Skip directly to search Skip directly to A to Z list Skip directly to site content

PUBLIC HEALTH ASSESSMENT

TRI-STATE STEEL DRUM COMPANY INCORPORATED
GRAYSVILLE, CATOOSA COUNTY, GEORGIA


SUMMARY

The Georgia Environmental Protection Division (GEPD) requested that the Georgia Division of Public Health (GDPH) address the public's health concerns associated with the Tri-State Steel Drum Company (TSSD), a permitted, hazardous waste management facility in Graysville, Georgia. TSSD was in Graysville from the 1960s and obtained a GEPD hazardous waste facility permit in 1984. The permit allowed transport, storage, and treatment of various hazardous wastes at the facility. The facility relinquished its permit in June 2001 and ceased operation at that time. All waste was shipped off site, and no new waste has been sent to the facility since then.

In response to GEPD's request, GDPH researched government documents and media coverage detailing community involvement at the facility to determine residents' specific concerns. Through that investigation, GDPH learned that residents' public health concerns focused on whether the facility released hazardous substances into the environment at levels that could be harmful to their health. GEPD held public hearings in July 1984, August 1991, and February 1998 to provide a forum for residents to ask questions and voice concerns about the facility. In addition, the original permit and subsequent renewal applications were made available during formal public review and comment periods. Many comments were received during the public meetings and public comment periods, and numerous articles and editorials were printed in the local newspapers, indicating the community was concerned about the facility.

To provide information to address residents' concerns, this public health assessment discusses the facility's former operations, regulatory compliance history, existing environmental sampling data, whether people at the facility or in the community contacted contamination from the facility, traffic and safety policies, and emergency response capabilities. This document provides conclusions about the health risks posed to employees of the facility and residents living near the former facility. A public health assessment is specifically designed to provide the community with information about the public health implications of a specific facility and to identify populations for which further health actions or studies are needed.

After review of the available information, GDPH categorized this site as currently posing no public health hazard because the facility is no longer operating and wastes have been removed from the site. Data were not available to adequately evaluate any possible past exposure; therefore, site conditions prior to closure cannot be categorized. Currently, GEPD is reviewing a facility plan to sample soil and groundwater, as required by the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA), for closure of this type of facility. Data from those samples should be available in late spring or summer of 2002. At that time, GDPH will review the data to determine if any future exposure to contaminants left in soil and groundwater could pose a threat to public health.


BACKGROUND

Facility Description and History

The Tri-State Steel Drum Company (TSSD) occupied a 90-acre tract southwest of the intersection of Julian and Graysville Roads in Graysville, Catoosa County, Georgia (Figure 1). People could readily enter facility grounds because a railroad track intersected the property near the entrance. The entrance to the site did have clearly visible "no trespassing" and facility identification signs, including the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) identification number and address for emergency response. Security fences completely surrounded the perimeter of the hazardous waste management units, thereby limiting access to those areas. Those units were also monitored by security guards and locked during non-operating hours.

TSSD had two operations: a hazardous waste transport, storage, and treatment (fuel blending) operation, and a drum reconditioning operation. Both operations generated a variety of hazardous and nonhazardous wastes as a result of painting, blasting, furnace operations, and vehicle maintenance. TSSD operated a fleet of transportation vehicles, including tractor trailer rigs that were used to ship waste from a generator to TSSD and from TSSD to off-site treatment, recovery, or disposal facilities.

TSSD opened in Graysville in the 1960s and obtained a GEPD hazardous waste facility permit in 1984. The permit allowed the facility to store and treat ignitable, corrosive, and various toxic wastes. In addition, the GEPD permit issued to TSSD required control of air emissions from the drum reconditioning operation. The permits did not allow storage or treatment of nuclear or medical waste on site.

TSSD's permitted hazardous waste storage area consisted of containers and tanks separated into concrete bays. The fuel blending operation consisted of a concrete loading dock-type structure where wastes were placed into tanks. The wastes were blended, and solid materials were removed before pumping wastes to the facility's storage tanks until reuse, recycling, further treatment, or off-site disposal could be arranged. The drum reconditioning operation began in a building where "empty" drums were sent to a furnace and then to a sandblaster that removed the exterior paint, residue, and interior liner. Residues and dust generated by the furnace and blasting operations were mixed with a non-hazardous reagent to render the waste non-hazardous prior to shipment off site to a solid waste landfill. The drums were then relined, refitted with tops, and repainted. Drums that contained residue that could not be processed by the drum furnace operation were rejected and stored until transportation was arranged to ship the drums back to the generator or to an alternative facility.

