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PRELIMINARY PUBLIC HEALTH ASSESSMENT

PARA-CHEM SOUTHERN, INC.
SIMPSONVILLE, GREENVILLE COUNTY, SOUTH CAROLINA


ENVIRONMENTAL CONTAMINATION AND OTHER HAZARDS

The tables in this section list the contaminants of concern. We evaluate these contaminants in thesubsequent sections of this public health assessment and determine whether exposure to them haspublic health significance. SCDHEC and ATSDR select and discuss these contaminants based uponthe following factors:

  1. Concentrations of contaminants on and off the site.
  2. Field data quality, laboratory data quality, and sample design.
  3. Comparison of on-site and off-site concentrations with public health assessment comparison values for (1) non-carcinogenic endpoints and (2) carcinogenic endpoints.
  4. Community health concerns

In the data tables that follow under the On-site and the Off-site Contamination subsections, the listedcontaminant does not mean that it will cause adverse health effects from exposures. Instead, the listindicates which contaminants will be evaluated further in the public health assessment.

The data tables and narrative include the following abbreviations:
  • CREG
  • = Cancer Risk Evaluation Guide
  • EMEG
  • = Environmental Media Evaluation Guide
  • MCLG
  • = Maximum Contaminant Level Goal
  • MCL
  • = Maximum Contaminant Level

  • PMCLG
  • = Proposed Maximum Contaminant Level Goal
  • PMCL
  • = EPA Maximum Contaminant Level

  • RfD
  • = Reference Dose

  • LTHA
  • = Lifetime Health Advisory
  • RMEG
  • = Reference Dose Media Evaluation Guide

  • ppm
  • = parts per million
  • ppb
  • = parts per billion

    Comparison values for public health assessments are contaminant concentrations in specific media that are used to select contaminants for further evaluation. These values include EMEGs, CREGs, and other relevant guidelines. CREGs are estimated contaminant concentrations based on a one excess cancer in a million persons exposed over a lifetime. CREGs are calculated from the EPA's cancer slope factors. The EPA's MCLG is a drinking water health goal. The EPA believes that the MCLG represents a level at which "no known or anticipated adverse health effect on human health occurs which allows an adequate margin of safety." PMCLGs are MCLGs that are being proposed. MCLs represent contaminant concentration that the EPA deems protective of public health (considering the availability and economics of water treatment technology) over a lifetime (70 years) at an exposure rate of 2 liters of water per day. While MCLs are regulatory concentrations, PMCLGs and MCLGs are not. The EPA's RfD is an estimate of the daily exposure to a contaminant that is unlikely to cause adverse health effects. RMEGs are media-specific comparison values derived from the EPA reference doses and are used to select contaminants of concern at hazardous waste sites.

    The maximum concentrations of contaminants, both on- and off-site, are given in Table 1. Organiccompounds and metals are listed.

    Toxic Chemical Release Inventory (TRI)

    We conducted a search of the EPA's Toxic Chemical Release Inventory (TRI) for the years 1988,1989 and 1990. The search included a 1-mile radius from the site. TRI is developed by the EPAfrom chemical release information provided by certain industries. The chemical release informationis based on contaminants found in air, surface water, groundwater, or and/soil.

    TRI reports that PCS released 19 chemicals into the environment during this time period. Thesereleases occurred: 1) as non-point releases, such as leakage around valve fittings and other joints;2) through a scrubber with 75% efficiency; and, 3) in treated wastewater to an unnamed tributaryof Durbin Creek. TRI also reports that PCS shipped wastes to waste disposal facilities and thatWoodside Mills, a facility to the south of the site, had a non-point release of acetone into theenvironment in 1988. Based on our review of this data, we do not believe that there will be anysignificant impact on the environment.

    A. On-site Contamination

    Subsurface Soil

    No soil samples meeting ATSDR's definition of surface soil were collected during preliminaryinvestigations. ATSDR defines surface soil samples as those collected from 0"-3"; ATSDRconsiders that humans are most likely to be exposed to contaminants in soil at this depth.

    The PCS site is located on a topographic high with elevations ranging from a high of 882 feet meansea level (MSL) in the central portion of the site to a low of 826 feet MSL along a stream near theeastern boundary of the site.

    In 1986, RMT performed an on-site electromagnetic survey and established the boundaries of threeon-site locations that PCS had used to bury drums. RMT estimated that: 1) Area 1 was 15 feet wideand 100 feet long; 2) Area 2 was 15 feet wide and 140 feet long; and, 3) Area 3 contained two burialtrenches, one that was 15 feet wide by 100 feet long and the other that was 15 feet wide by 22 feetlong. Between March 1987 and July 1987, the GSX Corporation removed and disposed of wastesand associated soils from all three areas.

    Table 2 presents the concentrations of contaminants of concern for on-site subsurface soil. Thefollowing data represent sampling from preliminary investigations.

    TABLE 2:

    CONTAMINANTS OF CONCERN -- CONCENTRATION IN ON-SITE SUBSURFACE SOIL*
    ContaminantConcentration
    Range - ppm
    DateLocation
    Of
    Maximum
    Value
    Comparison Value
    ppmSource
    BenzeneND - 17305/29/87120CREG
    1,1-DichloroethaneND - 0.4304/10/87 3
    No Value
    1,1,1-TrichloroethaneND- 10004/10/873
    No Value
    TetrahydrofuranND - 4.706/05/87 1
    No Value
    ND - Not Detected
    * - Data from the RMT Documentation Report for Waste Removal, December 1987

    Groundwater

    Groundwater occurs in the saprolite and bedrock units at the site. The depth to the water table rangesfrom less than one foot adjacent to the stream near the site's eastern border, to approximately 21 feetdeep near the central portion of the site. Groundwater flow patterns within deeper saprolite zonesand bedrock have not been fully determined.

