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Journal of Environmental and Public Health
Volume 2012, Article ID 509458, 8 pages
Research Article

Comparison of Size and Geography of Airborne Tungsten Particles in Fallon, Nevada, and Sweet Home, Oregon, with Implications for Public Health

1Laboratory of Tree-Ring Research, University of Arizona, Tucson, Az 85721, USA
2McCrone Associates, Inc., 850 Pasquinelli Drive, Westmont, IL 60559, USA
3625 W. Williams, Suite B, Fallon, Nevada 89406, USA
4Odyssey Research Institute, 7032 East Rosewood Street, Tucson, AZ 85710, USA

Received 7 October 2011; Accepted 21 November 2011

Academic Editor: Kelishadi Roya

Copyright © 2012 Paul R. Sheppard et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


To improve understanding of possible connections between airborne tungsten and public health, size and geography of airborne tungsten particles collected in Fallon, Nevada, and Sweet Home, Oregon, were compared. Both towns have industrial tungsten facilities, but only Fallon has experienced a cluster of childhood leukemia. Fallon and Sweet Home are similar to one another by their particles of airborne tungsten being generally small in size. Meteorologically, much, if not most, of residential Fallon is downwind of its hard metal facility for at least some fraction of time at the annual scale, whereas little of residential Sweet Home is downwind of its tungsten facility. Geographically, most Fallon residents potentially spend time daily within an environment containing elevated levels of airborne tungsten. In contrast, few Sweet Home residents potentially spend time daily within an airborne environment with elevated levels of airborne tungsten. Although it cannot be concluded from environmental data alone that elevated airborne tungsten causes childhood leukemia, the lack of excessive cancer in Sweet Home cannot logically be used to dismiss the possibility of airborne tungsten as a factor in the cluster of childhood leukemia in Fallon. Detailed modeling of all variables affecting airborne loadings of heavy metals would be needed to legitimately compare human exposures to airborne tungsten in Fallon and Sweet Home.