Toxin results in from private company contracted with Webster Parish Police Jury

Webster Parish Community Services building on Gleason Street with First Baptist Church in the background.

By Paige Nash

Toxin results are in from a private company, contracted by the Webster Parish Police Jury. Intertek PSI Solutions performed indoor air sampling at two community services buildings owned by the jury, one of which is separated only by a 25-foot alleyway between it and the historic dry-cleaning facility, Imperial Cleaners. 

The executive Webster Parish Community Services, building located on Gleason Street, is closest in proximity to the alleyway that has had the highest detected concentrations of tetrachloroethene and trichloroethene according to most recent reports by Leaff for Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality – levels that are 1,000 times above safe levels, according to Dr. Brian Salvatore, chemistry professor at LSU-S. The administration building located on Murrell Street is approximately 195-feet northwest of Imperial Cleaners. 

Intertek is based out of Shreveport and provides testing consulting and engineering services, such as construction material testing, environmental testing and specialty testing. Before beginning their sampling, they were made aware of LDEQ’s plans to conduct their own investigation sometime this month, but the parish still opted to have the private testing completed, in order to use the results as a comparison.  

Although two and a half pages of chemicals were detected, it appears the indoor air quality concentrations were not above the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Commercial Vapor Intrusion Screening Level. 

“The results from the testing showed no levels of contamination from the cleaning fluids that were historically released at the imperial Cleaner’s property that exceeded limits for commercial property,” said WPPJ President Jim Bonsall. “They believe some of the traces they found inside the building may be from excessive cleaning for Covid protection, as some of the same chemicals they were testing for are used in cleaning and disinfecting products.” 

Intertek collected 3 indoor air samples from the Gleason location and 2 from the Murrel location, from various areas of each building. They placed the canisters used to conduct the testing at a height that would be considered breathing level. They also collected two outdoor/ambient air samples from both locations, with the canisters located outside of the buildings closest to the historic dry cleaners.

The outdoor/ambient samples detected hydrocarbon-related chemicals at a lower level outside of the building, than inside the building. This would suggest that the chemicals detected may be the result of excessive cleaning measures taken as of late due to the global pandemic. According to the report provided by Intertek to the Webster Parish Police Jury and Office of Community Services, such cleaning measurements were performed in the building during the time of the sampling.  

The results were compared with both Residential and Commercial Vapor Intrusion Screening Levels. Although some of the chemicals detected did exceed residential recommended levels, they were not above recommended levels for commercial properties. More sensitive people of the population which include the elderly, children or immunocompromised, would be at elevated risk if they were to spend extended periods of time in the buildings.  

LDEQ did begin their investigation at these properties, as well as the other surrounding businesses and residences, this week. We are still awaiting those official reports. 

HeadStart building on Murrell Street.

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