PETITIONED PUBLIC HEALTH ASSESSMENT
EGLIN AIR FORCE BASE
(a/k/a USAF EGLIN AIR FORCE BASE ARMAMENT DIVISION)
EGLIN AIR FORCE BASE, OKALOOSA COUNTY, FLORIDA
As stated previously, the C-6 Radar Facility was built in the mid-1960s and is locatedapproximately 3 miles north of the town of Portland in an undeveloped section of Eglin AFB(Earth Tech 2000a; Eglin AFB 2000c). This area of Eglin Reservation is closed to the public andall recreational activities are prohibited (Eglin AFB 2000b). In addition, a barbed-wire fence anda locked gate restrict access to the site. The main facility is surrounded by a chain-link fence andis closely guarded (Earth Tech 2000a).
Monitoring wells were installed at the C-6 Radar Facility and the surficial aquifer was sampledseveral times between 1995 and 2000 (Earth Tech 2000a; Rust International 1996). While othervolatile organic compounds and inorganics were detected, TCE is the primary contaminant ofconcern in the groundwater. During a 2000 site investigation (Earth Tech 2000a), the extent ofthe TCE contamination was defined to be entirely on Eglin AFB property. The nearest down-gradient drinking water wells are located off base, 3 miles south of the C-6 Radar Facility in thetown of Portland, Florida. To ensure that the contamination does not migrate to areas wherepeople are using groundwater wells, the Air Force is conducting annual long-term monitoring ofthe groundwater for chlorinated solvents (Earth Tech 2000a). Eglin will continue to sample at theC-6 Radar Facility until the Florida Maximum Contaminant Level for TCE (3 ppb) or lower isachieved. Eglin anticipates that long-term monitoring will continue for about five more yearsbecause current sampling results show TCE levels to be in the 4-5 ppb range (personalcommunication with Eglin AFB personnel, July 2002). Because access to the site is restrictedand the groundwater contamination is closely monitored and does not extend into the nearestresidential area, it is not expected that past, present, or future public health hazards occurred, areoccurring, or will occur.
To address whether contact with herbicides is a health concern, ATSDR obtained informationthat characterizes the nature and extent of contamination and the potential for human exposureat areas with herbicide contamination. See Figure 2 for site locations. ATSDR evaluated thepotential for the herbicides to move off-base via fires, spraying, and surface waters in previoussections. See also Section III. Community Concerns for additional information specific toHerbicide Orange and exposure at Eglin AFB.
In 1992, the Air Force conducted a base-wide investigation into all known and suspectedHerbicide Orange locations at Eglin AFB (Engineering-Science 1993). Eleven sites wereidentified for further investigation: C-52A Test Grid (SS-25), Mullet Creek Drum Disposal Site(DP-09), C-52A Aerial Overspray Area (AOC-24), Hardstand 7 (SS-26), Receiver Landfill (LF-08), Upper Memorial Lake (LF-51), 3 sites at Lower Memorial Lake (AOC-81), Field No. 2Drum Disposal (DP-11), and Field No. 2 Helicopter Loading Area (AOC-55). Of these, sevensites (Mullet Creek Drum Disposal Site, Receiver Landfill, 3 sites at Lower Memorial Lake, FieldNo. 2 Drum Disposal, and Field No. 2 Helicopter Loading Area) required No Further Actionbecause herbicide contamination was not detected. Further investigation was recommended forthree sites (C-52A Test Grid, C-52A Aerial Overspray Area, and Upper Memorial Lake), andremedial actions were recommended for Hardstand 7 (Engineering-Science 1993). See Figure 2 for site locations.
Access to the Herbicide Exposure Unit, the C-52A Aerial Overspray Area, and Hardstand 7 hasbeen, is, and will continue to be restricted by locked gates, fences, security personnel,topography, or all these combined. Therefore, human exposure is unlikely to occur. In addition,in 1988, 1996, and 2001, Eglin AFB conducted remedial activities to remove, contain, or both,the contamination that was formerly present at the Mullet Creek Drum Disposal Site (includedwithin the Herbicide Exposure Unit) and Hardstand 7. Thus, if people had been exposed, thelevels would be very low. These sites pose no public health hazard.
Even though trace concentrations of TCDD were detected in the subsurface soil at UpperMemorial Lake, people who have access to the area would have minimal contact with subsurfacesoils, since Eglin AFB has implemented land use controls to minimize exposure. Therefore, thissite also poses no public health hazard.
- Herbicide Exposure Unit–C-52A Herbicide Test Grid (SS-25) and the Mullet Creek Drum Disposal Site (DP-09)
Together, the C-52A Herbicide Test Grid and the Mullet Creek Drum Disposal Site are known asthe Herbicide Exposure Unit. The sites are located in a rural area in the southeastern section ofthe Eglin Reservation, about 3 miles north of Choctawhatchee Bay and 8 miles east of Niceville,Florida, see Figure 2 (Eglin AFB 2001a). The C-52A Herbicide Test Grid is located about 10,930feet from the nearest base boundary. The Mullet Creek Drum Disposal Site is located about ½mile west of the C-52A Herbicide Test Grid (about 10,230 feet from the nearest [i.e., southern] base boundary).
- From 1962 to 1970 the Air Force used the C-52A Herbicide Test Grid area toevaluate the effectiveness of different aerial spray patterns and spray equipment(Eglin AFB 2000c). Herbicides Orange, Purple, Blue, and White; fuel oil; andMalathion were the main test chemicals at this 1.25 square mile test grid, which issubdivided into four subgrids (Eglin AFB 2000c, 2001). The Air Force detectedherbicides, fuel oil, Malathion, and arsenic in the soils, sediments, surface water,and groundwater at this site (Eglin AFB 2000c). The site is currently used fortraining activities that require security, isolation, or both (e.g., missions using livemunition) (Eglin AFB 2001a).
