A Summary of ATSDR’s environmental health evaluations for the Isla de Vieques Bombing Range, Vieques, Puerto Rico
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A Summary of ATSDR’s environmental health evaluations for the Isla de Vieques Bombing Range, Vieques, Puerto Rico

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    Isla de Vieques is part of the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, and is located about 7 miles east-southeast of the main island of Puerto Rico. Until May 2003, the U.S. Navy owned approximate­ ly one-half of the island and conducted military training exercises that, until April 1999, included live bombing in an area of about 900 acres known as the Live Impact Area.

    In May 1999, a resident of Vieques requested that the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) determine whether hazardous substances from the bombing at the Live Impact Area pose a public health threat to people living on Vieques. The petitioner and some other island residents voiced concern that metals and explosive compounds from the bombing could potentially travel from the Live Impact Area to the central portion of the island where the residents live, roughly 8 miles west of the Live Impact Area.

    ATSDR evaluated the pathways most likely to result in exposure to the res- idents of Vieques, including drinking groundwater, inci¬dentally ingesting or touching soil, eating fish and shellfish, and breathing air. Each of these evaluations was presented in a separate public health assessment. This document summarizes the major findings of the individual public health assessments, additional community concerns, and ATSDR involvement at Vieques, as well as where you can obtain additional information. Please refer to the original public health assess¬ments for additional details and a complete list of references.

    Based on a thorough review and evaluation of all relevant information pertaining to the path¬ ways, ATSDR concludes that, overall, residents of Vieques might have been exposed to very low levels of environmental contamination. However, the contaminant levels that people were most likely exposed to are too low to cause harmful health effects. For that reason ATSDR has categorized exposure to environ¬ mental contaminants at Vieques as “no apparent public health hazard.” This means that people were most likely exposed to environmental contamination through the pathways ATSDR evaluated, but that the exposures are not at levels expected to cause harmful health effects.

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