Agribusiness: Environmental testing concludes Helena warehouse does not impact air quality in Mesquite

Extensive air quality testing by environmental health experts in and around the Helena dry bulk fertilizer warehouse in Mesquite has determined that the facility does not impact area air quality.

Extensive testing of air quality samples collected from around the warehouse during a six-day period in May 2008 demonstrates that any emissions from Helena are very low and do not impact or harm the area's air quality. During the testing period, Helena emissions averages were 10 times lower than the national average of dust particles resulting from unpaved roads. The study monitored air quality and measured dust concentrations in the ambient air at the property line of the warehouse.

The independent study was conducted by the Center for Toxicology and Environmental Health (CTEH). It consisted of analyzing samples collected from 11 different stations located around the property. The study was supervised by Rick Bolton, CTEH director and senior environmental scientist, who is former vice chair of the Tennessee Air Pollution Control Board and now serves on the federal Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) Clean Air Act Advisory Committee.

“Actual air samples taken earlier this year showed that the amount of dust particles in the air around our plant are only a fraction of the EPA's National Ambient Air Quality Standards and well below state levels,” said Ed Brister, director of regulatory compliance and engineering for Helena. “The sampling indicated that dust particles were actually higher when our facility was not operating due to high winds blowing dust from the surrounding areas.”

When compared to the air quality of Las Cruces and more specifically Doña Ana County, the air quality at Helena's property line during the study period was classified as “good” under the EPA's Air Quality Index, which is the best rating on the scale.

Other findings from the study included:

  • The average dust levels around the warehouse did not exceed the EPA's 24-hour standard for PM10.

  • The position of the warehouse bay doors, open or closed, had no impact on dust concentrations.

  • Concentration of dust particles sampled near and around the facility is very low and do not represent a health risk.

In conclusion, CTEH measured dust concentrations around the Helena warehouse and found levels that are safe for human health. Rick Bolton added, “While native dust in Doña Ana County is a concern for all residents, this Helena warehouse is safe to operate in your community.”

Helena recently requested that the New Mexico Environment Department (NMED) reconsider 11 alleged air quality permit violations against the company's dry fertilizer warehouse facility in Mesquite. The alleged violations were issued in a Compliance Order on July 30, 2008. Helena also requested a public hearing on the matter in its response to NMED.

While emissions from the facility are extremely low, Helena has taken precautionary measures above and beyond what is required of similar facilities around the nation, including investing is a street sweeper, paving roads, and loading and unloading fertilizer in an enclosed facility with emission control equipment.

Recently, Helena announced the results of another study conducted by CTEH that demonstrated the safety of drinking water near the facility.

Since 1989, Helena has operated the Mesquite facility, which serves the needs of southern New Mexico area growers by providing custom fertilizer blends to help with crop production. The facility also sells pre-packaged and bulk fertilizer.

For more information about Helena, visit

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