Como owners should allow testing

In order to keep residents safe, tenants and owners in Como should work together to allow testing for toxins.

State health and pollution control officials are seeking to test homes in Southeast Como for unsafe levels of a chemical General Mills used in the area.

The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency sent letters to Como residents last Wednesday informing them that groundwater may be contaminated and releasing vapors in and around homes. Under long periods of exposure, the chemical, trichloroethylene, or TCE, is linked to birth defects and immune system disorders, the letter said.

The MPCA is looking to test soil beneath 200 buildings. General Mills has agreed to install vapor ventilation systems in any home with TCE levels above MPCA limits.

However, state officials can’t test unless property owners sign up for testing through an access agreement form. The form is available on the MPCA  website, and officials will begin testing Nov. 18.

Many students rent apartments or homes in Southeast Como, but only property owners can sign up for testing.

Officials are asking tenants to provide contact information for property owners or landlords, according to a Nov. 11 Minnesota Daily report. However, the access form is publicly available, and tenants can fill out some sections for their landlord.

Southeast Como residents should act now to get their homes tested, because property owners may not otherwise. This is especially important if the owner doesn’t live in or near Como. Because student neighborhoods typically have high resident turnovers, current tenants should not allow the next residents to inherit potential TCE contamination problems.