Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Experts Try to Ease Jitters about Soil

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Experts Try to Ease Jitters about Soil

Article excerpt

TEANECK -- Environmental and health officials on Wednesday night sought to ease concerns about the danger to the public posed by the contaminated soil recently found at Milton A. Votee Park.

The forum, at the Richard Rodda Community Center near the south end of the park, was the first since officials disclosed in December that the soil underneath the soccer field contained levels of benzo(a)pyrene; polychlorinated biphenyls, or PCBs; and mercury in concentrations that exceeded state safety guidelines.

About 100 people, many of them parents whose children play at the park, attended the forum.

Linda Cullen, a unit supervisor of environmental toxicity with the state Department of Environmental Protection, told the audience that the state's standards were conservative. They are based on a one-in-a-million chance of a person developing cancer from ingesting more than 200 milligrams of the contaminated soil for 350 days a year for the first six years of life and 100 milligrams of soil for 350 days a year over the ensuing 24 years, she said.

Ken Katter, the township's health officer, said he reviewed recent cancer mortality rates for Teaneck and found that they were identical to and, in some cases, lower than those in communities like Fair Lawn, Paramus, Fort Lee and Hackensack.

"There is no indication of an unusual cancer prevalence in Teaneck, therefore, there is no prevalence related to Votee Park," he said. "Furthermore, I don't have a single complaint from a resident, a physician, local hospital, school nurse, local or state epidemiologist claiming that someone, whether it be a child or adult, became ill after being at Votee Park."

But Yvonne Harris, a parent whose 11-year-old son has been playing football at the park the last four years, said that just because there were no reports of illness does not mean that people have not been affected. …

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