Councilwoman Valerie Schey concerned with substance used by Sout - Fox 28: South Bend, Elkhart IN News, Weather, Sports

Councilwoman Valerie Schey concerned with substance used by South Bend Public Works

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The Public Works 2013 annual report says Earthbind is environmentally safe The Public Works 2013 annual report says Earthbind is environmentally safe
You might see some South Bend Public Works trucks driving through alleys this summer spraying a substance. That has caught the attention of some residents who addressed that concern to South Bend Councilwoman Valerie Schey.

"There were some residents that had expressed concerns about the city applying oil or some other substance to alleys for dust control," Schey said.

Schey reached out to the South Bend Department of Public Works and learned the substance is called Earthbind. It is used for dust control. Once it is applied it binds the dust to the existing gravel and prevents these particles from entering the water system and in the air.

But Schey has some concerns about the composition of Earthbind. "If there is cause for concern we're going to do our due diligence to investigate the matter," she said.

Councilwoman Schey sent a letter to the Department of Public Works asking to stop the use of Earthbind until the product could be studied. "We just want to make sure that what we're doing is not going to harm our citizens."

Schey researched the product which led her to an article published in the British Journal of Industrial Medicine. The 1989 study showed bitumen, or asphalt, which is found in Earthbind, can give off hazardous fumes if overheated. South Bend Public Works Deputy Director Kara Boyles says residents shouldn't be concerned. "The type of application that we're using this particular product, we wouldn't be reaching temperatures that they quote in the study," Boyles said.

Boyles says Earthbind is mostly composed of natural occurring substances from wood products. "It is a green product. It is environmentally friendly, and not harmful," she said.

Boyles says the typical alley is 12-feet wide. The city trucks which provide the substance have 10-foot wide sprayers that spray the Earthbind straight down into the pavement. She says there is a small chance of over spray that could end up in a resident's backyard. "It's been tested. There are toxicity studies that have been done and it's safe to plants and animals," Boyles said.

The South Bend Public Works Department's 2013 annual report states, “Earthbind is 100 percent environmentally safe.”

Officials tell me because there is no indication of any harm that could be caused to residents, the city will continue to use Earthbind as needed. 
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