April 12, 2001
Environmental tests conducted at the University of Rhode Islands Woodward Hall showed no detectable levels of PCBs in air samples and varying levels of PCBs in dust taken from different locations in the building.
R.I. Analytical Laboratory Inc., of Warwick, collected and analyzed twelve bulk samples and 10 air samples on March 1. The company performed a full scan of air sampling and tested soil, dust and mold. The air scan also tested for carbon dioxide and carbon monoxide. The results were reported to the University on March 21.
The psychology department, one of the academic departments displaced from offices in Chafee Hall following its closure in December 2000 due to PCB findings, requested that the University conduct testing in Woodward as a condition for relocation to that building. A group of faculty and staff from psychology relocated early this year to temporary quarters on the ground level of Woodward.
The majority of the dust samples taken from unit heaters showed PCB levels at 1.1 parts per million (ppm) or less. Two samples from unit heaters on the ground floor of the building had PCB levels at 6.0 ppm and 7.4 ppm.
One sample taken from a dust accumulation on a high surface in ground floor Room 008 tested at 1100 ppm. All other tests were negative or below detectable levels.
As a comparison, the PCB levels found in dust from Ballentine Hall were .3 to 1.1 parts per million, while in the closed Chafee Social Science Center they ranged from 8.2 to 81 parts per million.
The highest detectable level of 1100 ppm was taken from the top shelf of a mailbox unit in the ground floor mailroom. "This room appears to be the only area not addressed by the extensive asbestos abatement and subsequent cleaning work performed in Woodward between 1996 and 1997," said J. Vernon Wyman, URI assistant vice president for business services.
"We shared these results with Walter Coombs, Marie Stoekel, and Robert Vanderslice of the R.I. Department of Health , and they concurred with a plan to resample, retest, and clean the area. We also shared the findings with Environmental Health and Engineering (EH&E), the Newton, Mass. consultant, and notified the Environmental Protection Agency of the steps to conduct additional sampling and clean up areas with detectable PCB levels.
"Every step we took was reviewed and approved by the R.I. Department of Health," said Wyman.
R.I. Analytical took four wipe samples from other surfaces as well as an air sample in Room 008 on Friday, March 23 prior to the start of the cleaning in that space. Cyn Environmental Services, of Johnston, cleaned the mailroom and, as a precautionary measure, cleaned all of the unit heaters in the building over the weekend of March 24 and 25 (Saturday and Sunday). *
"What we have at this point is one extremely high PCB level sample in one location in a building thats been subject to extensive abatement," said Wyman. He met last week with the psychology department occupants in Woodward and the dean and department heads from the College of the Environment and Life Sciences to share the initiative and subsequent test results.
Prior to the retesting and cleanup of Woodward, the University reviewed the original asbestos abatement plan for the building and found that because there were no overhead pipes requiring abatement (from which asbestos containing insulation would have been removed) and no asbestos containing floor tiles in 1996, the ground floor mailroom was not subject to the extensive abatement and cleaning that was performed throughout the rest of the building.
During the $750,000 abatement and renovation project, the building was closed, and all staff and faculty were relocated. All asbestos was removed, and new floor tiles and carpeting were installed. The entire building was cleaned, painted, and windows were repaired.
The three-story, 46,000 square-foot building houses departments from the College of Environment and Life Sciences, formerly the College of Resource Development, and Cooperative Extension personnel.
R.I. Analytical also conducted additional air and wipe sampling on Monday, March 26, at the conclusion of the cleaning process. Those results are expected within about a week.
*The unit heaters in Rm. 110 and Rm. 111 were cleaned in a subsequent visit.
For Information: Linda A. Acciardo, (401) 874-2116, Vern Wyman, (401) 874-5478