PUBLIC HEALTH ASSESSMENT
CORNELL DUBILIER ELECTRONICS INCORPORATED
SOUTH PLAINFIELD, MIDDLESEX COUNTY, NEW JERSEY
The Cornell Dubilier Electronics, Incorporated (CDE) site (also known as the Hamilton Industrial Park) is located at 333 Hamilton Boulevard in South Plainfield, Middlesex County, New Jersey. From 1936 until 1962, CDE manufactured electronic parts and components, including capacitors, at the site. CDE also tested transformer oils. It is alleged that the company dumped materials that were contaminated with polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) and other hazardous substances directly onto the ground.
In 1994 the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) found that on-site soil contained PCBs and trichloroethylene at levels that were significantly above background. PCBs were also found in soil and indoor dust at residential properties located across the street from the CDE site at levels of public health concern. Fish collected from the nearby Bound Brook contained PCBs at levels above the U.S. Food and Drug Administration tolerance level, resulting in a fish consumption advisory for the entire length of the Bound Brook, New Market Pond, and the streams that feed into them.
In addition to this public health assessment, the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) and the New Jersey Department of Health and Senior Services (NJDHSS) have completed several (9) health consultations for the CDE site between 1996 and 2000. The ATSDR and NJDHSS have concluded that the CDE site, in its present state, poses a public health hazard to area residents because site-related contaminants are migrating to off-site properties and local waterways. Supportive findings include PCBs in fish collected in surface water near the site that exceed FDA tolerance levels for PCBs; elevated levels of PCBs were detected in indoor dust and the surface soils at residential properties that may pose a health concern or potential health concern to the residents; and, workers and trespassers (adults and children) are likely exposed to PCBs at the site at levels of public health concern.
The ATSDR and the NJDHSS have prepared fact sheets for the CDE site for distribution through the local health department to area residents. The NJDHSS will also assist the Middlesex County Public Health Department (MCPHD) in providing community and health care provider education. The Piscataway Township Health Department (PTHD) has posted warning signs at the New Market Pond in English and Spanish advising people not to eat fish from the pond. The PTHD also checks the signs weekly, and replaces them as necessary. The NJDHSS will assist the PTHD in developing signs that are easily understandable by individuals who do not read English or Spanish regarding the consumption of fish from the New Market Pond. In addition, the NJDHSS will determine what additional languages are likely to be spoken in Piscataway for the purpose of developing signs in languages other than English and Spanish.
The ATSDR and the NJDHSS have completed several (9) health consultations for the CDE site between 1996 and 2000. This public health assessment summarizes and evaluate the activities undertaken and/or planned by the ATSDR and the NJDHSS at the site.
The Cornell Dubilier Electronics, Incorporated (CDE) site is located at 333 Hamilton Boulevard in South Plainfield, Middlesex County, New Jersey (see inset). It consists of approximately 25 acres in an industrial/residential area. The site is bordered by residences and commercial businesses from the south to the north. An unnamed tributary of the Bound Brook borders the property on the southeast. The Bound Brook and the unnamed tributary converge approximately 800 meters downstream of the site. Bound Brook then flows west for approximately 3,000 meters and enters New Market Pond. Conrail railroad tracks crisscross the unnamed tributary just north of the site. Other industries are scattered to the northeast and east of the site, on the side opposite the Conrail tracks.
From 1936 to 1962, CDE manufactured electronic parts and components, including capacitors. CDE tested transformer oils, and it is alleged that the company dumped materials contaminated with polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) and other hazardous substances directly onto the soil at the site. Currently known as Hamilton Industrial Park, the site is occupied by approximately 15 commercial businesses. Numerous companies have rented locations at the site and operated businesses there over the years. A paved driveway is used to enter the industrial park, and the grounds surrounding the buildings are paved. A vacant field at the back of the buildings is fenced and posted with signs indicating the presence of hazardous material.