Generators sent TSSD a variety of hazardous and nonhazardous waste, including spent solvents, paint byproducts, carpet scraps, and acid wastes, which were analyzed and placed in the appropriate storage area. In February 1991, TSSD applied for renewal of their permit and planned to increase storage capacity, move the storage area away from the 100-year floodplain, build a completely enclosed, 50,000-square-foot building with a sprinkler system, concrete floors, and a secondary containment wall to prevent spills from entering the environment, add a 300,000-gallon water tank for fire prevention, and add a railroad spur to help decrease truck traffic at the facility. Because of ongoing enforcement issues, processing of the draft permit was postponed until those issues were resolved. A consent order was executed that required TSSD to submit a new permit application and prohibited TSSD from increasing their storage capacity above their authorized capacity of 261,690 gallons [1]. In September 1998, GEPD approved the renewal permit application, and Catoosa County subsequently appealed it. When the facility closed, the issue was resolved.

Permitting and Regulatory History

In October 1984, GEPD issued TSSD a full permit to store and treat ignitable, corrosive, and various toxic wastes under the Georgia Hazardous Waste Management Act of 1979. Prior to issuance of the full permit, the facility operated legally under interim status. The full permit required TSSD to (1) carry $2 million in liability insurance annually, (2) have a detailed contingency plan for sealing the site in case of a spill and for removal of stored waste in case of a flood, (3) have a closure plan to ensure that no hazardous wastes were left in place if the facility closed and to maintain a trust fund to implement the closure plan, and (4) conduct periodic inspections of the facility and file reports of operations with GEPD.

In July 1985, GEPD executed a consent order to address a violation of transporting hazardous waste without a properly recorded manifest.

In May 1989, a Resource Conservation and Recovery Act Facility Assessment (RFA) was completed for TSSD to evaluate releases or potential releases to all media. The stages of an RFA are preliminary file review, visual site inspection, and issuance of a final report. GEPD used the information collected to screen facilities for those that posed no threat to human health or the environment and to make preliminary determinations for action (interim measures, corrective measures, or further investigation) for those facilities where releases had occurred. GEPD, through the RFA, identified 16 solid waste management units (SWMU) on the site that required further evaluation.

In May 1990, a consent order was executed for violations, including failure to note a manifest discrepancy, accepting hazardous waste that TSSD is not permitted to receive, failure to properly log a manifest, and shipping hazardous waste to a nonhazardous waste facility. In November 1991, GEPD executed a clarification agreement to clarify certain aspects of the permit renewal application and to require TSSD to submit a permit modification application. GEPD found serious violation of the permit upon July and September 1991 inspections and issued a consent order in October 1991 that postponed the final, modified permit processing [2].

In March 1993, the 16 SWMUs identified in the RFA were independently investigated. Elevated levels of lead were found in soil in several areas on site, and TSSD conducted voluntary excavation of approximately 1,600 tons of contaminated soil [2]. An administrative order was executed in May 1993 following additional inspections, a review of TSSD's financial records, and two serious incidents, one in which hazardous waste was released into the environment. The Administrative Order revoked TSSD's permit, denied their interim status for a fuels blending operation, and denied proposed permit modifications. TSSD filed a petition for a hearing and appeal of the order, which allowed the facility to keep operating. A settlement was reached between TSSD and GEPD in August 1993, and TSSD was required to comply with all provisions of the law that were violated, pay a monetary settlement, and submit specific documentation to GEPD.

In September 1995, a consent order was executed to address violations for inadequate waste determination of the soil excavated following the March 1993 investigation.

In July 1997, a second RFA was completed for TSSD. The RFA concluded that evidence existed of a release of hazardous constituents to on-site surface and subsurface soils as a result of current and past operations. The RFA stipulated that an investigation of nine SWMUs identified at the facility was required to determine whether corrective action was necessary.

In March 1998, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) conducted an unannounced compliance evaluation inspection pursuant to an anonymous complaint to determine TSSD's compliance status with RCRA. Three violations were discovered: (1) hazardous waste was stored in two dented drums, one tipped drum, and one leaking drum; (2) pumps and valves were not marked with equipment identification numbers; and (3) record identification numbers were not documented in the operating record. Stained soil beneath the leaking drum was analyzed, and excavation of contaminated soil was deemed as sufficient remediation [3]. A follow-up inspection was conducted in June 1998. In July 1998, an addendum to the July 1997 RFA documented identification of two additional SWMUs and stipulated that a RCRA Facility Investigation was required for the facility. To date, no environmental investigation of the facility has been conducted; however, with facility closure, TSSD is required to investigate soil and groundwater to determine if they are contaminated. The sampling plan has been submitted to GEPD, and sampling results should be available in spring of 2002 if the plan is approved.

Demographics, Land Use, and Natural Resources Use

A. Demographics

Demographic information for the surrounding community is summarized in Figure 1. Several residences bordered the facility to the east. An elementary school, a church, and an undeveloped walking park were within one mile of the facility.

