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State deems Arlington High School safe after chemical detected

Posted by Brock Parker  August 23, 2011 11:55 AM

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The state Department of Environmental Protection has found no imminent health risk posed by low to moderate levels of a chemical found in a portion of Arlington High School last week.

The state agency found low levels of Perchloroethylene, known as PCE, in soil near the high school earlier this month and low to moderate levels of the chemical in the air of some basement areas at the school. The chemical is used for dry-cleaning fabrics and metal degreasing operations and if it is spilled on the ground it can potentially dissolve in the underlying groundwater, according to Arlington’s Department of Health and Human Services.

But a report issued yesterday by DEP officials said that while some areas of the school are being impacted by PCE infiltration, “all currently-used rooms within the school complex are below stringent state cleanup standards.”

After finding the chemical in the school earlier this month, the state conducted further testing at the school last week, including testing for PCE in the air of lower basement levels.

The state report said the high school is safe for students and staff. But Arlington officials said in a press release today that they will work with the state to conduct additional monitoring and to implement strategies to further reduce the infiltration of PCE in the school.

Testing for PCE at the school began as part of an effort by DEP officials to investigate whether historic dry cleaning operations in the Massachusetts Avenue area of Arlington had polluted groundwater.

--brock.globe@gmail.com

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