PUBLIC HEALTH ASSESSMENT
MONTCLAIR/WEST ORANGE RADIUM SITE
MONTCLAIR/WEST ORANGE, ESSEX COUNTY, NEW JERSEY
In the data tables that follow under the On-Site Contamination subsection and the Off-Site Contamination subsection, the listed contaminant does not mean that it will cause adverse health effects from exposures. When selected as a contaminant of concern in one medium, that contaminant will be reported in all media.
- Definitions are given below for radiological expressions:
|Alpha Particle -||A positively-charged particle of two neutrons and two protons emitted by certain radioactive material.|
|Beta Particle -||Charged particle emitted from the nucleus of an atom that is smaller than alpha particles.|
|Curie (Ci) -||A unit of the amount of radioactivity. It is equivalent to 3.7 X 1010 nuclear disintegrations per second.|
|Gamma Ray -||A very high energy form of electromagnetic radiation with great penetrating power, similar to X-rays, emitted from the nucleus of an atom.|
|Half-life -||The time it takes for one-half of the number of radioactive atoms to disintegrate.|
|Rad -||A unit of dose absorbed by body tissues. Rad refers to doses from both external penetrating radiation and from radionuclides contained within the body, but do not measure specific biological damage.|
|Radioactivity -||Spontaneous emission from the nucleus of an unstable atom. These emissions could include alpha particles, neutrons, beta particles, or photons.|
|Rem -||(Roentgen Equivalent Man) Considered the most appropriate measure of biological damage from radiation, this measure reflects the fact that some forms of radiation create more damage for a given absorbed dose than others. The REM is calculated by multiplying the absorbed dose by modifying factors calculated on considerations of certain physical factors and ionization of the tissue involved.|
|Roentgen (R) -||A unit of exposure to gamma or X-rays. Relates to the number of ionizations in the air or the amount of energy deposited in a specified volume of air.|
The site is contaminated primarily with radium-226 and thorium-230 which emit ionizing radiation. Radon-222 (a decay product of radium-226) is mainly an alpha particle emitter while radium and thorium are alpha and gamma emitters. They are moieties of the uranium-238 decay chain (Appendix 6). An alpha particle is a positively charged particle. Gamma radiation is electromagnetic energy rather than particles with properties similar to X-rays and other electromagnetic waves. An alpha particle cannot penetrate the skin. Gamma rays are the most penetrating type of ionizing radiation because it is non-particulate and, therefore, has less interaction with the material in which it passes through. Gamma radiation disperses its energy over a relatively long distance (4, 7).
The environmental contamination section includes sampling data from a variety of media sources.
Refer to the Health Assessment document for Montclair, Glen Ridge and West Orange, November 12, 1986 (Appendix 5), for basic information regarding on-site contamination. Further sampling has been conducted subsequent to these Preliminary Health Assessments.
The total number of houses in the various study areas that have been documented to be contaminated will change because additional surveys are to be conducted. The USEPA estimates that a minimum of 290 additional properties will undergo outdoor gamma radiation surveys in the MWG site, 456 homes will undergo indoor gamma radiation surveys, and at least 450 homes will be surveyed for excess radon (8). This affects a total of over 3,000 residents.
- Residential Structural Contamination
A total of 38 out of 237 houses were found to contain building materials such as mortar, cement, gravel and wood that were either contaminated with radium-226 or had natural levels of thorium, and/or uranium at concentrations producing gamma exposure rates greater than 15 µR/hour (Table 3). Background levels of gamma radiation average approximately 8 µR/h in Essex County. For 131 out of 368 homes, the soil adjacent to and/or under the house was the source of gamma radiation.
The houses were analyzed for above background levels (Approximately 1 pCi/L) of radon. However, a radon analysis was not conducted on residential yard soils because the USEPA believes that there is a minimum of risk resulting from excess radon in open areas.
