Help pack a million meals for struggling seniors on 9-11. Volunteer today


Military and Veterans Discount


Free AARP E-Books

Protecting Yourself Online for Dummies

Here's the mini guide you need to steer through the hazards with confidence.

Learn More


AARP Games - Play Now!


AARP Staying Sharp: Keep Your Brain Healthy

News & Politics Forums

Share your opinions on news and current events that matter most to you.

Join the discussion »

AARP Auto Buying Program



St. Croix Residents – Are You Worried About the Air You Breathe?

Ah, the Virgin Islands – a tropical paradise with sandy beaches, clear turquoise water, swaying palm trees – but stinky, polluted, dangerous air?

Already this year St. Croix residents have experienced several air pollution incidents involving smelly and possibly harmful chemicals. So, advocacy groups on St. Croix are calling for a permanent, ongoing, air monitoring system.

In May Central High School students were sent home from school due to odors and chemicals in the air. Students were experiencing symptoms commonly associated with exposure to sulfur dioxide (SO2) and/or hydrogen sulfide (H2S).
Unfortunately, the May pollution release was not an isolated incident. Releases have occurred before and since the May incident. In each case testing was done, but not during or immediately following the incidents, leaving reasons to wonder if the actual cause had dissipated or was still in the samples taken.

Although the federal Environmental Protection Association (EPA) is conducting a 3-month study of volatile organic compounds (VOC’s) at the high school and two other locations, the sporadic study is too limited and fails to continuously monitor VOC’s stated Paul Chakroff, Director of the St. Croix Environmental Association (SEA). Air samples from these locations are collected once every six days, Chakroff said. The air canisters are sent to a state side lab where they are analyzed for 60 specific VOC’s, including those known to originate from oil refineries. AARP VI joins SEA in advocating for the establishment of a permanent, continuous ambient air monitoring system that can provide real-time information on the dangerous compounds released into St. Croix‘s air.

Earlier this year, SEA submitted a proposal to use the funds established as a result of the Supplemental Environmental Project (SEP) which became available as part of a Consent Decree between the EPA and Hovensa. The SEA plan addresses a comprehensive air quality/public health initiative that qualified under EPA’s guidelines.

Under SEA’s plan a public/private partnership would be created with the Department of Planning and Natural Resources (DPNR), the Department of Health (DOH), the University of the Virgin Islands (UVI) and a variety of private entities including neighborhood associations, consultants in epidemiology and other key disciplines.

SEA’s comprehensive proposal also advocates the re-establishment of a cancer registry; establishment of an asthma/upper respiratory ailment registry; a system of gathering information on geographic distribution of cancer and upper respiratory ailments which can correlate public health data with air pollution exposure data and models; and finally, a system to communicate information on environmental public health risks.

Chakroff contends that DPNR instead proposes to use the one-time payment of $4.8 million to create an Environmental Health Center in the USVI which would be modeled after the New York Mt. Sinai Children’s Environmental Health Center. Chakroff’s apprehension with this plan focuses on how the Center will continue to operate once the Consent Decree funding is depleted.

AARP invites you to let your voice be heard. Your input is very important to staff. Contact us at and let us know what option you support.
Back to Article

Topic Alerts

You can get weekly email alerts on the topics below. Just click “Follow.”

Manage Alerts


Please wait...

progress bar, please wait

Tell Us WhatYou Think

Please leave your comment below.


Discounts & Benefits

From companies that meet the high standards of service and quality set by AARP.

member benefit aarp financial service auto insurance

AARP® Auto Insurance Program from The Hartford offers members no-cost quotes.

membership benefit financial college aarp

Advice on saving for education from AARP® College Savings Solutions from TIAA-CREF.

AARP Credit card from Chase

Members can earn 3% cash back on purchases with the AARP® Credit Card from Chase.

Member Benefits

Join or renew today! Members receive exclusive member benefits & affect social change.

Rewards for Good

Your Points Balance:

Learn More

Earn points for completing free online activities designed to enrich your life.

Find more ways to earn points

Redeem your points to save on merchandise, travel, and more.

Find more ways to redeem points