In June 1994, soil, surface water, and sediments were sampled and analyzed by EPA. The results of the sample analyses indicated that concentrations of PCBs and trichloroethylene (TCE) in on-site soils were significantly above background levels (background levels are levels typical of naturally occurring concentrations or of concentrations found in uncontaminated areas). EPA conducted additional soil and sediment sampling in February, 1996. PCBs, alpha-chlordane, and TCE were detected in the soil samples, and PCBs were detected in sediment samples, at levels significantly above background levels.
PCBs were also detected in the sediment of the unnamed tributary of the Bound Brook. PCB contamination of more than one-tenth of a mile of wetland frontage of the tributary was documented. At least two fisheries are known to exist within the target distance limit. A sediment sample collected from the stream near the back of the property indicated the presence of PCBs, TCE, 1,2-dichloroethene, and lead. PCBs, 1,2-dichloroethene, TCE, and heavy metals were also detected in surface water samples collected from the same location. In addition, EPA collected soil samples from residential properties bordering the site and initiated a study of the nearby waters of the Bound Brook in June 1997. As part of this study, samples of sediment and fish were collected from the Bound Brook and New Market Pond. Fish collected from the Bound Brook were found to contain PCBs at levels higher than the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) tolerance level of 2.0 parts per million (ppm). In response to the level of PCBs detected in the fish, on August 8, 1997, the NJDEP, the NJDHSS and the New Jersey Department of Agriculture (NJDOA), in coordination with the USEPA, issued an interim fish consumption advisory for the entire length of the Bound Brook, Middlesex County. In August of 1997, ATSDR provided a short fact sheet for use by the local health department describing the reasons for the advisory. In August 1998, the NJDEP, the NJDHSS and NJDA, in coordination with the USEPA, issued the final fish consumption advisory for the entire length of the Bound Brook including Spring Lake.
In October 1997, EPA collected surface soil samples from 16 residential properties located across the street from the CDE site. The soils were analyzed for PCBs. Approximately 20 surface soil samples were collected from each residential property. PCB levels in surface soils ranged from not detectable to 22 ppm. In addition, on November 17 and 18, 1997, EPA collected indoor dust samples from 12 residential properties located across the street from the CDE site. Samples were collected from carpeted and non-carpeted areas. Between 2 and 4 samples were collected from each house, yielding a total of 37 samples. The dust samples were analyzed for PCBs using EPA method 8080/SW-846. The objective of this analysis was to determine the extent of PCB contamination in residences southwest of the site. PCB levels in indoor dust ranged from not detectable to 205 ppm (or 117 micrograms (ug) total PCBs in sample mass).
Due to the extensive on-site contamination and migration of contaminants, the EPA has issued a Superfund order in 1997, to the property owners (CDE), to conduct the following clean-up actions: 1) restrict access to areas known to be contaminated with PCBs; 2) take necessary actions to limit the movement of contaminants to Bound Brook through surface water runoff; and 3) pave driveways and parking areas within the industrial park.
Previous ATSDR and NJDHSS Activity
The ATSDR and the NJDHSS have completed several health consultations for the CDE site in 1996, 1997, 1998 and 1999, and 2000. The following are summaries of the activities:
Health Consultation of September 1996
The EPA Region II requested that ATSDR review analytical data from a fenced area at the site and determine whether PCBs in the soil were at levels of public health concern. ATSDR completed a health consultation for the site in September 1996 (Appendix 2) .
The health consultation reported that a fenced area of 1.5 acres was the location of a truck driving school. The school was reported to have been in operation 8 hours a day, 6 days a week since February 1996. Tractor trailers maneuver in the fenced area, while instructors outside the vehicles guide the drivers through their training. Although the composition of the ground surface within the fenced area varies, it generally consists of a compacted mixture of soil, rock, and crushed brick. When weather conditions are dry, dust is airborne within the fenced area during truck maneuvers; this may result in significant exposure (through inhalation) to dust containing PCBs, and may result in off-site migration of PCBs. The ATSDR concluded the following:
- PCBs are present in the surface soil at levels of public health concern in the fenced area;
- PCBs may be migrating off the site during dry conditions when dust is generated during truck maneuvers; and,
- The extent of PCB contamination in soil in the fenced area has not been adequately defined.