Table 3 - Number of Homes with Air Contaminated by Radon and Gamma Radiation.
|STUDY AREA||NUMBER OF HOMES|
|RADON >4 pCi/L||GAMMA RADIATION|
|<30 µR||>30 µR||<30 µR||>30 µR|
| 64 |
| 37 |
1 - Montclair/West Orange Study Area
2 - Glen Ridge Study Area
Radon emitted by contaminated soil can enter a house from a variety of routes (Appendix 7). Radon was detected at indoor airborne concentrations equal to or greater than 4 pCi/L in 213 homes (Table 3). The USEPA guideline for radon concentration in residential structures is 4 pCi/L. In the Montclair study area, a total of 117 houses had more than 4 pCi/L but no more than 310 pCi/L of radon. In West Orange, 12 houses were contaminated with radon at more than 4 pCi/L of radon, but not greater than 48.4 pCi/L. In Glen Ridge, 84 houses were found to contain radon at greater than 4 pCi/L with a maximum level of 57.4 pCi/L. (Table 4)
The U.S. Radium Corp. produced approximately 1.5 cubic yards of tailings per day as waste resulting from the extraction of radium-226 from the ore. Large quantities of tailings were dumped nearby at what were, then, undeveloped areas. Table 4 lists the maximum levels of contaminants found in properties at the different sites.
Table 4 - Maximum Radiation concentrations.
|Air (pCi/L)||Soil (pCi/g)|
|Barrow's Field (Glen Ridge)||NA||1500|
NA - Not analyzed
In the Montclair/West Orange study area, a total of 27 homes had indoor gamma radiation levels exceeding 30 µR/h (Table 3). This level was exceeded for outdoor gamma radiation in 84 homes. In the West Orange study area 9 homes exceeded outdoor gamma radiation levels at more than 30 µR/h, 2 houses were contaminated at this level via indoor gamma radiation.
The USEPA clean-up level (in 40CFR192) for radium-226 is a maximum concentration of 5 pCi/g for the first six inches of soil (surface) and 15 pCi/g at depths greater than six inches (subsurface) above background averaged over an area of 100m2. The amount of soil exhibiting elevated concentrations of gamma emitting isotopes ranged from isolated pockets of contaminated soil found in the yard to large volumes of contaminated soil underlying detached garages and basement floors (Appendix 8).
In April and May 1986, the USEPA collected seven surface soil samples from various residential properties in Montclair and West Orange and had them analyzed for radium-226 and thorium-230. The samples ranged from background levels to a maximum of 4.6 pCi/g of radium-226 and 5.5 pCi/g of thorium-230. Then, in September 1988, an additional 22 surface soil samples were collected from residential properties. Two samples were from the West Orange study area, 12 samples came from the Montclair study area and the remaining samples were obtained from the Glen Ridge Study area. All of the samples had radium-226 concentrations levels greater than the USEPA clean-up level of 5 pCi/g (40 CFR 192), with the highest levels being 2315 pCi/g in Montclair, 530 pCi/g in West Orange, and 688 pCi/g in Glen Ridge (Table 4).
Gamma logging data indicated that the contaminated material was limited to the upper three feet of soil. Thorium-230 was found to be at background levels for all samples taken. Only one property had a thorium concentration of 159 pCi/g. (8)
Preliminary groundwater studies have been conducted for the different study areas (8). A comprehensive analysis of the groundwater quality is planned in future Operable Units since all of the municipalities use public water supplies. The superficial aquifer is not likely to become highly contaminated since radium and thorium are not easily leachable. If these radioactive chemicals were leachable, the U.S. Radium plant would have been able to remove them during their radium recovery process. The residents of all of the affected communities are on public water supplies.
In March 1987 the USEPA collected 13 surface soil samples from a playground in Glen Ridge, Barrow's Field, and analyzed the samples for the presence of gamma emitting isotopes. Results ranged from 0.5 pCi/g to a high of 1500 pCi/g (Table 4). Eight out of the 13 samples contained gamma emitting isotopes at levels greater than the USEPA clean-up level (5 pCi/g) for radium-226. Subsequently, 16 subsurface borehole samples showed evidence of above background soil concentrations. The highest concentration found at Barrow's Field was 1500 pCi/g (Table 4).
