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PUBLIC HEALTH ASSESSMENT

TRIUMPH MINE TAILINGS PILES
HAILEY, BLAINE COUNTY, IDAHO


CONCLUSIONS

  1. Based on the information currently available, ATSDR concludes that the Triumph Mine Tailings Site represents a public health hazard since there are levels of lead and arsenic in soil and mine tailings that would produce adverse health effects if residents were exposed.

  2. Assuming 100% bioavailability of the lead and arsenic in the tailings or surface soil, ingestion of metals from the tailings or contaminated surface soil may lead to adverse health effects especially in children.

  3. Assuming 100% bioavailability of metals in the tailings, there is an unacceptable cancer risk for ingestion and inhalation exposure to arsenic for lifetime residents of Triumph.

  4. There have been seasonal increases in blood lead and urinary arsenic concentrations reported in residents when there is active air erosion of the mine tailings in the summer months.

  5. The reported increases in blood lead and urinary arsenic do not represent levels where medical intervention would be required.

  6. Since the bioavailability of metals from the tailings pile has not been determined, conducting blood lead and urinary arsenic screens in residents, especially during the summer months, is appropriate.

  7. Without abatement of the tailings pile there may be no effective public health practice that will permanently limit exposure to the site contaminants.

RECOMMENDATIONS

  1. Blood lead and urinary arsenic screenings should be conducted in residents of Triumph, especially in the summer months when the tailings are being dispersed by the wind. These screenings should continue until the tailings piles are removed or capped so that residents can assess their current exposure to site contaminants.

  2. Public health education in the form of a pamphlet or leaflet should be provided to residents to assist them in understanding how to reduce exposure to site contaminants until the contaminants are removed or capped.

  3. Tailings piles should be stabilized or removed to eliminate a likely pathway of exposure. Until the tailings or heavily contaminated soils are remediated, signs should be posted to identify areas of contamination.

  4. Mine drainage from the old mine should be intercepted so there will be no future impacts on the wetlands and biota in the East Fork River.

  5. Community wells should be monitored on a quarterly basis to ensure that the water supply remains safe.

Health Activities Recommendation Panel (HARP) Recommendations

In order, to determine if public health actions are needed, ATSDR's Health Activities Recommendation Panel (HARP) has evaluated the data and information developed in the Triumph Mine Tailings Site Public Health Assessment. HARP determined that further health actions are indicated for the Triumph Mine Tailings Site. HARP recommended that additional community health education be provided to local residents so they would be aware of steps that could be undertaken to reduce exposure to site contaminants. HARP further recommended that additional health professional education be provided to health care providers practicing in the vicinity of the site to aid them in screening, surveillance, diagnosis, and treatment of residents that may have been exposed to contaminants in the tailings. Blood lead and urinary arsenic screens should continue to made available to residents to assess their exposures to site contaminants.

Public Health Action Plan

The Public Health Action Plan (PHAP) for the Triumph Mine Tailings Site contains a description of actions undertaken or planned by ATSDR and the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare. The purpose of the Public Health Action Plan is to ensure that this public health assessment not only identifies public health hazards, but provides a plan of action designed to mitigate and prevent adverse human health effects resulting from exposure to hazardous substances in the environment. The public health actions to be implemented are as follows:

Actions Undertaken:

  1. ATSDR, in cooperation with the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare, has obtained biological samples to determine if an immediate health threat existed at the site. Blood and urine samples were obtained from the residents living near the site to evaluate their exposures to lead and arsenic, respectively. The Idaho Department of Health and Welfare has conducted two additional screenings for blood lead and urinary arsenic in the residents of Triumph.

  2. ATSDR, in conjunction with the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare, has conducted environmental health education to advise health professionals and the local medical community of the nature and possible consequences of exposure to contaminants at the site. Residents were provided with information on reducing their exposure in the contents of this public health assessment and in person to residents that attended the public availability sessions.

  3. ATSDR made the public comment release version of this public health assessment available to the community surrounding the site. The document was released on March 26, 1997. Comments from the public were accepted until May 16, 1997. As of May 29, 1997, no comments were received on the public comment release version of the Triumph Mine Tailings Piles public health assessment.

Actions Planned:

ATSDR, in cooperation with the Idaho State Health Department, will evaluate the feasibility and resources to pursue implementing the additional health actions determined to be needed by the Health Activities Recommendation Plan (HARP). These recommendations include:

  1. Additional biological screenings for blood lead and urinary arsenic for any Triumph resident who desires such screenings to assess the status of their exposure to site contaminants.

  2. This final release version of the PHAP will be evaluated annually unless additional information warrants more frequent evaluation. New environmental, toxicological, or health outcome data may determine the need for additional actions at the Triumph Mine Tailing Piles site.

PREPARERS OF THE REPORT

Tina Forrester, Ph.D.
Toxicologist
Remedial Programs Branch
Division of Health Assessment and Consultation

Steve Richardson
Environmental Engineer
Remedial Programs Branch
Division of Health Assessment and Consultation

ATSDR Regional Representative:

Greg Thomas
Public Health Advisor
EPA Region X

REFERENCES

  1. Technical Assistance Team, Expedited Risk Assessment for Triumph Mine Tailings Site, Triumph, Idaho. Prepared By Ecology and Environment, Inc. May, 1993.

  2. ATSDR Health consultation: Triumph Parker Mine Dump Site, Triumph, Blaine County, Idaho. October 21, 1991.

  3. ATSDR Health consultation: Triumph Mine Dump Site, Triumph, Blaine County, Idaho. June 3, 1992.

  4. ATSDR Health consultation: Triumph Mine Site, Triumph, Blaine County, Idaho. September 13, 1993.

  5. Environmental sampling obtained May 1993 by U.S. EPA Region X.

  6. Reagan, P.L. and Silbergeld, E.K.. Establishing a health based standard for lead in residential soils. In Trace Substances, 1993. pp 199-238.

  7. Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry. Toxicological Profile for Antimony. Atlanta, Georgia: Agency for toxic Substances and Disease Registry, October 1990, Draft.

  8. Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry. Toxicological Profile for Arsenic. Atlanta, Georgia: Agency for toxic Substances and Disease Registry, March 1989, DHHS publication no. (PHS)TP-88/02.

  9. Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry. Toxicological Profile for cadmium. Atlanta, Georgia: Agency for toxic Substances and Disease Registry, October 1991, Draft.

  10. Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry. Toxicological Profile for lead. Atlanta, Georgia: Agency for toxic Substances and Disease Registry, October 1991, Draft.

  11. Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry. Toxicological Profile for manganese. Atlanta, Georgia: Agency for toxic Substances and Disease Registry, July 1992, DHHS publication no. (PHS) TP-91/19. Draft.

  12. Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry. Toxicological Profile for zinc. Atlanta, Georgia: Agency for toxic Substances and Disease Registry, October 1991, Draft.

  13. Summary of the Results of the blood lead and urine arsenic screening at the Triumph Parker Mine Dump Site, Idaho, November 1991.

  14. Triumph report - July 1992 Blood Lead, Urine Arsenic Screening, September 23, 1992. A letter from Pat McGavran to EPA, ATSDR September 23, 1992.

  15. Triumph Report - July 1993 blood lead, urine arsenic screening. Letter from Steve West to EPA, ATSDR August 5, 1993.

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