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The Florida Department of Health works to protect, promote, and improve the health of all people in Florida through integrated state, county, and community efforts.
- Story #1: National Oil Company
- Story #2: Silver Springs Shore
- Story #3: Inco-Increte
- Story #4: Open House Meetings
- Story #5: Jasper Laundry & Dry Cleaners
- Story #6: St. Andrew’s School
- Story #7: Joseph A. Williams Elementary School
- Story #8: Kerr-McGee, Jacksonville
- Story #9: Brevard Cancer Cluster Investigation and Health Evaluation
- Story #10: Stanton Energy Center/City of Orlando Electric Plant, Orlando
- Story #11: North Miami Beach
- Story #12: Florida Choose Safe Places for Early Care and Education
Where: National Oil Company (NOC), Plant City, Florida
What: Testing children and playground soil for lead
The National Oil Company (NOC) hazardous waste site is at 402 Michigan Avenue in Plant City, Florida. The NOC recycled petroleum products until 1980. In 1987, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) found soil and groundwater contamination. Since then, neither EPA nor the state has tested or cleaned the soil or groundwater.
During a routine visit in May 2016, the Department observed a small playground on the eastern half of the site. Although the full extent of contamination is unknown, one soil sample approximately 40 feet from the playground had high levels of lead. Lead can damage the developing nervous systems` of young children.
At the request of the Department, the playground owner tested the soil for lead. The children who used the playground were also tested. Lead levels in the children and soil were not likely to cause illness.
The Department achieved the short-term outcome of determining the health threat to children. In the long-term, the Department’s report increases the chances that EPA or the state will require comprehensive testing of the entire site.
Where: Silver Springs Shore, Ocala, Florida
What: 1,4-Dioxane in drinking water – not a public health threat
The Silver Springs Shore area is within a mile of Maricamp and Oak roads in Ocala, Marion County, Florida. The area includes both public supply and private-use water wells. In 2016, the Florida Department of Environmental Protection found low levels 1,4-dioxane in the public supply and private wells in the Silver Springs Shores area. 1,4-Dioxane is associated with some industrial solvents. It is also found in soaps, laundry detergents, shampoos, and other similar products.
The Department reviewed the test results and found:
- The levels of 1,4-dioxane in the public water supply are not likely to cause illness.
- The levels of 1,4-dioxane in area private wells are not likely to cause illness.
By reviewing these test results, the Department addressed short- and long-term health concerns about low levels of 1,4-dioxane in the area drinking water.
Where: Inco-Increte, Tampa, Florida
What: Risk of toxic vapors from groundwater pollution
From the early 1960s to the early 1990s, operators at the Inco-Increte site, 4616 N. Clark Avenue, Tampa, made and stored a range of chemicals. County inspectors found spills and leaks resulting in soil and groundwater pollution.
The Department reviewed the test results and found that volatile chemicals in shallow groundwater could intrude as vapors into buildings. The Department recommended a vapor intrusion evaluation if site owners build houses on the site. They also recommended a vapor intrusion evaluation of a nearby house over polluted groundwater prior to it being reoccupied. Because of this evaluation, the Department prevented residents from being exposed to potentially toxic groundwater vapors.
Where: Open House Meetings for various hazardous waste sites in Florida
- Arkla Terra, Tampa, Hillsborough County, Florida
- Fairfax Wood Treaters, Jacksonville, Duval County, Florida
- Florida State Fire College, Ocala, Marion County, Florida
- Former Orlando Gasification Plant, Orlando, Orange County, Florida
- Kerr McGee, Jacksonville, Duval County, Florida
- NAS Jacksonville, Jacksonville, Duval County, Florida
- NAS Pensacola and outer fields (Saufley Field), Pensacola, Escambia County, Florida
- NAS Whiting Field, Milton, Santa Rosa County, Florida
- Rolling Hills, Pensacola, Escambia County, Florida
What: FDOH attendance was requested to answer any health-related questions from concerned community members.
FDOH was able to communicate with most of the community members that were present before and after the meetings. Furthermore, DOH provided educational materials about the chemicals of concerns, how to prevent exposure to those chemicals, as well as possible effects of those chemicals to human health. Some of the material was provided in English and Spanish.
FDOH achieved the short-term outcome of calming the community members and helped them to have a better understanding of the chemical they may have been exposed to. Thus, DOH increased awareness and knowledge; and hopefully helped to change the behaviors of community members.
Where: Jasper Laundry & Dry Cleaners, Jasper, Ocala, Florida
What: A community member living adjacent to the back of Jasper Laundry & Dry Cleaners Site (Site) is concerned that some of the Site’s activities could cause harm to her and her family.
