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EPA releases review of El Dorado asbestos study

Release Date: 04/24/2006
Contact Information: Lisa Fasano, (415) 947-4307,

Agency seeks information on study methods to determine adequacy of report

(San Francisco, Calif. -- 04/24/2006) – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency today released its technical review of the National Stone, Sand & Gravel Association asbestos report conducted by the R. J. Lee Group, finding that its conclusions are seriously flawed and not based on widely accepted scientific principles.

RJ Lee’s report reviewed an October 2004 EPA study that was designed to measure the exposures to asbestos fibers, if any, that resulted from sports and play activities that disturbed dust and soil in El Dorado Hills. The EPA adhered to widely accepted standards for sampling and analysis, including rigorous quality assurance/quality control, and to the standard methodologies of EPA exposure and risk assessment.

“The EPA used analytical procedures consistent with existing health databases and risk assessment models used by the World Health Organization, EPA, Cal EPA and other federal agencies,” said Daniel Meer, the EPA’s Emergency Response and Planning branch chief for the Pacific Southwest region. “The RJ Lee group’s report misleads the public and muddies the message to the community. We need to work together to find reasonable ways to minimize potential health threats, not engage in misdirected arguments over their existence.”

The EPA’s regional office in San Francisco received a copy of the RJ Lee group report from the agency’s national Superfund office in Washington D.C. The report was highly critical of the EPA’s October 2004, activity based sampling study, prompting the EPA to conduct a technical review of the RJ Lee Group’s analyses, methodology and conclusions.

In its evaluation of the EPA’s data, the RJ Lee Group did not apply scientifically approved asbestos fiber counting methods and dimensional criteria that are widely accepted by public health officials. Further, the EPA was unable to verify that the testing protocols used by the RJ Lee Group met any accepted, peer reviewed analytical standards.

The EPA sent a letter to the National Stone and Gravel Association March 9, asking 13 detailed questions for clarification regarding the RJ Lee Group’s testing methods and its conclusions. The EPA requested a response by mid-May.

The EPA has asked the U.S. Geological Survey to independently evaluate naturally occurring asbestos in the developed and undeveloped areas of El Dorado Hills.

To view a copy of the EPA’s technical review, go to: