Honeywell International to test air quality of 40 homes in Hoosick Falls

Contaminated groundwater could pose threat to air quality of homes

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HOOSICK FALLS, N.Y. — Village residents learned more this week about a company's investigation into contamination at a former factory site.

Honeywell International announced last week the discovery of volatile organic compounds, or VOCs, above state standards in groundwater and soil collected at and near a former John Street factory. The Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) ordered Honeywell to collect air samples from indoors and under homes or buildings near the site.

Over 60 people turned out to the Village Board's monthly meeting at the HAYC3 Armory on Tuesday night, when company representatives detailed the ongoing investigations.

The company has sent letters to residents requesting permission to conduct air quality tests inside about 40 homes, according to John Morris, global remediation director for Honeywell.

"We are in the early stages of these findings and this investigation," Morris said. The tests will determine whether residents are being exposed to VOCs in the air. VOCs can enter homes through vapors in contaminated groundwater.

Levels detected in Hoosick Falls range from 6 to 110 parts per billion (ppb); 5 ppb is the state's limit for the maximum allowable concentration of most VOCs in groundwater.

The tests will be paid for by Honeywell.

"If testing finds there is an issue, we're here to fix the problem," Morris said.

The discussion lasted over an hour, as residents had many questions about the investigation

Lori Stewart criticized the companies for using chemicals that could pose a threat to residents' health.

But Morris described it as a "legacy issue." The former AlliedSignal Laminate Systems Inc. operated on John Street between 1986 and 1996. That company merged with Honeywell; the manufacturing facility has since been demolished.

"We have responsibility for some of those sites, and that's why we are here," he said.

The DEC last year ordered Honeywell and Saint-Gobain to study contamination from PFOA, or perfluorooctanoic acid. The discovery of that man-made chemical in the village water system led the federal EPA to issue a no-drink order in late 2015 that lasted four months. Saint-Gobain paid to install carbon filtration systems. Honeywell was required to test the John Street site; the VOCs were found during that investigation.

Two of the five VOCs found in levels that exceed the state limit are chemicals known as TCE (trichloroethene) and TCA (1,1,1-trichloroethane). According to the state DOH, both are used as industrial solvents and exposure through air can cause health effects. TCE is a known carcinogen that can affect the central nervous system, liver, kidneys, reproductive and immune systems, and may also cause birth defects. Long-term exposure to high levels of TCA can affect the heart, liver and nervous system, but it has not been linked to cause cancer.

Morris said air tests will be conducted in the basements and living areas of the targeted homes.

The tests will be complete by the end of March, Morris said.

The results will first be shared with the respective property owner before they are publicly announced, according to Jim Morris with DEC. He said an "availability session" will be held next month to discuss all available data.

Reach staff writer Edward Damon at 802-447-7567, ext. 111 or @edamon_banner.


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