B. Land and Natural Resource Use

The area within one-mile of the former facility is primarily agricultural, residential, and undeveloped woodland. The facility was bordered by Chickamauga Creek to the south, private residences, a road, and railroad to the east, and by agricultural and residential areas to the west and north. According to local officials, the creek and the land near the former facility are not commonly used for fishing, hunting, recreation, or large-scale agriculture. Many residents harvest fruits and vegetables from private gardens, and some have livestock. No known springs, injection wells, or public or individual water wells are within one-quarter mile of the property boundary [4]. Municipal water is available in the area, and the local health department reported that residents do not use individual water wells for normal household water use. The facility used the public water supply for consumption, operations, and fire fighting. Treated wastewater Exiting ATSDR Website from operations was directed to an on-site septic system. The permitted hazardous waste storage area was within the 100-year floodplain, and TSSD monitored the level of Chickamauga Creek daily [2].

Health Outcome Data

Health outcome databases available for review are the Statewide Hospital Discharge Database, Vital Records, and cancer (all types) mortality rates for Catoosa County. No apparent difference among the rate of cancer mortality (fatal outcome) for people in Catoosa County was found when compared to the Rome District and the rest of Georgia (Table 1). GDPH does not have complete cancer morbidity (diseased state) data for Catoosa County. No other health outcome data were identified that would help address community concerns.

No health data were available to indicate if employees of TSSD have been exposed to hazardous waste or if they transported hazardous waste home on their bodies or their clothing; however, safety requirements and work practices suggest these events were unlikely. According to the original permit application, workers who could have come into direct contact with hazardous waste (approximately three workers employed in this capacity at any given time) were required to wear an impermeable coverall, gloves, and foot coverings. While working within pre-designated units or areas of the facility, all personnel were required to wear protective clothing, gear, and a supplied respirator or breathing apparatus for protection from airborne contaminants. Prior to entering any waste management unit or beginning any waste handling activity, employees changed from street clothes into facility-supplied uniforms and protective clothing, which included an outer, disposable coverall, and were required to shower prior to leaving the facility each day [5].

In response to other concerns, neither GEPD nor the local health department have received reports that suggest more animals are sick in the community around TSSD than in other areas. Residents are encouraged to ask their veterinarians to report unusual cases of animal illness to the GDPH. In addition, no residents or health officials have reported that children at the nearby elementary school or those who might swim in the creek are experiencing illnesses that might be associated with the facility.


COMMUNITY INVOLVEMENT ACTIVITIES

To date, the Catoosa County Health Department has not received inquiries from the community about the TSSD facility. GDPH received one inquiry regarding the facility, and a response was provided. According to GEPD, several requests from the public for information about the TSSD facility have been received.

Public hearings were held in July 1984, August 1991, and February 1998 to provide a forum for residents to ask questions and voice concerns about the facility and the permit renewal applications, which were made available for public review and comment. Numerous comments were received during the public meetings and public comment periods. GEPD addressed all comments, and GEPD can provide both the comments and responses. Media coverage about the facility included articles and editorials in many of the local newspapers.

This public health assessment was released for public comment on January 19, 2000, and the comment period ended April 18, 2000. No comments were received. Since that time, the facility closed, and many issues that were important to community members at that time have now been resolved.

Needs Assessment Results

In December 1998, GDPH assessed the concerns of residents living near the facility by evaluating information available from GEPD, EPA, the Catoosa County Health Department, and the local print media. The results of the assessment are in the report, Environmental Health Education Needs Assessment: Tri-State Steel Drum Company, Inc., Graysville, Catoosa County, Georgia. The needs assessment process is designed to assist health departments in developing education programs and materials that will provide the specific information residents request about contamination sources and potential adverse health effects from exposure to the contaminants of concern. Appendix B details the needs assessment process. The needs assessment report documents community involvement activities, residents' requests for information about the facility, and the potential health effects from exposure to the contaminants of concern. The needs assessment report for TSSD was distributed to residents upon request, to appropriate environmental agency officials, and a copy was placed in the Catoosa County Library. The education needs that were assessed can be divided into five categories:

  1. Potential health effects
  2. Economic issues
  3. Traffic safety
  4. Environmental contamination
  5. Facility operations

Because the public health assessment process only includes evaluating possible health effects as a result of environmental contamination released during facility operations, those issues are addressed in this document. Traffic safety is also a public health issues; therefore, this document contains information about that issue, also. The following questions were documented during the needs assessment process:

A. Health Concerns

  1. Are more people who live near TSSD developing respiratory ailments and skin rashes?
  2. Is there a higher incidence of a rare form of cancer within a small geographical area near TSSD?
  3. What are the air emissions from TSSD that cause haze, odor, and fog and gets on our cars?
  4. Has there been an increase in the number of reports of sick animals?
  5. What is the nature and extent of typical or incidental exposure of TSSD employees and their family members to hazardous waste?
  6. Are children being exposed to contaminants at the elementary school or by swimming in the creek?
  7. What are the health hazards to firefighters if there is a fire at TSSD, and what would be the potential health consequences to residents from breathing the smoke from a fire at the facility?
  8. Does Catoosa County, including the local medical community, have the emergency response capabilities and resources to handle an emergency at TSSD?

