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State of New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection
State of New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection
Sparta Township Environmental Asbestos Study
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The aim of this section is to provide answers for common questions among people interested in this investigation.

1. What is the purpose of this investigation?
2. What are the investigators doing?
3. When will these tasks be done?
4. When will the investigation be finished?
5. Will you give us the results when the laboratory analysis is complete?
6. What are the potential health effects of environmental asbestos?
7. What is the status of legal actions concerning Cemex or the investigation?
8. Has Cemex implemented the dust management plan?
9. If I'm a Southdown neighbor concerned about environmental asbestos levels in or around my home, what can I do to reduce my potential risks while awaiting the results of this investigation?

1. What is the purpose of this investigation?

Cemex (formally Southdown) Quarry in Sparta quarries mostly limestone and marble, to make lime used as an amendment for agricultural and residential soils. The rock mined in the quarry naturally contains a small amount of the mineral tremolite. Tremolite can occur in different forms, some of which can be asbestos or asbestos-like, and could therefore pose a health risk to nearby residents who could be exposed through emissions of dust from the quarry. However, available data are insufficient to determine whether and to what extent nearby residents may be exposed and at risk. The current investigation is designed to provide useful information on the current and future asbestos-related, thus, cancer risk to nearby residents that may be posed by the quarry. See Framework for details.

2. What are the investigators doing?

The major tasks of the project are to (1) analyze core samples of rock from the quarry to determine whether asbestos-type material occurs in the quarry or may be produced by on-site processing of the rock; (2) perform "reasonable worst case dispersion modeling" to predict an upper limit a) to exposures to the material identified in the core samples and b) to asbestos-related cancer risk to nearby residents which might occur; (3) collect and analyze samples of dust inside 28 houses at varying distances from the quarry in order to determine whether asbestos-type material has accumulated in houses, and to what extent such asbestos-type material might be due to emissions from the quarry ; (4) collect and analyze indoor and outdoor air samples from 28 houses in the down-wind area most likely to be subject to quarry emissions to provide an estimate of exposure and risk from current asbestos-type emissions; and (5) conduct exposure assessments and risk assessments based on the results of tasks 1-4. The original workplan called for analyses of soil samples from each residential location; these samples will be analyzed selectively as needed to assist in the interpretation on air and dust sampling results. See the Workplan for more details, and the Framework for other options that were considered; the Executive Summary of Public Comment Period, Public Comment Period Comments & Responses, and Summary of 4/27/00 Public Meeting provide information about comments upon the Framework and draft Workplan, and responses to those comments.

The investigation is being carried out through a collaborative effort among academic institutions, governmental agencies and independent experts. These include the Environmental and Occupational Health Sciences Institute of the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey/ Rutgers University, New York University Institute of Environmental Medicine, the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection, the United States Environmental Protection Agency-Region 2, and a private contractor hired by USEPA. In addition, the project is being assisted and advised by an Expert Group of additional scientists from the above groups, plus the New Jersey Department of Health and Senior Services. Laboratory analyses are being conducted by R.J. Lee Group, Inc. of Monroeville, Pa. and EMS Laboratories of Pasadena, Calif. The overall cost of the project is about $550,000 (this represents an increase of $30,000 from the originally budgeted amount).

3. When will these tasks be done?

The original schedule was for a 14-month project (see Workplan Timeline for details). The Investigation Accomplishments page shows which tasks have been completed or begun; this page will be updated as needed.

4. When will the investigation be finished?

Due to unanticipated delays in the preparation and approval of the Quality Assurance Project Plan, the start of field work was delayed. As a result the current status of the project doesn't correspond to the original timeline. However, subsequent progress has been rapid and it is anticipated that the draft findings will be available to the public about late spring 2002. See accomplishments for current updates.

5. Will you give us the results when the laboratory analysis is complete?

The raw data from the laboratory, by themselves, are not informative and are easily misinterpreted, even by experts. The raw data sets will need to be analyzed statistically, modeled and assessed relative to each other in order to determine whether these results indicate that there is a risk. Once these tasks have been completed, the findings will be shared with the public.

6. What are the potential health effects of environmental asbestos?

Cancer (lung cancer and/or mesothelioma) is the health effect that is of most potential concern with low to moderate (that is, non-occupational) levels of exposure. The investigation is seeking, in part, to determine exposures at residential locations near the quarry and their effects, if any. Asbestos is also known to cause non-cancer respiratory disease, but this health effect occurs only with prolonged exposure to very high levels, such as those which occurred historically in industries like asbestos mining and shipbuilding. Levels of exposure which pose minimal risk of cancer will protect against the non-cancer health effects of asbestos. For more information about health effects, contact James A. Brownlee, MPH, Director, Consumer & Environmental Health Services, New Jersey Department of Health and Senior Services, 609-588-3120, fax 609-584-5370, e-mail: jbrownlee@doh.state.nj.us.

7. What is the status of legal actions concerning Cemex or the investigation?

Under the terms of an Administrative Consent Order (ACO) entered into by the DEP and Southdown (now CEMEX) on or about June 30, 2000, Southdown agreed to pay $246,350 to resolve alleged violations of the Air Pollution Control Act. The dust management control plan has been implemented.

There is also an action in Superior Court brought by the Township of Sparta against Southdown (Township of Sparta v. Southdown, Inc., Dkt. SSXC-38-99). The Department serves as amicus curiae in this section.

Further information can be obtained from Mr. Kevin Auerbacher, Deputy Attorney General, PO Box 93, Hughes Justice Complex, Market Street , Trenton 08625; 609-292-6945.

8. Has Cemex implemented the dust management plan?

To date Cemex has implemented the Dust Management Plan and has met the required milestones listed in the compliance schedule of the Administrative Consent Order (ACO). Particulate (PM-10) air monitors were installed; the first quarter monitoring results showed no exceedances (that is, emissions above permitted levels). Cemex submitted its operating permit in July 2001. In that month one permit violation was observed (no penalty, since operator was not at fault). In January 2002 there was an exceedance of the standard (zero level) for visible particulate emissions from a building, and three permit exceedances.

For further information on enforcement, contact Jeff Meyer, NJDEP-Enforcement (Northern Office), 973-299-7700.

9. If I'm a Southdown neighbor concerned about environmental asbestos levels in or around my home, what can I do to reduce my potential risks while awaiting the results of this investigation?

This investigation is being conducted to determine whether there are any risks. Since it is still underway, we do not yet know whether or to what extent there are health risks from asbestos exposure from the quarry. In the meantime, wet mopping and wiping can be done on many surfaces, and may help to reduce the potential for exposure and risk. A vacuum cleaner will be helpful only if it is a "closed system" type of vacuum cleaner. This type contains a HEPA filter in the final stage, which can remove asbestos fibers from the exhaust air.

 
Office of Science
Dr. Gary A. Buchanan, Manager

Mailing Address:
Mail code 428-01, P.O. Box 420
P.O. Box 420
Trenton, NJ 0862
Office Location:
428 East State St., 1st floor
Trenton, NJ 08625
Phone: (609) 984-6070
Fax: (609) 292-7340


For Information regarding this site, please contact Terri Tucker.

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Last Updated: November 1, 2010