July 20, 2018

State studies impact of dry cleaning chemicals on preschools

Williston’s CU2 ChildCare is one of seven childcare and preschool providers in Vermont partnering with the State of Vermont to assess indoor air quality because of their proximity to current or former dry cleaning operations.

The study is being done to ensure the child care facilities are not impacted by chemicals associated with dry cleaning.

The assessment work is proactive and precautionary, according to the Vermont Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC), and the state stands ready to provide mitigation support if needed.

The DEC emphasized in a press release that there have been no reported cases of illnesses linked to this issue or any issues reported with the children’s programs being tested.

Child care facilities in Bennington, Brattleboro, Essex, Stowe, St. Albans and Burlington are also part of the study. They will all operate as usual during the assessment.

The DEC identified 420 active and former dry cleaning establishments in Vermont. It is studying child care facilities within 200 feet of the dry cleaning sites.

Chemicals associated with dry cleaning can seep into the ground if not stored or disposed of properly, creating conditions that may allow them to move from the ground into the air of buildings through the foundation. When these chemicals are present at high enough levels and inhaled, they can be harmful to human health.

The DEC is leading the assessment and air quality testing in coordination with the Department of Health and the Department for Children and Families.

“We are focusing on child care and preschool programs because children are more vulnerable to chemical exposure than older youth and adults,” said Ken Schatz, commissioner of the Department for Children and Families. “The staff of each of the seven programs have been supportive of the assessments. I commend their efforts in providing safe and healthy services to families in their communities.”

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