For Sherry Starling, a recently released pollution study about Escambia and Santa Rosa counties confirms her suspicions about the health risk from one thing no one can avoid: breathing.
"I came here and started looking at toxic releases, and I was totally appalled," said Starling, who moved to the area from California about four years ago.
Starling's home on Garcon Point in Santa Rosa County is just south from one of four zones of increased cancer risk identified in a massive study designed to determine if there's a connection between air pollution and elevated rates of health problems in the two-county area.
And the four hot spots don't present the greatest risk in the two-county area.
The study indicates that pollution from heavy traffic along busy roadways in Escambia and Santa Rosa poses a greater health hazard to more people than industrial air emissions.
The four risk zones for elevated cancer risks are near local industrial operations:
-- The area near a petroleum/natural gas extraction operation and natural gas pipeline compressor station operated by Florida Gas Transmission Co. in northern Santa Rosa.
-- The former Exxon- St. Regis petroleum and natural gas extraction operation, recently purchased by Colorado-based Quantum Resources Management, about 2 miles west of Jay.
-- The area around the Sterling Fibers plant in Pace.
-- The area around International Paper Co.'s plant in Cantonment.
The air survey, begun in 2002, is part of a large scientific study to analyze local air and water pollution and its effects on residents' health.