Few analyses have been performed to determine the presence of non-radiological contamination of the soil. In July 1984, the USEPA had Barrow's Field analyzed for metals (7). All results were below the health comparison values (i.e., levels not expected to result in adverse health effects upon exposure). In March 1985, samples were collected from two properties in Montclair and one property in Glen Ridge and analyzed for toxicity, ignitability, corrosivity and reactivity. Again, all samples were below the comparison values. The final non-radiological samples were collected during the summer of 1986, by the NJDEP, from drums filled with material collected during their Phase I excavation program. They were from four properties in Glen Ridge and one property in Montclair. Ten samples were composited and then analyzed for priority pollutants including volatiles, semi-volatiles, pesticides, and inorganics. Lead was found to be in concentrations ranging from 96.9 to 635 ppm, uranium ranged from less than 100 ppm to 626 ppm, and vanadium ranged from 81.8 to 862 ppm. The actual values for the tested compounds cannot be determined nor can the location of the contaminated soils be determined because of the large number of samples composited.
All of the study areas were contaminated as a result of the radium industry. No visible markings exist that can be used to delineate the contaminated sites from the adjacent non-contaminated sites. Each study area covers many acres. Therefore, it is impossible to distinguish between "on-site" and "off-site" in the traditional way. It is more appropriate to distinguish between contaminated and non-contaminated areas.
The NJDOH relied on the information provided by the NJDEP and the USEPA for quality assurance/quality control (QA/QC) information. Thus, it must be assumed that the proper procedures were followed with regard to chain-of-custody, laboratory analyses and data reporting if there were no negative declarations.
Environmental samples were analyzed under the guidelines of the USEPA Certified Laboratory Program. Analytical data were validated either by the NJDEP or the USEPA. While proper quality assurance and control measures were generally followed during sample collection and analyses, the quality of the data may have been affected by quality control sample contamination for some of the samples.
Physical hazards exist at the study sites due to the activities needed to remediate the sites. These hazards include deep holes, heavy machinery and miscellaneous equipment.
The Toxic Chemical Release Inventory (TRI), developed by the USEPA, estimates the annual release of toxic substances into the environment (air, water, and soil) by industries. The NJDOH conducted a search of the TRI, from 1987 through 1990, to identify facilities that had toxic chemical releases near the sites. No discharges were found pertinent to the MWG sites.
To determine whether nearby residents are exposed to contaminants migrating from the site, the NJDOH evaluates the environmental and human components that lead to human exposure. Pathway analysis consists of five elements: A source of contamination, transport through an environmental medium, a point of exposure, a route of exposure, and an exposed population.
The NJDOH categorizes an exposure pathway as a completed or potential exposure pathway if the exposure pathway cannot be eliminated. Completed pathways require that the five elements exist and indicate that exposure to a contaminant has occurred in the past, is currently occurring, or will occur in the future. Potential pathways, however, require that at least one of the five elements is missing, but could exist. Potential exposure pathways indicate that exposure to a contaminant could have occurred in the past, could be occurring now, or could occur in the future. An exposure pathway can be eliminated if at least one of the five elements is missing and will never be present. Table 5 identifies the completed exposure pathways. Table 6 identifies the potential exposure pathways. The discussions that follow these tables incorporate only those pathways that are important and relevant to the site.
Operations began for U.S. Radium Corp. in 1915 extracting radium from ore for use as a luminescent paint on various equipment. They deposited the tailings as fill at undeveloped areas around their facility which were subsequently developed. Painting the luminescent paint became a cottage industry in which many people did the work at home, resulting in radioactive contamination. The NJDOH considers the length of time that a person is a resident of a house is 30 years. Thus, the assumed duration for chronic exposures in the study areas is assumed to be 30 years.