B. Traffic and Safety

  1. When TSSD expands its operations, will the increased truck and train traffic hinder the capabilities of emergency personnel responding to residential calls?
  2. Can the roads structurally handle the eighteen-wheelers hauling waste?
  3. If a railroad car runs off the bridge and spills its contents into the creek, will it pollute the water and destroy the natural habitat?
  4. Trucks deliver produce to the cannery and then pick up hazardous waste for their return trip. Is this an example of contamination of the food chain?
  5. Why aren't trucks carrying hazardous waste clearly marked?
  6. All hazardous waste entering or leaving TSSD must cross the main Atlanta - Chattanooga rail line. Doesn't the possibility of a truck-train accident pose a serious threat to residents living within a few feet from the tracks?

Responses to health concerns identified during the needs assessment follow.

  1. Are more people who live near TSSD developing respiratory ailments and skin rashes?

Response: GEPD and GDPH have not received any information that would suggest that respiratory ailments or skin rashes are occurring in people who live near TSSD at a greater rate than other communities in the area.

  1. Is there a higher incidence of a rare form of cancer within a small geographical area near TSSD?

Response: We do not have complete cancer morbidity data for Catoosa County. No apparent difference in the rate of cancer (all types) mortality for people in Catoosa County was found when compared to the region and the state (Table 1). No morbidity data for cancer exists, and no data for the rare form of cancer in question exists. Local residents and physicians have not provided any medical data to suggest that a higher incidence of a rare form of cancer may exist. Appendix A contains information about cancer and environmental contamination.

  1. What are the air emissions from TSSD that cause haze, odor, and fog and gets on our cars?

Response: GDPH did not review air monitoring data for this report; therefore, GDPH cannot adequately address this concern. Appendix C contains a summary of the common chemicals identified in hazardous waste management facility emissions and their related health affects as a result of exposure; however, that information cannot be used to evaluate conditions at this site. Now that the facility is closed, emissions from the site are no longer an issue.

  1. Has there been an increase in the number of reports of sick animals?

Response: Neither GEPD nor the local health department have received reports that suggest more animals are sick in the community around TSSD than in other communities in the area. Residents are encouraged to have their veterinarians report unusual illness to the state health department at (404) 657-6517.

  1. What is the nature and extent of typical or incidental exposure of TSSD employees and their family members to hazardous materials?

Response: The likelihood that employees have been exposed to hazardous materials and have carried contamination home on their clothing is very small because of health and safety plans and standard operating procedures that were supposedly practiced at the facility. According to the original permit application, workers who might have come into direct contact with hazardous waste (approximately three workers employed in this capacity at any given time) were required to wear an impermeable coverall, gloves, and foot coverings. In addition, no evidence was found that employees or their family members have a higher incidence of symptoms or diseases.

  1. Are children being exposed to contaminants at the elementary school or by swimming in the creek?

Response: No surface water or soil sampling data are available to evaluate the creek or the schoolyard. In this public health assessment, GDPH recommends that creek water and sediment samples be analyzed for contaminants that may have been released during the fire that occurred in 1989. To date, no data exist to characterize off-site soil, and according to GEPD [2].

  1. What are the health hazards to firefighters if there is a fire at TSSD, and what would be the potential health consequences to residents from breathing the smoke from a fire at the facility?

Response: Firefighters are trained to handle fires of this nature and are provided with protective equipment. The health and safety plans developed for the site provided information on how to protect community members in the event of a fire at the facility. Breathing smoke from any fire is extremely hazardous. Any adverse health effects that might result from exposure to hazardous waste or materials would depend upon the contaminant, the amount of the contaminant taken up by the body, and the length of time the person was exposed. For that reason, we cannot provide a general answer to this question.

  1. Does Catoosa County, including the local medical community, have the emergency response capabilities and resources to handle an emergency at TSSD?

Response: A complete emergency health and safety plan existed for this facility as required and information was provided to the local medical community.

Concerns about traffic safety included:

  1. When TSSD expands its operations, will the increased truck and train traffic hinder the capabilities of emergency personnel responding to residential calls?

Response: When the facility closed, this issue was resolved.

  1. Can the roads structurally handle the eighteen-wheelers hauling waste?

Response: When the facility closed, this issue was resolved.

  1. If a railroad car runs off the bridge and spills its contents into the creek, will it pollute the water and destroy the natural habitat?

Response: If that happens, the amount of damage to the natural habitat would depend on what was spilled, how much was spilled, and how quickly and efficiently the creek was cleaned. For that reason, we cannot provide a general answer to this question.

  1. Trucks deliver produce to the cannery and then pick up hazardous waste for their return trip. Is this an example of contamination of the food chain?

Response: Regulations by the Georgia Department of Transportation (GDOT) require proper packaging and identification on vehicles transporting hazardous materials and waste. The Georgia Department of Agriculture (GDA) regulates the transportation of food, including the use of clean and appropriate vehicles which are routinely inspected. Hopefully, truck drivers follow the rules and regulations to handle both types of cargo. In some cases, inappropriate cleaning or reuse of a truck might result in contamination of food products. If you have a concern about any specific incidence, do not hesitate to contact GDOT at (404) 656-52677 or GDA at (404) 656-3628.

