PUBLIC HEALTH ASSESSMENT
ROYAL OAKS COMMUNITY
EDGEWATER, VOLUSIA COUNTY, FLORIDA
EPA ID No. FLN000407257
October 5, 2004
- On October 4 and 5, 2001, Beth Copeland of the Florida DOH visited the Royal Oaks community property and spoke with residents at an EPA-sponsored community meeting. She recorded questions and concerns from community residents. The EPA also reported some community health concerns to the Florida DOH.
- Concern: Are lead and arsenic, especially in dust at our homes, a problem for us and our children?
Response: Although there are no air samples for arsenic- or lead-contaminated dust, the very low concentrations of arsenic and lead in the soil are unlikely to result in unhealthy dust levels.
Concern: Are the foods (tomatoes and citrus fruit) we grow safe to eat?
Response: The level of contaminants found at this site is not likely to concentrate to unhealthy levels in homegrown fruit or vegetables. Washing fruits and vegetables is recommended but not necessary.
Concern: Water lines in the park have been broken and replaced in the past. Can contaminants get into these lines?
Response: The Volusia CHD tested drinking water in the Royal Oaks community. Heavy metals and volatile organic compounds (VOCs) were well below the maximum contaminant level (MCL) and are safe for human consumption. Two samples collected from hose bibs (spigots) outside the residences indicated a level of lead slightly higher than the MCL. Elevated levels of lead in outside hose spigots are probably the result of lead leaching out of brass fittings in the faucet assembly. Thus, residents should not drink from outside hose spigots.
Concern: Many residents have experienced unusual nausea, vomiting, headaches, dizziness, and skin rashes, especially when digging was going on, and bad smells and dust were in the air. Could the excavation of the waste be causing or contributing to these symptoms?
Response: These symptoms could be caused by exposure to volatile organic compounds (VOCs). It is possible that residents were exposed to VOCs. Because no air monitoring was done at the time of active excavation, DOH cannot determine if VOCs caused these symptoms. The Florida DOH recommends monitoring for VOCs during any future digging.
Concern: Some residents are concerned about the number of cancers and cancer deaths in the Royal Oaks community.
Response: When all types of cancer are considered collectively, cancer is not a rare disease. In the United States, one of three people will develop some type of cancer during their lifetime. One of four people will die of some type of cancer. Not enough evidence exists to determine whether the chemicals of concern at this site cause cancer. However, the Florida DOH will review additional environmental data when the information becomes available.
Concern: Some residents are concerned that their children were exposed to arsenic- and lead-contaminated dust.
Response: Although there are no air samples for arsenic- or lead-contaminated dust, the very low concentrations of arsenic and lead in the soil are unlikely to result in unhealthy dust levels. Florida DOH conducted an exposure investigation of children and found no elevated levels of blood lead in Royal Oaks community children (2003).
- On September 12, 2001, the Florida DOH held a public meeting at the Edgewater Community Center to explain the findings and to record additional questions and concerns from community residents. The following issues were raised and addressed.
- Concern: Are any contaminants migrating off the site?
Response: To date, soil and groundwater testing have not shown offsite migration.
Concern: Why has it taken 2 years to do well monitoring?
Response: Up to the point that well monitoring was done, there was no reason to suspect that wells might be impacted by the contamination (i.e., no complaints of smell, taste, color, etc.). The wells that were monitored were located offsite. Drinking water near the excavation was supplied by the city and was tested and shown to be safe to drink from inside taps. Testing of the wells offsite also showed the drinking water to be safe to drink.
Concern: Why weren't people tested during excavation?
Response: Prior to Florida DOH's involvement in the project, no indication existed that residents might be exposed to contaminants in the excavation. Only after determining the existence of an exposure pathway did it become apparent that residents might be exposed to dust and vapors. The types of contaminant vapors found in the excavation do not stay in the body long, and they were at levels low enough that they would be unlikely to be found in blood or urine tests. Children were tested for lead in blood, and the measurements were lower than CDC's guidance level for blood lead (Florida DOH Exposure Investigation 2003).
Concern: Did the children's blood lead levels show higher lead levels than children 3 to 4 miles away from the site?
Response: The blood lead levels of the children at this site were all below CDC's guidance level of 10 micrograms per liter, and therefore are not likely to cause illness (Florida DOH Exposure Investigation 2003).
Concern: What about the people who were there during excavation?
Response: Prior to Florida DOH's involvement at the site, people may have been exposed to vapors and dust from the excavation. When Florida DOH was asked to help with the site, excavation had already ceased and there was no measurable activity or contamination that could have caused exposures to local residents.
Concern: Mr. McAllister and RemTek took air samples during early excavation. What were the results?
Response: Mr. McAllister took air samples, but these unofficial results could not be verified. Air sampling conducted by the EPA after excavation stopped showed levels of vapors in the air at safe levels.
Concern: When will our lives get back to normal?
Response: The Florida DOH has completed its investigation and has determined that the site is a no apparent public health hazard for current and future exposures. EPA has completed its excavation and contamination investigation. The Florida DEP has issued a no further action approval letter to the property owner, releasing the site from further investigation and cleanup at this time.
Concern: Can we get city water now through annexation? (From residents on Carol Ann Drive)
Response: This is an issue the residents should take up with their county and city representatives.
Concern: How often are the wells going to be tested?
Response: The Volusia County Health Department offered to test the drinking water wells on Carol Ann Drive every 4 to 6 months. However, the groundwater around the site has not been impacted. Therefore, no additional groundwater tests by government agencies are planned at this time.
Concern: How long is it going to take for everyone to complete work at Royal Oaks?