Health concerns derive from radiation exposure. Radon gas is mainly an alpha emitter while radium and thorium emit alpha particles and gamma rays. Completed exposure pathways are limited to those pathways associated with soil, indoor air, and/or building materials containing above background levels of radioactive contamination (Table 5).
- Residential Air
The primary route of exposure is via inhalation of radon-222 and its decay progeny, particularly polonium, in the lung. All houses known to have elevated indoor radon levels have been temporarily abated until they can be remediated. Remediation will continue until all of the affected properties are cleaned up.
Approximately 290 residents (ATSDR assumes that there are 2.5 residents per home) in the Montclair study area, 30 residents in the West Orange study area, 210 residents in the Glen Ridge study (A total population of approximately 530) have been exposed to excessive radon concentrations (Table 3) for up to 30 years in the past. The properties have been abated until the USEPA can fully remediate .
- Residential Soil
The primary route of exposure is by the ingestion of radium-contaminated soil. Ingestion occurs if food containing contaminated dust or soil particles is eaten or if oral contact is made with soil-laden hands. Adults may ingest small amounts of soil (usually around 100 mg/day) while children may ingest somewhat more (approximately 200 mg/day).
A second route of exposure for radium-226, thorium-230, or the uranium-238 decay products is via exposure of the entire body to penetrating gamma radiation. Individuals at risk are those in direct contact with, or close to, soil containing gamma emitting isotopes.
Exposure to soil emitting gamma radiation may occur in the yards of homes that have not yet been remediated. The exposed population via this pathway are the residents that live in those houses.
Residents were exposed to radioactive soil in the past for up to 30 years and at the present time. This consists of the approximately 290 residents of Montclair, 30 residents of West Orange, and 210 residents of Glen Ridge.
- Public Areas
There are excessive concentrations of radium-226 at Barrow's Field in Glen Ridge. The playfield contains soil contaminated with up to 1500 pCi/g of radium-226/thorium-230. There is a possibility that the Township residents who frequented the field over a prolonged period of time may have become exposed to significant levels of gamma radiation. Residents had direct access to radioactive soils or may have entered contaminated areas during athletic activities. It is also possible that they could have repeatedly walked over these radioactive soils. It is estimated that 100 township residents may have been exposed through ingestion, dermal absorption, and whole body penetration exposure to the contamination at Barrow's Field in the past during a period of 30 years. Presently the park has been closed pending remediation, minimizing any current potential for exposure.
- Residence Construction Materials
At the MWG site, there are houses that contain building materials, such as mortar, cement, gravel and wood contaminated with radium-226, thorium-230, and/or uranium-238 at concentrations greater than 15 pCi/g. The route of exposure is via whole body penetration by gamma radiation. These houses were contaminated as a result of the cottage industry that was built around U.S. Radium Corporation. Thirty-eight houses are contaminated and have a total of approximately 100 residents. Exposure occurred in the past for up to 30 years. Temporary abatement measures have been implemented.
- Soil Pathway
Residents who live adjacent to properties that contain radioactive soil are subject to potential exposure in the past and at the present time. The number of people in this category is assumed to be large but is not known.
Table 5 - Completed Exposure Pathways.
|EXPOSURE PATHWAY ELEMENTS||TIME|
|SOURCE||ENVIRONMENTAL MEDIA||POINT OF EXPOSURE||ROUTE OF EXPOSURE||EXPOSED POPULATION|
|U.S. Radium Corp.||Air||Interior of Homes||Inhalation||Residents of homes||Past|
|U.S. Radium Corp.||Soil||Residential Yards||Ingestion, Whole body Penetration||Residents of homes||Past, Present|
|U.S. Radium Corp.||Soil||Barrow Field||Ingestion, Dermal or Whole body Penetration||Township Residents||Past|
|U.S. Radium Corp.||Construction Materials||Homes||Whole body Penetration||Residents of Homes||Past|
Table 6 - Potential Exposure Pathways.
