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PUBLIC HEALTH ASSESSMENT

CORNELL DUBILIER ELECTRONICS INCORPORATED
SOUTH PLAINFIELD, MIDDLESEX COUNTY, NEW JERSEY


ENVIRONMENTAL CONTAMINATION AND OTHER HAZARDS

This section lists the contaminants of concern for the site. ATSDR and NJDHSS evaluate these contaminants in the subsequent sections of the public health assessment to determine whether exposure to the contaminants is a matter of public health significance. ATSDR and NJDHSS select and discuss these contaminants when the concentration of the contaminant is above health comparison values. These values may include ATSDR's environmental media evaluation guides (EMEGs) and cancer risk evaluation guides (CREGs), New Jersey soil action levels (NJSALs), and New Jersey maximum contaminant levels (NJMCLs). Selected contaminants are further evaluated in subsequent sections of this public health assessment to determine whether exposures to these contaminants are likely to result in harmful health effects in humans. When selected as a contaminant of concern in one medium (such as water, soil, or air), that contaminant is reported for all media. Community health concerns are also evaluated.

In the data that follow in the subsections for on-site and off-site contamination, the listing of a contaminant does not mean that exposure to the contaminant will cause adverse health effects. The list only indicates which contaminants will be evaluated further in this public health assessment.

A. On-Site Contamination

Soil

EPA collected 2 soil samples from each of 23 locations at the site: a surface soil sample (0-3 inches below grade) and a subsurface sample (> 3 inches below grade). This health assessment reviews analytical data from the surface soil samples because human exposure to soil contamination usually results from the surface soil. Twelve soil sampling locations were on the gravel part of the roadway, seven locations were in a vacant field, and four locations were on a footpath that runs north/south on the southeastern edge of the site.

The soil samples were analyzed for PCBs, lead, cadmium, silver, chromium, and mercury. EPA had requested that analytical results for PCBs, cadmium, and lead be evaluated for potential public health threats. Lead was detected in all surface soil samples collected from the roadway, vacant field, and footpath. Lead concentrations in the roadway samples ranged from 29 ppm to 340 ppm, with an average concentration of 167 ppm. With one exception, lead concentrations in the vacant field samples ranged from 66 ppm to 546 ppm, with an average concentration of 279 ppm. The one exception for lead was a location with a concentration of 21,000 ppm. Lead concentrations in the 4 footpath samples were 29 ppm, 105 ppm, 543 ppm, and 1,770 ppm, with an average of 612 ppm. The NJDEP has established a non-residential cleanup level for lead at 600 ppm.

Cadmium was detected in 11 of the 12 roadway samples at concentrations ranging from less than 1 ppm to 19 ppm, with an average concentration of 3 ppm. Cadmium concentrations in the vacant field samples ranged from 1.1 ppm to 152 ppm, with an average concentration of 27.4 ppm. Cadmium was detected in 3 of the 4 footpath samples at concentrations ranging from 1.2 ppm to 51.4 ppm, with the average concentration being 18.9 ppm. The NJDEP non-residential soil cleanup level for cadmium is 100 ppm.

PCBs were detected in all surface soil samples collected from the roadway, vacant field, and footpath. PCB concentrations in the roadway samples ranged from 8 ppm to 340 ppm, with an average concentration of 87.5 ppm. With one exception, PCB concentrations in the vacant field samples ranged from 4.9 ppm to 100 ppm, with an average concentration of 42.4 ppm. The one exception was a vacant field sample that contained PCBs at 3,000 ppm. One footpath sample contained PCBs at a concentration of 1,000, but the other footpath samples had PCB concentrations ranging from 3.6 ppm to 90 ppm, with an average concentration of 36.5 ppm. The NJDEP non-residential soil cleanup level for PCBs is 2 ppm.

In addition, a number of surface soil and subsurface soil samples were collected from the fenced area at the back of the property. Four surface soil samples (0-3 inches or 0-6 inches) were collected and analyzed for PCBs. The PCB Aroclor 1254 was detected at the following concentrations in surface soil samples.