  1. Why aren't trucks carrying hazardous waste clearly marked?

Response: Many of the trucks which enter and leave the facility are not carrying hazardous waste but are carrying other products. Trucks carrying hazardous materials and hazardous waste are required to indicate their contents as hazardous, and trucks which are not complying with these regulations are subject to severe penalties.

  1. All hazardous waste entering or leaving TSSD must cross the main Atlanta - Chattanooga rail line. Doesn't the possibility of a truck-train accident pose a serious threat to residents living within a few feet from the tracks?

Response: One train-truck accident has occurred in the area. The possibility remains that an accident could happen here as with any other railroad crossing in the county. Whether an accident could pose a serious threat to residents cannot be determined. Now that the facility has closed, the likelihood of many trucks carrying hazardous waste across the railroad tracks has decreased.


PUBLIC HEALTH IMPLICATIONS

The discussion of public health issues is limited to health effects which may result from exposure to hazardous waste from this particular source.

Exposure Pathways

Evaluating the potential for adverse health effects that might result from exposure to hazardous waste is best done through analyzing human exposure pathways. Exposure pathways are generally separated into on site and off site and are then classified by the environmental media which are contaminated.

A. On-Site Soil

On-site soil samples were collected in 1989, 1993, 1994, and 1997 during GEPD and EPA inspections, as a part of the RCRA Facility Assessments, and in response to a fire at the facility. Soil sample analyses indicated the presence of elevated levels of lead in some areas requiring excavation of some on-site soil on several occasions. The highest level of lead in soil was 9,400 milligrams per kilogram (mg/kg), found in May 1994. Subsequent soil sampling conducted by GEPD indicated that all of the contaminated soil had been successfully removed [2]. EPA-recommended cleanup levels for lead in soil are based on toxic effects to children, and lead levels in on-site soil did not exceed EPA's recommendation for areas where contact by children is infrequent (2,000-5,000 mg/kg) [7].

The employees of the facility were the people most likely to contact contaminated soil. No information was available about the employees' safety procedures or use of protective equipment during excavations or about their health status. Other persons who might have been exposed to contaminated soil at this site include facility contractors, guests, and trespassers. No indication was found that children accessed the site and might have been exposed to lead in soil.

People could have contacted contaminants in soil by accidentally ingesting contaminated soil and and by breathing contaminated airborne particles. Lead, the only contaminant that has been identified in soil, does not readily enter the body when the contaminated soil come in contact with the skin. Because the facility was required to clean up the soil soon after the incident that resulted in release of lead, people were to have come into contact with the lead over a long enough period of time and at high enough levels to result in adverse health effects. No information is available about other contaminants that might have been or still be present in soil at the site, but sampling is planned for 2002.

B. Air

TSSD held a hazardous waste facility permit and an air quality permit. The air quality permit was amended in June 1997 to include provisions that volatile organic compounds (VOC) emissions from the drum painting operation were not to exceed 100 tons per year and required quarterly VOC emissions monitoring reports.

From the quarterly emissions reports, GEPD determined in November 1998 that TSSD was a major source as defined under Title V(1) of the Clean Air Act and ordered TSSD to submit a Title V permit application. Under the new permit, the operation of TSSD would have been required to install new emission control devices [8]. GDPH did not review and evaluate that data. Now that the facility is closed, emmissions have stopped.

Several complaints of fog, odor, and haze originating from the facility were documented. State and federal regulations contain no provisions that address odor from hazardous waste management facilities. In October 1993, a drum furnace emissions evaluation was conducted in accordance with GEPD regulations. The intent of the study was (1) to evaluate the general operating condition of the drum furnace and (2) to address the visible emissions.

To evaluate the operating conditions of the furnace and address the visible emissions, exhaust gas temperatures and temperatures within the furnace were obtained. The temperature measurements verified and confirmed that the furnace temperatures were operating correctly [9]. The facility occasionally produced visible emissions from the exit area of the drum furnace. The visible emissions were a result of incomplete combustion of rubber and plastic seals on a number of hot drums as they exited the furnace and as a result of combustion of ash deposits [9]. From the results of that study, modifications were recommended to minimize exit emissions. The visible emissions were not sampled and analyzed; therefore, no data are available to evaluate possible exposures. Appendix C contains a summary of the common chemicals identified in hazardous waste management facility emissions and their related health affects if exposure occurs at levels high enough to cause illness; however, that information cannot be used to evaluate emissions from TSSD.

The influence of odors on the comfort and welfare of individuals is difficult to evaluate. Odors can result in social and behavioral changes in some people. However, odor perception is subjective, and different individuals may react differently to the same type and intensity of odor. People who live near a hazardous waste management facility may become sensitized to odors and report odors as much more intense than someone who only visits the site occasionally (or who is expecting a certain odor from the facility) [10]. GDPH cannot evaluate whether emissions that reportedly caused odors at TSSD were present at levels of health concern because no data on the contaminants that might have caused the odors were collected.

