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Tuesday October 17, 2017

LA leader demands more information on chemicals detected in Porter Ranch health study

By Elizabeth Chou, Los Angeles Daily News

An independent health study of the effects of the Aliso Canyon gas leak that detected several chemicals in the bodies of nearby residents has prompted a Los Angeles leader to call for a closer look.

Los Angeles City Councilman Mitchell Englander is requesting that the city Health Commission and the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power report back on the levels of styrene, ethylbenzene, uranium and lithium in the local water, as well as in the hair and urine samples provided by residents in Porter Ranch and surrounding communities.

The study was conducted by a former doctor in the area, Dr. Jeffrey Nordella, who claimed he detected those chemicals and elements in urine and hair samples after residents were exposed to the 2015 gas leak from the Aliso Canyon Natural Gas Storage Facility.

An estimated 100,000 metric tons of methane gas was released over a period of three months, beginning in October 2015. It prompted voluntary evacuations and the temporary closure of two schools. The storage field is operated by the Southern California Gas Company.

Nordella shared the findings of his study over the weekend, saying that there were elevated levels of styrene and ethylbenzene detected in urine and hair samples, as well as statistically significantly higher levels of uranium and lithium.

Englander wrote in his motion that the Health Commission should work with the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health to report on the levels of these chemicals and elements, and check on the status of “health study updates mandated by the settlement agreement between South Coast Air Quality Management District … and Southern California Gas Company.”

Englander also introduced a second motion to look into the presence of lithium that Nordella alleged was found in the homes of area residents.

Lithium was detected in the water of at least 25 homes served by the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power, according to Nordella. By contrast, water from areas served by other water agencies had no detectable lithium levels.

Englander writes that “while the actual report of this independent health study has yet to be released, it is important that (the) city look into these allegations.”

LADWP officials responded Monday to Nordella’s study, saying the utility does not “routinely test” for lithium. It is not regulated by the EPA, and is known to be naturally occurring in many water sources around the country, according to the agency’s spokesman.

Nordella had pointed to a study from Denmark that found lithium could help lower risk of dementia if taken in low doses, but in medium doses may actually increase the likelihood of the same condition.