Vapor intrusion study shows structures tested OK

THIS BUILDING on Guernsey Street, once home to a dry cleaning business, tested positive for vapor intrusion.

BELLAIRE — The Bellaire vapor intrusion study revealed that levels inside the homes tested were acceptable, a local health official said.

Rob Sproul, deputy health commissioner for the Belmont County Health Department, said Friday that it his understanding the testing related to vapors had concluded.

“The levels were low in the residences. They are focusing on one location,” Sproul said. “Residents don’t have to put (mitigation) equipment in their homes — that’s really good. I was really happy to hear that.”

Rachel Bassler, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency spokeswoman, said participants in the study already received results.

“U.S. EPA is providing all tenants and owners with results from its vapor intrusion sampling program conducted in August at their properties. The agency has found no levels of TCE or PCE above the health-based screening levels at the properties tested. U.S. EPA has also shared these results with local, state and federal health officials and with Ohio EPA. U.S. EPA is consulting with the health agencies and seeking their recommendation regarding whether additional sampling is warranted during the winter months since weather conditions can affect vapor intrusion,” Bassler said.

The one building still of concern is where the problem originated — the former dry cleaner building. It remains empty.

Last year, the U.S. and Ohio EPAs conducted groundwater and air testing in the village related to chemicals used at the dry cleaner, which has been closed for 20 years. The agencies identified some sources of groundwater and air contamination in the village. The village’s drinking water, which comes from wells along the Ohio River, was determined safe to drink and not impacted.

The chemical was discovered when the village was in the process of drilling a new well for additional drinking water capacity. Trace amounts of the chemical were discovered during testing, and the Ohio EPA said the village could not use that new well. Ohio EPA traced the chemical back to one source – the former dry cleaner on Guernsey Street. After additional testing at the building, vapors were discovered inside.

The chemicals in question are much like radon — colorless and odorless and potentially harmful.

During a December Bellaire Village Council meeting, Councilman Mike Doyle informed council that the Ohio EPA wanted the village to take ownership of the property. Doyle said, however, that would be a liability for the village.