Chemical vapors found at dangerous levels in Petoskey condominiums

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The Environmental Protection Agency is investigating the source of toxic vapors found in several Petoskey condominiums built on a former superfund site.

The condos were built on the former site of the Petoskey Manufacturing Company - which was known to have been contaminated with trichloroethylene, a chemical linked to cancer.

The EPA was monitoring the site but did not believe the chemicals were concentrated enough to enter into homes until sampling on the site in January showed elevated levels of the chemical.

Bethany Mead-O’Brien is the site manager for the Department of Environmental Quality.

“The state got information in late March that the numbers were elevated and from that the EPA has pursued to gather further information and to work with the residents to deal with the contaminants present underneath the condominiums and inside the air in the condominiums.”

Mead-O’Brien said understanding of vapors and testing has gotten better, making the health advisory levels for the chemical more stringent.

“When we initially screened for that we were looking at soil concentrations and groundwater concentrations and at that time with more limited toxicological data the screening values did not indicate a potential pathway.”

Mead-O’Brien says the EPA is installing vapor mitigation systems into the condos and is exploring ways of addressing the chemical long term by finding its source in the ground.