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EPA says follow-up sampling shows no PCB risk at Chicago-Area Elementary School


U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Region 5 today told Park Ridge-Niles School District 64 in the northwest Chicago metro area that follow-up sampling done at the Carpenter Elementary School in Park Ridge in mid-September shows no PCB risk to students, faculty or staff.

In a letter to the district superintendent, EPA said it had found no detectable levels of PCBs in school classrooms. The follow-up air and wipe samples were taken as a precaution because PCBs were found during earlier sampling in the school’s boiler room.

Follow-up wipe samples in the boiler room indicated the presence of PCBs. EPA will work with District 64 and Nicor Gas Co. to develop a cleanup plan to address the boiler room contamination. Until additional cleanup activities are carried out, EPA has recommended the district restrict access to the boiler room and take measures to avoid spreading contamination from there.

Nicor, with EPA oversight, has been inspecting homes, schools and a church in Park Ridge for PCBs in gas meters over the past several months. EPA and the Agency for Toxic Substance and Disease Registry are working closely with District 64 to ensure the health and safety of students and school staff are protected. ATSDR is part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

At a Sept. 17 public meeting at Washington School in Park Ridge, EPA reported results of sampling done in early September at Lincoln Middle School and Washington Elementary School that showed PCB levels below what is considered a human health concern. The buildings were cleared by EPA and no further action is needed.

No detectable levels of PCBs were found at Emerson Middle School, Field Elementary School, Franklin Elementary School, Jefferson School and Roosevelt School.

In June, Nicor - the Park Ridge area gas utility - contacted EPA to report the discovery of PCBs in gas meters at four Park Ridge homes. The company had already replaced the meters and cleaned up the residences. EPA inspectors did follow-up testing of the soil, indoor air and interior surfaces. Small amounts of contamination were found in the soil outside two of the homes. The contamination likely occurred from spills as Nicor replaced the meters. After Nicor conducted a second cleanup of the soil at the homes, EPA took follow-up samples to confirm PCBs were no longer detected. In all, Nicor tested 140 homes in Park Ridge.

PCBs are mixtures of synthetic chemicals ranging from oily liquids to waxy solids that were used in a wide range of commercial products. Because PCBs persist in the environment and can cause harmful health effects, domestic manufacture of commercial mixtures stopped in 1977.


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