ATSDR recommended the following activities:
- Immediately stop exposure to PCBs in soil in the fenced area;
- Prevent off-site migration of PCBs in dust or soil; and,
- Characterize the extent of contamination in the fenced area.
Health Consultation of October 1996
The EPA Region II requested that the ATSDR review analytical data from the CDE site and determine if contaminants in the soil are at levels of public health concern. ATSDR completed a health consultation for the site in October 1996 (Appendix 3) . Based on the limited analytical data collected at the CDE site, the following conclusions were made:
- The limited sampling (23 sample locations for 25 acres) was inadequate to completely characterize the extent of contamination at the site;
- Lead concentrations that present a public health concern were not widespread across the site; however, lead in one area was at a level of public health concern;
- Cadmium was not present in on-site surface soil at levels of public health concern; and,
- PCBs were present at levels of public health concern in sampled areas at the site. Chronic exposure to PCBs in surface soils presents a public health concern to on-site workers and trespassers.
Recommendations were made to conduct the following activities:
- Conduct additional sampling to adequately characterize the extent of contamination at the site;
- Prevent exposure to PCBs in surface soil at levels of public health concern; and,
- Prevent off-site migration of PCBs in dust or soil.
Health Consultation of May 1997
The EPA Region II requested that the ATSDR comment on the public health threat posed by indoor PCB contamination at the CDE site. ATSDR completed a health consultation for the CDE site in May 1997 (Appendix 4).
The following conclusions were made by ATSDR:
- The site poses a potential health threat to workers due to the presence of PCBs indoors. Although short-term effects are not likely to occur with the levels of contamination, the site does pose a potential long-term health threat to workers. Family members may also be exposed to PCBs carried home on the shoes or clothing of workers; and,
- Wipe samples for lead and cadmium are useful as a qualitative indicator of contamination, but cannot be used to assess human exposures. Air sampling data would be more useful in qualitatively estimating potential human exposures.
Recommendations were made to perform the following activities:
- Conduct indoor air sampling to determine the potential health threat posed by cadmium and lead contamination. If a building is unoccupied, aggressive sampling should be conducted to simulate activity;
- If any workers are experiencing health effects, they should be evaluated by a health care provider for PCB exposure; and,
- This site will be considered for an exposure investigation by the ATSDR Exposure Investigation section.
Health Consultation of March 1997
At the request of the Health Officer of the Borough of South Plainfield, a meeting was held on February 5, 1997, which was attended by representatives of the South Plainfield Health Department (as of June 1998, the Plainfield Health Department has been under contract with the Middlesex County Public Health Department), the NJDHSS, the ATSDR Region II, and the EPA Region II.
During the meeting various exposure pathways and levels of contaminants were discussed. The surface soil sampling events have indicated the presence of PCBs, lead, and cadmium at levels of public health concern at various locations on the CDE site. Based on the results of the June 1996 samplings, which showed high levels of PCBs in the surface soil of the fenced and unpaved area used for a truck driving school, the permit for operating a truck driving school within this area was revoked by the Borough of South Plainfield in October of 1996.
As requested by the Health Officer for South Plainfield, NJDHSS and ATSDR will assist the South Plainfield Health Department by providing public health education materials (primarily in the form of fact sheets) and professional expertise to explain the potential implications of human exposure to PCBs (Appendix 5).
The ATSDR recommended that, as soon as practicable, EPA, with the assistance of NJDHSS and ATSDR, should determine and take all necessary and appropriate interim actions which would be required to interrupt the potential exposure pathway caused by dust generation on the dirt/gravel road which traverses the site property.
Health Consultation of July 1997
EPA Region II requested that ATSDR determine the health implications to emergency personnel (such as police officers, fire fighters, and medical personnel) who may come in contact with PCB contamination at the CDE site. ATSDR completed this health consultation in July 1997 (Appendix 6) . ATSDR concluded that the site does not pose a health threat to fire fighters, police, medical personnel, or other emergency personnel due to the anticipated short duration of exposure to PCBs. The health consultation recommended that the personnel accessing the site and coming in contact with contaminated areas should perform appropriate decontamination procedures prior to exiting the site.
