2002 CPEO Military List Archive

From: CPEO Moderator <cpeo@cpeo.org>
Date: 18 Mar 2002 19:44:32 -0000
Reply: cpeo-military
Subject: [CPEO-MEF] EPA model based on one test
EPA model based on one test 

National toxic-gas cleanup depends on faulty analysis of Denver 

By Mark Obmascik 
Denver Post Staff Writer

Monday, March 18, 2002 - Beyond the yellow brick wall, down three 
carpeted steps and inside a dingy hallway stands the dark wood door of 
Summit Place Apartment No. 3-101. The U.S. government knocked here five 
years ago and concluded - somehow - that thousands of Americans were 

This two-bedroom, one-bathroom apartment in southeast Denver is the only 
place where the Environmental Protection Agency has tried to verify the 
accuracy of a key government tool - the computer model that estimates 
whether homeowners and tenants are breathing dangerous levels of toxic 

Regulators have used the computer model to exempt polluters from 
cleaning up hundreds of neighborhoods across America. In a few cases, 
the model did work and helped launch home decontaminations. 

State regulators say the model is so unreliable they won't use it. 
Scientists in Seattle and England found the model repeatedly 
underestimated the health risks of indoor air pollution. 

And another EPA review found model-based contamination standards in 
Connecticut, Massachusetts and Michigan were so lenient that they failed 
to protect public health up to 86 percent of the time. 

Despite all those doubts, EPA officials said they've field-tested their 
computer model just once - with a $2,400 study of Apartment 3-101. 

EPA administrators said the model worked there. 
To make it work, however, national EPA consultants assumed the Denver 
apartment was built atop sand. 

But that's not so, a top local EPA Superfund official now says. The 
switch made it easier for the model to appear accurate. 

The national EPA consultant also changed nine variables in the model 
that EPA typically won't let regulators alter. 

Does the EPA model protect public health? 

"I think we're doing a pretty good job," said Matt Hale, deputy director 
of EPA's Office of Solid Waste in Washington, D.C. "I'm not saying 
there's nowhere we've missed. It's an issue we need to pay more 
attention to." 

At toxic-waste sites across the country, EPA's computer model is the 
main way state and federal regulators decide whether industrial solvent 
vapors are seeping into homes and businesses at levels that make people 

The complete article can be viewed at:


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