In response to a “Fact Sheet” that was circulated throughout the Stephen Foster neighborhood by the Protect Gainesville’s Citizens group: Dioxins are NOT water soluble. This means PGC’s claim that “routine cleaning” will eliminate dioxin contamination from your home is false. The referenced literature PGC uses is for lead contaminated dust, which IS water soluble. Dioxin contaminated dust bonds to substances on a molecular level.
When you clean hard-to-reach areas such as ceiling fan blades, bookshelves, open cabinets, etc, or go into your attic, PLEASE wear a mask and disposable gloves. Dioxins can enter your body through skin pores, ingestion, and inhalation. There are some hypotheses that professional cleaning may reduce the amount of dioxin contaminated dust in treated areas of homes, which explains the rash of Stanley Steemer vans seen in the neighborhood before EPA’s 2012 testing.
Also, it’s wrong to determine the pathway of contaminated dust to be solely from foot traffic. That’s just a convenient way to tie indoor contamination to the remediation of outside soil and pretend the problem is solved. A lot of dioxin contaminated dust enters through windows and attic vents, and then settles throughout the home. This has been going on since the wood treatment plant was in operation for the last 100 years.
In the FDOH Health Consultation:
“CONCLUSION #3 The past health risk from exposures to chlorinated dioxins/furans in the dust of 17 (tested) homes near the Koppers facility prior to 2012 is unknown.
BASIS FOR DECISION #3 There was no testing of indoor dust specifically for chlorinated dioxins/furans prior to 2012.”
This lack of data prior to 2012 when the plant was operating leaves a gaping hole in the risk assessment analysis. Attic dust has become increasingly useful for assessing historical emissions of dioxins and other toxic environmental contaminants and could have been sampled to help fill in historical loading. Attic dusts pose a probable health hazard if the dust is disturbed and allowed to plume within the living areas of a dwelling. An attic sample can represent the long-term dynamic accumulation of material that has been influenced for many years by the natural movement of air, penetration of the dust indoors, and the eventual deposition of dust on many surfaces. The major concern is that important household activities and home maintenance may disturb the attic dust (e.g., roof replacement, renovations).
The sole purpose of PGC’s “report” is to deny the initial findings of the independent indoor dust testing done by residents in 2010 who were concerned about their safety. That independent testing collected a comprehensive 125 samples as far away as 2 ½ miles from the Superfund site to determine the contamination’s drop-off point (there was none found). Because of this independent testing the EPA was shamed into doing its own set of indoor dust samplings later. But rather than doing a comprehensive sample analysis for all the Contaminants of Concern from the Superfund site like arsenic and PAHs, the EPA chose to test only for chlorinated dioxins (associated with Koppers) and brominated dioxins (not associated with Koppers). The EPA’s indoor dioxin dust sampling was not done with the intent to accurately access the toxic trespass of contaminates from the Koppers site and evaluate the human risk associated with them. The only reason for their testing was to discredit the original independent testing. The PGC testing continued with this negating premise. As if that isn’t enough, residents said they witnessed dilution of the EPA soil samples with clean dirt brought by the sample gatherers.
The context of PGC’s “study” is brought in to focus when you read the 99 page report. The bulk of the report concentrates on every other kind of dioxin possible in homes (most extensively brominated), not the chlorinated dioxins from Koppers they should be focusing on. PGC does this because CALUX Bio-assay testing that is not pre-cleaned tends to have higher positive results for dioxin-like compounds than the HRGC/MS method, due to the contribution of brominated or mixed halogenated compounds to the total TEQ of the sample. The 2010 independent testing used a patented clean up method to separate chlorinated and brominated dioxins. It’s not that complicated to fingerprint the contamination to Koppers.
It’s not only disgraceful, but dangerous that PGC distorts the facts and lies to residents when they help shape policies and have the duty to act as liaison between the EPA and the citizens of Gainesville. All the government grants PGC has received, nearly $150,000 of taxpayer money, should guarantee better research and advice for the residents they are entrusted to inform. Residents’ health risks and human rights demand to be taken seriously.