GEH1301:            Health Impact Assessments and Exposure Monitoring from a Community Protection Standpoint During Bridge Demolition

Speaker:              Thomas Boecher


How do you protect a residential community and a school from potential metals contamination during bridge dismantling and demolition activities?  Research revealed a lack of guidance, standards and data for this type of work, so interested parties across sectors worked together to establish an acceptable scope of study for a benchmark study for similar projects in the future. During this session, the presenter shares methods and results from the study, as well as, his experience with project variables and factors involved in a publicly charged, emotionally attached community. His insights can help you when site specific cases or historical data, and may help you navigate politics and project entity interests for similar projects in the future.



Community protection from bridge dismantling and demolition activities is the focus.  The subject area is situated in the Lower Price Hill area of Cincinnati, Ohio, with a residential area (including a school) within the immediate vicinity of the subject bridge.  Testing and evaluation during the construction work was requested, given concerns associated with potential metals contamination (specifically lead, iron and particulate matter >10 microns) from the bridge demolition. 


Initial research on prior studies of this nature, appropriate protocols, regulatory guidance and associated standards for data evaluation did not identify useful background information for use as a foundation or baseline for the work.   Interested parties including the City of Cincinnati, Ohio Department of Transportation, Ohio Department of Health, U.S. EPA, University of Cincinnati, Cincinnati Public Schools, and Cardno ATC worked together to establish an acceptable scope of study. 


A pilot study was performed to gauge future impacts, position sampling equipment and assist in establishing guidelines for site-specific community protection.  Federal Reference Methods (FRM) were used to quantify particulate matter (PM 10) and total suspended particulate as lead at six locations within the community (a distance of 0.5 miles) along the viaduct area to establish baseline conditions prior to demolition.  A Federal Equivalent Method (FEM) for each type of monitoring was used alongside the FRM.  FEM results were compared to the FRM results to evaluate relative findings by each method.  Readings were virtually identical by both methods.  As a result, recommendations were made to utilize the FEM sample collection which not only allowed real-time, data collection and the ability to protect the sampling equipment (given that the equipment was expensive and was to be located in dangerous and potentially hazardous areas).  Findings from the pilot study (set up to be inherently conservative) did quantify lead impact in association with demolition activities.


The project is active at present and will include three to four months of daily to bi-weekly monitoring and quantification of air quality in association with the work.  The project will be complete at the end of 2012, and should serve as a benchmark study for similar projects in the future.