EPA Conducting Asbestos Sampling at Alviso Superfund Site

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)is conducting activity-based asbestos sampling work at the South Bay Asbestos Superfund Site in Alviso, Calif. during the week of August 20-25.

"We are sampling in order to determine if there is any potential for significant exposure to asbestos from normal dust-generating activities, such as driving a vehicle or bicycling," said Eric Yunker, the EPA project manager for the site.

EPA will sample several different areas of the site including: • Any unpaved truck yards where there is significant vehicular traffic. • State Street and the majority of other streets in the community north of the Guadalupe River. • The sports field behind George Mayne Elementary School.

During a required five-year review conducted in 2005, EPA found the site does not pose a risk to human health or the environment. The major potential sources of asbestos exposure at the site are being controlled by capping of landfills or have been removed, such as the flood control ring levee.

EPA is conducting the current round of sampling because recent information has shown that previously conducted soil-based sampling can underestimate the exposure to people who are involved in activities that disturb asbestos-containing soils. EPA technicians will take air samples while simulating soil-disturbing activities that might cause exposure to asbestos fibers, such as driving vehicles, riding bicycles or raking the ground.

Technicians are connected to air monitors in order to measure asbestos concentrations in the air where activities occur. Stationary air monitors are also set up next to sampling locations to measure airborne asbestos levels and identify sources.

During sampling activities, technicians wear white protective clothing and respirators as a precaution. Because these technicians routinely work with hazardous materials, federal health and safety rules require them to wear protective gear.

EPA will report sampling results in a fact sheet and on the agency's Web site later this year. The agency will evaluate the results, and continue to inform the community of any future activities that may be necessary at the site.

This article originally appeared in the 08/01/2007 issue of Environmental Protection.

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