To the District of Columbia Department of Health
Potential Contaminants in Soils at American University, Washington, DC
January 8, 1998
The Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) has been requested to consider whether suspected chemical warfare agents, laboratory reagents, and associated degradation products in soils at the American University in Washington, DC, could pose a concern to public health. This question came about because many of these substances were not on the target compound list for the soil sampling analysis. After discussing the list of potential contaminants supplied by the DC government (enclosed with this correspondence) with the Army Corps of Engineers’ contractor, Parsons Engineering, ATSDR has been assured that the majority of substances in the list would have been tentatively identified during the sample analysis, since they were included in the reference library for the gas chromatograph/mass spectrograph during analysis. Contamination by other substances or their degradation products would have been observed as increased levels of inorganic substances, particularly arsenic. Remaining substances are chemical warfare agents, which are volatile and reactive in nature, making it unlikely that any of these substances would remain to contaminate soils in the area.
ATSDR concludes that the potential for these substances to contaminate soils at the American University has been appropriately addressed during the analyses of soil samples. Although arsenic was elevated above background in a few locations, ATSDR concluded in a previous public health consultation dated August 26, 1997 that no adverse health effects should occur as a result of exposure to arsenic in these soils. No other potential contaminants were observed at concentrations of concern.
Please contact me at (404)498-0684 should you have any questions or comments.
Dana Abouelnasr, Ph.D.
List of Potential Contaminants (Supplied by the DC Government)
WWI CHEMICAL AGENTS
AND BREAKDOWN PRODUCTS
Nitrogen Mustard HN-3
POST-WWII CHEMICAL AGENTS