Illinois State Beach attracts approximately 2 to 3 million visitors a year, but according to a report by the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), each and every one of those visitors could be putting themselves at risk for asbestos exposure.
According to a report on NBC-5 Chicago, asbestos was first discovered on the beach 10 years ago and the EPA still questions “the safety of human use of the beaches.” However, state and federal regulators say the beach is safe and admit to knowing little about outdoor exposure to asbestos.
In an interview with Jeff Camplin, a local health and safety expert, Camplin told reporter Carol Marin that the most dangerous form of asbestos amphibole has been found on the beach and in a number of air samples over the last decade.
Signs are posted at various spots on the beach, warning swimmers and sunbathers of ACM Asbestos Containing Material. Still, families come in droves to enjoy the beach, but not without anxiety.
The cause? More than likely it’s the old Johns-Manville plant at the south end of the park. Though it’s been empty for quite some time, for seven decades it produced a variety of asbestos-containing products. It’s now a designated EPA Superfund Site. Other potential sources include old demolished homes along the beachfront, most of which were built using asbestos-containing products.
Other beaches where asbestos has been found include Oak Street Beach, by far the city’s most popular beach, packed with wall-to-wall people on pleasant summer weekends.