Where: Burlington Vapor Intrusion, Burlington, VT (Emergency Response Group)

danger hazardous chemicals sign

ATSDR’s rapid response and data analysis of a vapor intrusion at a Vermont public school produced recommendations that protected the safety of students and staff.

Volatile chemicals evaporate easily and form a “vapor” in the air, which means they can get into soil and groundwater and enter and build up inside buildings. This vapor intrusion can become harmful if people inside the buildings breathe in the chemicals found in the air at levels that are unsafe.

ATSDR Region 1 notified the Emergency Response Program about a perchloroethylene (PCE) vapor intrusion affecting a public school and several private homes in Burlington, Vermont. PCE is a manufactured chemical used in dry cleaning and metal degreasing. Exposure to very high concentrations of PCE can cause dizziness, headaches, sleepiness, lack of coordination, confusion, nausea, unconsciousness, and even death.

Working in conjunction with EPA, ATSDR’s team reviewed and drafted an evaluation of the vapor intrusion. The team determined that there were no current health threats, but recommended additional monitoring while school was in session. ATSDR advised officials that they could open the school on schedule in the fall but recommended that students and pregnant staff minimize any time spent in the school basement.

Return to Where ATSDR Works Index

Page last reviewed: December 8, 2020