Thursday, November 14, 2013

TCE soil vapor intrusion fears in Como

Soil vapor intrusion allows contaminants
to enter homes and businesses.
Minnesota health and pollution officials are holding community forums to discuss efforts to discuss efforts to handle TCE, a degreasing solvent that may be invading homes in the Como area of southeast Minneapolis.

TCE, which stands for trichloroethylene, had been dumped from 1947 to 1962 in a pit behind a now-defunct General Mills plant.

The state is asking some 200 property owners near Van Cleve Park to allow testing in their basements to determine whether TCE vapors in the soil below their foundations are finding a way into their homes.

Prolonged, substantial exposure to TCE has been linked to certain cancers such as non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma as well as birth defects.

While there is no evidence that cancer or other health problems are more prevalent in the neighborhood, state officials said they are acting out of caution as science has revealed more about the way TCE can evaporate from groundwater and rise through soils.

The neighborhood’s TCE problem has been known since the early 1980s, when the old General Mills property at 2010 E. Hennepin Av. was declared a federal Superfund cleanup site.

General Mills agreed to pay for the pumping and treatment of groundwater to remove traces of the chemical.

Groundwater treatment continued until 2010, when the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency declared it was safe to halt the cleanup — but monitoring since that time found TCE in the soil gas below the surface.

Forty tests were conducted on the soil under sidewalks and streets in a wide section of the Como neighborhood near the old General Mills site. Thirteen sites showed TCE rates above residential air safety standards, allowing health officials to pinpoint a 16-block area trailing southwest from the plant to Van Cleve.

Tests and remedies

General Mills has agreed to arrange and pay for testing for TCE, at a cost of about $1,000 per property, as well as the $2,000-per-property cost of fixing homes or businesses if TCE is found. In most cases, the solution will be a ventilation system similar to the ones used in homes to remove radon.

The company previously paid to remove contaminated soil from the site of its former food and chemical research plant, which has since been sold and redeveloped into small-business offices.

To assess any potential health problems, the Health Department has reviewed data from its registries of all birth defects and cancer cases in the state. The 55414 ZIP code, which includes the Como neighborhood, does not have a higher rate of birth defects.

A review of the cancer database is ongoing.

Editor's note: This article has been edited.
Source: Star Tribune

Battle soil vapor intrusion with carbon air cleaners

Many homes and businesses may suffer from soil vapor intrusion, which can expose residents and workers to contaminated air.

Electrocorp has designed a variety of industrial-strength air cleaners with many pounds of activated carbon and HEPA to remove such contaminants as TCE and varius other chemicals, gases, odors, fumes, particles and more.

Electrocorp works with environmental consultants and government experts to provide cleaner and healthier air where it's needed.

Contact Electrocorp for more information and a consultation.

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