|EXPOSURE PATHWAY ELEMENTS||TIME|
|SOURCE||ENVIRONMENTAL MEDIA||POINT OF EXPOSURE||ROUTE OF EXPOSURE||EXPOSED POPULATION|
|U.S. Radium Corp.||Soil||Residential Yards||Ingestion, Whole Body Penetration||Neighborhood Residents||Past, Present|
In this section, the NJDOH will discuss the health effects in persons exposed to specific contaminants, evaluate state and local health databases, and address specific community health concerns. 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 non-cancer, adverse health effects are unlikely to occur. MRL's 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 MRL's in Toxicological Profiles. These chemical-specific profiles provide information on health effects, environmental transport, human exposure, and regulatory status. In the following discussion, ATSDR Toxicological Profiles were used for several different radioisotopes.
No MRL's have been established for radon or for radium/thorium. The ATSDR Toxicological Profiles were used to determine if the radioisotopes found at the sites were in sufficient concentrations to cause chronic adverse health effects.
The toxicological effects of the contaminants detected in the soil and building materials have been considered singularly. The cumulative or synergistic effects of mixtures of contaminants may serve to enhance their public health significance. Additionally, individual or mixtures of contaminants may have the ability to produce greater adverse health effects in children as compared to adults. This situation depends upon the specific chemical being ingested or inhaled, its pharmacokinetics in children and adults, and its toxicity in children and adults.
All ionizing radiation can cause damage by ionization of organic molecules (especially DNA), thus, producing chemical rearrangements that may lead to cellular damage. This can result in carcinogenic, mutagenic and/or teratogenic effects.
Radon-222 is a naturally occurring odorless, tasteless and colorless radioactive gas with a half-life of 3.8 days (2, 11). It results from the radioactive decay of radium-226 (Appendix 6). Radon gas can move through the interstitial spaces of soil and rock and can penetrate a house through cracks and/or openings in the building's foundation floor or walls. After Rn-222 decays, the progeny are electrically charged and will attach to particulates in the lung, e.g., moisture, dust, or the lining of the lungs. As the polonium-218 decays, lead-214 and bismuth-214 are sequentially produced which are beta and gamma emitters. Then, polonium-214 is produced which emits alpha radiation (Appendix 6). Thus, damage to the lung tissue and lung cancer is caused primarily by radon's progeny rather than by radon gas directly. Even though some of the progeny are short-lived decay products, they are continuously being replenished by the decay of radon-222.
In the past, residents of homes containing elevated levels of radon gas have been exposed for a maximum duration of 30 years. The population exposed to excess radon consists of approximately 530 residents at the MWG site (Table 3). Radon-222 was found in air samples at maximum concentrations of 310.0, 48.4 and 57.4 pCi/L for the Montclair, West Orange, and Glen Ridge study areas, respectively (Table 4).
There is no current chronic oral Minimum Risk Level (MRL) or USEPA oral Reference Dose (RFD) values for radon or its progeny. However, a conservative estimation is that there is no threshold level for human exposure for radioactivity. The USEPA clean-up level for residential radon levels is 4 pCi/L. This was exceeded in homes for all three study areas.
Based upon maximum levels of radon detected in indoor air samples, the estimated chronic exposure dose is significantly below the Lowest Observed Adverse Effect Level (LOAEL) for animals. It is unknown if radon was at sufficient levels in the four study areas to have caused direct or indirect adverse non-cancer health effects.
An excess cancer incidence, associated with chronic excess radon exposure, is documented in the literature among people who resided in homes contaminated with excess radon between two and 30 years (2). At a concentration as low as 1.5 pCi/L, increases in the incidence of lung cancer were observed. This was the lowest concentration that resulted in elevated lung cancer rates due to excess radon exposure as reported in the ATSDR Profile for Radon (2). Elevated lung cancer rates were observed via occupational exposure to 30 pCi/L or greater of radon for more than ten years. Other human studies indicated that increased rates of lung cancer occurred when humans were exposed to radon between one month and 30 years at concentrations of up to 400 pCi/L.