Response: The Florida DOH has completed its investigation and has determined that the site is a no apparent public health hazard for current and future exposures. The EPA has completed its contamination investigation. The Florida DEP has issued a No Further Action Approval letter to the property owner, releasing the site from further investigation and cleanup at this time.
Concern: Could children at the site be at risk of developing brain tumors as a result of exposure to contamination from the excavation?
Response: To date, the levels and types of contaminants identified on the Royal Oaks property have not been linked to brain tumors.
Currently, there is no apparent public health hazard for nearby residents. There is no current excavation activity or apparent site-related contamination. There are no known current completed exposure pathways that could cause adverse health effects in residents.
Assessing the probability of illness from past inhalation exposure to contaminated dust or airborne contaminants during excavation and removal activities is not possible because of the lack of air monitoring data during excavation.
- The Florida DOH, Bureau of Community Environmental Health will inform and educate nearby residents about the public health assessment of this site.
- Florida DOH, Bureau of Community of Environmental Health will urge residents not to drink from outside hose spigots.
At a September 12, 2002 public meeting, Florida DOH provided nearby residents draft copies of this public health assessment and a summary fact sheet. Florida DOH also placed copies of this draft public health assessment report at the Edgewater City Hall, the public library, and on the Florida DOH web site. About 20 people submitted comments by the October 31, 2002 deadline.
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Florida Department of Health. Notes on site visit, tour, meetings with agency representatives, meeting with community, Edgewater, Florida. Tallahassee, Florida; 2001.
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PC&B Environmental Laboratories, Inc. Analytical results for liquid samples from Royal Oaks for the Florida Department of Environmental Protection. Oviedo, Florida.
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US Environmental Protection Agency. 2001a. RAT notification/priority recommendation, initial POLREP #1, Royal Oaks Drum Site, Edgewater, Florida. Atlanta, Georgia; 2001.
US Environmental Protection Agency. 2001b. Request for removal action at the Royal Oaks Drum site in Edgewater, Volusia County, Florida. Atlanta, Georgia; 2001.
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Shaun Anthony Crawford, MSPH
Florida Department of Health
Bureau of Community Environmental Health
Division of Environmental Health
Florida DOH Designated Reviewer
Bureau of Community Environmental Health
Division of Environmental Health
ATSDR Designated Reviewer
Technical Project Officer
Division of Health Assessment and Consultation
Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry
|Royal Oaks community CHRONOLOGY|
|1962-1999||Property owned by an excavating company, Hanson & McAllister, Inc.|
|1975-1984||Site consists of an excavated sand borrow pit filled with construction debris.|
|December 2000||Utility workers installing underground lines discover several 55-gallon metal drums and 1-gallon paint cans buried on the southeastern portion of the property. The Florida Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) is contacted after a private contractor working for the property owner unearths more than 20 metal drums. The Florida DEP collects samples of sludge from the drums and has them analyzed for metals and volatile organic compounds (VOCs). Analysis shows that the sampled material contains VOCs and lead and is a characteristic hazardous waste.|
|February 2001||Florida DEP contacts the EPA and requests assistance with the investigation.|
|March 2001||EPA conducts a geophysical survey to identify the locations of underground anomalies, where additional drums could be buried. Two locations are identified: one in the area of the existing drum site, another near the entrance to the subdivision on Mango Tree Drive.|
|April-July 2001||The property owner's private contractor conducts additional drum removal actions from the area of excavation. During this time, more than 100 additional drums in poor condition are removed from the excavation. Also, a resident living near the excavation is relocated by the EPA, and the resident's house is removed from the property.|
|July 2001||All excavation and removal actions are suspended. The residents complain about potential health problems they believe to be associated with the drum excavation. Some of the residents' homes are less than 20 feet from the excavation. During the drum removal actions, residents say that dust covered their homes and cars and was tracked indoors. Residents complain of odors, nausea, vomiting, headache, dizziness, skin problems, and cancer. Residents are also concerned about deformities and discoloration on fruit and trees in their yards, as well as the quality of water they are drinking, even though they are on a municipal water system.|
|August 2001||The EPA determines that residents of the community are at risk of exposure to potential contaminants by inhalation, ingestion, and dermal contact with air, groundwater, and surface/subsurface soil related to the drum excavation site.|
|September 2001||A resident reports flooding in the neighborhood and discovers a broken sewer line. The owner is contacted and buries the broken pipe. The Volusia County Health Department is not notified until 3 weeks later.|
|October 2001||EPA collects air, surface soil, and pit water (groundwater) samples.|
|November 2001||Volusia CHD samples tap water and groundwater. Metals and VOCs in drinking water samples are below action limits. Florida DOH visits the site to assess current conditions.|
|December 2001||The Florida DOH coordinates blood lead testing of six children aged 10 years to 15 years living in the Royal Oaks Community. All six children have blood lead less than the 10 mg/dL CDC guidance level.|
|February 2002||EPA begins to relocate residents.|
|2001-2002||Florida DOH evaluates chemical contaminants on site and environmental samples from off the site. A health consultation is released in the Fall of 2002, and Florida DOH holds a public meeting to discuss the findings and record community concerns.|
|September 2002||The EPA issues its final pollution report (Final POLREP #5). This report details the removal and proper disposal of all known contaminated soil and groundwater from the site, as well as backfilling of the excavation pit with clean soil and re-seeding with grass.|
|September 2003||Florida DEP issues a no further action approval letter to the property owner, releasing the property owner from any further obligation to conduct corrective actions (cleanup). This letter does not certify that the entire site is clean but says no contamination above state standards is known to exist on the site.|