C. Off-Site Media

To date, no data exist to characterize off-site environmental media, and according to GEPD, no off-site contamination is suspected because past minor spills have been contained and cleaned up before contaminants migrated off site [2]. However, reports of residue from furnace emissions on cars suggest that some products migrated through air to off-site areas. No information is available as to the content of that residue. If site perimeter surface soil samples are collected, the results might indicate whether long-lasting toxic chemicals were released in those emissions.

D. Child Health Initiative

ATSDR and GDPH recognize that the unique vulnerabilities of infants and children demand special emphasis in communities faced with contamination of their water, soil, air, or food. Children are at greater risk than adults from certain kinds of exposures to hazardous substances emitted from waste sites and emergency events. They are more likely to be exposed because they play outdoors, and they often bring food into contaminated areas. They are more likely to come into contact with dust, soil, and heavy vapors close to the ground. Also, they receive higher doses of chemicals upon contact because of their lower body weights. The developing body systems of children can sustain permanent damage if toxic exposures occur during critical growth stages.

This site does not currently pose a health threat to children because the facility is closed. Soil and groundwater sampling results that should be available in the spring of 2002 might provide additional information to better evaluate whether any contamination is left on or off the site that could be a threat to children's health.


CONCLUSIONS

The facility currently poses no public health hazard because the facility is now closed and wastes have been removed. Data available for review were not adequate to evaluate past site conditions. No creek water and sediment data were available to determine if contact with the water and sediments could cause harm, especially for children who might wade in the creek. Air monitoring data were not available that would have helped evaluate any health impact of emissions from the furnace. Soil data were incomplete, and no off-site soil data are available to determine is contaminants migrated from the site to nearby residences. People could currently be exposed to contaminants that might have migrated off site from soil run-off and air deposition; spills were allegedly confined to the site and cleaned up before contaminants could migrate off site, but air emissions apparently did deposit in off-site areas. For that reason, current exposure to off-site contamination is not expected.

GEPD is currently reviewing a sampling plan that describes how site soil and groundwater will be better characterized. That data might be helpful in providing information about possible past exposure and possible off-site exposure.


RECOMMENDATIONS

The interpretation, advice, and recommendations presented in this public health assessment are based on the data and information referenced and discussed with state environmental officials. Additional data could alter the recommendations.

  1. Creek water and sediment samples should be analyzed for contaminants that may have been released during the fire that occurred in 1989.

  2. Soil samples should include those from the site perimeter near residential areas and should be collected from the top three inches (the depth that people, especially children are most likely to contact) to better define whether contaminated soil migrated from the site and whether air emissions resulted in toxic chemicals depositing in off-site soil. If contamination is found, off-site residential soil sampling should be considered.

PUBLIC HEALTH ACTION PLAN

GDPH staff are available to discuss the information presented in this public health assessment. GDPH will discuss obtaining data from the planned 2002 sampling with GEPD so that any possible current exposures can be evaluated.


CERTIFICATION

The Georgia Department of Human Resources, Division of Public Health, prepared Tri-State Steel Drum Company, Inc., Public Health Assessment under a cooperative agreement with the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR). It is in accordance with approved methodology and procedures existing at the time the public health assessment was begun.

Gail D. Godfrey
Technical Project Officer, SPS, SSAB, DHAC


The Division of Health Assessment and Consultation, ATSDR, has reviewed this public health assessment and concurs with the findings.

Richard Gillig
Chief, SSAB, DHAC, ATSDR


REFERENCES

  1. Jan Simmons, Georgia Environmental Protection Division (GEPD), letter to Jane Perry Britt, Georgia Department of human Resources (GDPH), 12/15/98.

  2. GEPD, RCRA Facility Assessment: Tri-State Steel Drum, Inc., Graysville, Georgia, 07/15/97.

  3. GEPD, Addendum to the July 15, 1997 RCRA Facility Assessment: Tri-State Steel Drum, Inc., Graysville, Georgia, 07/98.

  4. Tri-State Steel Drum Company, Inc., Permit Application: Section B: Facility Description, 08/09/96.

  5. Tri-State Steel Drum Company, Inc., Permit Application: Section F: Procedures to Prevent Hazards, 09/15/97.

  6. Memorandum to Jim Usery, GEPD, from Mike Lacey, GEPD, 09/23/97.

  7. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, recommendations for response activities for residential lead-contaminated bare soil, Federal Register: 60:175, 47247, 09/11/95.

  8. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Response to Public Comments, 07/01/98.

  9. Primm Engineering & Environmental Services, Furnace Emission Evaluation Report: Tri-State Steel Drum Facility, 10/21/93.

  10. Dalton, Pamela. Odor Perception and Beliefs about Risk, Monell Chemical Senses Center, Philadelphia, PA. Oxford University Press.