Sampling Point Concentration of Aroclor 1254 (mg/kg)
 
0-6 inches 270
0-3 inches 4,700
0-6 inches 98
0-6 inches 51,000

Sampling of Building

On March 21, 1997, the EPA Environmental Response Team supervised the collection of wipe samples for PCB analysis from the interior surfaces of several on-site buildings. In addition, lead and cadmium wipe samples were collected from interior surfaces. The samples were collected by wiping a wet 3" × 3" cotton gauze pad over an area of 100 square centimeters (cm sq).

ATSDR was provided with the results from 27 samples collected from 12 buildings. Two unoccupied buildings were not sampled. The wipe sampling results indicated that elevated levels of PCBs (Aroclors 1254 and 1260) were present on various interior surfaces. Total PCBs ranged from not detectable to 680 micrograms per 100 cm sq. Approximately one-half of the wipe samples exceeded 10 micrograms per 100 cm sq (combined Aroclors 1254, 1260). The EPA has developed a PCB spill cleanup policy which requires that PCBs be cleaned to a level no higher than 10 micrograms per 100 cm sq for high contact surfaces. Cadmium concentrations ranged from not detectable to 34 micrograms per 100 cm sq. Lead concentrations ranged from not detectable to 780 micrograms per 100 cm sq.

B. Off-Site Contamination

Residential Soil and Dust

In October 1997 the EPA collected approximately 20 surface soil samples from each of 16 residential properties located across the street from the site. In November of that year they also collected between two and four indoor dust samples from 12 of those properties. Both the soil and dust samples were analyzed for the presence of PCBs. Soil samples contained levels of PCBs ranging from not detectable to 22 ppm. PCBs in dust samples ranged from not detectable to 205 ppm (or 117 micrograms total PCBs in sample mass).

Toxicologic evaluations of these data by the ATSDR indicate that three of the residences contained levels of PCBs in surface soil and indoor dust at a level of public health concern. One residence had levels at no public health concern; the remaining 12 were at levels of potential public health concern. Appendix 8 further discusses these evaluations.

Fish Sampling

Fish sampling was conducted by the USEPA, in surface waters adjacent to and near the CDE site, and fish were collected from the following locations:

  1. Three areas of the Bound Brook located downstream from the CDE site.

  2. Two areas of New Market Pond.

  3. The unnamed creek at a location immediately adjacent to the CDE site.

  4. The unnamed creek at a reference location 1,000 meters upstream of the CDE site.

Fish filets were analyzed for PCBs. Table 1 shows the maximum concentrations of PCBs in the fish collected near the site.

Table 1. Maximum concentrations of PCBs detected in fish filets

Location Concentration (parts per million)
Bound Brook 12.2
New Market Pond 36.0
Adjacent creek 9.8
Reference Location (upstream) 7.8

Note: Fish ranged in total length from 4.1 to 25.6 inches (average: 10.9 inches). Fish ranged in total weight from 0.8 to 35.4 ounces (average: 9.7 ounces). The tolerance level set by the FDA for edible fish is 2 ppm of PCB.

C. Quality Assurance and Quality Control

In preparing this public health assessment, ATSDR and NJDHSS relied on the information provided in the referenced documents and assumed that adequate quality assurance and quality control measures were followed with regard to chain-of-custody, laboratory procedures, and data reporting. The validity of analyses and conclusions drawn for this health assessment is determined by the completeness and reliability of the referenced information. Environmental samples were analyzed under the guidelines of the EPA-certified laboratory program.

D. Physical and Other Hazards

The CDE site is partially fenced and posted with hazard and "no trespassing" signs; the primary physical hazard to trespassers is the uneven surface of the vacant field.


PATHWAYS ANALYSIS

To determine whether nearby residents or workers at the CDE site are exposed to site-related contaminants, ATSDR and NJDHSS evaluate the environmental and human components that lead to human exposure. This pathways analysis consists of five elements: (1) a source of contamination; (2) transport through an environmental medium; (3) a point of human exposure; (4) route of human exposure; and (5) a receptor (exposed) population. ATSDR and NJDHSS classify exposure pathways into three groups: (1) "completed pathways," that is, those in which exposure has occurred, is occurring, or will occur; (2) "potential pathways," that is, those in which exposure might have occurred, may be occurring, or may yet occur; and (3) "eliminated pathways," that is, those that can be eliminated from further analysis because one of the five elements is missing and will never be present, or in which no contaminants of concern can be identified. A summary of the pathways for the CDE site is discussed in the following section and presented in Table 2 .

