The Environmental Protection Agency intends to take a "precautionary measure" of conducting vapor intrusion studies of homes and businesses near the Raymark Superfund site on Jacksonville Road in Hatboro.
EPA Spokeswoman Bonnie Smith told Patch that the agency hopes to begin testing of homes and commercial buildings in February once the property owners who EPA had contacted consent to it.
EPA officials told Hatboro elected officials and residents in July 2011 that there was no "immediate risk" from groundwater contamination near the former metal fabrication business. Tricholorethene, or TCE, was first detected in the site’s groundwater in 1979. By 1983 it was placed on the national priority list, making it eligible for federal cleanup.
The most recent round of tests followed the EPA’s five-year review conducted in 2008, which determined that a vapor intrusion evaluation for volatile organic compounds was necessary for public safety. A vapor intrusion study involves testing to determine if vapors had moved from the soil to inside structures.
According to an EPA fact sheet, a canister is used to collect samples from outside air and indoor air for a determined period of time. In addition, samples are taken from under the home's foundation; these are called slab, or sub-slab samples.
Results will then be evaluated to determine if vapor intrusion is occurring, if there are any potential risks and what additional investigation or actions, if any, are needed. EPA will offer an overview of results with property owners and the community during a future update.
Hatboro resident Ed Henry, who lives on Bonair Avenue and is slated to have a vapor intrusion conducted of his home, expressed frustration with the EPA's handling of the process to the Hatboro Borough Council this week. Henry described communications between borough property owners and the EPA as "a big black hole."
"They don't a lot of times communicate with a lot of residents," Henry said, adding that he does not know which other properties will be tested for vapor intrusion. "It's like a big freaking secret."
Council President John Zygmont said when the governing body spoke to the EPA in November, the agency had upped the number of test sites from 10 to about 25.
"They expanded it to include a semi-circle that includes Wood Street and the other side of the property," Zygmont said. "The last we had heard was that they were supposed to be doing the drilling and testing before Christmas."
EPA offers the following tips to improve indoor air quality:
- Don't buy more chemicals than you need.
- Store unused chemicals in appropriate containers in well-ventilated areas.
- Don't make your home too air tight. Fresh air helps prevent chemical build-up and mold growth.
- Fix all leaks promptly, as well as other moisture problems that encourage mold.
- Check all appliances and fireplaces annually.
- Test your home for radon. Test kits are available at hardware and home improvement stores.
- Install carbon monoxide detectors.