Radium is a virtually ubiquitous naturally occurring metal in soil (1). It is naturally found in water and rock-forming minerals at low concentrations. The half-life of radium-226 is 1600 years (Figure 1). Four isotopes of radium are naturally occurring, radium-223, -224, -226 and -228. Radium-226 is the most prevalent natural isotope. Radium can replace calcium in the bones, therefore, bones are target organs and an excess radium dose can result in bone and bone marrow cancers. The lungs are target organs when radium is deposited in the lungs during inhalation exposure. Similarly, the gastrointestinal tract may also be a target organ system when radium contaminated soil is ingested. Thus, the type of cancer that may be contracted is directly related to the route of entry into the body (1).
Thorium is a ubiquitous naturally occurring radioactive metal (3). The predominant naturally occurring isotope of thorium is thorium-232, with a half-life of 1.4 X 1010 years. Thorium-230, with a half-life of 80,000 years, breaks down to radium-226 (Appendix 6).
The major exposure pathways for gamma radiation are ingestion of radium-226/thorium-230 containing soils and whole body penetration. The population exposed to radium-226/thorium-230 consists of approximately 600 residents at the MWG site (Table 3). The duration of exposure is assumed to be 30 years in the past and may continue to occur at the present time in unabated residences. The maximum concentration of radium-226/thorium-230 detected in soil samples was 2, 315, 530, and 688 pCi/g for the Montclair, West Orange, and Glen Ridge study areas, respectively (Table 4).
The source of gamma radiation was residential soils that contained radium-226 and, less frequently, thorium-230. At the Montclair study area 38 homes were contaminated with radioactive building materials. The only non-residential exposure occurred at Barrow's Field in Glen Ridge, a public playground. It was frequented by approximately 100 children and adults for up to 30 years.
There is no current chronic oral Minimum Risk Level (MRL), Cancer Risk Evaluation Guide (CREG), or Lowest Observed Adverse Effect Level (LOAEL) cited in the ATSDR Toxicological Profile for ingestion exposures and consequent radiation of chronic duration to radium or thorium. In 40 CFR 192.12, the maximum allowable exposure is 25 mR/yr for uranium and thorium mill tailings. There are no health guidelines for non-cancer effects for radium given by either the ATSDR or the USEPA. Thus, the likelihood for adverse chronic carcinogenic and non-carcinogenic effects cannot be quantified.
There are few human studies regarding chronic exposure to radium via the ingestion and inhalation routes, and, similarly, no studies have been reported for chronic dermal absorption (3). Animal studies have centered on carcinomas via ingestion. Radium dial painters, who ingested radium, were found to have had anemia, osteosarcomas, and head carcinomas. Chronic oral exposure in humans has been associated with osteosarcomas. Men who had chronic oral exposure to radium at concentrations higher than those found at this site have exhibited non-cancerous effects such as leukopenia, bronchopneumonia, secondary anemia, necrosis of the jaw, brain abscesses, and death. However, other etiologies may have had an impact.
Elderly human subjects who ingested mock radium dial paint containing 224RaSO4 excreted approximately 80% of the radium with the feces ten days after ingestion. The remaining radium was retained and systemically distributed. Other studies have shown that retained radium is deposited in the skeletal system. Thus, chronic exposure may result in the maintenance of elevated levels of radium in the body.
Animal studies have shown that the chronic inhalation of high concentrations of thorium dust (Concentrations greater than that found at the study areas) may result in cancer of the lung, bone or pancreas, genetic damage, lung damage, and death from metal poisoning (3). Thus, the potential for adverse health effects resulting from thorium exposure from soil cannot be determined at the study areas.
It is possible that residents may have cultivated and subsequently ingested vegetables that were grown in radium/thorium contaminated soil. This would add to the total gamma radiation body burden. No data were available for review and evaluation regarding bioaccumulation from edible plants and vegetables.
