Integral prepared expert technical reports and provided expert testimony regarding alleged releases of dioxins, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) and other chemicals from an active forest products facility. Plaintiffs’ arguments were based upon the use of attic dust measurements of these chemicals in eight “representative” residences. Our efforts included examining and rebutting the plaintiffs’ assumptions used for the air modeling; conducting chemical fingerprinting analyses to compare the dioxin/furan and PAH constituents in the attic dust samples to the emission patterns from the facility as well as to other industrial sources; reviewing the analytical data quality; and critically evaluating the plaintiffs’ expert reports and depositions.
Integral collected surface soils along the perimeter of the facility to characterize dioxin/furan levels in this medium. In addition, a standard operating procedure was developed to collect attic dust samples in a defensible manner. Dioxin/furan and PAH concentrations in soils and attic dust were paired on a location-specific basis and were evaluated in the chemical fingerprinting analyses using EPA emissions data and chemical profiles found in the published literature. Pictorial analysis (using stacked histograms) and the multivariate statistical tools of principal components analysis and cluster analysis were used to compare the dioxin/furan and PAH patterns between the plaintiff samples, between the plaintiff dust samples and the soil and attic dust samples collected at or near the wood products facility, and between the plaintiff dust samples and the published emissions profiles. The dioxin/furan and PAH patterns in the plaintiffs’ samples did not match the facility’s emissions, nor did they definitively match published emission patterns from identified sources. They also were inconsistent and dissimilar from one another. These results provided compelling evidence exonerating the facility and suggesting that the constituents in the attic dust were attributable to multiple unidentified sources.
The case was tried in federal court, and based in part on our testimony and expert reports, the jury concluded that the plaintiffs had not shown that the facility contributed to the dioxin/furan and PAH levels in the attic dusts and, further, that the facility had no financial obligations to the plaintiffs.Back to List