- Between the late 1960s and early 1970s, hardfill (e.g., plastics, drums, concrete,etc.) was disposed of in the Mullet Creek Drum Disposal Site (Eglin AFB 2000c).Pesticides, dioxins, chlorides, petroleum hydrocarbons, and heavy metals are theprimary contaminants in the soil, sediment, surface water, and groundwater. In1988, the Air Force removed 663 drums and about 120 cubic yards of debris fromthe site (Eglin AFB 2000c, 2001).
Access to the Herbicide Exposure Unit is extremely limited due to steep topography, densevegetation, and locked gates. In addition, the area is highly controlled by security personnel whopatrol the area (Eglin AFB 2001a). Therefore, there is, has been, and will continue to be minimalcontact with contamination at the Herbicide Exposure Unit. The Air Force recommended NoFurther Investigation Required with land use controls to restrict exposure to the area (e.g., signs are posted to not disturb the surface soil).
The C-52A Aerial Overspray Area is in the vicinity of the Herbicide Exposure Unit. Accordingto witnesses, when climatic conditions were not appropriate for aerial spraying at the HerbicideExposure Unit, aircraft would spray the already-loaded herbicides in this area (Hutto 1990; Ray1990 as cited in Engineering-Science 1993). How often this occurred and what amount ofherbicides were sprayed is not known (Eglin AFB 2000c). Based upon evaluations of the soil,sediment, biota, and groundwater, TCDD and arsenic in the soil are the primary contaminants(Engineering-Science 1993). Like the Herbicide Exposure Unit, access to this area is alsocontrolled and well patrolled by security personnel (Engineering-Science 1993). Therefore, thereis, has been, and will continue to be minimal contact with contamination at this site. In 1998 and1999, No Further Action was approved by FDEP and EPA, respectively (Eglin AFB 2000c).
Upper Memorial Lake is located on Eglin Main Base south of the east-west runway. A site northof the lake was identified as a former burial area used to dispose of herbicide drums, many ofwhich were empty (Engineering-Science 1993). However, trace concentrations of TCDD weredetected in the subsurface soil (Engineering-Science 1993). Recreational facilities are locatednearby and base personnel and their families have easy access to the area (ES 1990b as cited inEngineering-Science 1993). However, herbicides were not detected in the surface soil and EglinAFB has implemented land use controls (e.g., signs are posted and a layer of clean soil wasplaced over the site) and erosion control measures to lessen any potential for exposure toherbicides (personal communication with Eglin AFB personnel, October 2002). Therefore, thereis, has been, and will continue to be minimal contact with contamination at this site.
Hardstand 7 is a concrete and asphalt aircraft parking and loading area located west of the north-south runway on Eglin Main Base, see Figure 2 (Eglin AFB 2000c; Engineering & ServicesLaboratory 1987). About 7,300 feet separate the site from the nearest non-base residence (on thesouthern side of Tom's Bayou). The site is about 130 feet in diameter with a 15-foot deep pitnear the center of the concrete pad. Hardstand 7 was used to store herbicide drums and to transferherbicides to the aircraft used to evaluate the effectiveness of different aerial spray patterns andspray equipment on the C-52A Herbicide Test Grid (Eglin AFB 2000c). Since 1970, the AirForce has conducted several site investigations to characterize the soil, water quality, and biota inthe vicinity of Hardstand 7. Herbicides and dioxins in the soil, sediment, surface water, andgroundwater are the primary contaminants at this site (Eglin AFB 2000c).
In 1985, the site was secured with a chain-link fence and locked gates, and signs were posted toprevent trespassing and fishing (Eglin AFB 2000c). In addition, because of its close proximity toactive runways, the area is closely guarded (Earth Tech 2001c). In 1996, the Air Force conductedinterim corrective measures at Hardstand 7, including embankment stabilization, drumexcavation, and drain pit excavation. In 2001, the Air Force installed three erosion controlstructures to reduce erosion around the hardstand and to minimize storm water run-off intoHardstand Pond. In addition, an asphalt cap was installed over contaminated areas of Handstand7 and the existing storm water pipe was checked for blockage and integrity (Eglin AFB 2002).Therefore, there was, is, and will continue to be minimal contact with contamination atHardstand 7.
The current status of Hardstand 7 is that a Statement of Basis is in draft form. A Statement ofBasis is the RCRA version of the Record Decision Document required in CERCLA clean ups.The Statement of Basis proposes that the site be maintained in its present condition with land usecontrols maintained permanently (personal communication with Eglin AFB personnel, July2002).
To address this concern, ATSDR reviewed information characterizing the nature and extent ofcontamination and the potential for human exposure at four areas with past and/or presentradioactive contamination: the Isotope Burial Area (AOC-63)/C-74 Sled Track Burial Area(AOC-67), Test Area C-64 (RW-40), Test Area C-74L (RW-41), and the Low-level RadioactiveWaste Site/Drum Burial (RW-42). See Figure 2 for site locations.
ATSDR determined that human exposure to radioactive contamination at levels of healthconcern is unlikely at the Isotope Burial Area/C-74 Sled Track Burial Area, Test Area C-64, andTest Area C-74L. This is because access to the sites is restricted by locked gates, fences orbarbed wire, security guards, or all of these. Moreover, remedial activities have removed orlessened radiation that was once present. Therefore, no past, present, or future public healthhazard exists.
