Frequently Asked Questions about Parcel A Hunters Point Shipyard
Redevelopment and Construction Dust
1. Isn’t the dust from the construction a health concern?
No – the San Francisco Health Department has concluded, after extensive analysis, that
the construction work and exposure to dust from the work is safe and will not cause long-
term or serious health problems. Please see the Health Director’s Brochure Fact Sheet
for further information.
2. But there is asbestos in the dust and isn’t asbestos harmful?
Yes, asbestos can be harmful but the amount of asbestos exposure resulting from
development is much, much lower than the amount that might cause harm and much
lower than safety limits. In the past, some people who had ongoing daily exposure to
asbestos in their jobs developed a lung scarring disease, asbestosis, and cancers. In
general, people who developed asbestos-related disease inhaled large amounts of asbestos
fibers caused by unsafe practices in their job, for example putting fireproofing on ship
hulls or blowing out asbestos-containing brakes on cars.
The asbestos on Parcel A is naturally occurring in the area’s serpentine rock. The levels
of airborne asbestos fibers that have been measured around Parcel A have been well
below any levels of concern. In addition, the employees, who have been working on the
Lennar construction, have worn personal monitoring equipment that has measured their
exposures to dust containing asbestos. And none of those worker exposures have
exceeded the limits set for employees.
3. Didn’t employees of Lennar BVHP file a lawsuit?
There were reports in the news media of a lawsuit by Lennar BVHP employees against
Lennar. The Health Department has no information about the lawsuit.
4. I heard that the air monitors weren’t working for three months in the
summer of 2006 – so how can you say that there wasn’t a problem?
We do know that data collected from the airborne asbestos air monitoring stations by
Lennar’s environmental consultant was unreliable for a period of time. The consultant
reported that they had to throw out the asbestos data for the first three months of the
active excavation period (May through July 2006). In response to this issue, the SF
Health Department conducted a worst case exposure assessment based on a review of all
the existing data and concluded that despite this problem with the data, we could still
reach the conclusion that the asbestos exposures are well below any level of concern.
5. I have read information that talks about asbestos exceedances and work shut
downs or work suspensions at this site? Doesn’t that mean that there is
harm being done when there is an exceedance? Doesn’t an exceedance mean
The stationary airborne asbestos monitors are not set to alert us to conditions harmful to
health. The triggers that result in work being shut down are set much, much lower than
the levels harmful to health. They provide a way both to manage the dust control
practices and to provide data to verify proper asbestos dust control. In addition, if the
levels recorded at the monitoring stations exceed a State mandated level, then Lennar is
required to suspend work until the levels go below the work suspension level. The work
suspension level is set extremely low – lower than the level used as a clearance for
schools after an asbestos abatement has been conducted inside a school.
6. What are the particulate monitors?
Particulates are another term for dust and soot. We monitor particulates because of their
known effects on health. Lennar is required as part of their approved Dust Control Plan
to install at least three particulate dust monitors around the site. Similar to the asbestos
monitors, these monitors help Lennar manage their dust control efforts and the data can
be reviewed to verify proper dust control. Exceedances on these monitors do not mean
that levels of dust in the area are unhealthy; they do trigger the need for further dust
7. I heard that the Health Department issued several Notices of Violation to
Lennar? Doesn’t that mean there was a health concern?
On three occasions, when Lennar wasn’t complying with the dust control requirements of
the Dust Control Plan the Health Department gave notice to Lennar to fix the problems.
The Notices of Violation are an indication that the Health Department was monitoring the
work that Lennar was doing. Lennar promptly corrected all the issues listed in the
Notices of Violation. The last violation was issued on November 30, 2006. The Health
Department has inspected Lennar’s work since the beginning of the project and up until
present day. There have not been any further violations noted since the end of
November. In addition, the Health Department has reviewed all the data from the site
and concluded that there are no serious or long-term health impacts from dust at the site.
8. Can the construction dust trigger my asthma?
Ordinary dust does not cause the development of asthma. If you already have asthma, a
large exposure to dust can, in some individuals, trigger an asthma episode or worsening
of asthma symptoms.
9. Aren’t there other chemicals on Parcel A that can harm me?
No. Many Regulatory Agencies reviewed the chemical data for Parcel A and concluded
that the Parcel was safe for unrestricted residential use. That means you can live, play
and work on the land as it currently is without concern for your health.
10. Doesn’t the Health Department get money from Lennar?
Like many other regulatory programs in the Health Department and throughout the City,
the Health Department charges fees to pay the cost of implementing environmental
regulations. The fees to enforce the dust control plans were mandated in the legislation
that enacted Article 31 of the Health Code.
11. What is the phone number for Lennar so I can ask questions about their
construction or report dust control problems?
12. What is the phone number for the Health Department so I can report my
concerns or ask for an inspector to look at dust control problems?
13. Is there an email address for the Health Department for these issues?
14. I want detailed reports about all this asbestos and dust information – where
can I get it?
415-252-3967 or email@example.com
15. Where can I go to get further information from other sources?
• The Health Department suggests that you talk to your medical provider if you
have personal health concerns.
• If you would like to contact another regulatory agency, we suggest you
contact the Bay Area Air Quality Management District at 415-749-5000 or
1-800-634-6367 for questions or concerns about the asbestos air monitoring at the
Hunters Point Shipyard Parcel A Redevelopment.
• For general information about asbestos the EPA has good information and
links to other resources at:http://www.epa.gov/asbestos/
• For a community based perspective on these issues, please contact ARC
Ecology at 415-643-1190. This organization is the Hunters Point Shipyard
Citizens’ Advisory Committee Environmental and Community Outreach
Coordinators. They have technical experts who understand and can discuss these