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EPA Begins Air Sampling In Ballston Spa Homes

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The Environmental Protection Agency

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is testing for toxic chemicals in homes surrounding a former drycleaners site in Ballston Spa.

Beginning this week, EPA is installing sampling equipment in homes around the former Rickett’s drycleaners on Route 50.

EPA On-Scene Coordinator Don Graham said the agency is targeting about 60 homes.

“Right now we’re in the process of installing sampling apparatus in the basement floors so we can come back in two weeks and collect samples from beneath each of the homes in that area, and at that time we’ll also collect indoor air samples from the basement and first floor of each home,” said Graham.

EPA is looking for chlorinated compounds, known carcinogens, from chemicals used at the drycleaners site. Graham said the sampling will detect whether the chemicals have seeped into the groundwater and then into vapors entering homes.

They’re keeping an eye out for tiny concentrations of the chemicals to determine if there’s been chronic exposure to residents.

“We’re measuring exposure over years as opposed to weeks or months,” said Graham.

EPA points out that drinking water through the public water system is not affected.

Graham said sites like this one in Ballston Spa are not uncommon.

Travis Proulx, of Environmental Advocates of New York, said contaminated brownfield sites are present in nearly every community in the state.

“There’s literally never been a study of the full look of how many of these sites exist because they’re so bountiful in so many communities. So that’s why it’s really important that the state and local governments work on starting to clean these sites up and get them back on the tax rolls but it’s a very arduous process,” said Proulx.

Graham said the village has been very cooperative, with only two homes turning away the voluntary testing.

The testing comes at a time when U.S. environmental policy appears to be at a crossroads. But EPA spokeswoman Larisa Romanowski said the testing in Ballston Spa, and Superfund cleanup projects in the region, including the Hudson River cleanup site, will not be affected by Republican President Donald Trump’s freeze on new contracts.

“The temporary pause in contracts is not expected to affect the Superfund cleanup efforts that are already under way,” said Romanowski.

But it remains to be seen how the federal agency will be affected once a new federal administrator is approved.

In one of several of Trump’s executive orders during his first two weeks, EPA could be heavily impacted by funding cuts and the new policy that for every new regulation approved, two must be eliminated.

Trump has promised to eliminate 75 percent of federal regulations.

Lucas Willard is a reporter and host at WAMC Northeast Public Radio, which he joined in 2011.
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