State announces St. Johnsbury air sampling results

04 April 2017

For Immediate Release
April 4, 2017

State receives results to air quality testing in leased St. Johnsbury office buildings

St. Johnsbury – State officials briefed staff from the Agency of Human Services this afternoon on results of indoor air quality tests conducted this past Friday in the Agency’s leased office buildings in St. Johnsbury.

Agency of Human Services staff in St. Johnsbury offices were relocated last Thursday from their work buildings on 67-72 Eastern Avenue after state officials received notice of a potential risk to exposure to  three harmful contaminants discovered at elevated levels in the buildings’ foundation. Indoor air quality tests were ordered to identify if the contaminants perchloroethylene (PCE), trichlroethylene (TCE) and chloroform were present at levels of concern inside the office buildings where employees work. 

Testing results were received Monday afternoon and evaluated by scientists at the Vermont Department of Health (VDH) and Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC). The indoor air quality testing results showed:

  • PCE and TCE are present above the Health Department’s levels of concern in two of the three buildings.
  • Chloroform is present slightly above a level of concern in one of the two buildings with elevated PCE and TCE levels.
  • Results for a third building did not reach VDH levels of concern for the three chemicals  

PCE and TCE are classified as carcinogens. Exposure can increase risk for kidney, bladder and blood cancers. TCE has also been associated with cardiac malformation in a developing fetus. The levels of those chemicals found present in the State’s air sampling were lower than those associated in studies with measurable increases of cancer. Additionally, each of the three chemicals leaves the body in 1-2 days after a person is removed from exposure.

“The health and safety of our staff, as well as all the people who come into our offices for services, is our number one priority,” said Agency of Human Services Secretary Al Gobeille. “We acted quickly to remove staff from further possible risk of exposure to these chemicals and got the air sampling experts into the buildings the next day. I want to thank all involved in handling this situation, especially our St. Johnsbury staff and other state partners.”

The State removed approximately 85 staff from the buildings on Thursday morning, with “mission critical” staff members relocated that afternoon to alternative work locations in town to ensure that there was no disruption of services for the community. Currently, the State is working to identify temporary space that can house displaced employees, and expects to have a plan in place in the coming week.

Based on a review of the site inspection and air sampling results, the State has recommended that the property owner install mitigation measures. A series of milestones related to the development and implementation of a corrective action plan, including mitigation measures and a timeline for additional air sampling, have been conveyed to the property owner’s consultant.

Any AHS staff member, or member of the community, concerned about their health related to these results, is encouraged to consult with their health care provider. People are also welcome to contact to the Vermont Department of Health at 800-439-8550.

Public Health Information on PCE: https://www.atsdr.cdc.gov/ToxProfiles/tp18-c1-b.pdf
Public Health Information on TCE: https://www.atsdr.cdc.gov/ToxProfiles/tp19-c1-b.pdf
Public Health Information on Chloroform: https://www.atsdr.cdc.gov/ToxProfiles/tp6-c1-b.pdf

UDS Level 2 Report Final (pdf)
Indoor Air Data Table (updated 4/17/17) (pdf)
Indoor Air Sample Location (jpg)
Indoor Air Sampling Notes & Locations (pdf)
Sub-Slab Depressurization (SSD) Systems (pdf)
Vapor Intrusion (jpg)
FAQ: St. Johnsbury Medical Concerns (pdf)

DEC public database, can be found here: https://anrweb.vt.gov/DEC/ERT/Hazsites.aspx
Environmental Research Tool (ERT) found here:  http://dec.vermont.gov/waste-management/contaminated-sites The Site number is 2017-4702 and it has been named “St. Johnsbury State Office”.

FAQ: Testing of State Offices in St. Johnsbury (pdf)
Reduced Workforce Time Reporting Guidelines  (Updated 4-9-17) (pdf)
Limited Phase II Environmental Site Assessment Report (pdf)
Sub-Slab Depressurization Systems Fact Sheet (pdf)

IF YOU HAVE QUESTIONS

Inquiries about health issues: 
Vermont Department of Health: 1-800-439-8550

Inquiries about the chemicals:  
Department of Environmental Conservation, Trish Coppolino: 802-249-5822

Current employees inquiring about payroll issues, other administrative issues:
Department of Human Resources: 802-828-3491