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NAPLES, Italy — Navy health officials are analyzing air samples collected over the past year to determine whether breathing Naples air poses a health risk.

The last batch of 365 daily samples collected from nine monitoring stations was taken on July 11 and is being analyzed at a lab in Germany.

The monitoring stations were set up throughout Naples and Caserta in areas where many U.S. military, civilian personnel and families live.

"The results will be incorporated into the Phase 2 report," said Lt. Cmdr. Wendy Snyder, Navy Region Europe spokeswoman. "The analysis will include a comparison of air quality in select U.S. cities, comparable in size and scope."

Those cities include Los Angeles; Seattle; Houston; Washington; San Diego and Midlothian, Texas, Snyder said.

Partial results from the first half of the sample period — July 2008 to January 2009 — indicated chemicals in concentrations typical of U.S. urban outdoor conditions as defined by the U.S. Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry.

"Many of these chemicals are typically associated with diesel or gasoline exhaust, industrial emissions, or historical volcanic activity, all of which are associated with this geographical area," according to a fact sheet posted on the Navy’s health assessment Web site.

The Navy and Marine Corps Public Health Center began a health assessment last January amid concerns over decades of sporadic trash collection, illegal dumping and burning of trash, toxic dumping and water contamination.

Results from Phase 2, which will include further water and soil testing, are expected by the end of the year, according to Cmdr. Jeff McAtee, a spokesman for the health assessment.

Air samples are analyzed for more than 200 chemicals and pollutants, including carbon monoxide, ozone and nitrogen oxides. The chemicals include potentially hazardous volatile organic compounds and particulates of 10 microns or smaller (PM-10).

Last year, dozens of air-monitoring stations set up by the regional environmental agency, Agenzia Regionale Protezione Ambientale Campania — similar to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency — indicated that five major cities in Campania, including Naples, Avellino and Caserta, repeatedly surpassed acceptable levels of PM-10s.


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