Report: ‘Shockingly high’ levels of toxic vapors in quickly-developing Gowanus Canal area

June 17, 2024 Mary Frost
The Gowanus Canal. Brooklyn Eagle photo by Mary Frost
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GOWANUS — “Shockingly high levels” of cancer-causing trichloroethylene (TEC) have been detected in the indoor air of homes and buildings in a vast swath of the Gowanus Canal area, environmental database firm Toxics Targeting said in a release.

The firm was set to hold a joint news conference with the community organization Voice of Gowanus on Monday.

The vapors pose “an unprecedented threat to the health of tens of thousands of residents living on or near approximately 50 brownfield sites that have never been comprehensively remediated, even though they are being redeveloped as housing/commercial projects,” said Walter Hang, president of Toxics Targeting.

In March 2023, Toxics Targeting discovered that TCE had been detected two years earlier at high levels (43 micrograms/meter3) in the indoor air and groundwater of the popular Royal Palms Shuffleboard Club on Union Street, but says the state Department of Environmental Conservation withheld the results.

Some of the blame lies with property owners — worried about plummeting property values — who refuse access to investigators, DEC told the New York Post. DEC targeted 626 properties to test during the first phase of its study; so far, only about 100 agreed to provide access.


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