A. Completed Exposure Pathways

Surface Soil Pathway (On-Site Workers and Trespassers)

A limited sampling event was conducted at the CDE site to locate and identify potential sources of contamination. Although insufficient to fully characterize the extent of contamination of the 25-acre site, PCBs, lead and cadmium were detected at levels of public health concern. Because site access is not restricted and there are residences located nearby on Spicer Avenue, it is anticipated that on-site workers (adults), visitors and trespassers from nearby residences (adults and children) may be exposed to PCBs, lead and cadmium found in on-site soils through oral, inhalation, and dermal routes.

Residential Surface Soils and Indoor Dust Pathway (Off-Site )

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. 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 and soil PCB contamination in this residential community has not been determined. It is likely that residents may be exposed to PCBs through ingestion and inhalation of soil and dust, as well as through dermal contact.

Consumption of Fish Pathway (Bound Brook and New Market Pond)

Local health officials report that fishing (and most likely consumption of fish) has occured in the past and is likely occuring at the Bound Brook and the New Market Pond. Based on the available data, ATSDR concluded that PCBs in fish collected in surface water near the CDE site exceed FDA tolerance levels for PCBs in fish, and are at levels of public health concern.

Table 2 presents a summary of the completed human exposure pathways at the CDE site.

Table 2. Completed exposure pathways

EXPOSURE PATHWAY ELEMENTS
SOURCE
ENVIRONMENTAL
MEDIA
POINT OF EXPOSURE
ROUTE OF EXPOSURE
EXPOSED
POPULATION
TIME
CDE site Surface Soil On-site Ingestion,
inhalation,
skin contact
Workers and trespassers Present
CDE site Fish Bound Brook and New Market Pond Ingestion Consumers of fish from Bound Brook and New Market Pond Present
CDE site Surface soils and dust Residential properties Located across the street from CDE site Ingestion,
inhalation,
skin contact
Residents living in the houses located across the CDE site Present


PUBLIC HEALTH IMPLICATIONS

A. Toxicological Evaluation

Introduction

In this section, NJDHSS will discuss the health effects in persons exposed to specific contaminants. To evaluate health effects, ATSDR has developed a minimal risk level (MRL) for contaminants commonly found at hazardous waste sites. The MRL is an estimate of daily human exposure to a contaminant below which noncancer adverse health effects are unlikely to occur. MRLs are developed for each route of exposure, such as ingestion and inhalation, and for the length of exposure, such as acute (less than 14 days), intermediate (15 to 364 days), and chronic (greater than 365 days). ATSDR presents these MRLs in Toxicological Profiles, which are chemical-specific profiles that provide information on health effects, environmental transport, human exposure, and regulatory status. In the following discussion, NJDHSS used information from the ATSDR Toxicological Profiles for the contaminants of concern at the site. NJDHSS uses an EPA reference dose (RfD) as a health guideline when an MRL is not available. This section contains discussion of the health effects in persons exposed to PCBs, cadmium, and lead from contaminated soil associated with the CDE site. Significance of the consumption of fish containing elevated levels of PCBs is also discussed, as is the significance of elevated PCB levels detected in the surface wipe samples collected from inside the buildings on the CDE site.

Health effects evaluations are accomplished by estimating the amount (or dose) of those contaminants that a person might come in contact with. This estimated exposure dose is then compared to established health guidelines. People who are exposed for some crucial length of time to contaminants of concern at levels above established guidelines are potentially more likely to have associated illnesses or disease. The toxicological effects of the contaminants detected in the environmental media have been considered singly. The cumulative or synergistic effects of mixtures of contaminants may serve to enhance their public health significance. Additionally, children may have greater adverse health effects than adults from both individual contaminants or mixtures of contaminants. This situation depends upon the specific chemical being ingested or inhaled, its pharmacokinetics in children and adults, and its toxicity in children and adults.

The toxicological evaluation of the completed exposure pathway at the site is based upon an adult exposure duration of 40 years for trespassers and 30 years for on-site workers, and a duration of 10 years for children who are trespassers. Estimation of exposure doses for workers were based on the following assumptions: adult body weight of 70 kg; ingestion rate of 100 mg of soil per day; and 5 site visits a week for a period of 11 months per year. To estimate exposure doses of trespassers, the following assumptions were made: adult body weight of 70 kg; ingestion rate of 100 mg of soil per day; 2 site visits a week for a period of 8 months per year. For children, the following assumptions were made: child body weight of 20 kg; ingestion rate of 200 mg of soil per visit; 2 site visits a week for a period of 8 months per year.

