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But more recent testing of the soil beneath sidewalks and streets in the area found traces of TCE in the soil gas just below the surface, prompting the latest round of cleanup efforts.
Despite the long-term risks of TCE exposure, officials with the Minnesota Department of Health said they are not aware of any disease clusters in the area. A check of a state registry found that ZIP codes in the Como area had a normal rate of birth defects.
However, the state has not yet completed a comparable analysis of cancer surveillance data.
Among the 58 completed tests for which results are publicly available, four involve properties with questionable TCE levels and those will be retested. Only 10 have shown safe levels of TCE below their foundations — and five of those were outside the target area. At least four of the tested properties have TCE levels that are at least 93 times greater than the safety threshold.
The target area of 12 blocks and 200 properties is just the start. The state will continue to order more testing until it has defined a concentrated area of properties with harmful TCE levels and a surrounding ring of homes where levels are safe, Neve said.
“The primary issue has to be to define this area of highest [TCE] concentration,” he said.
Jeremy Olson • 612-673-7744