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Case Studies

The below case studies highlight former uses of sites or types of nearby sites that might be a cause for further examination when making ECE siting decisions (see Appendix E). Checks for potentially incompatible businesses prior to siting may have led to regular monitoring or placement of the ECE facility in another location, thereby preventing exposures.

Former Use Concern: Matchbox Daycare—Indiana, 2005

Matchbox Daycare was located in a large, one-room facility that also housed a church. The building is located on property that was used for a manufactured gas plant in the late 19th century. The site had also been used by a print shop and might have had other uses.

Indoor air samples collected by the Indiana State Department of Health detected VOCs within the daycare and the church section of the building. Inspectors determined that the indoor air concentrations of the contaminants did not pose a health concern for the children and workers at the daycare. However, because of the presence of VOCs and the concerns it raised, the daycare and the church decided to change locations [22].

Former Use Concern: Head Start Program—ATSDR Region 2, 2012

In 2012, a site where a Head Start program was located was identified as having potential contamination with VOCs in the soil and air beneath some buildings where businesses might have used these chemicals in the past. Soil gas samples underneath a building (sub-slab) were analyzed for PCE, TCE, and dichloroethylene (DCE) from under a building that housed the Head Start program. Generally, concentrations found in sub-slab testing are greater than the concentrations occupants of the building are exposed to in indoor air levels. Indoor air concentrations, can however, be modeled based on sub-slab results.

At this facility, the PCE air concentrations estimated for the Health Start program exceeded the ATSDR acute minimal risk levels for neurological effects and created a possible increased cancer risk for children and adults. Also, the PCE, TCE, and DCE levels all exceeded the ATSDR chronic minimal risk levels for neurological effects. ATSDR recommended that indoor air sampling of the facilities on the property be conducted as soon as possible to capture accurate results.

Contaminants at the site caused a great deal of concern for health professionals and for the parents whose children attended the Head Start program. On ATSDR’s recommendations, further indoor air testing was completed. The indoor air testing revealed that the indoor air concentrations were below a health concern. A concern was that indoor air concentrations could rise in the future if environmental conditions changed. Because of increased awareness and the potential risk, the Head Start program was relocated [23].

Nearby Use Concern: Tutor Time Daycare Center—New York, 2002

In late February 2002, parents whose children had attended or were still attending the Tutor Time Daycare Center, in Mineola, New York, contacted the New York State Attorney General’s office with concerns about contaminants at the site. The daycare center was located among

commercial and light industrial buildings, and parents had recently learned that it abutted the Jackson Steel Superfund site.

Sampling by the Nassau County Department of Health (NC DOH) and EPA had shown elevated indoor air levels of tetrachloroethylene (PCE or perc), a common industrial solvent and a fluid used in dry cleaning, inside the daycare [24]. The levels detected were above the New York State Department of Health (NYS DOH) indoor air guideline of 100 parts per billion (ppb) [25]. The EPA took action to reduce the PCE levels in the daycare to below the NYS DOH air guideline. A subsequent evaluation by ATSDR indicated the risk for harmful effects from exposures to the children, staff, and parents involved with the daycare were reduced after actions were taken. However, the evaluation indicated that actions were needed to reduce the exposures to below the NYS DOH air guideline [25]. The daycare ceased operations and was closed on April 26, 2002 [24].

Nearby Use Concern: Kiddie Kampus Day Care—Wisconsin, 2008

Kiddie Kampus Day Care was located on the lower side of a two-level building. The upper level had several offices, stores, and a convenience store with a gas station. The daycare typically had 80-90 children and about 20 staff members during weekdays.

Gasoline odor was reported in the daycare after a gasoline leak and removal of gasoline from a containment crock located beneath the pump island. It was unclear how the vapors migrated into the indoor air.

Daycare staff and parents became concerned about the odor and the well-being of the children and contacted the Wisconsin Department of Children and Family Services. The Washington County Health Department, along with the Wisconsin Division of Public Health, visited the site. Some daycare staff members complained of headaches when they smelled the gasoline odor.

An investigation found elevated levels of gasoline vapors in the indoor air of the daycare. The highest measured benzene level in the daycare was 15 ppb, which is considered a health hazard for adults and children who have long-term exposure to the vapors. Xylene levels were not likely at a level harmful to adults, but it could not be determined if the exposures were a health hazard for children. It was also determined that if more gasoline was released from the pump island, the gasoline vapors could exceed the lower explosive limit, creating an extremely dangerous condition.

Investigators recommended that the day care relocate to another location until action was taken to ensure that gasoline vapors were not reaching the daycare [26]. Shortly after this incident, the daycare temporarily relocated to a nearby church. After mitigation actions and adjustments to the heating and air conditioning system, and after subsequent air testing consistently found safe levels of gasoline-related VOCs, the daycare returned to this location.