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ATSDR Releases Health Advisory To Prevent Hexavalent Chromium Exposure In Garfield, NJ

Bergen County, Garfield, New Jersey

Thursday, September 30, 2010

ATSDR Releases Health Advisory To Prevent Hexavalent Chromium Exposure In Garfield, NJ

The Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) is cautioning residents in a small section of Garfield, NJ to stay out of their basements to prevent potential exposure to a toxic metal called hexavalent chromium. High levels of hexavalent chromium were found at a property near the corner of Midland Avenue and Grand Street in Garfield, New Jersey. There are 709 properties in this area, located near the EC Electroplating site. People in this area should avoid using their basements until the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) conducts an environmental assessment for hexavalent chromium.

ATSDR issues public health advisories rarely, in cases when a hazardous substance poses an immediate and significant risk to human health. Public Health Advisories state what public health actions need to happen to prevent further exposure.

Hexavalent chromium is a toxic metal that can cause several health problems, including irritation of the lining of the nose, breathing problems (asthma, cough, and shortness of breath) and certain types of cancer, including lung and intestinal cancers. Ground water near the E.C. Electroplating site is contaminated with hexavalent chromium. During heavy rain, flooding may occur in the basements of some properties located near the site. When the water recedes, the chromium dries out and may be visible in the form of yellow dust or crystals. Accidentally swallowing or inhaling this contaminated dust can expose people to harmful levels of hexavalent chromium.

EPA has already cleaned the property that showed the highest hexavalent chromium levels in surface dust in order to prevent more exposures to contaminated surface dust and to keep contaminated groundwater from re-entering this basement. EPA has cleaned 12 other contaminated homes and is continuing steps to prevent chromium-contaminated groundwater from entering basements. EPA has visited each of the 709 homes and businesses in the area. EPA has taken water samples from 267 properties. However, residents should contact EPA if their property has not been evaluated. Residents should also contact EPA immediately if they see yellow dust or crystals in the basement of their home as these may be signs of hexavalent chromium contamination.

Residents will be notified by mail of the health advisory's release. ATSDR, EPA, and the New Jersey Department of Health and Senior Services (NJDHSS) will hold a public information session to share important details and answer questions. EPA will discuss the next steps for cleaning up the chromium contamination.

When: Wednesday October 6, 2010
Media Availability: 6-7 pm
Time: 7-9pm

Where: Roosevelt School #7 (225 Lincoln Avenue, Garfield, NJ 07026)

For more information on property testing and the E.C. Electroplating site, residents may contact EPA:

  • Melissa Dimas, Community Involvement Coordinator (212) 637-3677, email:
  • Joseph Cosentino, On-Scene Coordinator (732) 906-6983, email:
  • Bonnie Bellow, Media Relations (212) 637-3660

For more information about this health advisory, residents may contact ATSDR:

Office of Communication: 770-488-0700 or 1-800-CDC-INFO

To view ATSDRs Public Health Advisory on the EC Electroplating Site visit
For more information, call 1-800-CDC-INFO.

Making sure people are safe from chemical exposure is ATSDR's top priority. ATSDR, a federal agency of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, worked closely with EPA and state agencies to examine potential health effects from contaminated groundwater and surface dust in Garfield, New Jersey. ATSDR examined data EPA gathered from the properties contaminated with hexavalent chromium.

Members of the news media can request an interview with ATSDR staff by calling the NCEH/ATSDR Office of Communication at 770/ 488-0070.

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Related PHA & HC For this Press Release

E.C. Electroplating Public Health Advisory
-(a/k/a Garfield Chromium Groundwater Contamination Site)
Document Date: 9/29/2010 - HL  [PDF - 945 KB]

E.C. Electroplating Letter Health Consultation
-(a/k/a Garfield Chromium Groundwater Contamination Site)
Document Date: 9/28/2010 - HC  [PDF - 452 KB]

E.C. Electroplating
-(a/k/a Garfield Chromium Groundwater Contamination Site)
Document Date: 4/26/2010 - HC  [PDF - 2172 KB]

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