"Extent-of-Contamination" Sampling Begins
EPA Looks for Vapors in Soil
Community Update, May 2004
The Perkasie TCE assessment
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is taking more soil vapor samples in Perkasie, Pennsylvania. Due to past industrial activities in the area, EPA is testing for vapors from trichloroethylene (TCE), which was a commonly used solvent.
Although the samples will be taken in limited locations within Perkasie, this newsletter has been sent to the surrounding community, as an update of EPA's activities in the area. If more samples are needed, EPA will contact additional property owners for permission, either by phone, in-person or by mail.
EPA is taking another round of samples to help identify the boundaries, or extent, of the TCE contamination found in November 2003. This round of sampling will be taken throughout May, and early June 2004. Each round of sampling is part of a detailed investigation to find out if TCE vapors exist in residential neighborhoods and if they are getting into homes ("TCE vapor intrusion").
- The general location of this round of sampling is depicted on the map shown (below).
- Residential participation is voluntary.
- Samples will be collected from properties with the owner's written permission.
- Sampling costs will be the responsibility of EPA, not the residents.
Sampling will take about three weeks, weather permitting, however data results will take longer. All results must go through a process of quality assurance and quality controls (QAQC), to help ensure accuracy, which can take up to 60 days. Once EPA has the data back we will provide property owners their individual results. Personal property results are considered confidential, however EPA will issue a community update with the overall findings to the public and media.
What you may notice
Workers will be...
- in residential areas
- taking notes and photographs
- possibly wearing protective gear, such as hardhats, safety glasses or latex gloves
- collecting samples from a depth of approximately five to eight feet, using a hand-held direct push drill
- collecting samples into a specialized canister that will be sent to a lab for analysis
You may see paint marks on the street or driveways. Marks were made by borough officials to identify buried utility lines, so there is no damage to pipes or cable lines while work is being done.
In November 2003, EPA collected about 60 samples as part of a preliminary assessment in the Perkasie area. The results showed that there is TCE-contaminated soil vapor in industrial areas of Perkasie, and that further investigation was needed. Based on those results, EPA decided to investigate possible TCE contamination in residential areas by taking sub-slab soil-vapor samples in March and this current round of sampling.
Example of a SUMMA passivated canister used to collect soil vapor samples
In March 2004, EPA collected sub-slab soil vapor samples from about 20 locations. This process involved taking samples from areas directly underneath homes, to determine if TCE-contaminated vapors were present. The locations for the sub-slab sampling were picked based on their proximity to areas where TCE contamination was detected in the November 2003 sampling. The data results have been analyzed, and all results are below EPA's screening levels. EPA may re-test these sample locations within the next year, to monitor the current conditions.
What is TCE?
- A nonflammable, colorless liquid
- Used mainly as a solvent to remove grease from metal parts
- An ingredient in adhesives, paint removers, typewriter correction fluids, and spot removers
Long-term exposure to TCE-contaminated vapors are a potential risk to human health. Possible health effects are nerve, kidney and liver damage. Also, some studies have shown TCE to cause cancer to these organs.
During this investigation, EPA will work together with the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR). ATSDR is an agency of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
For More Information
If you have questions about this project, please contact
Richard M. Fetzer
Community Involvement Coordinator
If you have health-related questions about TCE, please contact
ATSDR Regional Representative
Or visit the website: www.atsdr.cdc.gov