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Department of Communications/
News Bureau
22 Davis Hall, 10 Lippitt Road, Kingston, RI 0288
Phone: 401-874-2116 Fax: 401-874-7872

Ballentine Hall environmental testing results released

KINGSTON, R.I. -- January 25, 2001 -- The University of Rhode Island has announced the results of an analysis of the indoor environment of Ballentine Hall conducted by R.I. Analytical Laboratory Inc., of Warwick, R.I.

The test results, which were received shortly before noon yesterday, show low levels of PCBs in dust samples that range from .3 to 1.1 parts per million compared with 8.2 to 81 parts per million concentrations in dust in the Chafee Social Science Center from the last round of testing conducted by Environmental Health and Engineering (EH&E) of Newton, Mass.

"These results indicate that Ballentine does not have PCB levels comparable to those in Chafee," said John King, a member of the Science Subcommittee of the Chafee Hall Advisory Committee.

"Those individuals who are in Ballentine right now probably don't have to move out. There are some PCB levels, but they are low," said King, who is a geochemist with the URI Graduate School of Oceanography. At the same time, it continues to be a personal choice whether faculty and staff opt to relocate into Ballentine Hall, he added.

"While we have been able to get some initial, helpful reactions from our consultants to these results," said J. Vernon Wyman, assistant vice president for business services, "we will be meeting shortly with the epidemiology team which will also advise us on the results of these tests. This may be helpful to those who are looking for more information or still trying to determine whether to relocate into the Ballentine Hall building."

According to Donna Vorhees, risk assessment consultant, since there is no indoor standard for PCB levels in dust, comparisons can be made using several 1990s studies examining the components of dust in a random sampling of residential homes. The studies were designed to sample households, without any reason to believe that PCBs were present. The studies showed the following PCB levels: Nine homes in Seattle, Wash., with PCB levels between .24 to .76 ppm; eight homes in Columbus, Ohio with PCB levels between .21 and .99 ppm; and fifteen homes in Dartmouth, Mass., with PCB levels between .26 and 3.6 ppm.

In addition, EH&E has referenced a United Nations document that defines source materials containing PCBs at 5 ppm or less as nonPCB materials, where there are no special requirements for handling or disposal.

The full battery of tests on Ballentine Hall consisted of direct measurement of indoor air quality, including carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide, hydrogen sulfide, sulfur dioxide, oxygen, organic compounds, relative humidity, and temperature. Air quality testing was also conducted for asbestos. A standard test was done for indoor mold.

All of these tests were well within or well below normal occupancy limits.

Recent radon tests results were low and well below the action level called for by the R.I. Department of Health. ( The standard is 4 pCi/L and the tests showed less than 0.4 pCi/L detection limit. Picocurie or pCi/L is a standard measure of radiation.)

Outside soil samples showed no detectable levels of PCBs. Air sampling for PCBs was below the conservative NIOSH regulatory limit. (National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health which is affiliated with the Centers for Disease Control and serves as a research and advisory agency to the Occupational, Safety & Health Agency). However, the University will have the air testing redone to measure at a detection limit that is far below the NIOSH limit.

Two air samples for PCBs were taken on each floor. Seventeen dust samples were taken, evenly distributed on each of the three floors. One soil sample was taken from each side of the 50,000 square-foot building.

The complete testing results will be made available on the Chafee listserve, as soon as possible. Hard copies can be obtained at the dean's offices in Arts and Sciences and Human Science and Services by noon today (Thursday, January 25, 2001).

For Information: Linda A. Acciardo, (401) 874-2116,
Vern Wyman, (401) 874-5478

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