PCBs

PCBs can be absorbed into the body via ingestion, inhalation, or dermal exposure following ingestion of dust or soil, inhalation of PCB-laden dust, or direct dermal contact with PCBs in soil or dust. In humans, long-term exposure to PCBs can affect the skin and liver. PCBs have very low potential for producing acute toxic effects.

Workers on the site, visitors and trespassers (adults and children) visiting the CDE site may be exposed to PCBs through ingestion, and to a lesser extent, inhalation and dermal contact with contaminated surface soil. Exposure doses for PCB and subsequent theoretical lifetime excess cancer risk estimates were calculated based upon the average reported concentrations of 87.5 ppm from the roadway and the maximum concentration of 3000 ppm detected from the vacant field.

Based on an immunosuppressive effect seen in monkeys chronically exposed to PCBs, ATSDR has derived a chronic oral minimal risk level (MRL) for PCBs of 0.00002 mg/kg/day.

At the average concentration of PCBs detected (87.5 mg/kg), the estimated ingestion exposure dose for an adult worker of 3.7 × 10-5 mg/kg/day is slightly above the chronic oral MRL for PCBs. At such concentrations, noncarcinogenic health effects among adults are not generally expected. The estimated exposure dose for an adult trespasser exposed to the average level of PCBs is 1.25×10-5 mg/kg/day, which is below the chronic oral MRL for PCBs. At such concentrations, noncarcinogenic health effects among adults are not generally expected. However, for a child trespasser, the estimated exposure doses of 1.57 × 10-4 mg/kg/day would exceed the chronic oral MRL. Exposure doses do not exceed the No Observed Adverse Effect Levels for chronic exposure in humans (for effects other than cancer) cited in the ATSDR Toxicological Profile for PCB. However, at a soil concentration of 3,000 ppm PCBs (the maximum concentration detected in any surface soil sample), the doses would exceed the MRL by more than 2 orders of magnitude for child trespassers and adult workers, and by more than 1 order of magnitude for an adult trespasser. Additional exposure to PCBs by inhalation of PCB-laden dust and dermal absorption would potentially increase the received dose in both on-site workers and children who trespass. EPA has determined that PCBs are probable human carcinogens. Carcinogenic risk based upon calculated exposures to the average soil concentration of PCBs is estimated to be no apparent increased risk to adults, and a low increased risk to children. Carcinogenic risk based upon calculated exposures to the highest levels of PCBs detected is estimated to be a moderate increased risk for adult workers and children who trespass, and a low increased risk for adult trespassers.

Lead

There is no current MRL or RfD for chronic oral exposure for lead. The NJDEP has established a Residential Direct Contact Soil Cleanup Criteria level of 400 ppm lead in soil to protect against elevated blood lead levels in children. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has stated that there is sufficient evidence that adverse health effects occur at blood lead levels at least as low as 10 micrograms per deciliter in children.

Lead can affect nearly every system in the body, but is particularly harmful to the developing brain and nervous system of fetuses and young children. Low blood lead levels in children are associated with decreased intelligence and impaired neurobehavioral development, decreased stature and growth, and decreased hearing acuity. Lead is considered by EPA to be a probable human carcinogen. However, there are limited data describing the carcinogenicity of lead in humans. A cancer slope factor for lead has not been established, so lifetime excess cancer risk estimates could not be calculated.

The limited analytical data indicate that elevated lead levels in surface soil samples are not widespread across the site. One sample location indicated the presence of lead at levels greater than 21,000 ppm. However, the extent of the elevated lead levels in the area around this sample location has not been adequately characterized.

