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The Great Lakes Center of Excellence in Environmental Health

Selected Health Hazard Evaluations

Illinois Beach State Park (IBSP):
Determination of Asbestos Contamination in Beach Nourishment Sand Final Report of Findings

GLCEEH personnel participated in an Asbestos Task Force convened by the Illinois Attorney General's Office along with numerous other agencies, including the state health department, Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR), Illinois Environmental Protection Agency (IEPA), U.S. EPA Air and Superfund Divisions, the Waukegan Park District, and the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers. Numerous pieces asbestos containing material (ACM) had been found on the beaches and in nature preserve areas over the past 6-8 years. The Task Force was convened to determine actions that should be taken to resolve potential asbestos exposure at the Park.

 

GLCEEH personnel performed site visits and reviewed numerous reports from evaluations in and around the Park. They also recommended state-of-the art sampling and analytical techniques that could differentiate between low-level concentrations of asbestos, and outlined an environmental sampling and analytical plan. The plan involved sampling of two target beaches, three background comparison beaches, and two lake-bottom sand sources of nourishment sand. The plan was implemented and GLCEEH personnel used the results to model and predict potential air emissions from recreational activities. The modeling and a screening risk assessment indicated that the beaches and replenishment sand represented a minimal risk, but GLCEEH personnel recommended an accelerated schedule of beach surveillance and removal of debris. This project provided a model for interagency cooperation and investigation.

 

Environmental Source of a Fungal Pathogen at an Outpatient Health Care Clinic

GLCEEH was asked by IDPH to provide technical assistance with sampling for a fungal pathogen that infected several patients at an outpatient health care clinic. Some or all of the cases may have been immunocompromised. The investigation was led by IDPH and CDC. Numerous samples from surfaces and fluids were collected, cultured, and analyzed. Two environmental samples that were collected in the ventilation system cultured organisms that matched the organisms found in several of the cases. The route of exposure was probably not via the respiratory system and may have been related to patient treatment practices. GLCEEH and IDPH made recommendations for decontamination and improvement of the ventilation systems.

Environmental Source of a Fungal Pathogen at a State Facility

GLCEEH received a request from IDPH to review and perform data analysis of bioaerosol sampling results reported by two consultants. The reports had been generated before and after remediation of several moisture intrusion sources. GLCEEH review indicated that the sampling and analytical techniques utilized for the two reports were too dissimilar to compare using data analysis. A site visit and a review of ventilation practices and previously collected ventilation information were performed. Previous moisture intrusion was a likely source of bioaerosols, but air sampling results did not indicate elevated interior concentrations of any particular organism or group of organisms after remediation. Several locations within the structure continued to have moisture intrusion. GLCEEH determined that there were deficiencies in the operation of the HVAC system that caused negative air pressurization of the structure, which in turn exacerbated moisture intrusion.

Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) at a High School

An IAQ investigation of a suburban high school was requested by IDPH because of numerous IAQ complaints during building renovation and construction of an addition to the school. The local school board had hired consultants to investigate the structure. The consultants made a number of recommendations to correct and remediate moisture intrusion. However, IAQ complaints persisted. GLCEEH reviewed environmental consultant reports, occupant questionnaires, and some medical records that were voluntarily supplied by staff, and made several site visits. Specific complaint areas were evaluated for ventilation parameters, and deficiencies were found. The probable sources of complaints in the areas that were evaluated included insufficient ventilation and deficient configuration of the heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) system. A potential source of bioaerosols was also found. A comprehensive report was provided to the school board and staff labor union.

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