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ATSDR Press Room

Asbestos Levels at Illinois Beach State Park Not Expected to Harm Public Health Says Federal Agency

Lake County, Zion, Illinois

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Based on summer 2006 sampling data

For Immediate Release: November 7, 2007

ATLANTA - Sampling for asbestos in the sand and air at the Adeline Jay Geo-Karis Illinois Beach State Park (IBSP) indicates that conditions on the beach are not expected to harm people's health, says the federal Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) in a recently released exposure investigation. The investigation was conducted by ATSDR during the spring and summer of 2006. The weight of evidence from this and previous studies does not indicate that beaches at IBSP should be closed.

As a part of the review of ATSDR's exposure investigation report, a United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) expert panel recommended further sampling to confirm these findings. In September 2007 EPA conducted additional activity-based sampling, which is still undergoing laboratory analysis. ATSDR has been asked to review the results of the EPA sampling and is planning to prepare a written evaluation of these results in 2008. The present document being released is both an evaluation of the 2006 sampling and a summary of previous investigations.

The site, located along the shoreline of Lake Michigan, has been under review by state agencies, the University of Illinois at Chicago, and EPA since 1997, when asbestos-containing building materials were found scattered on the beach.

None of ATSDR's airborne sampling detected chrysotile, the chief type of asbestos previously found in shoreline debris. ATSDR did find another type of asbestos, referred to as amphiboles, in the air in very small amounts, but only after intense manipulation of the sand that would not likely occur during typical recreational activities at the beach. 

In order to evaluate potential exposure to asbestos, ATSDR scientists conducted sampling of the sand and air during two specific types of activities. The first activity was constructing sand castles, a typical activity at IBSP. For the second activity, a tractor pulled grading equipment along the beach to level the sand. Although the Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR) no longer conducts beach-grading activities, this experiment was conducted to create a heavy disturbance of the sand that could occur in rare circumstances. During these activities, scientists collected sand and air samples and compared them to samples taken from other areas of the park where no such activities occur. The sand and air samples collected after the sand castle building contained no higher asbestos levels than those collected from areas of the park away from the beach. At the North Unit of the park, the grading did create a slight elevation in airborne asbestos levels. However, this level of sand disturbance is extremely unlikely during normal beach activities.

ATSDR recommends that IDNR continue to remove asbestos-containing materials from the beach and to educate visitors about how to identify and avoid asbestos-containing materials. Should the need arise to disturb the sand on the North Unit for maintenance purposes, ATSDR recommends that this occur when the sand surface is wet or when the park area being maintained is closed to the public. Prior to this maintenance, IDNR should assess the potential health hazard to its workers and take appropriate protective measures.

For more information about the exposure investigation, contact James Durant ( or 770-488-0700) or Mark Johnson ( or 312-886-0840). The exposure investigation report is available online at [PDF, 2150 KB]. Information about Illinois Beach State Park is available on-line at

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 with ATSDR staff by calling the NCEH/ATSDR Office of Communication at 770-488-0700.

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Related PHA & HC For this Press Release

Illinois Beach State Park
-Evaluation of Asbestos Exposures
Exposure Investigation Report

Document Date: 10/19/2007 - HC  [PDF - 2205 KB]

Illinois Beach State Park
Document Date: 6/16/2000 - PHA  [PDF - 866 KB]

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Related News Releases For Lake County, Zion, Illinois


Public Meeting to be Held for the Illinois Beach State Park Health Assessment
Release Date: Friday, May 08, 2009
Community members interested in the investigation of asbestos at Adeline Jay Geo-Karis Illinois Beach State Park will have an opportunity to learn more at two community availability sessions at the park on Thursday, May 14.

Illinois Beach State Park Asbestos Levels Not Expected to Harm Public Health
Release Date: Tuesday, March 10, 2009
Recreational use of Adeline Jay Geo-Karis Illinois Beach State Park (IBSP) is not expected to harm people's health, says the federal Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR). Both ATSDR and the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recommend that the Illinois Department of Natural Resources continue to conduct regular beach sweeps and advise the public of the presence of asbestos-containing material. If asbestos-containing materials are found, IBSP visitors should report them to beach staff and should not attempt to remove the material or otherwise disturb it.

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