The Community Involvement Plan for the Jackson Cleaners Site is now available in the documents section of this website. This plan is a communication strategy guide the Agency uses to enable meaningful community involvement throughout the Superfund cleanup process. Please contact: Ruth Muhtsun, Community Involvement Coordinator, at 312-886-6595 or firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions or concerns.
The Jackson Cleaners Site consists of a contamination plume located in a mixed residential and commercial neighborhood in Ypsilanti, Washtenaw County, Michigan. During an investigation of the area in 2019 by the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy, elevated levels of tetrachloroethylene, (commonly known as PCE), and breakdown products including trichloroethylene (commonly known as TCE) were detected in the groundwater, soil, soil vapor, and indoor air at multiple buildings. In February 2020, EGLE requested assistance from EPA’s Removal Branch to address the public health hazard related to vapor intrusion at the Jackson Cleaners Site. Based on the current data, EPA has established the site boundaries as Pearl Street to the north; Riverside Park and the Huron River to the east; North Huron Street and area beyond to the west; and Michigan Avenue to the south. The Site area is serviced by Ypsilanti city water and there are no known wells in the area that are used for drinking water, so the contamination is not affecting drinking water.
What Has Been Done to Clean Up the Site?
On September 3, 2020, EPA signed an Action Memorandum to address the PCE and breakdown product contamination at the site. Prior to EPA’s involvement, EGLE determined that levels of PCE and/or TCE in indoor air at several buildings presented an immediate human health risk. As an interim measure, EGLE placed carbon air purifying units (APUs) in several buildings. EPA resampled the indoor air at these locations to ensure that APUs were effectively controlling indoor air contamination while more permanent action was being planned. EPA subsequently installed sub-slab remediation systems at buildings that have previously been documented to be impacted by vapor intrusion, where property owners granted permission to do so.
EPA also implemented a sampling/resampling plan to evaluate other buildings within approximately 100 feet of known sub-surface contamination that have not yet been sampled or where conditions have potentially changed since prior sampling.
What Are the Risks at the Site?
Groundwater polluted by PCE and breakdown products can give off gases that move up through the soil and accumulate under buildings. These vapors can then enter through cracks or holes in foundations and slabs and cause harmful indoor air pollution. This environmental problem is called “vapor intrusion.” Vapor intrusion is affected by several factors, including seasonal climate and groundwater movement. EPA is working with property owners to sample indoor air at buildings where vapor intrusion may be a concern.
PCE is a chemical that is commonly used in the dry-cleaning industry and can be found in common household products. However, exposure to high levels of PCE and its breakdown products can affect your health. Short-term exposure to high levels of PCE vapors can cause headaches and dizziness; eye, nose and throat discomfort; and irritation to your respiratory tract. Long-term exposure to high concentrations of some PCE can cause damage to your liver, kidneys, and nervous system and may also cause cancer.
TCE is commonly used a degreaser and can also be found in common household products. Breathing small amounts of TCE may cause headaches, lung irritation, dizziness, poor coordination, and difficulty concentrating. Breathing large amounts of TCE may cause impaired heart function, unconsciousness, and death. Breathing it for long periods may cause nerve, kidney, and liver damage, and cancer.
When elevated levels of PCE, TCE and/or other breakdown products are detected, EPA uses vapor mitigation systems to will draw harmful vapors from below your home and disperse them out into the outdoor air. The vapors are significantly diluted when released to the outside air and degraded by sunlight. If a mitigation system is installed in your building, EPA will resample your indoor air to ensure the system is working properly and that levels of PCE are below health-based screening levels.