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Public health agency OK's Oak Street Beach asbestos study

Release Date: 05/02/2008
Contact Information: Anne Rowan, 312-353-9391, Mick Hans, 312-353-5050,

No. 08-OPA081

CHICAGO (May 2, 2008) - U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Region 5's public health agency partner has issued a formal consultation letter to EPA that validates the technical approaches used in a study to assess potential exposures to low levels of asbestos found at Chicago's Oak Street Beach.

"ATSDR's review of the data collected by the Chicago Park District in 2005 provides an extra level of assurance that the Oak Street Beach testing was appropriate and sufficient to reach a public health conclusion," said Regional Superfund Director Richard Karl. "Going forward, EPA and its federal partners will continue to be available to the park district for consultation as requested."

The study was conducted in September 2005 by LFR Inc., an Elgin, Ill.-based contractor retained by the Chicago Park District. The study evaluated whether people could be exposed to asbestos while engaging in typical beach activities, such as playing catch, building sandcastles and sunbathing. EPA provided limited technical consultation regarding the "activity-based testing" protocols used by LFR.

The final report from this study, entitled "Report on Activity-Based Air Sampling - Oak Street Beach, Chicago, Illinois," was released in April 2006. EPA recently requested that its public health agency partner, the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (part of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) review this report.

The ATSDR consultation letter to EPA concludes:

* The air samples collected contained asbestos concentrations consistent with levels that would be expected in urban areas and that recreational activity at Oak Street Beach does not pose a public health hazard.

* The sampling methods and analytical protocols used in the study were consistent with methods recommended by both EPA and ATSDR for assessing asbestos exposure.

* Based on the data collected in 2005, ATSDR did not recommend additional sampling at Oak Street Beach. However, if additional sampling efforts are conducted, ATSDR is willing to review sampling protocols and results.

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