Tag Archives: Florida Gators

Protect Gigantic Corporation’s Indoor Dioxin Study is Just Plain WRONG

21 Apr

Part Two: 190 ppt Indoor Dioxin standard guarantees continuing toxic exposure inside homes

dioxin signage

Currently, US EPA has no standard safe level criteria for indoor dioxin contamination. A level of 190 ppt was arbitrarily chosen behind closed doors by Beazer East, PGC and other agencies. Other sites have had the inside of nearby residences cleaned up by the responsible party for a median indoor contamination level of 61 ppt. This unscientifically derived number of 190 ppt is over 27 times above Florida’s safe level standard for dioxin in residential soil and over 6 times above Florida’s safe level standard for dioxin in commercial/industrial soil. And 3 times higher than the level other sites have received indoor cleanups for.

Excerpt from USEPA Indoor Dust Study Data Report May 23 2013:
“The purpose of the sampling was to compare concentrations in household dust that may be related to the former Koppers facility (located at 200 NW 23rdAvenue) to background levels and consider possible actions to reduce exposures. Background samples were taken in homes well away from the Site which would not have been impacted by site contamination. EPA has reviewed the results considering background data and a risk-based screening value. It was determined that no remedial actions are required. The risk-based screening value for dioxin derived by EPA for potential exposure to dust in homes is 190pg/g (ppt) dioxin. (TCDD-TEQ). EPA derived this risk-based screening value for dioxin by utilizing a July 2011 document entitled the Indoor Dust investigation/Interpretation Plan, Stephen Foster Neighborhood, Gainesville, Florida (hereafter referred as “Plan”)-which includes exposure assumptions and a toxicity values that were agreed to by the Indoor Dust Dioxin Workgroup convened by the Florida Department of Health made up of federal, County, State and community representatives.”

 

The purpose of the sampling was not to find the dioxins associated to Koppers and remove them, it was to compare “background” samples to Stephen Foster Neighborhood samples and consider possible actions to reduce exposures. No real action involved with that. If SFN samples are close enough to “background” levels, they feel there is no health risk no matter what those dioxin levels are. The inmates are running the asylum. Samples were taken from background homes (vaguely defined as “well away from the site”). In the PGC USEPA Indoor Dioxin Dust Study Report 11-30-2014 “Site and Near Site Properties” are mismarked on the map. They state “given community concern that dust from the Koppers site is widespread, selection of background houses is a critical element of the sampling program. This workgroup, however, was unable to define a particular distance to be considered background.” Unable to define background delineation, they plowed ahead with samples from what they called “background houses” as if just calling them that was enough to make it true. Chlorinated dioxins were found in all the background houses, one as high as 77.3 ppt. This indicates the delineation of indoor dioxin contamination goes further than the “background” homes used in the 2012 indoor dioxin testing. Instead of re-testing the background homes with the highest results, they made an assumption the dioxin came from an inside source and just lumped it in with the rest of the results. That’s just plain wrong. These chemicals can be molecularly fingerprinted. The entire report is filled with theories, assumptions, and ambiguity. There is no magic force field that stops this Koppers dioxin contaminated dust at 6th Street.

 

ppt is

The risk-based screening value of 190 ppt for indoor dioxin was determined using exposure ASSUMPTIONS and toxicity values that were AGREED TO by the workgroup of the “Plan”. Since THERE IS NO Florida Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) or USEPA standard FOR INDOOR CONTAMINATION, who set this “acceptable” indoor level of 190 ppt dioxin for Stephen Foster residents? Remember that the Florida outdoor residential Soil Cleanup Target Level (SCTL) is 7 ppt. The Florida outdoor Commercial/Industrial (SCTL) is 30 ppt. It was “representatives from the community” (actually, it was only PGC representing the community-because other community groups were not allowed to participate) and the responsible party (Beazer East, Inc.) that were part of the workgroup the EPA allowed to set this standard. Don’t take our word for it. It says so right on the second page of the Indoor Dust Investigation/Interpretation Plan, Stephen Foster Neighborhood, Gainesville, Florida.

