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Army Corps of Engineers, Project Update | Archive


March 1, 2001

 TO:  Campus Community
 FROM:  Benjamin Ladner, President
 SUBJECT:  Results of Health Testing for Arsenic


As you know, American University has been involved in an environmental investigation due to the presence of materials left over from World War I research and testing by the U.S. Army. As part of the investigation, we sponsored testing of AU staff, including grounds and maintenance staff, Child Development Center (CDC) staff, and athletes who played on our intramural fields. We also sponsored testing of current students at the Child Development Center, as well as those staff and students who attended the CDC in the past 12 months. This testing was undertaken to ensure that there were no outstanding health concerns regarding the presence of arsenic on the AU campus.

In the interest of keeping the entire campus community informed about the testing results, I have attached a memo from our expert, Dr. Paul Chrostowski, who has informed me that the tests indicate that no one in the test group had elevated levels of arsenic in their system. In most cases, the tests detected no arsenic whatsoever. In some cases, trace amounts of arsenic were detected, but these levels were within the ranges that normally occur in urine or hair among people. The American University community is gratified and relieved by this very good news.

Because we want to continue to answer any questions and address any concerns that individuals may have, we will hold meetings early next week for the individuals who were tested. University officials and Dr. Paul Chrostowski, our environmental health scientist, will attend these meetings to provide an overview of the testing results. These meetings will be opportunities to exchange information and discuss appropriate next steps.

In order to keep the campus community informed of activities regarding the Corps of Engineers project at AU, we will continue to issue periodic updates. In the meantime, please feel free to call the information line that has been set up specifically for this project at 202-885-2020 with any questions you may have. We have also established a website that contains information and University fact sheets about the Corps of Engineers Project. You can access that website at

March 1, 2001

 To:   Benjamin Ladner, President, American University
 From:  Paul Chrostowski, Ph.D.


The university-sponsored testing was conducted by Washington Occupational Health Associates (WOHA) on February 10 and 15, 2001. The testing examined several groups of participants: the grounds and maintenance staff, staff and students from the CDC, staff and students who attended the CDC in the past 12 months, and athletes who play on the intramural fields. Most people supplied samples of hair to be tested. A few individuals provided urine samples.

To protect the medical privacy of the participants in the testing, the university has not, and will not, receive individual results for each participant. WOHA has, however, provided a verbal summary of the data thus far to the University. It is our understanding that most of the results showed nondetectable levels of arsenic. In some cases, trace amounts of arsenic were detected, but even these results were within the ranges that normally occur in urine or hair among people.

Based on these test results and the results of soil sampling tests near the CDC, I have concluded that testing participants were not exposed to excess levels of arsenic and, therefore, are not likely to experience adverse health effects associated with arsenic exposure. I plan to prepare additional information once I receive the written summary from WOHA.

I am available to discuss these summary results with you. I will also attend the meetings you have set up over the next week to discuss the results with the groups of participants. Please let me know if I can be of further assistance.