It is possible for passersby to be exposed to gamma radiation emitted from a contaminated yard. Gamma radiation dosage is a function of duration of exposure, contaminant depth in the soil, and distance from the source. Normally, a passerby would be exposed for a very short duration (from seconds to minutes). The contaminated soil is usually found between one to three feet below the surface. The amount of radiation is inversely proportional to the square of the distance from the source. Thus, a resident of a study area casually walking past a source of contamination should not be exposed to a sufficient dose of gamma radiation from radium/thorium to result in adverse health effects.
Barrow's Field in Glen Ridge has been used by the community as a recreational park for the past 30 years. The Township residents probably spent several hours at a time at the park picnicking, walking around, and/or playing ball. Since the residential turnover rate for the community is very low, it is expected that the Township residents have probably used the park for much of their lives. Barrow's Field was found to contain a maximum concentration of radium/thorium of 1500 pCi/g of soil. Thus, the possibility exists that the residents who frequented the park for extended periods of time may have been exposed to gamma radiation at levels above background.
Residents of 55 homes contaminated with radioactive building materials have been exposed as a function of the duration that they were in the proximity of the source of gamma radiation. The houses contained at least 30 µR/h of gamma radiation versus a background level of 8 µR/h. Such exposure over a period of 30 years may result in an elevated cancer risk.
There is considered to be no threshold level for gamma radiation. The concentrations of gamma radiation detected in soil samples and in homes with contaminated building materials are orders of magnitude greater than background concentrations. Thus, an elevated excess cancer risk may be associated with past chronic exposure to the contaminated residences and Barrow's Field resulting from exposure to radium and thorium.
Available health outcome data were presented in an epidemiological study conducted by Klotz, Petix and Zagraniski of the NJDOH (5). This study was a historical cohort mortality analysis of the Montclair, West Orange and Glen Ridge study areas. This study investigated mortality patterns of 752 persons who lived for a minimum of one year, between 1923 and 1983, in 45 homes contaminated by radon gas over 4 pCi/L at the time of the initial assessment in 1983. An increase in the rate of lung cancer was found for white males in the study group but was not statistically significant due to the small size of the study population. However, there is sufficient human epidemiologic data to indicate that the excess lung cancer observed is consistent with the size of the population exposed and the estimated amount of exposure.
Community concerns regarding the MWO radium contamination site may be summarized as follows:
1. Citizens are concerned about cleanup efforts and the length of time needed for remediation.
The USEPA is trying to remediate the site as rapidly as possible. Remediation efforts are lengthy due to the large amount of work needed to be done at each property and due to the precautions that must be taken to assure worker and residential protection. The USEPA intends to continue their screening of houses for elevated radiation levels until they have screened all of the houses in the study areas.
2. Citizens want to know the effects of the discovery of elevated radioactivity levels on property values.
The effect of discovering elevated radioactivity levels could initially exert a negative effect on property values. However, remediation of these houses should restore and perhaps even increase their values because the houses no longer have significant radioactivity levels and the work done to remediate the houses should improve the overall condition of the houses.
3. Citizens are concerned about the possibility of cancers resulting from excess radon and gamma radiation exposure.
It is possible that significant amounts of exposure has occurred in the past. It is, likewise, possible that elevated rates of cancer incidence have occurred. The epidemiological study reported in the Health Outcome Data Evaluation section indicates that elevated levels of lung cancer may have occurred. However, this cannot be determined from the existing information.
- Public Comment Period
The New Jersey Department of Health (NJDOH) conducted a public comment period for the Public Health Assessment for the Montclair/West Orange/Glen Ridge Radium Contamination site from September 23, 1994 to October 28, 1994. The Public Health Assessment was placed in local repositories to facilitate commentary and reaction from the public at large. Additionally, the Public Health Assessment was circulated to the Bloomfield Twp. Board of Health, West Orange Department of Health, East Orange Board of Health, and the Montclair Health Department for the purpose of soliciting commentary by local health officials.
The NJDOH did not receive commentary regarding the public health assessment for the
Montclair/West Orange/Glen Ridge Radium Contamination site during the public comment