“In November 2010, the Florida Department of Health (DOH) formed an indoor dioxin dust workgroup of county, state, and federal agency representatives. The purpose of this workgroup is to develop an indoor dust investigation/ interpretation plan and present it to U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). In March 2011, the workgroup added representatives from the community and the responsible party. The workgroup formulated this plan during several conference calls. “

FDEP and EPA will not cleanup below background levels. If the responsible party can represent background levels of dioxin to be sufficiently high, the comparison difference to near site homes will be decreased and will therefore guarantee no cleanup or assumed health risk in the households of the contaminated area. The standard being not only influenced, but set by the responsible party to an arbitrarily inflated level of 190 ppt for indoor dioxin contamination is an ironclad homerun that seals the deal on no household cleanups or relocation using the test results Beazer East bought. You would think the FDEP and City of Gainesville would want their OWN independent test results to base health risk to citizens, rather than the “test results” force fed by the responsible party who paid their consultants to determine the scope of the contamination they would be responsible for cleaning up. This is much like a judge asking a criminal to choose the punishment for their own crime, and then not batting an eye when it’s merely a slap on the wrist.

stacks-of-money

How dare the FDOP take test results from the responsible party and spend tax dollars and hours and hours working out formulas for cancer slope studies, health risk assumptions, and even toxicity theories for resident grown zucchinis based on German vegetable test results (no zucchini was sampled in the Stephen Foster neighborhood), and then use their sanctified authority to shout out to the public there is no health risk from Koppers contamination like it was based entirely on undisputed fact and not figures supplied by the for-profit company required to clean up the Superfund site.

Koppers To Beazer Deed

Don’t be deceived. Beazer East, Inc is in the business to make money off the remediation of contaminated sites. The less money they spend on cleanup, the more profit they make. They paid $10 for the nearly 90 acre Koppers site, close to downtown and the University of Florida. The property is tax appraised at almost a million dollars. The EPA accepted an indoor contamination standard of 190 ppt made by the responsible party behind closed doors and expects the affected residents to believe it to be an acceptable health risk. Why should we accept that inflated level when other sites have had nearby residences cleaned up by the responsible party for a median contamination level of 61 ppt. We’re tired of “reports” that declare everything is fine and pull out the kitchen sink to discredit toxic trespass from Koppers while using vague language and disassociated facts as its basis. People have died and continue to die from Koppers contamination.

None of the members of PGC live in the affected area. It should also be noted that the President of PGC is a realtor who owns property in the Stephen Foster neighborhood.

Protect Gainesville’s Citizens Fact Sheet is Just Plain WRONG

19 Mar

Part One:

BlowingDust
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.

Take a look outside at your car. It’s covered with pollen and you don’t have to park under a tree for that to happen.

Take a look outside at your car. It’s covered with pollen and you don’t have to park under a tree for that to happen.

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.

Beazer East to Gainesville Residents: So Long Suckers

4 Sep

Unhappy homeowners in Superfund Neighborhoods across the US that received topsoil replacement report that they have had to spend thousands of dollars replacing the cheap materials hastily laid in their yards and repairing damage to their homes caused by corporate polluter contractors. EPA staff stopped returning homeowners phone calls and emails for assistance after topsoil replacement was finished.

“We’re not coming back.”
Last year, Beazer East executive Mitchell Brourman told Gainesville’s City Commission that BE will not remediate any remaining/recurring Koppers contamination after the current topsoil replacement is completed. According to Mr. Brourman they’re done even if soil replacement fails. Any problems, from recontamination to property damage caused by Beazer East contractors, will be left to homeowners to deal with at their own expense. Stephen Foster residents with replaced topsoil are already reporting that Beazer East contractors and EPA staff are not responding to them when contacted regarding problems caused by their “cleanup”.

 1DirtPileOnSiteClean soil for families’ lawns sits surrounded by toxic storm water on Koppers Superfund Site.

 

2TrailFromKoppersContaminated storm water runoff leaves visible trails from Koppers Superfund Site into Stephen Foster Neighborhood.

 

3WesternBorderTrail Looking into SFN from Koppers Superfund western border.

 

4AnotherSFNTrail Toxic runoff into another SFN street with lawns that have newly replaced topsoil.

 

5AnotherSFNTrail2 Another street where Koppers contaminated storm water washes down the avenue into newly cleaned yards.

 

6RemediatedYardFlooded Newly remediated yard flooded by toxic superfund water.

