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ATSDR Press Room

Public Comment Sought for the Lusher Avenue Groundwater Contamination ATSDR Assessment


Elkhart County, Elkhart, Indiana

Monday, March 02, 2009

Two decades after contamination was first found in Elkhart groundwater, federal officials continue to advise people who live in affected areas and use private wells to take precautions. The Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) released its public health assessment of the site March 2 and is welcoming public comment on the assessment until March 31.

The area of concern is bounded by the St. Joseph River to the north, Hively Avenue to the south, Oakland Avenue on the east and Nappanee Street or State Road 19 on the west. About 2,600 people live in the area but most use city water. Residences and businesses that use the city water supply are not affected by this contamination.

The report follows an investigation begun in 2008 into the health implications of the Lusher Avenue groundwater contamination. In 1987, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Indiana Department of Environmental Management (IDEM) found that groundwater in the neighborhood was contaminated with several chlorinated volatile organic compounds (VOCs), especially trichloroethane (TCA) and trichloroethylene (TCE). These manmade chemicals are commonly used as degreasers and solvents. Repeat tests in 2006 also found elevated levels of the two chemicals in private wells tested. During the sampling periods, levels exceeded EPA's drinking water standards for public water—200 parts per billion for TCA and 5 parts for billion for TCE-in 28 private wells, which were used by about 200 people.

The chemicals are of special concern for pregnant women and children, studies have shown that the chemicals may be linked to cancers and birth defects in developing children. For most adults, the levels present are unlikely to pose a significant health risk, investigators said. Since 1987, many residents have reduced their potential for exposure by using local public drinking water or using whole house water filtration systems.

ATSDR recommends that EPA and IDEM monitor groundwater contamination on Avalon Street, where the highest TCE contamination exists; conduct additional well sampling for homes and businesses within the area; and conduct more extensive indoor air monitoring for those at greater risk.

For homes and businesses that use well water and do not use filtration systems, occupants can be exposed through drinking water and also showering, from the water and from steam vapors. ATSDR recommends using exhaust fans during and after showering for people still showering with contaminated water. Residents could also install shower filters as a preventive measure.

Interested persons may access the health assessment on March 2 via the internet at: http://www.atsdr.cdc.gov/HAC/PHA/HCPHA.asp?State=IN

A copy of the health assessment will also be available for review on or after March 2, 2009 at the following location:

Elkhart Public Library, reference services
300 S. Second St.
Elkhart, IN

Comments on the health assessment must be made in writing. Comments received and ATSDR's responses to these comments will appear in an appendix to the final public health assessment.

Mail comments to: Records Center, ATSDR ATTN: Lusher Avenue Groundwater Contamination ATSDR Assessment 1600 Clifton Road, N.E. MS F-09 Atlanta, GA 30333

For more information, community members may contact:

Rose Jackson, Health Communication Specialist
770-488-0777 or toll free at 1-800-CDC-INFO (1-800-232-4636)
rdjackson@cdc.gov

Laura Frazier, Environmental Health Scientist
770-488-0721 or toll free at 1-800-CDC-INFO (1-800-232-4636)
LHFrazier@cdc.gov

Mark Johnson, Regional Representative 312-886-0840

ATSDR, a federal public health agency of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, evaluates the human health effects of exposure to hazardous substances.

Members of the news media can request an interview by calling the NCEH/ATSDR Office of Communication at 770-488-0700 or e-mail (news media).

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Related PHA & HC For this Press Release


Lusher Avenue Groundwater Contamination
Document Date: 7/14/2009 - PHA  [PDF - 4755 KB]

Lusher Avenue Groundwater Contamination - For Public Comment
Document Date: 3/1/2009 - PHA  [PDF - 5925 KB]

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Related News Releases For Elkhart County, Elkhart, Indiana

 

ATSDR Releases Final Public Health Assessment For Lane Street Ground Water Contamination
Release Date: Wednesday, July 17, 2013
The Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) has released its final public health assessment for the Lane Street Ground Water Contamination site in Elkhart, Indiana.

ATSDR Invites Public Comment on the Revised Draft Lane Street Ground Water Contamination Report
Release Date: Thursday, March 14, 2013
Groundwater beneath some properties along Lane Street in Elkhart, Indiana, is contaminated with volatile organic compounds, including trichloroethylene (TCE), says the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) in its revised draft public health assessment. The report is available for public comment until April 29, 2013.

Public Invited to Comment on Lane Street Ground Water Contamination Report ATSDR to Host Public Meeting August 22
Release Date: Monday, August 08, 2011
Groundwater beneath some properties along Lane Street in Elkhart, Indiana is contaminated with volatile organic compounds, including trichloroethylene (TCE), the federal Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR)concludes in its draft public health assessment.

ATSDR releases final report on Lusher Avenue Groundwater Contamination
Release Date: Friday, July 24, 2009
About 200 people were exposed to chemicals in drinking water wells near Lusher Avenue in Elkhart, IN, in the late 1980s, including an estimated 53 who were exposed to levels that may put them at greater risk for adverse health effects, concludes the final public health assessment (PHA) on the site from the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR).

ATSDR to Host Open House Session about Upcoming Environmental Health Activities at the Lusher Avenue Groundwater Contamination Site
Release Date: Friday, October 31, 2008
The Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry will hold an Open House in Elkhart, Indiana to gather community health concerns from residents of neighborhoods near the Lusher Avenue Groundwater Contamination Site.

ATSDR To Hold Meetings About Its Public Health Assessment for the Conrail Rail Yard Superfund Site in Elkhart, Ind.
Release Date: Thursday, July 29, 2004
The Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR), a public health agency of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, will hold a public availability session followed by a public meeting Aug. 3, 2004, about the Conrail Rail Yard Superfund Site in Elkhart, Ind. The agency recently issued the public comment version of its public health assessment for the site. At the public availability session from 4:30-6:30 p.m., ATSDR representatives will be available to talk one-to-one with community members about health concerns they believe are related to possible exposure to contaminants from the Conrail site.

ATSDR Releases for Public Comment Its Public Health Assessment for the Conrail Rail Yard Superfund Site in Elkhart, Ind.
Release Date: Thursday, July 01, 2004
The Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR), a public health agency of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, today released for public review and comment a public health assessment for the Conrail Rail Yard Superfund Site in Elkhart, Ind. The report was done at the request of community members and to update a preliminary public health assessment completed in 1989.

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