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SALT LAKE CITY (AP) -- Tests of soil samples in a section of family housing at Hill Air Force Base have found polychlorinated biphenyls -- or PCBs -- in the ground under about 100 homes.
The chemicals were found during the renovation of some units, base officials said. An investigation into the extent of the contamination is under way, 75th Air Base Wing Col. Linda Medler said in a news release.
"We do not believe there is an immediate health risk to residents," Medler said.
PCBs are believed to cause cancer, suppress immune system, and result in low birth weights and learning deficits.
Sixteen soil samples have been taken so far, said Bob Elliott, who oversees base environmental restorations. About 200 more samples will be taken and tested in the coming weeks to determine the range of contamination and a remediation approach.
So far, PCBs are only being found in low concentrations, Elliott said.
Historical photographs of the base housing area show the land was once a storage yard. It's unknown what was stored there. The houses in the area where PCBs have been found are mostly duplexes built in 1976.
Hill Air Force Base was declared a Superfund site in 1987 and was placed on the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's National Priorities List after trichloroethylene, or TCE, was found in groundwater plumes flowing off the base.
Between the 1940s and the 1970s base employees were known to discard waste solvents in chemical pits and ponds. Later, environmental laws banned the practice.
Information from: The Deseret Morning News, www.desnews.com
(Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)