Minn. environmental study moves forward

U.S. EPA Region 5 announced that in-home screenings for chemical vapors that may be rising from groundwater in St. Louis Park, Minn., will begin this week. EPA's TAGA (Trace Atmospheric Gas Analyzer) bus, a specialized mobile air quality evaluation laboratory, arrived this weekend to assist with the project. The study area includes approximately 300 properties and was prompted by the discovery of vapors from VOCs in area groundwater samples...

• Homes to be screened in February

CHICAGO, Jan. 28, 2008 -- U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Region 5 said today that in-home screenings for chemical vapors that may be rising from groundwater in St. Louis Park, Minn., will begin this week. EPA's TAGA (Trace Atmospheric Gas Analyzer) bus, a specialized mobile air quality evaluation laboratory, arrived this weekend to assist with the project.

The study area includes approximately 300 properties near the intersection of Highway 7 and Wooddale Avenue.

The study was prompted by the discovery of vapors from volatile organic compounds, or VOCs, in area groundwater samples. The VOCs have not affected local drinking water supplies but vapors could potentially rise through soil into buildings through basements and foundation cracks. EPA is working in partnership with St. Louis Park, Hennepin County, Minnesota Pollution Control Agency and Minnesota Department of Health. The purpose of the study is to thoroughly investigate the situation and confirm that there is no immediate health concern.

The study requires permission from property owners for EPA to conduct air and soil-vapor sampling to see whether vapors are seeping into indoor air. To date, more than 200 property owners have signed forms allowing for EPA access. There is no cost to residents or businesses for the testing. EPA expects to be able to report study results every seven to 10 days over the course of the project. Residents will receive individual screening results. EPA will not identify the results of individual homes in publicly available updates.

VOCs are commonly found in industrial degreasers, metal cleaners and dry cleaning fluids. Some VOCs have no detectable odor at low levels. Breathing low levels of VOCs for long periods of time may increase some people's risk of health problems.

On a separate track from the environmental study, the agencies are working to identify possible sources of the groundwater pollution.

EPA maintains three TAGA buses, which support work around the U.S. The TAGA buses were used for air contaminant analysis at the 2001 World Trade Center recovery and Hart Senate Building anthrax cleanup, as well as EPA's 2005 Hurricane Katrina response. The TAGA buses have also been used to investigate indoor air hazards such as misapplied pesticides, as well as to analyze emissions from chemical spills and investigate concerns about odors from industrial facilities.

Residents and business owners with questions about the project may contact EPA Community Involvement Coordinator Cheryl Allen at 800-621-8431, Ext. 36196, weekdays 9 a.m. - 4:30 p.m., or allen.cheryl@epa.gov.

Also see:
-- A map of the study area: http://www.stlouispark.org.
-- Project website: http://www.epa.gov/region5/sites/stlouispark/index.htm

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