Health Consultation of September 1997
EPA Region II requested that ATSDR review analytical data of fish samples collected from surface water near the CDE site and determine if PCBs are present in fish at levels of public health concern.
Available information indicated that fish were being caught and eaten from the Bound Brook and New Market Pond (Appendix 7) . The ATSDR concluded that PCBs in fish collected in surface water near the CDE site exceed FDA tolerance level of 2.0 ppm PCBs in fish, and are at levels of public health concern. ATSDR recommended that fish with PCB levels greater than 2 ppm in the edible portion should not be eaten.
Health Consultation of May 1998
The EPA requested that the ATSDR evaluate analytical data from residential properties located across the street from the site and determine if PCBs in indoor dust and surface soils are at levels of public health concern. ATSDR completed a health consultation for the site in May 1998 (Appendix 8) . The following conclusions were made by ATSDR:
- Elevated levels of PCBs were detected in indoor dust and in surface soils at residential properties that may pose a health concern or potential health concern to the residents. The health evaluations for the residential properties are presented in Appendix 8;
- The nature and extent of off-site migration of PCB-contaminated dust via wind has not been determined; and,
- The nature and extent of surface soil PCB contamination in this residential community has not been determined.
Recommendations were made to conduct the following activities:
- Prevent potential exposure to PCBs in surface soil at levels of public health concern. ATSDR believes that an interim measure or permanent solution to the contaminated residential yards and/or indoor dust should be put in place within six months;
- As additional data become available on the extent and degree of off-site contamination, provide health education to residents on ways to reduce their potential exposure to PCBs present in indoor dust and surface soils. ATSDR will assist in the health education at this site through DHAC's Community Involvement Branch;
- Appropriate cleaning methods should be used in the homes where elevated levels of PCBs were detected in indoor dust. Wet/damp dusting and mopping on floors and hard surfaces with a mineral-based cleaning solution should be used to help clean up PCBs. Carpets should also be shampooed with these products. Prior to cleaning of the home interior surfaces by EPA, the use of a regular vacuum cleaner to remove dust is not recommended unless a HEPA filter is placed on the vacuum cleaner exhaust;
- As needed, additional dust suppression techniques should be used at the site to prevent off-site migration of contaminated dust;
- Conduct indoor dust sampling at residential properties where only surface soil sampling was conducted; and,
- Determine if other residences in the area are contaminated (include soil samples from properties located upwind of the facility).
Health Consultation of October 1999
The EPA Region II Removal Action Branch requested that the ATSDR and the NJDHSS evaluate the 1997 surface soil sampling from the banks and sediment sampling results from the streambed along the Bound Brook in order to respond to the following questions:
- Do the data present a public health hazard?
- What does ATSDR/NJDHSS recommend?
The soil and sediment samples were analyzed for total PCBs.The NJDHSS and the ATSDR completed a health consultation for the site in October 1999 (Appendix 9). The following conclusions were made by the NJDHSS and the ATSDR:
- Based on available data reviewed for the Bound Brook, the brook currently poses no apparent health hazard to children and adults who utilize the brook for recreational purposes. The ATSDR and the NJDHSS have concluded that surface soils and sediment contamination does not exist at levels of public health concern for the occasional users.
- Due to the presence of a nature trail in the area of Reach 5, persons using the nature trail may be brought in direct contact with contaminated surface soils and/or sediments. Health risks were estimated for the assumed completed exposure pathway associated with ingestion of contaminated surface soil. Using the highest level of contamination as a worst case scenario and conservative exposure factors, the NJDHSS has determined that residents using the site would not be exposed to PCBs at levels of public health significance.
Recommendations were made to conduct the following activities:
- Maintain current fish advisory and postings for the Bound Brook and New Market Pond.
- New environmental, toxicological, health outcome data, or changes in conditions as a result of implementing the proposed remedial plan, may determine the need for other additional actions at this site.
Heatlh Consultation of May 2000
The EPA Region II Removal Action Branch requested that the ATSDR and the NJDHSS evaluate the June 1999 surface soil and sediment sampling data from the floodplain of Bound Brook in order to respond to the following questions:
- Do the data collected in June of 1999 present a public health hazard?