Cadmium

Cadmium was detected in most of the samples at average concentrations ranging from 3 ppm to 27.4 ppm. Exposure to cadmium may occur due to ingestion of contaminated soil or inhalation of cadmium-laden dust. Chronic exposure to low levels of cadmium via ingestion may adversely affect the kidneys and skeletal system. Inhalation of high levels of cadmium in air can damage the lungs, and chronic inhalation of low levels can cause kidney disease. Based on kidney effects in humans chronically exposed to cadmium, ATSDR has derived a chronic oral MRL of 0.0007 mg/kg/day. Using the standard default values described above, an adult ingesting soil containing 27.4 ppm cadmium (maximum average concentration) will receive a dose approximately 1 order of magnitude less than the MRL. A young child who trespasses on the site may receive a dose approximately 4 times less than the MRL. Therefore, adverse health effects are not likely from exposure to cadmium.

Indoor Wipe Sampling

PCB concentrations at this site have been detected as high as 680 micrograms per 100 cm sq on indoor surfaces (on-site buildings). PCBs at similar concentrations at other work places have been shown to raise serum PCB levels. EPA has developed a PCB spill clean-up policy under the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA). The TSCA spill policy calls for PCBs to be cleaned to 10 micrograms per 100 cm sq for high contact surfaces. In industrial settings, high contact surfaces are defined as surfaces that are repeatedly touched, often for long periods of time. Manned machinery and control panels are examples of high contact industrial surfaces. Based on assessment of risk posed by PCBs on indoor hard surfaces, the dermal exposure route would be expected to be the route of greatest concern. PCB levels on indoor surfaces of 10 micrograms per 100 cm sq. are associated with an estimated increased cancer risk of 1 × 10-5 . See Appendicies 4 and 8 for further information on the public health implications of PCB's in both on-site buildings and off-site residences, respectively.

Fish Sampling

Fish were collected from three areas of the Bound Brook located downstream from the CDE site; two areas of New Market Pond; the unnamed creek at a location immediately adjacent to the CDE site; and the unnamed creek at a reference location 1,000 meters upgradient of the CDE site. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has set tolerances for PCBs in the edible portions of fish at 2 ppm. Tolerances are established at levels that are sufficient for the protection of public health. The tolerance level of 2 ppm PCBs was exceeded in at least one sample of each of the species collected. PCBs are persistent in the environment and break down slowly. ATSDR concludes that PCBs in fish collected in surface water near the CDE site exceed FDA tolerance levels for PCBs in fish and are at levels of public health concern.

B. Community Health Concerns Evaluation

Residents had expressed concerns regarding potential health effects associated with exposure to site-related contaminants. In August, 1997, the NJDEP, the NJDHSS and the NJDOA, in coordination with the USEPA issued an interim fish advisory for the entire length of the Bound Brook, Middlesex County and posted signs warning the public not to consume fish from the entire length of the Bound Brook including the New Market Pond. This action was taken in response to a USEPA investigation of extensive PCB contamination at the CDE site.The USEPA identified levels of PCBs in carp, white suckers and largemouth bass collected from New Market Pond, an impoundment of the Bound Brook, which exceeded the U.S. Food and Drug Administration's 2.0 ppm tolerance level.

The concern by the Edison Wetlands Association that individuals continue to fish at the New Market Pond was investigated with the Piscataway Township Department of Health (PTHD). Local health officials report that, although there is some limited consumption of fish by subsistence anglers, most of the people who fish at the pond release their catch. The PTHD checks New Market Pond weekly to ensure that the fish advisory signs are still posted, and replace missing signs as needed. Advisories are posted in English and Spanish. Local health officials believe that most of the people who continue to consume fish from the pond are not English or Spanish speaking.

C. ATSDR Child Health Initiative

ATSDR's Child Health Initiative recognizes that the unique vulnerabilities of infants and children demand special emphasis in communities faced with contamination in their environment. Children are at greater risk than adults from certain kinds of exposures to hazardous substances emitted from waste sites. They are more likely exposed because they play outdoors and they often bring food into contaminated areas. They are shorter than adults, which means they breathe dust, soil, and heavy vapors closer to the ground. Children are also smaller, resulting in higher doses of chemical exposure per body weight. The developing body systems of children can sustain permanent damage if toxic exposures occur during critical growth stages. Most importantly, children depend completely on adults for risk identification and management decisions, housing decisions, and access to medical care.

NJDHSS and the ATSDR evaluated the likelihood for children living near the CDE site to be exposed to contaminants at levels of public health concern. Children have been taken into account in the development of the public health implications for their exposures to site-related contaminants.

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