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EPA to Sample Homes in Little Valley for Harmful Vapors

Release Date: 06/14/2006
Contact Information: Ben Barry, 212-637-3651 or

(New York, NY) Concerns that vapors from contaminated ground water could be seeping into homes has prompted the Environmental Protection Agency to test under the foundations of up to 150 homes in Little Valley, New York for trichloroethylene (TCE), a commonly used industrial solvent. The Agency previously sampled 28 homes and found that some of them had vapors under their foundations.

“Years ago, we used to worry mainly about these types of chemicals in drinking water,” said EPA Regional Administrator Alan J. Steinberg. “Now, we are evaluating sites across the country, including Little Valley, to ensure that residents can breathe the air in their homes without worrying about harmful vapors.”

The Little Valley Superfund site consists of an area of ground water extending approximately eight miles and contaminated by TCE from a number of possible sources, including two former cutleries, a former drum storage area, an inactive municipal landfill that accepted industrial wastes and a former industrial facility. The community gets its drinking water through private wells, from this groundwater. In 1997, EPA installed individual treatment systems on over 90 private wells with TCE concentrations exceeding the federal and state drinking water standard of 5 micrograms per liter. The treatment systems consist of two carbon filters which remove TCE to below the federal and state drinking water standard.
Samples taken from the private wells before treatment show that TCE concentrations are decreasing in the majority of the wells. The carbon filters will continue to be used until the pre-filtered TCE levels drop below federal and state drinking water standard, which is expected to happen in about 10 years.

Concerns about vapors from ground water getting into the air inside homes prompted EPA in September 2005 to test the foundations of some homes. Based upon these results, air samples were collected from within several of these homes in January 2006. EPA intends to test under the foundation of up to 150 additional homes in July 2006.

A sample is taken by drilling a hole through the basement floor to obtain a sample of any gas trapped beneath the home. Tubing is run from the hole to a collection vessel known as a SUMMA canister to collect a sample of soil gas over a 24-hour period. Depending on the sampling results, EPA may return to take samples of the air inside of the homes. If needed, the Agency could install mitigation systems to vent the gases.

EPA officials will be available to answer questions related to vapor intrusion and the planned sampling during two public information sessions held at the Little Valley Elementary School Auditorium, 207 Rock City Street, from 3 pm – 5 pm and 6:30 pm – to 8:30 pm on June 14, 2006.

More information about the Little Valley Superfund Site:
For more detailed information on EPA's vapor intrusion sampling:
For more information on indoor air quality: