- WEB EXCLUSIVE
- PE COFFEEHAUS
In addition to teams of emergency responders, the EPA has sent resources such as TAGA buses and their ASPECT aircraft. ASPECT can fly over an area and quickly collect chemical and photographic data to locate hot spots for further evaluation. TAGA is a self-contained mobile laboratory capable of continuous, real-time sampling and analysis and can detect chemicals in the low parts per billion.
Samples are being collected for VOCs, semivolatile organic compounds, total metals, pesticides and total petroleum hydrocarbons. Of particular concern to the EPA is that some of the semivolatile organic compounds, such as diesel and fuel oils, were detected at elevated levels and may persist in the environment. According to the agency, these compounds pose a dermal or skin irritation problem if they get onto bare or broken skin. Skin contact with fuel oils for short periods may cause itchy, red, sore or peeling skin. Breathing some fuel oils for short periods of time may cause nausea, eye irritation, increased blood pressure, headache, light-headedness, loss of appetite, poor coordination and difficulty concentrating. Breathing diesel fuel vapors for long periods may cause kidney damage and lower the blood's ability to clot.
According to the EPA, the levels of metals detected were below those that could be expected to produce adverse health effects. Three samples indicated slightly elevated arsenic and lead levels. The level of lead detected was typical of that found in urban areas. VOCs were detected at very low levels. The EPA noted that it believes the VOCs were not expected to persist in sediment due to their high vapor pressures and should dissipate or volatilize into the air.
Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) were also detected at levels below that which would be expected to produce adverse health effects. PAHs are a group of over 100 different chemicals that are formed during the incomplete burning of coal, oil and gas, garbage, or other organic substances like tobacco or charbroiled meat, and are commonly found in the environment. These initial sediment results represent the beginning of extensive sampling efforts and may not characterize the condition of all sediments throughout the area.