December 3, 2003
Dear Sir or Madam:
SUBJECT: Dioxin Contamination
The Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) and the Department of Community Health (DCH) are notifying you that dioxin contamination has been found in soil and sediment samples taken from several parks and boat launches on the Tittabawassee River. The DEQ and the DCH are informing area schools of this because it has come to our attention that field trips, sporting events such as cross country meets and practices, and other activities are held in these parks.
The DEQ has conducted soil sampling and found dioxin contamination at the following locations:
Freeland Festival Park
West Michigan Park
Caldwell Boat Launch
Shiawassee National Wildlife Refuge
Dioxin contamination has also been found at several privately-owned properties in the floodplain. The highest levels of soil contamination are in areas that appear to flood frequently. Soil sampling was also done in Midland, at Emerson Park and at the Chippewa Nature Center, and at areas upstream of Midland. Concentrations of dioxin in soils from Emerson Park, the Chippewa Nature Center, and at the areas upstream of Midland were at levels appropriate for school activities.
The DEQ and the DCH are conducting additional studies of the dioxin contamination in the floodplains of the Tittabawassee River and the Saginaw River. Although potential health risks to the people who use the parks and other public areas located in the floodplains of these rivers have yet to be determined, we believe it is prudent for schools to plan activities at locations outside the floodplain until the risk has been evaluated further and necessary cleanup or mitigation has been completed.
If school events are held in these areas, care should be taken to minimize studentsí exposure to the contaminated soils. For example, hand washing stations have been installed in floodplain parks. Students should be encouraged to wash their hands after soil exposure, particularly before eating meals or snacks. Care must also be taken not to disturb wood chips or other barriers anticipated to be installed in the future to minimize exposure to bare soils. Events with high attendance are of special concern because exposure barriers are more likely to be disturbed when large numbers of people are present. The DEQ and the DCH also recommend that schools avoid activities such as science experiments requiring students to make direct contact with Tittabawassee River sediments downstream of Midland.
Enclosed are pamphlets developed by the DEQ and the DCH that provide additional information about dioxins and the contamination in the Tittabawassee River floodplain.
Please distribute this letter and the enclosed pamphlets to each school/teacher in your district. If you have questions or need additional information, please contact the DCH at 1-800-648-6942; the DEQ, Waste and Hazardous Materials Division, at 517-335-2690; or Brenda Brouillet at the DEQ, Saginaw Bay District Office, at 989-686-8025.
George W. Bruchmann, Chief David R. Wade, Ph.D., Director
Waste and Hazardous Materials Division Division of Environmental and
Department of Environmental Quality Occupational Epidemiology
cc/enc: Tittabawassee Township Park Board
City of Midland Parks Department
Midland County Department of Public Health
Saginaw County Department of Public Health
Saginaw County Parks and Recreation
Shiawassee National Wildlife Refuge
Chippewa Nature Center
Greenpoint Nature Center
Mr. Steven E. Chester, Director, DEQ
Ms. Janet Olszewski, Director, DCH
Mr. Jim Sygo, Deputy Director, DEQ
Ms. Brenda Brouillet, DEQ