ATSDR determined that the Low-level Radioactive Waste Site/Drum Burial site poses no publichealth hazard. There was no indication of radioactive contamination or levels of radiation inexcess of local and regional background levels. Although access is restricted, the Low-levelRadioactive Waste Site is not fenced and trespassing by boat from the Gulf of Mexico or SantaRosa Sound could occur. However, trespassers would not be expected to be exposed to levels ofradioactive contamination that would cause harmful health effects.
AOC-63 and AOC-67 are considered one site. This inactive burial area is located north of the C-74 Complex, near a 2,000-foot sled track in an isolated area of the base where access was, is, andwill continue to be restricted (see Figure 2). The site is fenced and locked with a sign posted towarn people that this is a controlled area. It is located about 15,200 feet (roughly 2¾ miles) fromthe nearest base boundary (Eglin AFB 2001b). Because this site is in a remote location and is notaccessible to people, human exposure is minimal.
The burial area was created in 1960 to dispose of Zinc 65, which was used on bullets during atest project. Reportedly, a small quantity of Zinc 65 was buried at the site as late as the early1970s (Eglin AFB 2000c). Zinc 65 has a half-life (see text box for definition) of 244 days anddecays to a non-radioactive form of copper. Over 30 years haspassed since Zinc 65 was disposed of in the burial area; therefore,Zinc 65 would have decayed through approximately 45 half-livesand would no longer be detectable in the burial site. Even ifmigration from the burial pit occurred, the Zinc 65 would nolonger be present. An investigation in the early 1990s monitoredfor radiation and concluded that there was no radiation hazard(Eglin AFB 2000c). The AOC files are closed and a determination of No Further Action has beenapproved by the regulatory authorities.
Because there is minimal human exposure, no detectable radiation present above backgroundlevels, and the Zinc 65 has totally decayed, ATSDR does not expect that past, present, or futurepublic health hazards occurred, are occurring, or will occur from exposure to radiation at theIsotope Burial Area/C-74 Sled Track Burial Area.
Test Area C-64 is about 14 miles northeast of Eglin Main Base in the northeastern section of theEglin Reservation, see Figure 2 (Earth Tech 2001d). The nearest base boundary is about 16,700feet (roughly 3 miles) from the site (Eglin AFB 2001b). Since 1968 the site has been used forsmall-scale explosive tests, drop tests, bullet impact tests, and DU ammunition tests (Earth Tech2001d; Eglin AFB 2000c). The site is currently fenced and locked to prevent access, with a signposted to warn people that this is a controlled area. Therefore, people were not and are notexpected to come in contact with radioactive contamination present at this site.
Test Area C-64 is part of an ongoing base-wide radiological survey with quarterly monitoring ofthe groundwater, soil, and runoff. This has been done since operations began (Eglin AFB 2000c).Uranium in soil and surface water has been the primary radiological material detected at this area(Eglin AFB 2000c). Several samples showed levels of uranium exceeding background levels;but, the overall trend in Test Area 64 has shown the uranium in soils to be below regulatoryconcern. The Air Force removed depleted uranium fragments in 1999, and 24 cubic feet ofdepleted uranium-contaminated soil in 2000 (Earth Tech 2001d; Eglin AFB 2000c). No FurtherInvestigative Action is recommended for the site. Land use controls will, however, beimplemented to limit the future use of Test Area C-64 to industrial activities (Earth Tech 2000b).
Public access is and has been restricted and remedial activities recently removed contamination.Therefore, it is not expected that past, present, or future public health hazards occurred, areoccurring, or will occur from exposure to DU at Test Area C-64.
Test Area C-74L is in the northeastern section of Eglin AFB in an isolated area where access isrestricted, see Figure 2. The test area is fenced and locked with a sign posted to warn people thatthis is a controlled area. The site is located about 18,000 feet (roughly 3½ miles) from the nearestbase boundary (North to I-10 boundary). From the mid to late 1970s, a 3-acre area within TestArea C-74L was used to test penetrating munitions containing DU, resulting in contaminated soiland surface water (Eglin AFB 2000c).
Test Area C-74L is part of an ongoing base-wide radiological survey with regular radionuclidemonitoring in the soil and runoff. The results of the analyses have been below regulatory concern(Eglin AFB 2000c). In 1980, the Air Force removed soil contaminated with DU and, in 1999,removed and disposed of uranium penetrator fragments off site (Eglin AFB 2000c). Becausesome soils are still contaminated with DU, additional excavation has been recommended.
Because DU-contaminated soil remains at the site, public access has been and continues to berestricted; hence, people are not coming in contact with the remaining contamination. Therefore,it is not expected that past, present, or future public health hazards occurred, are occurring, orwill occur from exposure to DU at Test Area C-74L.
The Low-level Radioactive Waste Site is located near the center of Santa Rosa Island, west of theA-15 compound, see Figure 2 (CH2MHILL 2000). The site is located about 7,000 feet (acrossthe Santa Rosa Sound) from the nearest base boundary. The site was used to dispose of missilefragments, metallic wastes, 55-gallon drums, and batteries (Eglin AFB 2000c). Inorganiccompounds and dieldrin are the primary contaminants detected at the site. In 1993, 1995, and1999 surface and radioactive debris, missile fragments, drums, and petroleum-contaminated soilswere removed from the site, and the site has been recommended for No Further Action(CH2MHILL 2000; Eglin AFB 2000c).
Access to the site is highly restricted–it is located on Santa Rosa Island about 12 miles west ofthe main access road where an armed guard and barbed wire prohibit entrance to unauthorizedpersonnel (Eglin AFB 2000b). Nevertheless, although no trespassing signs are posted on theproperty, there are no fences to prevent people from entering the area by boat from the Gulf ofMexico or the Santa Rosa Sound (O'Brien & Gere Engineers 1997).
