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Fact Sheet 1

Groundwater Contamination at dry cleaner sites: 41 E. Grand Avenue and Lakeland Plaza

Fact Sheet #1

May 2009

Fox Lake , Illinois


Investigations at two Fox Lake are dry cleaner operations – one currently operating and one closed – have identified contamination in shallow groundwater that could pose a potential health threat to private well users in the area. Bavaros Cleaners is located at 41 E. Grand Avenue, which has been the location of a dry cleaning operation since approximately 1986. The site is approximately 5400 square feet, on which a one-story brick building currently houses the dry cleaning business at the north end and a restaurant at the south end.

The second site – a former dry cleaning business – is located in the Lakeland Plaza at 65 E. Grand Ave. A fish store now occupies the building where the former dry cleaning operation was located. The entire site is covered by structures or blacktop.

The two dry cleaner sites are located in a mixed industrial, commercial and residential area in incorporated Fox Lake. Currently, public water supply mains are available to some properties along main roads to the north, northeast and west of the sites. Many homes in the area, however, continue to use private wells for their water source and there could be other sources of contamination in this area.

Historic use of cleaning solvents at these two locations has resulted in contamination of the soil and groundwater by Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs). These are common chemicals found in industrial and commercial solvents. Soil contamination appears to be associated with dry cleaning operations at both locations. Groundwater contamination at the Lakeland Plaza site appears to extend from the east-central part of the site to the north edge of the property boundary. At this time, no groundwater contamination has been found off-site at Bavaros Cleaners, according to the 2006 site investigation report.

Groundwater flow direction in Fox Lake is complicated and can be in different directions during the year with differing groundwater influences. The soil type in this area has sand and gravel, which allows for water movement through it, and the contamination is soluble in water. Consequently, the Illinois EPA and the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) recommend that anyone who lives near these sites (within the boundaries on the attached map) and uses a well for their source of drinking water have their well tested for VOCs, if you have not done so in the past. Recent sampling results from ten private wells on the east and the north of Lakeland Plaza were negative for VOC contamination.

What contaminants were found at the Bavaros site?

The highest concentrations of chemicals found in groundwater at this site are:

Tetrachloroethylene (PCE) - 24.8 milligrams per liter (mg/l)

Trichloroethylene (TCE) - 3.0mg/l

Cis-1,2-Dichloroethene - 4.7 mg/l

Vinyl Chloride - 3.0 mg/l

What contaminants were found at the Lakeland Plaza site?

The highest concentrations of chemicals found in groundwater at this site are:

PCE - 0.19 mg/l

TCE - 3.7 mg/l

Cis-1,2-DCE - 33.0 mg/l

Vinyl Chloride - 0.61 mg/l (please see map)

What is a safe drinking water comparison value for each of these chemicals?

The Maximum Contaminant Levels (MCLs) approved by U.S. EPA as safe levels at which no adverse health effects would be expected:

PCE- .005 mg/l

TCE- .005 mg/l

Cis-1,2 DCE- .070 mg/l

Vinyl Chloride - .002 mg/l

What adverse health effects are related to exposure to VOCs such as TCE or PCE?

Exposure to elevated levels of TCE and PCE can cause nausea, dizziness or headaches. Exposure to low levels over long periods may lead to impaired immune system function and may increase the risk of kidney or liver cancer or other damage.

If my well water has concentrations that exceed these “safe levels,” what should I do?

When you have your well water tested, you may ask a toxicologist at the Illinois Department of Public Health to review these results with you for possible health implications. The phone number for the IDPH West Chicago Regional Office is 630/293-6800. IDPH recommends that owners of wells containing these contaminants equal to or greater than the MCL comparison value not use the wells as a source of drinking water to reduce their exposure.

How can I reduce my exposure to VOCs?

If your water contains VOCs, you can greatly reduce your exposure by using another source of drinking water or by using water filtration equipment designed to remove VOCs. Since VOCs evaporate into the air, you can also reduce your exposure by running the bathroom exhaust fan during baths and showers. Exposure to VOCs from other water uses should be very small.

Should I be concerned about vapors from the groundwater contamination entering my home?

Due to the known levels of contamination in groundwater, Illinois EPA cannot rule out the potential for vapor intrusion into buildings, which could present an additional exposure pathway to residents or workers occupying buildings in an area of contamination.

Who do I talk to about testing my well?

Commercial labs that are certified to analyze samples for chemicals such as VOCs can be found on the List of Accredited Labs page on the website. Discuss the cost of testing with the laboratory. A  list of chemical parameters to test for is available as a separate page. You can print this list and provide it to the testing laboratory.

If contamination is found in my private well, will the state force me to abandon the well?

Neither Illinois EPA nor IDPH would force a citizen to abandon a private well in this circumstance. IDPH will advise residents of any well contamination and make recommendations about changes in water use. Private wells are the domain of the well owner.

Will the contamination be cleaned up?

Yes. The current owner of the Bavaros Cleaners site is enrolled in an Illinois EPA cleanup program and is committed to cleaning up the contamination.

The property management company that owns the Lakeland Plaza site plans to enroll the site in the Illinois EPA's Site Remediation Program this year and plans to clean up the soil contamination on the site.

Contamination in the groundwater that may have left the site is a separate matter. It generally breaks down over time and is diluted at it moves in the groundwater. Groundwater modeling for the Bavaros site shows that site contaminants may travel approximately 600 feet off-site in the future.

List of VOC Chemicals to test for


Standard (mg/L)





















Methyl Tertiary-Butyl Ether


















Vinyl Chloride




Notification Area Regarding Potential Groundwater Contamination

For more information, you may contact:

Carol Fuller

Community Relations Coordinator

Office of Community Relations

Illinois EPA

Mr. Joe O’Connor

IDPH West Chicago Regional Supv.

245 W. Roosevelt Road, Bldg. #5

West Chicago, Illinois 60185

Mr. Larry Mackey

Food & Water Well Program Coordinator

Lake County Health Department