IREDELL COUNTY, N.C. -- Officials held an urgent meeting with the public about a potential cancer-causing chemical found in the Iredell County Public Library in Statesville.
The concern is a chemical called Perchloroethylene (PCE) which is commonly used in dry cleaning.
“If we felt like the library was not safe, we would not continue to have it open,” Iredell County Manager Beth Jones said.
Testing by environmental consultants hired by Iredell County determined that PCE, which can come in the form of a vapor, had contaminated the air in the basement of the library. That’s where the children’s section is located.
“The levels detected were very low,” said the manager for the North Carolina Dry-Cleaning Solvent Cleanup Act Program. “Given the amount of time that adults and children are in the library, the situation is safe. There’s no exposure that’s concerning.”
“Because we have children at the library, we chose to use the residential standard (for testing),” Jones said.
The strictest standard of testing for PCE levels assumes exposure 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
“Our library is not open 24 hours a day, seven days a week,” Jones said.
That means no child has been exposed to PCE for the amount of time that would be dangerous in a home. Testing on the other floors in the library found nothing abnormal.
Still, there’s a cleanup process. It’s a project that the state will oversee. The basement of the library will be closed for two months while it undergoes construction to rid the building of PCE.
“There are ways to go in and pull the vapor out of the ground through the foundation and vent it through the roof,” Jones said. “We can also put in a rubber membrane or seal the floor.”