The site also contains wastes associated with a BOMARC missile which contained a magnesium-thorium alloy. Thorium is a naturally occurring radioactive element; but, the radiation levelsassociated with thorium are very low and the health threat is only from ingestion or inhalation ofthorium. After an intensive search and retrieval program in 1993, the Air Force located many ofthe magnesium-thorium components, packaged them in approved shipping containers, andshipped them off site (Rust Remedial Services 1993). Although not all the components werefound, radiological sampling indicates that migration of the radiological components did notoccur, nor is it expected to occur in the future.
Even though this site is not fenced and people could trespass onto the property by boat from theGulf of Mexico or the Santa Rosa Sound, trespassers would not be expected to be exposed tolevels of contamination for a long time nor on a regular basis. Therefore, because exposure ispossible, but the frequency and duration is minimal, exposure to radioactive contamination at theLow-level Radioactive Waste site poses no past, present, or future public health hazard.
What is Herbicide Orange?
Herbicide Orange (also known as Agent Orange) is a 50:50 mixture of 2,4-dichlorophenoxyacetic acid (2,4-D) and 2,4,5-trichlorophenoxyacetic acid (2,4,5-T) (HSDB2002a, 2002b). It is a reddish-brown to tan colored liquid, and was named after the orange stripeon the 55-gallon drum in which it was stored. Herbicide Orange was sprayed from airplanes,helicopters, trucks, and backpacks in Vietnam from 1965 to 1970 to kill unwanted plants andremove leaves from trees (VA 2001, 2002). Use of 2, 4, 5-T is currently restricted in the UnitedStates (ATSDR 1998).
During the manufacturing process of 2,4,5-T, a contaminant 2,3,7,8-tetrachlorodibenzo-p-dioxin(TCDD) was produced in small quantities (ATSDR 1998). Many of the health effects resultingfrom exposure to Herbicide Orange are attributed to the presence of this contaminant. Manyeffects have been observed in animals following exposure to TCDD, and this contaminant isconsidered more toxic than the pure components of the herbicides used in Vietnam (NAS 2000).
How are people exposed to Herbicide Orange?
Workers who were involved with the manufacture of Herbicide Orange were exposed throughbreathing contaminated air or through skin contact. To a lesser extent, workers who handled andapplied Herbicide Orange were also exposed (ATSDR 1998). Vietnam veterans who weredirectly involved in the aerial spraying of Herbicide Orange as part of Operation Ranch Hand andveterans in the Army Chemical Corps (responsible for mixing, storing, and applying HerbicideOrange) are the two primary groups with increased Herbicide Orange exposure. However, despitemany years of effort, researchers have been frustrated by a lack of useful exposure data (VA2002). In other words, they do not know how much Herbicide Orange the veterans were exposedto and how long the exposure lasted.
What health effects could result from exposure to Herbicide Orange?
The National Academy of Science's Institute of Medicine concluded that there is sufficientevidence(9) of an association between the following health outcomes and exposure to herbicides(not specifically Herbicide Orange): chloracne, soft tissue sarcoma, non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma,and Hodgkin's Disease (NAS 2000 as cited in VA 2002). The Department of Veterans Affairsrecognizes the following conditions as associated with (but not necessary caused by) HerbicideOrange exposure: chloracne, porphyria cutanea tarda, acute or subacute peripheral neuropathy,type 2 diabetes, and certain cancers (VA 2001).
How was Herbicide Orange used at Eglin AFB?
Several locations on Eglin AFB were used for the distribution, loading, storage, and disposal ofherbicides; primarily to test different applications and the effectiveness of herbicides used asdefoliants during the Vietnam Conflict (Engineering-Science 1993):
- Herbicide Orange was sprayed at the Herbicide Exposure Unit (SS-25/DP-09) from 1962to 1970, to evaluate the effectiveness of different aerial spray patterns and sprayequipment (Eglin AFB 2000c). Approximately 21,201 gallons of Herbicide Orange weresprayed during these activities (Hunter 1971 as cited in Engineering-Science 1990).
- When climatic conditions were not appropriate for aerial spraying at the HerbicideExposure Unit from 1962 to 1970, aircraft would spray the already-loaded herbicides inthe C-52A Aerial Overspray Area (AOC-24) (Hutto 1990; Ray 1990 as cited inEngineering-Science 1993).
- During one test project in the 1960s, the Army was evaluating the effectiveness of usinghelicopters to spray herbicides. The helicopters were loaded with herbicides at Field No.2 (AOC-55) and then flown to the Herbicide Exposure Unit for testing (Engineering-Science 1993).
- Herbicide Orange was stored and transferred at Hardstand 7 from 1962 to 1970 (EglinAFB 2000c).
- In 1980, dioxin-contaminated soil from Hardstand 7 (SS-26) was temporarily stored at theReceiver Area Landfill (LF-08) (Engineering-Science 1993). The soil was removed andspread out over the C-52A test grid (Hartman 1990 as cited in Engineering-Science1993).
- Herbicides were buried in drums at Field No. 2 (DP-11) during the 1960's and 1970's(Eglin AFB 2000c; Engineering-Science 1993). Herbicides were also buried in drums in aclearing north of Upper Memorial Lake (LF-51)-time frame unknown. Prior to 1981, thedrums were removed from Field No. 2 and disposed of at an unknown location (EglinAFB 2000c; Engineering-Science 1993). In 1998, erosion control and habitat restorationwere implemented at Upper Memorial Lake (Eglin AFB 2000c). In addition, the proposedStatement of Basis recommended three years of sediment sampling and land use controls(Eglin AFB 2000c).
