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Troubling questions about the state Health Department's evaluation of Hickory Woods strengthen speculation by homeowners that they are not getting a fair evaluation of just how much danger they are in.

Six University at Buffalo professors, not affiliated with any community group, recently raised doubts about the state's study of the area. These are valid questions that deserve careful consideration by the state. The residents in the South Buffalo neighborhood, whose health is at stake, deserve an honest evaluation of conditions in their neighborhood.

The questions raised by the diverse group of UB experts are numerous -- eight in total -- not the least of which is the charge that the state examined only one type of exposure to contamination. The UB experts questioned the use of "averages" by the Health Department instead of the highest level, a practice that continues to confound experts and residents.

The UB experts also had trouble with the comparison of the Seneca-Babcock area, which is a different situation. Seneca-Babcock has different pollution problems than Hickory Woods.

There's no question that an adequate public input process would have avoided many problems. The state has said previously that the public had input into the methodology. But as this page has noted in the past, the public cannot be expected to have expertise in methodology.

The state's conclusion that, in most cases, residents would not be exposed to higher levels of contaminants appears to be based on sloppy science. It certainly demands another look by state officials.

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