The Jasper Laundry & Dry Cleaners hazardous waste site is located at 214 Martin Luther King Drive, Jasper, Florida. According to the current owner, the property has been in the family since 1946 and operated as a drycleaner since that time. It is known that some dry-cleaning operations have occurred on the property prior to 1946 but it is unknown in what year operations of the original drycleaners began. Operations were ceased in 2012. After 2012, possible automotive repair work has occurred inside the former drycleaners building.
A community member living adjacent to the back of Jasper Laundry & Dry Cleaners Site is concerned that some of the site’s activities may cause a potential health risk. DOH investigated these concerns to ensure the health and safety of the community members.
DOH achieved the short-term outcome of determining that presently there is no potential to harm human health via contact to surface soil (0 – 0.5 ft) at the adjacent, as well as via contact to groundwater. In the future, we recommend that control measures are taken to prevent the construction of a private well intended for drinking near the site. Groundwater from the area is contaminated at levels that could cause harm if someone is directly drinking it.
Where: St. Andrew’s School, Boca Raton, Tampa, Florida
What: Risk of toxic vapors from groundwater pollution due to failing remedial system.
Previous petroleum tank storage on the property of Saint Andrew’s School in Boca Raton, FL was associated with contamination of soil and groundwater which in turn posed a contamination of air through vapor intrusion. A remediation effort was established to minimize exposure of students and workers to the contaminated media. Recent testing (2018) found benzene, toluene, ethylbenzene, total xylenes, and methyl tert-butyl ether in indoor air samples in the administrative building of the school.
DOH achieved the short-term outcome of determining that air with the highest level of benzene will not cause non-cancer health effects. In the long-term, DOH concluded that the vapor concentration measured may pose an extremely low risk of cancer. DOH recommended to:
- Further assess and mitigate immediate threats to safety such as the potential of fire or explosion hazards,
- Repair the current AV/SVE system to ensure proper ventilation and continue to monitor vapor concentrations,
- Install additional ventilation equipment in the building until the AV/SVE system can work properly, and
- Continue monitoring the air quality to ensure public health safety until the vapor intrusion is properly mitigated.
Where: Joseph A. Williams Elementary School, Gainesville, Alachua County, Florida
What: Alachua County Health Department (CHD) requested assistance with evaluating possible health risks from to children attending the Joseph A. Williams Elementary school.
Previous petroleum tank storage and tank removal on the property of J.A. Williams Elementary school was potentially associated with contamination of soil and groundwater as well as air through vapor intrusion. Soil and groundwater testing found naphthalene, 1-methylnaphthalene, benzo(a)pyrene and/or toluene. A remediation effort was established to minimize exposure of students and workers to contaminated soil. Recent air testing (2020) found benzene, carbon tetrachloride, chloroform, methylene chloride and tetrachloroethene in indoor and /or outdoor air samples in/near Buildings 1, 2, 5 and 7.
FDOH achieved the short-term outcome of determining that students (age 5 to <11 years) and workers at the school exposed to contaminated soil and air at the school are not expected to be developed adverse non-cancer health effects.
In the long-term, FDOH concluded that the air concentration result in an estimated increased cancer risk at the site for students and workers of less than one in a million, which in general is considered extremely low. FDOH recommended to:
Continue monitoring of vapor intrusion air, as well as indoor and outdoor air quality.
Properly store industrial cleaning and paint products out of children’s reach. These products can potentially contain evaporating chemicals like benzene widely used in paints, glues, furniture wax, thinners, adhesives and detergents.
Properly ventilate rooms to limit exposure to contaminated air.
Where: Kerr-McGee, Jacksonville, Duval County, Florida
What: Kerr-McGee Fish Advisory
A health concern has been raised to whether fish from the St. Johns River near the Kerr-McGee hazardous waste site are safe to eat. In the 2003 Public Health Assessment (PHA), FDOH recommended testing fish and shellfish for metals and pesticides, if in the future people eat fish or shellfish from the St. Johns River near the site. The assessment noted fishing from the St. Johns River near the site is limited. The water along the shoreline is deep and swiftly moving. DOH-Duval County reported that although people may eat fish and shellfish from other parts of the St. Johns River, the strong current and industrial ship traffic on this part of the river make pleasure or subsistence fishing from small boats unlikely. There is also no shore access near the site. Therefore, FDOH eliminated eating fish or ingesting surface water from the St. Johns River near the Kerr-McGee site as exposure pathways.
However, due to continued community concerns about the safety of eating fish from the St. Johns River near Kerr-McGee, FDOH agreed to provide a consultation to the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP) when additional information became available.
In the long-term, FDOH recommended to implement a ‘Do Not Eat Fish Advisory’ for the area around the Kerr-McGee Hazardous Waste Site and submitted a ‘Community Update Letter’ to more than 600 community members residing near and around the Kerr-McGee site. The ‘Do Not Eat Fish Advisory’ was put in place using signage positioned along the St. Johns river.