In 1992, the Air Force conducted a base-wide investigation into all known and suspectedHerbicide Orange locations at Eglin AFB (Engineering-Science 1993). Eleven sites wereidentified for further investigation: C-52A Test Grid (SS-25), Mullet Creek Drum Disposal Site(DP-09), C-52A Aerial Overspray Area (AOC-24), Hardstand 7 (SS-26), Receiver Landfill (LF-08), Upper Memorial Lake (LF-51), 3 sites at Lower Memorial Lake (AOC-81), Field No. 2Drum Disposal (DP-11), and Field No. 2 Helicopter Loading Area (AOC-55). At seven sites(Mullet Creek Drum Disposal Site, Receiver Area Landfill, 3 sites at Lower Memorial Lake,Field No. 2 Drum Disposal, and Field No. 2 Helicopter Loading Area) herbicide contaminationwas not detected. Further investigation was recommended for three sites (C-52A Test Grid, C-52A Aerial Overspray Area, and Upper Memorial Lake), and remedial actions wererecommended for Hardstand 7 (Engineering-Science 1993). These four sites are described inmore detail in the Herbicide Concern discussion, within Section II of the PHA.
Have community members been exposed to Herbicide Orange from Eglin AFB?
No, community members do not have access to areas on Eglin AFB where Herbicide Orange wastested or stored. Therefore, the only way for community members to be exposed to HerbicideOrange would be if it were transported through the air or through surface waters to places wherepeople live or engage in recreational activities.
- Community members may have been exposed to Herbicide Orange when the Air Forcetested the effectiveness of different aerial spray patterns and spray equipment at theHerbicide Exposure Unit. To evaluate this concern, ATSDR used a model to determinewhether the community was exposed to harmful levels of Herbicide Orange (evaluated asits components–2,4-D, 2,4,5-T, and TCDD) in the air. The results indicate that anylevels of Herbicide Orange the community might have been exposed to were too low tobe of health concern. The upper-bound estimates of annual average air concentrations atthe base boundary were 0.78 µg/m3 for 2,4-D and 0.76 µg/m3 for 2,4,5-T, both lower thanEPA's health-based comparison value of 37 µg/m3, lower than levels that cause adversehealth effects (see Table B-1). The estimated inhalation doses for TCDD (6.6 x 10-9µg/kg/day for adults and 1.4 x 10-8 µg/kg/day for children) were thousands of times lowerthan the most protective dose (1.2 x 10-4 µg/kg/day) in ATSDR's toxicological profile forchlorinated dibenzo-p-dioxins (ATSDR 1998). For more details about this pathwayplease see the Air Contamination discussion within Section II of the PHA and Appendix B.
- ATSDR also used a model to determine whether harmful levels of Herbicide Orangewould be released to the air from the soil during a prescribed burn or wildfire. Toevaluate this exposure scenario, ATSDR considered whether wildfires near the HerbicideExposure Unit could release trace amounts of soil contaminants (2,4-D, 2,4,5-T, andTCDD) to the air. 2,4-D was not detected in the soil at the Herbicide Exposure Unit (EAEngineering, Science, and Technology 1997). 2,4,5-T was only detected once at aconcentration of 0.03 ppm. This would result in an estimated 24-hour average ambient airconcentration of 0.03 µg/m3 at off-site locations, well below EPA's health-basedcomparison value of 37 µg/m3 and unlikely to cause adverse health effects (EAEngineering, Science, and Technology 1997; EPA 2002). The estimated inhalation dosesfor TCDD (5.3 x 10-6 µg/kg/day for adults and 1.1 x 10-5 µg/kg/day for children(10)) werebelow the most protective comparative dose (1.2 x 10-4 µg/kg/day) in ATSDR'stoxicological profile for chlorinated dibenzo-p-dioxins (ATSDR 1998). Therefore,ATSDR concluded that soil contaminants that might be released are not expected to reachharmful levels at off-base locations. For more details about this pathway please see theAir Contamination discussion within Section II of the PHA and Appendix B.
- Herbicide Orange was tested, stored, or distributed at several sites located near surfacewater bodies at Eglin AFB. Mullet, Trout, and Basin Creeks receive surface water runofffrom the Herbicide Exposure Unit and the C-52A Aerial Overspray Area. Tom's Bayoucould potentially receive herbicide contamination from Hardstand 7. Communitymembers could be exposed to components of Herbicide Orange in the areas of Mullet,Trout, and Basin Creeks that are open to seasonal recreational activities and whenengaging in recreational activities in Tom's Bayou. However, ATSDR evaluated theavailable data for these surface water bodies and determined that community memberswere not exposed to harmful levels of Herbicide Orange (evaluated as itscomponents–2,4-D, 2,4,5-T, and TCDD).
- Concentrations of TCDD, 2,4-D, and 2,4,5-T in Mullet, Trout, and Basin Creekswere not detected above ATSDR's comparison values. In fact, most of thesamples did not contain herbicides or TCDD (EA Engineering, Science, andTechnology 1997; Engineering-Science 1993). As explained in Appendix C,concentrations detected at or below ATSDR's comparison values would notwarrant health concern.
- TCDD in surface water and 2,4-D and 2,4,5-T in surface water and sediment werenot detected above ATSDR's comparison values in Tom's Bayou (Eglin AFB1994; Harrison et al. 1979). The estimated doses (adult: 1.2 x 10-9 mg/kg/day andchild: 1.0 x 10-8 mg/kg/day) resulting from exposure to the maximumconcentration of TCDD in sediment near Hardstand 7, which potentially drainsinto Tom's Bayou, are lower than ATSDR's health effects level of 1.2 x 10-7mg/kg/day. For more details about this pathway please see the Surface WaterContamination discussion within Section II of the PHA and Appendix C.
