Enhanced air monitoring for preschool, church

Summa cannisters used for monitoring air quality. photo courtesy of Atmospheric Analysis and Consulting, Inc.


State officials in their ongoing efforts to ensure that the air at a Valencia preschool next door to a dry cleaners remains safe, are expected to begin sampling the air differently in the next couple of months.

Last month, officials with the Department of Toxic Substances Control approved a new plan to carry out indoor air sampling that would “validate indoor air conditions” at the St Stephens Episcopal Church and its daycare center.

The air at St. Stephens Episcopal Church and at the adjacent St. Stephen’s Preschool on Orchard Village Road near Lyons Avenue is safe to breathe.

The plan approved by the DTSC on Nov. 7 merely calls for a new way of sampling the air as a way of monitoring air quality..

“The objectives of this work plan,” according to a DTSC spokesman. “Was to describe methodologies to be used for the collection of data for the evaluation of the vapor intrusion pathway.”

Russ Edmonston, spokesman for the Department of Toxic Substances Control, told The Signal Thursday that the new method of monitoring the air has not happened yet.

“There is a consultant working on gaining access to the church and the daycare center,” he said.

“This will be an ongoing evaluation of the soil vapor extraction system that’s been going on for a few years now,” he said.



Edmonston described the newly-approved work plan as “using Summa canisters – vacuum cylinders which can be designed to collect a sample that simulates an eight-hour period of exposure.

“It is calibrated to draw at 12.5 milliliters per minute,” he said.

Ventura-based Atmospheric Analysis & Consulting, Inc., makes Summa cannisters and  regularly sends them out with a “number” of engineering clients who then use them to monitor air quality in the Santa Clarita Valley, Company President Dr. Sucha Parmar told The Signal Friday.

“The inside of the cannisters are highly polished to better stabilize the air samples,” he said.

Concerns about air quality have prevailed for several years since the church and preschool are near a dry cleaning business which has been operating there for 50 years.

Palace Cleaners has been cleaning clothes with strong chemicals at the Old Orchard Shopping Center since 1967.

The Old Orchard Shopping Center sits on a 9.93-acre parcel of land.

St. Stephens Episcopal Church and at the adjacent St. Stephen’s Preschool are on the property next to Palace Cleaners.

Until several years ago, the dry-cleaning facility used chlorinated solvents, particularly tetrachloroethene as a fabric cleaning solvent.

The Work Plan approved by state officials last month proposes to conduct indoor air sampling to validate indoor air conditions at the St Stephens Episcopal Church and Day-Care Center.

A spokeswoman for both the church and the preschool told The Signal Friday that church officials keep parishioners and the parents of daycare children constantly informed about the ongoing efforts to ensure air near the church and preschool stays safe.



Five years ago, state toxic control officials assured a group of parents and church parishioners that the chemicals released by a nearby dry cleaning business do not create any health dangers.

“There is no risk to either going to church or bringing your children to school,” Department of Toxic Substances Control Unit Chief Javier Hinojosa told a group of 60 St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church’s preschool parents in 2012.

Hinojosa still serves as supervisor, overseeing the ongoing air monitoring and last month’s new air-sampling methodology.

In 2012, church leaders and families recently grew concerned by two chlorinated solvents, perchloroethylene and trichloroethylene, that were being released into the soil near the preschool and church buildings.

The two chemicals were traced to Palace Dry cleaners.

Studies done at the time found that the two chemicals were found at the property line of the church, prompting the Department of Toxic Substances Control to test the preschool and church. Medical studies on animals found that long-term exposure to high levels of perchloroethylene causes liver tumors in mice and kidney tumors in rats, according to the report.

The state department spent recent weeks testing the indoor air quality of preschool classrooms and church buildings as a way to trace the levels of the evaporated chemicals in the air.

While results showed an elevated level of perchloroethylene, officials said there is no threat for the preschool children who are ages 1-6.

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