Part Four: Toys in the Attic
In the last several years, a growing body of scientific evidence has indicated that the air within homes and other buildings can be more seriously polluted than the outdoor air in even the largest and most industrialized cities. This would be exponentially compounded if there were exposure pathways of contaminants from a Superfund site. Other research indicates that people spend approximately 90% of their time indoors. Thus, for many people, the risks to health from exposure to indoor air pollution may be greater than risks from outdoor pollution.
Additionally, people exposed to indoor air pollutants for the longest periods are often those most susceptible to their effects. Such groups include the young, the elderly, and the chronically ill, especially those suffering from respiratory or cardiovascular disease.
According to the “workgroup”, there was no data on indoor contamination prior to their 2012 round of indoor testing. “The past health risk from exposures to chlorinated dioxins/furans in the dust of 17 homes near the Koppers facility prior to 2012 is unknown. There was no testing of indoor dust specifically for chlorinated dioxins/furans prior to 2012.”
However, there is a massive amount of research on testing attic dust samples for historical loading of contaminants. That means you can utilize attic samples to determine contamination from the past. US EPA has studied the risk of exposure to chemicals in the home resulting from renovation and remodeling activities and has also concluded that an exposure pathway is complete when occupants access the attic space. Houses are designed to breathe. An attic is like a time capsule of a neighborhood’s environment.
The ridiculous reason given for not sampling attics was that the “workgroup” felt attics were either non-existent or too small for residents’ use. There is absolutely no evidence supporting this, quite the contrary. Who doesn’t utilize storage space? And even if people don’t access their attics very often, when they do, they could be exposed to higher concentrations of contamination. Residents asked about getting their attics tested but were denied even though it would have filled the gaping hole of unknown past health risk from exposures to chlorinated dioxins/furans in the dust of homes near the Koppers facility prior to 2012. The lame excuse and uncompassionate remedy the “workgroup” offered in the Indoor Contamination Study stated ”Because the attics of houses near the Koppers facility are typically small and the amount of time people spend in their attics is limited, the indoor dust workgroup did not recommend EPA test attic dust. Homeowners, however, can always choose to test attic dust at their own expense.”
Once again, the burden of proof and the prohibitive expenditure is on the homeowner. Will there be deed restrictions to access attics or to do home renovations in the Stephen Foster neighborhood? The “workgroup” even goes so far as to state, “This report does not, however, address whether the Koppers facility is the only or major source of dioxins in the dust of nearby houses.”
So, what does the report address? Seems like the only thing the “workgroup” took plenty of time to do in the report was to try to invalidate the independent indoor tests residents had done that fingerprinted dioxin contamination to the Koppers facility. Beazer East has already said they are not coming back if more contamination is found in the neighborhood, and the City of Gainesville has released them from any legal responsibility, so who do sick and dying residents have to turn to for help? Legal recourse is the only avenue left, but unless you’re made of money and can ride out the “stonewall” the responsible party has used successfully for the past thirty years, you’re out of luck.
Thanks “Protection Agencies” for analyzing sample data provided by the responsible party to determine how much they would have to clean up the surrounding neighborhoods. Your conclusions really helped…..the responsible party.