Monday, April 16, 2012

Toxic cleanup: When no one feels responsible

Vapor intrusion is a serious health
hazard, experts warn.
The U.S. Army, activists and regulators seem unable to agree on who should clean up a TCE plume underneath Orion Park just outside Moffett Field.

The site contains a former housing complex where contaminants have been found in the groundwater as well as in the indoor air of the homes.

The Army says it’s not responsible for the cleanup based on their own site investigation, which found no on-site source of the toxins. They say it must be someone else’s responsibility.

However, the EPA and other experts are not convinced by the report and demand a cleanup by the Army. Even the Department of Defense has ordered the Army to take action on Orion Park’s environmental condition.

What is TCE and how does it affect people’s health?

TCE stands for Trichloroethylene, a carcinogenic solvent that was used by the nearby defense department and computer industry operations, which leaked into the ground.

In underground plumes, TCE becomes an enormous health hazard when fumes enter buildings or homes through a process called vapor intrusion, taking advantage of tiny cracks and fissures in the foundation.

Inside homes, it can build up to dangerous levels.

According to the EPA, TCE is carcinogenic to humans by all routes of exposure and it can cause a wide range of health effects, including neurological, immunological, reproductive and developmental effects.

Off-site and on-site sources of pollution possible

There is acknowledgment that part of Orion Park’s toxics came from nearby plumes that were being cleaned up by the Navy and tech companies, but the EPA says the Army’s claim of no on-site sources was not substantiated.

Meanwhile, the area in question now houses a new Army reserve and command post with buildings that have vapor barriers and ventilation systems installed to help prevent soldiers’ exposure to TCE vapors.

In the long run, it is cheaper to clean up the toxic rather than to maintain vapor intrusion barriers and special ventilation systems in buildings.

The negotiations between parties are ongoing.

Source: Mountain View Voice

Provide healthy indoor air with air cleaners

Activated carbon is one of the most effective and affordable filtration media when it comes to TCE, or trichloroethylene.
Activated carbon can remove gaseous
contaminants such as TCE vapors.

With a carbon efficiency rating of 4 for TCE (the highest rating meaning a high capacity for adsorption of the vapors), an air cleaner with many pounds of activated carbon can help remove TVE vapors in indoor environments.

Electrocorp works with environmental consultants and experts to supply portable and powerful air cleaners with activated carbon and HEPA technologies for commercial and industrial applications.

Contact Electrocorp for more information and options.

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