12 Mar

Dr. Vito Ilacqua, former Professor with the University of Florida’s College of Health Professions Environmental Health Program (currently with the US EPA) made important recommendations to residents of homes in the area of Koppers’ industrial wood treatment site. He advised residents to “move away, right away”; to leave their contaminated belongings behind them, so as not to contaminate their new dwellings (i.e. everything inside their homes!)

When asked in 2010, Dr. Ilacqua and other experts suggested that affected families who could not afford to move away from their daily exposure to Koppers’ complex cocktail of chemical contaminants “MIGHT” reduce their level of exposure by:

  • Always wear shoes; don’t walk barefoot inside of your house or out of doors.
  • Wash all clothing 3 to 4 times between uses.
  • Never let your babies or children come in contact with floors without first placing a blanket, towel or sheet beneath them. Once the blanket, towel or sheet comes in contact with contaminated areas it becomes contaminated and must be washed at least 3 to 4 times before reuse.
  • When dusting, always wear a carbon mask and long gloves and use a damp cloth.  Dust only at eye level; try not to disturb dust above or below eye level.  After dusting, your dusting cloth is contaminated and must be disposed of as toxic waste.
  • Buy a Hepa Filter vacuum cleaner that has the sealed bags. Do not use open canister vacuum cleaners. Carpets are magnets for contamination. Hard floors are best.  Never use a dry cloth or mop on your hard floors, always use a damp mop when cleaning.  Remember when disposing of your mop head that it is toxic waste.
  • If you have an indoor/outdoor pet, every time your pet goes outside he must be bathed before you let him back in.  Make sure that your pet is not re-contaminated by walking on contaminated ground before he comes into your house. You must not touch your pets, including indoor pets, because they come in contact with the contaminated dust in your home as walk, rub and lay around inside your house.
  • Do not touch soil, dust or water in your yard. If you do, make sure you wash yourself right away. When landscaping or mowing your lawn, wear a carbon mask, long sleeves, long pants and gloves. Remove all clothing and shoes before entering your home.  Wash clothing 3 to 4 times between using again.
  • Do not eat fruits or vegetables grown in your contaminated yard.



  1. Vito Ilacqua March 16, 2012 at 4:16 pm #

    While I unequivocally support the efforts of this community to establish the level of contamination of their homes, if any, and the reasons for the disconcerting delay in cleanup of the site, I must distance myself from the first paragraph, which misrepresents the language of my advice, and without context, the substance as well. I must stress that I did not perform or independently verify any of the measurements, and any of the advice given is based ON THE CONDITION that levels of dioxins or other contaminants are actually at levels of concern.

    Without official, independently verified, results (and a rigorous study is under way), I cannot comment on whether there is an increased risk to residents or not, or whether any such risk is attributable to the site. Frustrating as this may seem to the many whose lives and peace of mind are dramatically affected, I am not aware of sufficient, public, and verifiable information to determine whether there is an excess risk or not for specific homes.

    As for the following paragraphs, the suggestions are generally applicable to anyone concerned with potential exposure to anything in soil or house dust, and properly executed WILL results in lower exposure to anything that might be there. I may quibble with some details that seem excessive, but since the advice is attributed to other experts as well, I presume that what I disagree with reflects the opinions of others.

    That said, house dust really is highly toxic even in the best circumstances, and any precautions to minimize contact with it can only reduce health risks by some measure, regardless of contamination from the site. But particularly in light of the history of this site and resulting public perception, I think it is important that efforts continue to determine if an unacceptable risk to residents exists and how it changes with distance from the site, both through epidemiological analysis and assessment of residential exposures. This community has a right to know, and has been waiting long enough.

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