Swann Park Updates from Baltimore City Health Department
On April 19, 2007, on the recommendation of the Baltimore City Health Department and the Maryland Department of the Environment, the Baltimore City Recreation and Parks Department closed Swann Park in South Baltimore. Test results indicated elevated levels of arsenic in the soil at the park. Updates to this developing situation will be posted on this site.
Friday, October 26, 2007
To review the report online, please go to
Tuesday, October 16, 2007
Saturday, October 6, 2007
“Baltimore City and the Honeywell Corporation submitted a plan to clean up Swann Park today. In addition to other measures, the plan would protect all visitors by adding at least two feet of new soil on top of the entire park. The city would oversee and maintain the Park to ensure that this protection remains intact over time. It is anticipated that this plan would permit the Park to be re-opened in 2008.The next steps for the proposal include review by the Maryland Department of the Environment, a public meeting and comment period, and a final order for clean up by the state. The city looks forward to working with the public, the Maryland Department of the Environment, and the Honeywell Corporation to identify and implement the best remedy for Swann Park.”
The plan is posted online at: http://www.mde.state.md.us/CitizensInfoCenter/Health/swannpark.asp
Thursday, August 16, 2007
Tuesday, July 10, 2007
In this report, the Task Force addresses the events of the spring of 1976 – when Swann Park was briefly closed for health concerns and then re-opened after the Kepone Task Force, a blue-ribbon panel of federal, state, and local health officials, found no hazard.
The first of four reports investigates why the arsenic levels at Swann Park were not recognized or addressed decades earlier. Following reports will review testing subsequent to the Kepone Task Force of 1976, the legal framework for reporting, disclosure, and cleanup from 1976 to the
present and finally, recommendations on changes in law or enforcement needed to avert similar
situations in the future.
Swann Park Task Force members include:
• Dr. Lynn R. Goldman, a pediatrician and Professor of the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg
School of Public Health
• Heather A. Moore, President of the Federal Hill South Neighborhood Association
• George Nilson, Baltimore City Solicitor and former Deputy Attorney General for the
State of Maryland
• Dr. Joshua M. Sharfstein, Commissioner of Health for Baltimore City
• Stuart Simms, partner in the law firm of Brown, Goldstein, and Levy
The Swann Park Task Force report and supporting documents are online at
Monday, June 18, 2007
Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry
ATTN: Records Center
1600 Clifton Road, NE (Mail Stop E-60)
Atlanta, GA 30333
The Health Department requests that copies also be sent to:
Baltimore City Health Department
210 Guilford Avenue
Baltimore Maryland 21202.
To review the report online, please go to
Thursday, June 14, 2007
The 22-page report is online at http://www.baltimorehealth.org/.
Also posted is a three-page summary of the report’s main findings. Scientists from the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry will present the report and answer questions on Thursday, June 14, at Digital Harbor High School at 6:30 p.m.
The agency is accepting public comments on the report through July 30, 2007.
Monday, June 4, 2007
The Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) has completed its initial health assessment, which evaluates the health risks of arsenic at Swann Park. They will review their report at this meeting, and the community will have the opportunity to discuss the findings and recommendations.
Friday, May 18, 2007
At the meeting, city officials and a technical consultant will review plans for the environmental improvement of the Race Street facility site. They will also review the initial plans for Swann Park.
The meeting will not include new information on the health risks of the park. The evaluation from the federal agency is expected in early June.
Tuesday, May 15, 2007
The Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry expects to complete its initial health assessment by early June. The agency will provide a specific date of release, and the Health Department will schedule an opportunity for the community to meet with ATSDR and discuss the findings and recommendations.
The Health Department has set up an email address, firstname.lastname@example.org , for general questions related to the Swann Park situation. We will post questions and answers that have general applicability on this site. (Specific medical questions should be directed to your physician.)
Monday, May 7, 2007
Friday, April 27, 2007
Here is what the Centers for Disease Control says about arsenic testing:
“There are tests available to measure arsenic in your blood, urine, hair, and fingernails. The urine test is the most reliable test for arsenic exposure within the last few days. Tests on hair and fingernails can measure exposure to high levels of arsenic over the past 6-12 months. These tests can determine if you have been exposed to above-average levels of arsenic. They cannot predict how the arsenic levels in your body will affect your health.”
In the case of Swann Park, the Health Department consulted with the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) on April 19, within hours after learning of the test results. The Agency did not recommend an immediate urine testing effort. With few people exposed to the park in the couple of days prior to the closure of the park, and the very small chance of substantial soil ingestion, the agency staff were concerned that testing results would not directly reflect exposure to the park and could provide a false sense of safety.
The Health Department also contacted experts at Johns Hopkins School of Public Health and the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene to review the Swann Park situation. As part of these conversations, all of the experts agreed that urine testing of arsenic would not be helpful or informative.
Most important, all agreed that assessing the risk of the park to city residents does not depend on urine testing.
The best way to assess the risk is to estimate the exposure to the park, and compare that with what’s known about arsenic toxicity. As we discussed at the community meeting last night, ATSDR has begun this effort.
The Health Department also asked ATSDR to make recommendations about whether hair and fingernail testing of arsenic would be worthwhile.
As soon as we hear back, we will post the answer – and arrange testing if advised. If you have questions, please feel free to call your doctor, call the Health Department via 311 or (410 396 4398) or email at email@example.com.
Thursday, April 26, 2007
Click here for a copy of Dr. Sharfstein's April 23 letter to MDE Secretary Shari Wilson on the review of neighboring uses of hazardous waste sites in the city.
The website is http://www.mde.state.md.us/CitizensInfoCenter/Health/swannpark.asp
There is also link in the left column of the updates page on the Baltimore City Health Department website.
Tuesday, April 24, 2007
Monday, April 23, 2007
Generally, the state has identified the waters of the Baltimore Harbor and the Patapsco as having fish with elevated levels of mercury and other chemicals. The state has established fish consumption guidelines that should be followed by anyone who chooses to continue to use these waterways for fishing.
The Maryland Department of the Environment offers an extensive website on fish consumption in our area, providing guidelines for all citizens, including children and pregnant women. Please see the guidelines online at: http://www.mde.state.md.us/CitizensInfoCenter/FishandShellfish/home/index.asp.
Sunday, April 22, 2007
ATSDR is assembling its team on Monday. We will schedule an opportunity for the community to provide input into the health review in the near future.