New survey to study health impact of Rockton Chemtool fire

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ROCKFORD, Ill. (WTVO) — Dr. Sandra Martell, director of the Winnebago County Health Department, announced Thursday that a survey is being conducted to measure the health impact of the Chemtool fire in Rockton.

On June 14th, 2021, the Chemtool plant, located at 1165 Prairie Hill Road in Rockton, exploded, sending debris and a cloud of black smoke into the surrounding air for miles.

Residents within a one-mile radius of the plant were evacuated for five days while the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency and other organizations made tests of air, soil and water samples.

The EPA said it detected no abnormal levels of hazardous materials in the tested samples and cleared residents to return to their homes.

Martell said “we are now in the health monitoring phase.” She also said the survey was not meant to suggest that hazardous materials have been detected in the area.

The survey will ask residents what type of debris they came in contact with, what adverse symptoms they may be experiencing. Martell said the survey will also ask about the health effects on pets and livestock.

Martell said tests of the air and soil tests are still showing levels within standards established by the Illinois Pollution Control Board.

The Rock River was closed to boat traffic between Rockton and Wisconsin while first responders dealt with the aftermath of the fire, but the Illinois Conservation Police lifted that restriction on Thursday.

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