  11. GEPD, Response to Public Comments, 03/04/98.

  12. GEPD, Response to Public Comments, 03/03/98.

  13. GEPD, Reader Evaluation for Internal Release of Tri-State Steel Drum Public Health Assessment, 10/18/99.

  14. GEPD, Response to Public Comments, 02/21/98.

PREPARERS AND REVIEWERS OF REPORT

Preparers

Jane Perry, MPH
Consultant
Georgia Department of Human Resources

Leslie Earle
District Health Risk Communicator
Georgia Department of Human Resources


Reviewers

Amy Potter
Environmental Engineer
Hazardous Waste Management Branch
Georgia Environmental Protection Division


ATSDR Regional Representative

Robert Safay

ATSDR Technical Project Officers

Gail Godfrey
Division of Health Assessment and Consultation


FIGURES

Site Location Map
Figure 1. Site Location Map

Intro Map
Figure 2. Intro Map

Facility Operations Map
Figure 3. Facility Operations Map


TABLE

Table 1. Cancer Mortality Rates* - All Types

  Total Black White Male Female
Catoosa County, Georgia          
# Deaths 1992-1996 463 6 456 264 199
Average # Deaths per Year 92.6 1.2 91.2 52.8 39.8
Age Adjusted Cancer Mortality 176.4 -- 176.7 240.1 133.6
Rome Health District **          
# Deaths 1992-1996 4,708 363 4,339 2,639 2,069
Average # Deaths per Year 941.6 72.6 867.8 527.8 413.8
Age Adjusted Cancer Mortality 182.5 220.2 181.5 249.0 138.2
State of Georgia          
# Deaths 1992-1996 61,560 15,280 46,008 33,438 28,122
Average # Deaths per Year 12,312.0 3,056.0 9,201.6 6,687.6 5,624.4
Age Adjusted Cancer Mortality 174.7 210.6 166.4 235.4 135.7

* All rates are per 100,000 and age-adjusted to the 1970 U.S. standard

** Rome Health District (1.1) includes the following counties: Bartow, Catoosa, Chattooga, Dade, Floyd, Gordon, Haralson, Paulding, Polk, and Walker.


APPENDICES

APPENDIX A

Cancer and the Environment

According to the American Cancer Society (ACS) and other sources, one out of three Americans now living will eventually develop cancer. Cancer is the second leading cause of death in the United States following heart disease. Given the frequency of cancer diagnosis among all Americans, it is not surprising that many people in your neighborhood or workplace have been diagnosed with cancer.

Cancer is a group of more than 100 diseases characterized by uncontrolled growth and spread of abnormal cells. Different types of cancers have different rates of occurrence, different causes, and different chances for survival. Therefore, we cannot assume that all of the different types of cancers in a community or workplace share a common cause or can be prevented by a single intervention.

While cancer occurs in people of all ages, new cases of most types of cancer rise sharply among people over 45 years of age. When a community, neighborhood, or workplace consists primarily of people over the age of 45 (and even more so over the age of 60), we would expect more cancers than in a neighborhood or workplace with younger people. However, cancer is also the second leading cause of death in children.

Cancer may be caused by a variety of factors acting alone or together, usually over a period of many years. Scientists estimate that most cancers are due to factors related to how we live, or lifestyle factors, which increase the risk for cancer. Some of those lifestyle factors are smoking cigarettes, drinking heavily, and diet (for example, excess calories, high fat, and low fiber). Other important cancer risk factors include reproductive patterns, sexual behavior, and sunlight exposure. A family history of cancer may also increase a person's chances of developing cancer.

Many people believe that cancer is usually caused by toxic substances in the home, community, or workplace. Although we do not know the exact impact of environmental pollutants on cancer development, at this time, less than 10% of cancers are estimated to be related to toxic exposures. However, not enough research has been done in this field.

For those instances in which a cancer is due to contact with a cancer-causing agent, the disease does not develop immediately. Instead, often 10 to 30 years elapse between the exposure to a carcinogen (a cancer-causing substance) and medical diagnosis of cancer. This makes it very difficult to pinpoint what caused the cancer because the cancers we see now are usually related to a lifetime of certain habits or exposures to carcinogens many years ago.

Since the 1970s when state cancer registries were first being organized, many public health scientists and citizens hoped that studies of clusters of cancer in communities might lead to prevention of new cases through discovery of specific causes of these cancers. Since then, thousands of investigations have taken place throughout the country, mainly conducted by state, local, or federal agencies. With one or two possible exceptions involving childhood cancers, none of these investigations have lead to the identification of the causes of any of these clusters. The Georgia Department of Human Resources is developing strategies for active cancer surveillance. We hope that once we achieve complete, accurate, and timely reporting, the Georgia Comprehensive Cancer Registry will be able to identify cancer patterns in the entire Georgia population. This systematic approach to monitoring cancer trends in our state will lead to more opportunities for prevention and control of cancer in Georgia.


Please call the Georgia Department of Human Resources, Division of Epidemiology and Prevention at (404) 657-2588 if you have questions.


