A fire has been smoldering underground at the Bridgeton landfill for more than two years. People living in the area have complained of strong chemical smells, and of symptoms including burning eyes and headaches.
Earlier this month, the Missouri Department of Natural Resources tested the air there for toxic chemicals. The DNR took samples on two separate days at six sites near the landfill, including some in a residential area.
The Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services reviewed the data, and found that levels of carbon monoxide, volatile organic compounds, aldehydes, and hydrogen sulfide did not pose a public health risk.
But one sample collected at the edge of the landfill had a benzene concentration above the level considered safe for people breathing it in for more than a year. Exposure to benzene can cause a range of health problems including cancer.
The subsurface fire is about 1,200 feet from radioactive waste stored in the adjacent Westlake landfill.
The DNR also tested the air for radioactivity and found it to be within normal levels.
Republic Services, which owns the Bridgeton landfill, is posting additional information here.