Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Units Aim to Reduce Health Risks

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Units Aim to Reduce Health Risks

Article excerpt

Two-thirds of samples taken beneath homes showed that PCE levels exceeded the state standard of 16 parts per billion, some

were as high as 6,800.

When DuPont told Pompton Lakes residents in June 2008 that vapor intrusion could be occurring in their homes, the company said it would pay to install vapor mitigation units on each home in the plume.

The systems work by sucking the toxic vapors out from under a home and sending them up through a pipe, from which they are released to the outside air, allowing them to dissipate.

The vapors came from the cancer-causing solvents PCE and TCE, which had contaminated a plume of groundwater beneath about 400 homes. The solvents had migrated off DuPont's former munitions facility nearby, and had moved their way up through the soil and into some basements.

During tests to determine the extent of vapor intrusion in the neighborhood, two-thirds of samples taken beneath homes showed that PCE levels exceeded the state standard of 16 parts per billion. Levels were as high as 6,800.

Similarly, a third of samples tested high for TCE. The state standard was 11 parts per billion. Readings were as high as 1,200.

As for indoor air results, elevated levels of PCE were in 29 percent of the samples. The state standard was 1 part per billion, and readings were as high as 68.

In its 2010 report on the test results, DuPont said this about providing the vapor mitigation systems: "DuPont believes that proactively offering systems to those residents located above the groundwater plume is an appropriate measure while efforts continue to assess potential remedial technologies for implementation in the offsite groundwater plume."

The company could have "proactively" provided those systems eight years earlier, when regulators first raised concerns about the potential for vapor intrusion.

"Companies are always free to proactively take steps to protect public health when they have contaminated communities," former EPA regional administrator Judith Enck said in a recent interview. …

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