In conclusion, even though Herbicide Orange was, and still is, present at Eglin AFB,community members were not in the past, are not currently, and are not expected to be inthe future exposed to levels of Herbicide Orange that would cause harmful health effects.
Could chemicals from Eglin AFB cause cancer in community members living near and usingTom's Bayou for recreational activities?
No. ATSDR did not find contaminant levels in the exposure situations evaluated that would beassociated with high cancer rates or any other adverse health effect. To provide some perspectiveon the actual incidence rate for the county, ATSDR contacted the Florida Cancer Data Systemand requested cancer statistics (specifically, Hodgkin's Lymphoma) for the entire state of Floridaand Okaloosa County, the county in which Tom's Bayou is located. The age-adjusted cancerincidence for Okaloosa County (2.1) was lower than that for the state of Florida (2.6).
Should I be concerned about exposure to radionuclides if I consume venison caught in thevicinity of the Eglin Reservation?
No. Although 65% of the base is open to the public for various recreational activities such ashunting, information about the levels of radionuclide contamination in deer or other gameanimals has not been collected in the area of Eglin. The DU used at the base is generally in theform of an oxide, which is not readily soluble in water nor easily absorbed by plants, animals, orhumans. The DU could, however, adhere to soil particles and thus move through theenvironment. Nonetheless, plants do not readily absorb uranium. Studies suggest that the typicaluptake is on the order of 1% or less (Eisenbud and Gesell 1997). If deer ate plants that containedDU, ATSDR estimates that the deer would absorb about 2% of the ingested uranium throughtheir gastrointestinal system. The DU absorbed would be stored in the organs (kidney, liver, andbone) with little (based on laboratory animal studies) in the soft tissues a few days after intake.Similarly, if humans ingested venison that had previously ingested DU, the humans would onlyabsorb 2% of the DU in the venison (less than 0.04% of the amount in the plants and less than0.0004% of the concentration in soils). Therefore, ATSDR considers the venison caught in thevicinity of the Eglin Reservation safe to eat.
Could biological agents tested or researched at Eglin still be active given the treatment anddisposal conditions and could a release of agents have occurred given the abrupt termination ofthat project?
ATSDR accompanied a biological agent expert from the Centers for Disease Control andPrevention to Eglin on December 17, 2002 to review documents classified and unclassifieddocuments and to provide an opinion on some biological events that occurred intermittently fromthe 1950s through the 1960s on the airbase. This review was to determine the extent to which anypurported release of biological agents would have impacted the surrounding community and if ahealth threat remained from early test activities. The review consisted of both classified andunclassified documents indicating that biological agents had, indeed, been evaluated on site inthe mid-1950's and 1960's.
The classified documents reviewed showed that biological agents tested or researched at Eglinwere not released and were destroyed after use so the potential for adverse health impacts on anysurrounding communities resulting from the biological work at Eglin is negligible. Agentspresent at Eglin during this period were not developed or manufactured on base, nor didmanipulation or research into whether the biological agents could cause disease take place. Anytests using human biological agents were done in sealed containers and those containers wereadequately disinfected and sterilized to destroy all agents. Any tests using non-human biologicalagents were conducted in a localized area on base that was thoroughly disinfected at the end ofthe tests.
Biological agent - "Living organisms, or the materials derived from them, that cause disease in, or harm,humans, animals, or plants, or cause deterioration of material."
Simulant - "A chemical that appears and acts like an agent."
Such vocabulary as "might, should, assumptions, and not expected" leads the reader to questionthe validity of the conclusions. It makes the reader feel that the degree of confidence with regardto the study's conclusions is rather low.
ATSDR has used the most recent up-to-date body of scientific evidence on which to makeconclusions about the contaminants found at Eglin and the off-base vicinity. This information isused to discuss the public health implications of coming in contact with those chemical at thelevels detected.
Our knowledge about how hazardous substances interact with the human body is science-based,and it has been obtained from a variety of sources. Such sources include (a) studies ofpopulations who have been exposed to a substance or substances to define and understand short-and long-term health effects and (b) drawing conclusions, on the basis of animal studies andother research, about the possible effects of human exposure to hazardous substances. Themedical and scientific communities use this information to identify the general levels of exposureat which a health effect might be seen.
It is important, however, to keep in mind that a number of factors are involved in human health.For example, each individual has a unique genetic makeup, a different overall health status, anddifferent levels and lengths of exposure to the substance over a lifetime. Therefore, we cannot be100% certain that a given person exposed to a certain substance will have a specific healthoutcome. Consequently, we must qualify our language to account for the unique characteristics ofeach human being and the unknown factors associated with exposures.
Also, our scientific judgments are influenced by the number of human and animal studiesavailable on any specific toxicant, which varies, as well as by the quality of such studies, whichalso varies. We are more definitive when we have many studies that are well designed. We aremore tentative when we have fewer and/or poorer quality studies.
With regards to Agent Orange - or Herbicide Orange, there have been many studies on the healtheffects since the Vietnam war. Human exposure to levels much greater than was possible atEglin have not been shown to cause lymphomas (Hodgkin's or non-Hodgkin's).
The age-adjusted cancer incidence for Okaloosa County (2.1) was lower than that for the state ofFlorida (2.6). The question is not about the incidence of cancer for Okaloosa County, but rather,the incidence of cancer for Tom's Bayou residents.
A review of the cancer incidence for any given area is an epidemiological evaluation involvingstatistics. Because of this limitation, conclusions are more definitive when there are largernumbers of people included. The state of Florida maintains the cancer registry information. Because of the low population of the area around Eglin, the people living in Tom's Bayou areincluded in the cancer information for the whole county. The information is not available for thestreet or even the block level at this time. Therefore, we are limited by the information that isavailable. In this case, the information is based on people living near Eglin who may be exposedmixed with information of people who do not live near Eglin and are not exposed.
