Nebraska health officials identified volatile organic compounds (VOCs) in the water wells of Columbus, NE in 1983. Beginning in 1987, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) began implementing procedures to reduce the levels of tetrachloroethylene (PCE) that were found in the area.
Recently, the EPA announced plans to tear down several businesses to speed up the remediation process from the sources of the contamination. Two of the structures are dry cleaning businesses and one is a site of a former dry cleaning operation. By removing the structures the EPA plans to excavate contaminated soils and begin treating the area.
According to the EPA, “Tetrachloroethylene is widely used for dry-cleaning fabrics and metal degreasing operations. The main effects of tetrachloroethylene in humans are neurological, liver, and kidney effects following acute (short-term) and chronic (long-term) inhalation exposure. Adverse reproductive effects, such as spontaneous abortions, have been reported from occupational exposure to tetrachloroethylene; however, no definite conclusions can be made because of the limitations of the studies. Results from epidemiological studies of dry-cleaners occupationally exposed to tetrachloroethylene suggest increased risks for several types of cancer.”
Each of the dry cleaners blamed for the chemical contamination have reportedly paid a settlement with the EPA. 300 property owners above the Super Fund Site have been identified by the EPA as being at risk of vapor intrusion issues due to the contamination.
“Vapor intrusion occurs when contaminated soils and groundwater off gas chemicals that make their way into buildings above or near a contaminated site,” reported Joe Frasca, Senior Vice President, Marketing at EMSL Analytical. “Testing the air these contaminants will determine if toxic chemicals are present in a home or other structure.”
EMSL Analytical has sponsored an online educational video about the dangers associated with vapor intrusion. It can be seen at:
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EMSL Analytical is a nationally recognized and locally focused provider of environmental and materials testing services and products to professionals and the general public. The company has an extensive list of accreditations from leading organizations as well as state and federal regulating bodies.