EPA tests for toxic air near South Bay Superfund sites

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The Environmental Protection Agency has begun testing the air inside dozens of South Bay homes. The houses sit near former industrial properties that have been designated as “Superfund” sites because of high levels of toxic pollution.

The tests will reveal whether dangerous vapors are seeping into the homes from polluted groundwater in a process called vapor intrusion. The tests come decades after the discovery of polluted soil and groundwater in Torrance and the Harbor Gateway area.

The toxins are left over from a chemical plant that made the now-banned pesticide DDT, and a rubber factory. They include benzene, chlorobenzene and trichlorobenzyne, which are all carcinogenic in humans and can also cause nervous system problems.

A major groundwater cleanup in the South Bay began two years ago. The L.A. Times reports the EPA has already spent $48 million cleaning up the sites. The government recovered about #31 million from the companies that were found responsible for the pollution.DELAMORUBBERResidents have been pleading with the EPA for years to conduct the tests. Many say they believe their health has suffered because of the soil and groundwater contamination.

The EPA says it expects to have results from the tests in a few months.

All told, there are 97 Superfund sites in California, including a dozen in Southern California.