 

HUD Helps Banks Unload Koppers Toxic Homes

23 Aug

The United States Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) is selling Dioxin-Arsenic-PAH contaminated houses in Gainesville Superfund neighborhoods- and failing to disclose the dangerous contamination to unsuspecting low income families buying these toxic homes.
As established residents abandon the homes that have made their families sick, banks foreclose on the Koppers health hazard homes. Homeowners contact their lenders who have knowingly sold them non-disclosed contaminated homes, seeking cooperation with exit strategies for their families’ safety. The banks immediately respond with foreclosure.
Since federal regulations prohibit banks from dealing in contaminated properties, they need a back door to discard these Superfund homes. These banks, including Wells Fargo, BOA and JP Morgan, having already profited from financing and foreclosing on the toxic housing, wash their hands of this PR nightmare by “transferring” the deadly domiciles to HUD for disposal. In response to residents’ questions about the sale of hazardous homes, HUD states that they routinely sell contaminated houses with impunity because they are not required to disclose. Taxpayer-funded HUD oversees Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. Selling toxic homes to low income families contradicts HUD’s published directives to protect consumers and improve their quality of life.
Unprincipled local realtors knowingly sell Gainesville Superfund homes on HUD’s behalf. The City of Gainesville and Alachua County Commissions have warned realtors including Bosshardt, Watson Realty and MM Parrish/Coldwell Banker against selling Koppers contaminated properties without providing the legally (and morally) required disclosure to potential homebuyers and renters. But upset new homeowners and renters are still reporting that Koppers contamination was not disclosed to them. Several of these families are already moving out of the area.
Many Gainesville Koppers contaminated homes sold by HUD were previously independently tested. These test results were submitted as evidence in foreclosure court records, and are public documents. Test results for some contaminated homes, including the addresses below, can be found on the Clerk of Court Public Record. Some of these contaminated foreclosed homes have already been sold without disclosure.
514 NW 31st Lane
3507 NW 4th Street
501 NW 28th Avenue
514 NW 33rd Avenue
425 NW 37th Avenue

Is Gainesville the Next Love Canal?

13 Aug

Beazer East says they have finished their “cleanup” of Stephen Foster Neighborhood, but a newly updated Center for Public Integrity report shows that Gainesville’s Koppers Superfund Site is still one of the 114 most dangerous Superfund Sites in the nation. Despite EPA claims, human exposure and contaminated groundwater migration continue in communities surrounding Koppers, as they do in communities like Escambia FL, Libby MT, Love Canal NY, and other Superfund neighborhoods that received similar topsoil replacement- these “cleanups” do not work and are not protective of residents’ health in the short or the long-term.

KOPGVL114 Most Dangerous Superfund Sites

Beazer East hired Sevenson Environmental Services to handle the contaminated soil removal in Stephen Foster Neighborhood in Gainesville. Love Canal families who moved in after the EPA told them it was safe and clean are now suing Sevenson, the city of Niagara Falls, the Niagara Falls Water Board, and Occidental Chemical Corp for negligence in the original cleanup more than 30 years ago.

Sevenson

 Koppers water migration

Among the deluge of resident complaints are reports of Sevenson workers leaving contaminated topsoil around trees and house foundations in Stephen Foster Neighborhood, creating massive islands of toxic soil in the new topsoil. The pooled water in the photo above is one example of contaminated groundwater that migrated directly from Koppers Superfund Site into the newly dug, “clean” area.

SFN Toxic Soil Foundations              SFN Toxic Soil Islands

Hazardous Residential Yard Waste   Hazmat Tag

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hazardous Residential Waste- WCA (City of Gainesville trash pickup) could not collect residential yard waste across from 514 NW 31st Lane: because it is hazardous waste, they tagged it for Hazmat handling. Months earlier, Beazer East had announced that this block was completely cleaned up!

 

NEW AND ENLIGHTENING WEBSITE IS A MUST-SEE FOR GAINESVILLE RESIDENTS

6 Jul

Koppers Plain Talk explores the science of Gainesville’s Superfund Site, shedding light on the health effects of its toxins.

EPA’s 2009 chart documenting the health effects of Koppers contaminants of concern is particularly informative- and alarming. To view this document, go to koppersplaintalk.com, choose The Science tab and scroll to the bottom. Check out the rest of this educational site.

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Environmental Injustice: The Unfolding Tale of Two Florida Superfund Sites

13 Apr

ej comparison

Will Residents Lose Their Rights With Neighborhood Topsoil Removal Plan?

16 Feb

On February 6, 2014 Maria Parsons told the City Commission about Stephen Foster Neighborhood residents’ concerns that by agreeing to participate in Beazer East, Inc/EPA’s topsoil replacement plan- at any time before, during, and/or after the soil replacement process- they are signing away their rights to take any possible future legal action that may be needed involving the polluter or any other responsible party for ongoing contamination and toxic exposure from Koppers chemicals.

