., Rothman, N., Zheng, W., Gao, Y. T., Shu, X. O. & Purdue, M. P. (2016). Occupational lead exposure and associations with selected cancers: The Shanghai Men's and Women's Health Study cohorts. Environmental Health Perspectives, 124(1): 97-103. doi:

Mervish, N. A., Pajak, A., Teitelbaum, S. L., Pinney, S. M., Windham, G C., Kushi, L. H., Biro, F. M., Valentin-Blasini, L., Blount, B. C. & Wolff, M. S. (2016). Thyroid antagonists (perchlorate, thiocyanate, and nitrate) and childhood growth in a longitudinal study of U. S. girls. Environmental Health Perspectives, 124(4): 542-549. doi:

Schreinemachers, D. M., Ghio, A. J., Sobus, J. & Williams, M. A. (2015). Perchlorate exposure is associated with oxidative stress and indicators of serum iron homeostasis among NHANES 2005-2008 subjects. Biomarker Insights 10: 9-19. doi: 10.4137/BMI.S20089

Suh, M., Abraham, L., Hixon, J. G. & Proctor, D. M. (2014). The effects of perchlorate, nitrate, and thiocyanate on free thyroxine for potentially sensitive subpopulations of the 2001-2001 and 2007-2008 National Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys. Journal of Exposure Science & Environmental Epidemiology, 24(6): 579-587. doi: 10.1038/jes.2013.67

Wu, F., Chen, H., Zhou, X., Zhang, R., Ding, M., Liu, Q. & Peng, K. L. (2013). Pulmonary fibrosis effect of ammonium perchlorate exposure in rabbit. Archives of Environmental and Occupational Health, 3: 161-165. doi: 10.1080/19338244.2012.676105