Where: Brevard Cancer Cluster Investigation and Health Evaluation, Satellite Beach, Brevard County, Florida
What: The FDOH Public Health Toxicology Section received a request from the Brevard County Health Department (CHD) to evaluate groundwater data that were collected as part of a 2018 area-wide groundwater surveillance effort in Brevard County
The surveillance effort was conducted as a response to community concerns about the presence of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) on local military bases (Patrick Air Force Base and Cape Canaveral Air Force Station). The request focused on PFAS measured in irrigation water, surface water, reclaimed water and public drinking water systems as wells as its potential health threat.
FDOH achieved the short-term outcome of determining that presently there is minimal potential to harm human health via by consuming drinking water from water supplied to the Brevard County area. PFAS levels are below the EPA lifetime health advisory of 70 ppt. In addition, PFAS levels in irrigation, surface and reclaimed water in the Brevard County Area are below screening values and will have minimal impact if swallowed. Inhalation and dermal (skin) exposure are minor exposure pathways. PFAS tend to stay in water once they have dissolved. The uptake of PFAS through dermal contact is slow and not considered significant. Exposure via consumption of contaminated garden fruits and vegetables, as well as fish and seafood were considered. FDOH currently has no data to perform an in-depth evaluation of these pathways but will consider evaluation when data become available.
Where: Stanton Energy Center/City of Orlando Electric Plant, Orlando, Orange County, Florida
What: The Department’s Public Health Toxicology Section received a request from the Orange County Health Department (CHD) to evaluate possible health concerns within the community regarding potential contamination from the City of Orlando’s coal-powered electric plant owned by Orlando Utilities Commission (OUC).
The Stanton Energy Center/City of Orlando Electric Plant site is located at 5100 South Alafaya Trail, Orlando, Florida. Community members residing near the coal plant are concerned that the coal-burning process and the deposition of the ashes have caused and are continuing to cause contamination of the air and soil in the area. Specific chemicals of concern include polonium and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs).
In response to the request, FDOH compiled a Frequently Asked Questions document about polonium and PAHs and conducted additional data review (Cancer Cluster Investigation) and radiologic testing for a local area in Orange County.
FDOH achieved the short-term outcome of determining that presently the radiologic test findings and the review of cancer data in addition to current scientific knowledge on the potential health risks associated with polonium and PAHs does not provide evidence to substantiate a suspected cancer cluster of pediatric brain cancers.
Where: North Miami Beach, Miami-Dade County, Florida
What: The Department’s Public Health Toxicology Section received a request from the Miami County Health Department (CHD) to evaluate possible health concerns within the community regarding exposure to hydrogen sulfide released due to Sargassum decaying at the beach
The smell of rotting seaweed/hydrogen sulfide (H2S) and occurrences of skin rashes have raised potential health risk concerns in the local community of North Miami Beach, Miami-Dade County, Florida. Therefore, the local government (Florida Senator Pizzo) made a request to the Miami-Dade County Health Department (CHD) for information regarding potential health effects caused by Sargassum on and near the shores of North Miami Beach. The CHD requested assistance from FDOH Public Health Toxicology Section to evaluate possible health risk associated with exposure to rotten seaweed/hydrogen sulfide (H2S).
FDOH evaluated published studies on health effects from Sargassum seaweed and hydrogen sulfide exposure. FDOH achieved the short-term outcome that presently there is a minimal potential to harm human health via contact to seaweed and inhalation of hydrogen sulfide (H2S) contaminated air at beaches in North Miami. Further, Sargassum seaweed does not cause rashes but is home to many diverse organisms that, when in dermal contact, could possibly cause rashes. Specifically, to people with asthma and other respiratory illnesses who may be more sensitive to H2S exposure, we recommended staying indoors and avoiding contact with the seaweed to minimize exposure when the H2S odor is too strong as H2S can cause irritation to the respiratory system. Though, in open air, high H2S concentrations are mostly prevented and too low to cause long-term health effects. Besides, humans can smell H2S at levels much lower than the levels causing health effects.
What: Florida Choose Safe Places for Early Care and Education (Florida Choose Safe Places)
Florida Choose Safe Places is a new initiative to help child care providers ensure their locations are safe from environmental (chemical) contamination, which could be harmful to children and staff.
FDOH achieved the short-term outcome developing a diverse partner group with advisory members from both government and non-government sectors. The advisors’ expertise ranges across different areas of public health, child care licensing and training, environmental protection, as well as, pesticide regulation.
FDOH further achieved the short-term outcome that the Department of Children and Families agreed to include Florida Choose Safe Places recommendation into their consideration for new child care providers.
In the long-term, FDOH continues to work with their partners who understand the importance and potential impact of the initiative. FDOH collaborates with professionals from many fields to create the best possible practices to protect children and staff in child care settings from environmental hazards in Florida.