- What does ATSDR/NJDHSS recommend if similar levels of PCBs are detected in residential areas?
The soil and sediment samples were analyzed for total PCBs.The NJDHSS and the ATSDR completed a health consultation for the site in May 2000 (Appendix 10). The following conclusions were made by the NJDHSS and the ATSDR:
1. Based on available data reviewed, for the four areas located in the floodplain of theBound Brook, pose no apparent public health hazard to children and adults who utilize these areas for recreational purposes. The ATSDR and the NJDHSS have concluded that surface soils and sediment PCB contamination, in the four areas sampled in June 1999, do not exist at levels of public health concern for the recreational user.
2. Similarly, based on reported concentrations and the exposure assumptions, it is unlikely that a hypothetical resident would experience adverse health effects as a result of chronic exposure to PCB soil and sediment contamination in the four areas sampled in June 1999. However, based upon available information, the mean detected concentration of PCBs would yield an exposure dose equivalent to the lowest available NOAEL for hepatic effects in a pica child.
Recommendations were made to conduct the following activities:
1. The data and information presented do not indicate a public health concern in a hypothetical residential scenario. However, additional sampling of actual residential areas would be necessary to determine actual environmental conditions and potential
Several site visits have been made to the Cornell Dubilier Electronics site in recent years by the ATSDR and the NJDHSS. The most recent visit to the site was on March 23, 1998. Steve Miller and Narendra P. Singh of NJDHSS, an EPA representative, and representatives of the owners of the property visited the site.The following observations were made during the visit.
The CDE property, now known as Hamilton Industrial Park, is an actively used industrial property that includes numerous brick buildings. Approximately 15 tenant-occupied commercial businesses employing approximately 200 individuals are currently operating on the property. The area is potentially accessible to trespassers.
A storm and drain sewer discharges into the unnamed tributary to the Bound Brook on the northeastern border of the site, although there did not appear to be a significant current in the drainage channel. The confluence of the unnamed creek and the Bound Brook is approximately 800 meters downstream of the site. The Bound Brook then flows west for approximately 3,000 meters and enters New Market Pond. According to local health officials fish are being caught from both the Bound Brook and the New Market Pond, and the fish advisory is being ignored by a few residents.
A roadway nearly encircles the structures at the site, and the roadway separates the structures from a vacant field. Driveways and parking areas within the industrial park are paved. The southeastern portion of the vacant field is fenced and secured, making trespassing difficult. There is also a fence along a portion of the edge of the site bordering the stream. The remainder of the vacant field contains shrubs, high grass, and other vegetative cover. The ground surface is generally hard and appears to have been compacted. There are trees along Spicer Avenue, and trees line the area between the field and the stream.
The surrounding area is primarily commercial and industrial in character, lightly mixed with residential properties. Approximately 500 persons reside within a quarter mile of the CDE site. The nearest residential homes are on Spicer Avenue and on the opposite side of Hamilton Boulevard, less than 200 feet from the site. The total number of people estimated to live within 1 mile of the site is 9,900.
A summary of population statistics within 1 mile of the CDE site, calculated using an area-proportion spatial analysis technique, is presented in Appendix 1. On the basis of data from January 1994, the nearest municipal drinking water well is located 0.6 miles north and downgradient of the site. The drinking water purveyors serving people within a 4-mile radius of the site use supply wells that are within 4 miles of the site. Groundwater is a significant source of drinking water in this radius. The majority of the residents are served by the Middlesex or Elizabethtown water companies from these supply wells. The supply wells are blended with surface water, mainly from the Raritan River and the Delaware-Raritan Canal, which are reportedly not located in the surface water flow path from the site.
To gather information on community health concerns, NJDHSS contacted the SPHD and the EPA. The community concerns are related to off-site migration of site contaminants and their effects on residents of neighboring properties, the health risks associated with PCBs, and the community's role in the decision-making process. The Edison Wetlands Association expressed concern regarding subsistence fishing in the New Market Pond. All of these concerns are addressed in the community health concerns evaluation section.