After our review of the areas that are contaminated on and off the Eglin AFB, and the ways inwhich people could come in contact with possible contaminants, ATSDR determined that levelsof contaminants from Eglin that could have impacted the Tom's Bayou residents are not at levelsthat have been shown in scientific studies to cause adverse health effects.
Communities that are interested in collecting their own epidemiological information based onacceptable scientific protocol can use a survey designed for such a purpose. In this way, citizenscan go door to door to survey all the residents in a particular area of concern. Informationcollected can then be evaluated. ATSDR will provide information about such an approach to theperson who made this comment.
Herbicide Orange is extremely dangerous. The wording [below] sounds as if the author isdismissing the eye witness account of the community member in favor of the lack of Air Forcedocumentation.
Not at all. The comments made by community members help ATSDR investigate areas oftentimes not included in the military's environmental program, as is the case with this pond.However, the lack of documentation and inclusion in the environmental program limits theability of ATSDR to evaluate laboratory data on contaminants and levels detected. Therefore,ATSDR must pull scientific information of environmental and human health impacts based onother areas that have been studied. Because this pond is not an area where people would haveeasy access and constant contact with possible contaminants present, any exposure to adults andchildren would be intermittent and infrequent. Thus, infrequent contact would mean thatexposure would be less than people who worked with the chemicals on a daily basis. ATSDRused information based on worker exposures and accidental exposures to the highly concentratedchemical mixture. We determined that exposures to the off-base residents who visited this pondwould be much lower and infrequent than exposures of workers and thus not expected causeadverse health effects.
From the body of the public health assessment: "An unnamed pond near the North Gate of EglinMain Base is in a remote area with limited accessibility (e.g., access roads are not maintained),about 2,000 feet from the nearest non-base resident (Eglin AFB 2001b). A community memberwas concerned that Herbicide Orange was present in the pond. About 20 years ago, thecommunity member would ride a horse from the stable to the pond and reported seeing a signthat warned of Herbicide Orange contamination. The Air Force has no records of ever placing asign at this unnamed pond and the sign is no longer present. There are no historical Air Forcedocuments that indicate Herbicide Orange was ever present at this pond (personalcommunication with Eglin AFB personnel, April 2002).
If Herbicide Orange was present, people would need to have contact with either the surface wateror sediment in the pond to be exposed (e.g., either through touching the water or sediment ordrinking water from the pond). If people are not being exposed, no harmful health effects canoccur. Currently, there is no fence surrounding the pond or preventing access to the pond. Aprivate off-base riding stable in Valparaiso, Florida is about 450 to 600 feet from the unnamedpond. The area between the stable and the pond is currently filled with building rubble, whichseverely limits access to the pond.
This unnamed pond is not an ideal location for recreational activities (e.g., swimming).Therefore, it is unlikely that anyone actually had contact with potential contamination in thepond, even in the past when people reportedly rode their horses to it. Because access to the pondis currently limited, there is a low chance that anyone is or will be exposed to high levels ofcontamination for a long time and on a regular basis. Consequently, harmful health effects arenot expected to occur."
ATSDR recognizes that infants and children can be more sensitive to environmental exposurethan adults in communities faced with contamination of their water, soil, air, or food. Thissensitivity is a result of the following factors: 1) children are more likely to be exposed to certainmedia (e.g., soil or surface water) because they play and eat outdoors; 2) children are shorter thanadults, which means that they can breathe dust, soil, and vapors close to the ground; and 3)children are smaller; therefore, childhood exposure results in higher doses of chemical exposureper body weight. Children can sustain permanent damage if these factors lead to toxic exposureduring critical growth stages. As part of the ATSDR Child Health Initiative, ATSDR iscommitted to evaluating the special interests of children at sites such as Eglin AFB.
ATSDR evaluated the likelihood that children living near Eglin AFB could have been or could beexposed to contaminants at levels of health concern. ATSDR did not identify long-term situationsin which children were expected to be or have been exposed to chemical contaminants at levelsthat pose a health concern. Short-term health effects are possible on rare occasions when windsblow smoke plumes from prescribed burns and wildfires directly toward residentialneighborhoods. If, however, harmful health effects occur, they are typically reversible andsubside after the fires are extinguished.
Based on an evaluation of environmental information, ATSDR has reached the followingconclusions:
- Air Contamination Concern: It is not expected that in the past, present, or future, off-base residents could be exposed to air contaminants emitted from Eglin AFB oftenenough or in high enough doses to be of health concern from previous herbicide andpesticide spraying activities, current OB/OD operations, and a past structural fire at theC-6 Radar Facility. These exposures pose no apparent public health hazard. ATSDR'scategory of no apparent public health hazard means that people could be or were exposed,but the level of exposure would not likely result in adverse health effects (see Appendix A for ATSDR's Conclusion Categories).
- Surface Water Contamination Concern: It is not expected that in the past, present, orfuture, people could be exposed to contamination in surface water, sediment, or fish inTom's Bayou; Weekly Pond; Pocosin Pond; Mullet, Trout, and Basin Creeks; and anunnamed pond near the North Gate of Eglin Main Base often enough or at high enoughdoses to be of health concern. These surface water bodies pose no apparent public healthhazard. Information on the unnamed pond near the North Gate could not confirm whetherit might have contained Herbicide Orange.
- Groundwater Contamination Concern: It is not expected that in the past, present, orfuture, people could be exposed to groundwater contamination originating from the C-6Radar Facility on Eglin AFB. To ensure that the contamination from the C-6 RadarFacility does not migrate to areas where people are using groundwater wells, the AirForce conducts long-term monitoring of the groundwater at the site on an annual basis.This site poses no public health hazard.
