Make sure your house is checked Scientists want to test homes for toxic chromium

On Dec. 1, scientists held an informational meeting at the Monumental Baptist Church on Lafayette Street in Jersey City about their ongoing study to see if area homes are contaminated with chromium that has been dumped in Jersey City or used as fill for construction projects.

The study, known as the Hudson Chromium Exposure Route and Pathway Investigation, is being conducted by the Environmental and Occupational Health Sciences Institute in Piscataway, NJ. The study started last year.

The results will be used by the state’s Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) to determine the amount of chromium in the air at these dumpsites, and if caps placed on chromium waste sites are still protecting the public.

While the city has been home to dozens of industries over the last century that used toxic chromium, many of those sites are currently under cleanup.

But there are still fears that local homes may be contaminated with toxic dust.

In the study, samples of air are being collected from one-time dump sites for chromium waste, and dust samples are collected in and around homes located near these dump sites.

Types of chromium such as hexavalent chromium have been shown in scientific studies to cause serious illness, including cancer.

The forum was organized by City Councilwoman Viola Richardson and Deputy Mayor Kabili Tayari, both of whom have worked for a number of years on the issue of local chromium contamination.Doesn’t hurt to check

At the meeting, the investigators said they’ve encountered homeowners and apartment dwellers do not want samples taken from their homes. The residents believe their home will be taken away or condemned if it is found to be contaminated.

The investigators said that the results will be kept confidential, but the homeowners will get the results, as well as the DEP.

Councilwoman Richardson implored those in the audience to let the investigators collect the samples and encourage others to do so.

“The most important thing to do is to sign up!” Richardson said. “The bottom line is you could choose to do nothing, but you need to know if there’s chromium in your home.”

The investigators said that any resident of the city is eligible for the testing. They are particularly looking at the Bergen-Lafayette area, especially near Route 440. They specifically cited Droyers Point, Garfield Avenue, and the corner of Pacific Avenue and Halladay Street. Community members also suggested Skyline Drive, Freedom Place, and the Whitney Young Jr. School area. Fifty sites in JC

Chromium (from the Greek word chroma, which means color) is a heavy metal that comes from chrome ore. It was discovered by French scientist Louis Vauquelin in 1797.

It was usually mixed with other chemicals to produce dyes and paints, or with other metals like copper in the production of stainless steel.

Starting in the early 1900s, studies done in Germany and then in the United States found that a form of chromium, hexavalent chromium, was toxic and had negative side effects from nosebleeds to ulcers to cancer.

It is believed that most of the studies were known to the chromium producing companies in the United States, but were suppressed.

In Jersey City, there are an estimated 50 major sites that still contain significant amounts of chromium, including the 34-acre Honeywell site on Route 440, which is currently undergoing cleanup, and the 13-acre vacant lot on Garfield Avenue near a stop on the Hudson-Bergen Light Rail system.

Under Mayor Jerramiah Healy, the city has led an aggressive campaign to make sure that companies who own contaminated sites clean them up. They will not take your homes

Richardson and other officials at the meeting addressed concerns about government possession of contaminated property, as well as other fears.

“One of the things I really wanted to make sure is that people were not to be compromised if they came here,” Richardson said. “That people who came here to get information, [if] they found out that something was wrong with their houses, [they] would not have to be abandoned or taken by the government.”

The investigators explained their work during the meeting.

Dr. Paul Lloy, one of the scientists leading the study, said the study was an “important activity” to determine the levels of chromium contamination in homes and see if there is toxic chromium, Chromium-6, also known as hexavalent chromium.

Lloy’s colleague Dr. Kathy Black people should make an appointment to have dust samples taken in their homes. There will be a one-hour visit in which the participant will have to fill out a consent form and a questionnaire. The investigators will collect dust.

Black also said information of the study will be kept confidential, with only the participant knowing about their specific results from their home.

If it turns out there are high levels of toxic chromium, those doing the testing take repeat samples. They would then recommend steps to reduce exposure until a contaminated area is investigated by the DEP and cleaned up.

Residents can reduce exposure by taking off their shoes before entering their homes so that they don’t track toxic dust inside. They are also advised to use a damp cloth to wipe down surfaces and wash hands frequently. Questions

Questions from the public during the meeting ranged from concerns about contamination to cooperating in the study.

Among those asking questions was Warren Shaw, a Randolph Avenue resident and member of the Randolph Avenue Block Association. He rents an apartment in a building that his mother owns.

“I grew up playing on fields that were contaminated with chromium, including one near our block, but when you’re kids, you think nothing of it,” Shaw said. “But two houses down from me, one couple died from cancer.”

He added, “Another couple houses down, their daughter died of cancer and my aunt who lived on the same block also died on cancer. Now it’s time to find what was going on, and what is really going on now.” For more information on participating in the study, call the Environmental and Occupational Health Sciences Institute at (866) 855-2712 and leave your name, phone number and the best time to call back. Comments on the study can be sent to


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