APPENDIX B

Environmental Health Education Needs Assessment

The community environmental health education needs assessment is designed to assist district and local health departments in working collaboratively with communities to identify environmental health education needs and to develop education programs to meet those needs.

Part I. Organizing Available Information

The needs assessment process begins by gathering, evaluating, and organizing information already available from federal and state agencies, local governments, public repositories, the Internet, and many other sources. For example, identification of community resources and contact information (e.g., local officials, media, and environmental groups) describing the site and significant events in its history, characterizing the area surrounding the site, and detailing perceived and actual health concerns.

Part II. Developing an Approach for Community Collaboration

There are a number of approaches for collaborating with the community, ranging from highly formal to informal. This part of the needs assessment process may be based on one of several models of community collaboration. Choosing one will depend on a number of factors, including the level of community involvement and organization, the existence of recent or long-standing public health threats or concerns, and the demographics of the community.

Part III. Developing a Community Profile

The community profile consists of the following information: community demographics (e.g., age, gender, race/ethnicity, religious preferences, literacy rates); details about each identified target population; practices or behaviors that place these populations at risk, and barriers to reaching each of the target populations.

Part IV. Performing a Needs Assessment

This is conducted in collaboration with the community. Factors that define an education need, such as knowledge, attitudes, and behaviors, are identified through researching existing community involvement documentation and communication with the affected public. Needs assessment methods include observation, focus groups, advisory groups, and surveys.

Part V. Developing an Action Plan

The needs assessment process concludes with the determination of priorities and the development of an action plan that includes goals, measurable objectives, a program evaluation plan, and prioritized recommendations for public education activities and materials.


APPENDIX C

Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs)

The major contaminants released into the air from most hazardous waste management facilities are volatile organic compounds (VOCs), those carbon compound that evaporate into air. VOCs are released from burning fuel, solvents, paints, glues and other products. Over 75 percent of our airborne emissions are in the form of VOCs. As their name implies, VOCs quickly evaporate in the atmosphere at normal temperatures. There are two types: those that are non-reactive and have a negligible effect on smog formation, such as acetone; and those that are photochemically (in the presence of sunlight) reactive and can combine with nitrogen oxides to form smog, such as methanol.

VOC emissions are implicated directly and indirectly in many health issues. The principle health concern arising directly from atmospheric VOCs is from long-term exposure to low levels of those that are known or suspected to be carcinogens. These contaminants are regulated by federal and state laws. For example, benzene has a recommended limit of 5 ppb (taken as a running annual average). Indirectly, VOCs can effect health as a result of their role in the production of tropospheric ozone.

Ozone

Ozone is produced in the lower atmosphere by reaction with oxygen and oxides of nitrogen in the presence of sunlight. In "unpolluted" air these reactions are in equilibrium; ozone is created and destroyed, and there is no net ozone production. However, most VOCs contribute, in varying degrees, to the net production of ozone by interfering with this equilibrium. Such VOCs produce oxygen radicals photochemically, and these, in turn, oxidize nitric oxide to nitrogen dioxide, resulting in a net production of ozone. Long-term exposure has been seen to damage vegetation and materials. Ozone is also a greenhouse gas, and because of their role in ozone formation, VOCs are contributors to global warming and are subject to the 1992 Climate Change Convention. This requires developed countries to reduce their VOC emissions to 1990 levels by the year 2000.

There are two sorts of ozone: ozone in the stratosphere (15-50 kilometers above the Earth's surface) forms what is known as the "ozone layer" and is essential in limiting the amount of ultraviolet irradiation reaching the Earth's surface. However, ozone in the troposphere, the level that contains the air we breathe, is a pollutant and it can damage health. At ground level, ozone is a secondary pollutant formed by the action of sunlight on primary pollutants: these are nitrogen oxides from vehicle emissions and industry, VOCs, and solvents. High concentrations of ground level ozone are often a particular problem in hot sunny climates, such as in Atlanta, Georgia. While ozone can damage crops and vegetation, its activity is such that concentrations indoors are rapidly reduced by reaction with plastics and fabrics. Almost alone among the major air pollutants, exposure to ozone is nearly always an outdoor problem.


1. Title V of the 1990 amendments to the Clean Air Act introduces an operating permits program to ensure compliance with all requirements of the Clean Air Act and to enhance EPA's ability to enforce the Act.



Table of Contents

  
 
USA.gov: The U.S. Government's Official Web PortalDepartment of Health and Human Services
Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, 4770 Buford Hwy NE, Atlanta, GA 30341
Contact CDC: 800-232-4636 / TTY: 888-232-6348

A-Z Index

  1. A
  2. B
  3. C
  4. D
  5. E
  6. F
  7. G
  8. H
  9. I
  10. J
  11. K
  12. L
  13. M
  14. N
  15. O
  16. P
  17. Q
  18. R
  19. S
  20. T
  21. U
  22. V
  23. W
  24. X
  25. Y
  26. Z
  27. #