- Herbicide Contamination Concern: It is not expected that in the past, present, orfuture, people could be exposed to herbicide contamination on Eglin AFB often enoughor in high enough doses to be of health concern. Human exposure is minimal becauseaccess to the Herbicide Exposure Unit (DP-09 and SS-25), the C-52A Aerial OversprayArea (AOC-24), and Hardstand 7 (SS-26) is restricted by locked gates, fences, securitypersonnel, and topography. Therefore, there is a low chance that anyone would beexposed to herbicide contamination present at these sites. In addition, remedial activitieshave removed or contained, or both, the contamination that was formerly at Mullet CreekDrum Disposal Site (DP-09) and Hardstand 7. Therefore, these sites pose no past,present, or future public health hazards.
- Radioactive contamination Concern: It is not expected that in the past, present, or future, people could be exposed to radioactive contamination on Eglin AFB often enough or in high enough doses to be of health concern. Human exposure is minimal because access to the Isotope Burial Area (AOC-63/AOC-67), Test Area C-64 (RW-40), and Test Area C-74L (RW-41) is restricted by locked gates, fences, and/or security guards. Therefore, it is not expected that community members would be exposed to radioactive contamination present at these sites. In addition, remedial activities have removed or reduced radioactive contamination that was once present. Thus, these sites pose no public health hazard.
Prescribed burning and wildfires could pose a past, present, and future public healthhazard. Our findings indicate that the contaminants in soils (herbicides, includingHerbicide Orange) would not reach off-base areas at levels associated with harmful healtheffects. Therefore, off-base residents would not come in contact with those contaminants.However, the burning of plant material causes a release of particles and natural chemicals(smoke) that could cause some short-term adverse health effects in those people exposed.Health effects could include burning, itching or watery eyes and sinuses, headache,nausea, breathing difficulty and asthma-like symptoms. Individuals highly sensitive to theeffects would be anyone with previous respiratory conditions such as asthma oremphysema, children, and the elderly. But any health effects would only be of shortduration, developing within a few days of exposure and lasting no more than 2 or 3 weeksafter exposure stopped.
ATSDR does not consider the presence of depleted uranium in soils to be a concernduring either wildfires or prescribed burning in the area. Depleted uranium would not bean airborne contaminant from the burning of plant material since plants have a minimaluptake of uranium from soil.
Even though people have access to Upper Memorial Lake (LF-51), the nearby herbicidecontamination was detected in the subsurface soil, and contact with subsurface soil wouldbe minimal since Eglin AFB has implemented land use controls to minimize exposure.Therefore, this site poses no apparent public health hazard.
Although trespassing can occur at the Low-level Radioactive Waste Site (RW-42), thelevels of radioactive contamination present are too low to be of health concern for thistype of exposure (i.e., of short duration). Thus, this site poses no apparent public healthhazard.
The public health action plan for Eglin AFB contains a description of actions taken at the baseand those to be taken at the base subsequent to the completion of this public health assessment.The purpose of the public health action plan is to ensure that this public health assessment notonly identifies potential and ongoing public health hazards, but also provides a plan of actiondesigned to mitigate and prevent adverse human health effects resulting from exposure toharmful substances in the environment. The following public health actions at Eglin AFB arecompleted, ongoing, planned, or recommended:
- Eglin AFB has conducted remedial activities at Test Area C-64 (RW-40), Test Area C-74L (RW-41), the Low-level Radioactive Waste Site (RW-42), the Mullet Creek DrumDisposal Site (DP-09), Hardstand 7 (SS-26), Taxiway 9e Disposal Area (DP-96),Building 914 Disposal Area (DP-261), Aero Club/Building 68 (ST-64), Base OperationsGenerator Tank, Building 60 (ST-112), Hardstand 8 Alternate Loading Area (AOC-88),and Pocosin Pond (AOC-91).
- Eglin AFB is conducting long-term groundwater monitoring at the C-6 Radar Facility(SS-85).
- Eglin AFB is working to identify on-base sites with low-level radioactive contamination.
- Additional excavation is planned for Test Area C-74L (RW-41).
- Despite the low risk of long-term health effects from exposure to smoke from prescribedburns, Eglin AFB should continue to notify residents, especially sensitive populations,when the prescribed burns are scheduled, so these individuals can take measures toreduce their short-term exposure.
Monica Booker, MPH
Environmental Health Scientist
Federal Facilities Assessment Branch
Division of Health Assessment and Consultation
Carole D. Hossom
Environmental Health Scientist
Federal Facilities Assessment Branch
Division of Health Assessment and Consultation
J. Michael Miller, Ph.D., (D) ABMM
Chief, Laboratory Response Branch
Bioterrorism Prepardness and Response Program, National Center for Infectious Disease
Centers for Disease Control
Amanda Dunnick, MPH
Health and Safety Officer
Office of the Assistant Administrator
Program Operations and Management
Program Analysis Branch
Paul A. Charp, Ph.D.
Senior Health Physicist
Federal Facilities Assessment Branch
Division of Health Assessment and Consultation
Michelle Arbogast, MS
Eastern Research Group
Office of Policy and External Affairs
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9 Sufficient evidence means that the evidence is sufficient to conclude that there is a positive association (i.e., a positive association has been observed between herbicides and the outcome in studies in which chance, bias, and confounding could be ruled out with reasonable confidence).
10 The estimated exposure doses were calculated using the maximum soil concentration for the sum of all dioxin compounds using the formula D = [C x IR x EF]/[BW] (see Appendix B for more details).