Mrs. Parsons asked the Commission to confirm or deny these concerns in writing, and to provide a copy of all agreement forms, contracts, releases and/or waivers that residents must sign in order to participate in the soil replacement plan.  The Commission directed Mr. Murry to obtain and forward the requested information and documents to her.  Mrs. Parsons has not heard from Mr. Murry yet. Farinda O’Steen asked the city for this information several months ago and is still waiting for their response, as are other concerned residents.

Residents also need to know whether deed restrictions will be placed on their properties and exactly what that entails.

Homeowners in and near the contantly-changing topsoil replacement zone would be wise to have any documents they receive pertaining to Beazer East Inc/EPA’s plan reviewed by an attorney before signing them.

National Institute of Health (NIH): Dioxin exposure causes transgenerational health effects

27 Sep

In a WSU press release, Skinner said of his latest findings, “It is not just the individuals exposed, but potentially the great-grandchildren that may experience increased adult-onset disease susceptibility.”

By Brant Hamel

A new study, funded in part by NIEHS, found that dioxin affects not only the health of an exposed rat, but also unexposed descendants through a mechanism of epigenetic transgenerational inheritance.

The study was conducted in the laboratory of Michael Skinner, Ph.D., a professor in the Center for Reproductive Biology in the Department of Biological Sciences at Washington State University (WSU) who designed the study. Co-authors included assistant research professor Mohan Manikkam, Ph.D., research technician Rebecca Tracey, and postdoctoral researcher Carlos Guerrero-Bosagna, Ph.D.

“Although not designed for risk assessment, these results have implications for the human populations that are exposed to dioxin and are experiencing declines in fertility and increases in adult onset disease, with a potential to transmit them to later generations,” the authors concluded.

Dangers of dioxin last for decades after initial exposure

Dioxin, 2,3,7,8-tetrachlorodibenzo[p]dioxin (TCDD), is a chemical compound that constitutes part of the Agent Orange herbicide used as a defoliant in the Vietnam War. According to research cited in the study, exposure is estimated to have caused 400,000 deaths and 500,000 birth defects. Dioxin has also been released from industrial accidents, leading to human exposures. Due to its extremely long half-life of up to 10 years in humans, dioxin may still affect pregnancies occurring even 20 years after exposure.

In the Skinner group’s experiments, exposure to dioxin caused changes in the DNA methylation patterns of sperm that were transmitted across generations, in an imprinted-like manner, to affect the health of multiple generations of descendents. The grandchildren of exposed rats showed dioxin-induced effects ranging from polycystic ovarian disease to kidney disease. The work raises the serious concern that even if toxic chemicals, such as dioxin, were completely removed from the environment, they could continue to cause disease for multiple generations.

Health effects of dioxin include early onset of puberty in females

Skinner’s group used low in vivo doses of dioxin, so that toxic effects were not expected. Female rats were exposed while pregnant, and both their direct progeny and descendants two generations removed were examined.

Although the most prominent phenotypes were kidney disease in males and polycystic ovarian disease in females, a number of other effects including abscesses, colon impaction, lung abnormalities, and missing testes were also observed in animals from the dioxin-treated lineage. Additionally, females from the dioxin-exposed lineage experienced the early onset of puberty. Conversely, males showed delayed puberty, suggesting sex-specific effects of exposure. Early puberty in humans has increased over recent decades and is believed to have an environmental link.

Dioxin alters methylation patterns in germ line DNA across generations

The researchers were able to identify 50 specific regions of DNA that were differentially methylated in the dioxin-treated animals. These regions were permanently reprogrammed and protected from DNA methylation, in a manner that allowed them to be passed down across generations. In the future, these regions may serve as biomarkers that would allow early detection of exposure and risk for disease.

Other chemical compounds, including bisphenol A, phthalates, the insecticide DEET, and the jet fuel JP8 have all been shown to promote disease across generations, through a similar mechanism of epigenetic transgenerational inheritance (see story). This pathway of disease propagation exists not only in rats, but also in humans, mice, worms, flies, and even plants. Thus, future research will be needed to see if other environmental compounds may also lead to health effects across generations.

In addition to NIEHS, NIH and the U.S. Department of Defense provided support for the study.

Citation: Manikkam M, Tracey R, Guerrero-Bosagna C, Skinner MK. 2012. Dioxin (TCDD) induces epigenetic transgenerational inheritance of adult onset disease and sperm epimutations. PLoS One 7(9):e46249.

(Brant Hamel, Ph.D., is an Intramural Research Training Award fellow in the NIEHS Laboratory of Signal Transduction.)

http://www.niehs.nih.gov/news/newsletter/2012/11/science-dioxin/

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