    Degradation of groundwater has occurred in three different areas of the PCS site (Figure 3): 1) nearthe disposal areas and the two lagoons in the eastern portion of the site; 2) near the disposal area inthe western portion of the site; and, 3) near the storage tanks west of the facility buildings in thecentral portion of the site. Several chlorinated hydrocarbon compounds appear to be the mostwidespread contaminants. The distribution of other organic compounds including 2-butanone,tetrahydrofuran, and toluene appears to be less extensive.

    The highest concentrations of organic compounds have been detected in shallow groundwater in theeastern portion of the site (Figure 3). Available data indicate that these compounds have migratednorth, east, and south of these source areas (Figure 3), impacting groundwater in the area south ofthe stream (tributary of Big Durbin Creek) from monitoring well 35-A (south of the disposal areas)north to the property boundary and beyond. Contaminant concentrations in shallow groundwatergenerally decrease with distance from the source areas, although some compounds are present overthis entire area at levels exceeding the EPA's Maximum Contaminant Levels (MCLs).

    Table 3 presents the concentrations of contaminants of concern for on-site groundwater. Thefollowing data represent sampling from preliminary investigations.

    TABLE 3:

    CONTAMINANTS OF CONCERN -- CONCENTRATION IN ON-SITE GROUNDWATER*
    ContaminantConcentration
    Range - ppb
    DateLocation
    Of
    Maximum
    Value
    Comparison Value
    ppbSource
    Lead5 - 17010/21/85MW115EPA Action Level
    SulfateND - 831,00006/02/86MW13A400,000MCLP
    BenzeneND - 44.210/21/85MW21CREG
    TolueneND - 16,00003/23/89MW21200RMEG (Child)
    ChloromethaneND - 1505/86MW13A3LTHA
    Methylene ChlorideND - 8,00806/02/86MW13A5CREG
    ChloroformND - 27.610/21/85MW26CREG
    Carbon TetrachlorideND - 2,10910/21/85
    0.3CREG
    1,1-DichloroethaneND - 4,20005/86MW8
    No Value
    1,2-DichloroethaneND - 12003/23/89MW210.4CREG
    1,1,1-TrichloroethaneND - 78,00005/86MW13200LTHA
    1,1,2-TrichloroethaneND - 25.210/21/85
    0.6CREG
    1,1-DichloroethyleneND - 6,80006/02/86MW1390EMEG Child
    TrichloroethyleneND - 2,40003/23/89MW213CREG
    TetrachloroethyleneND - 1,2004-5/86MW150.7CREG
    Methyl Ethyl KetoneND - 140,00009/26/89MW216000RMEG Child
    TetrahydrofuranND - 170,00009/26/89MW21

    MethylcyclopropaneND - 14005/89MW8

    ND - Not Detected
    * - Data from the RMT Documentation Report for Waste Removal, December 1987

    Surface Water

    Surface water data were not available for review. This information will be examined as it becomesavailable.

    Air

    No air monitoring data were available for review; however, it does not seem likely thatcontamination would be a problem. We will reevaluate this medium should data become available. The EPA investigated odor complaints from residents but did not detect any air-release violations.

    B. Off-site Contamination

    Groundwater

    Available data indicate that contaminants from PCS have migrated as far as 300 feet north of thenorthern site boundary. As observed in some on-site locations, contaminant concentrations aregreater in groundwater within the deeper bedrock zone than in shallow groundwater.

    Table 4 presents the concentrations of contaminants of concern for off-site groundwater. Thefollowing data represent sampling from preliminary investigations.

    TABLE 4:

    CONTAMINANTS OF CONCERN -- OFF-SITE MONITORING WELLS
    ContaminantConcentration
    Range - ppb
    DatesComparison Value
    ppbSource
    Lead5 - 9606/8815EPA Action Level
    1,1-DichloroethaneND - 1009/05/89
    No Value
    ND - Not Detected

    Table 5 presents the concentrations of contaminants of concern for off-site private wells. Thefollowing data represent sampling from preliminary investigations.

    TABLE 5:

    CONTAMINANTS OF CONCERN -- PRIVATE WELLS
    ContaminantConcentration
    Range - ppm
    DatesComparison Value
    ppmSource
    1,1-DichloroethaneND - 5.2802/22/88
    No Value
    TetrachloroethyleneND - 19.602/22/880.7CREG
    ND - Not Detected

    Air

    No air monitoring data were available for review. The EPA investigated odor complaints fromresidents but did not find any air-release violations.

    C. Quality Assurance and Quality Control

    Quality Control and Quality Assurance (QA/QC) conclusions drawn for this public healthassessment are determined by the validity of the analysis and conclusions made and the availabilityand reliability of the referenced information. SCDHEC assumes that adequate quality assurance andquality control measures were followed with regard to chain-of-custody, laboratory procedures, anddata reporting.

    A number of laboratories, including SCDHEC, generated data for this site. Full QA/QC informationhas not been provided, although data generated by private contract laboratories appear to beconsistent with those generated by SCDHEC laboratories.

    The monitoring wells currently in use at the PCS site appear to be constructed according toSCDHEC standards and allow collection of representative groundwater samples. The proceduresused to sample cannot be evaluated because a sampling and analysis plan is not available.

    In the analysis of groundwater, it is possible that the detection limits for some highly contaminatedwells (MW-21, MW-13, and MW-13A) may have been set too high by the contract laboratory usedby PCS. Thus, the concentrations of some compounds could have been falsely reported at non-detectable levels.

    D. Physical and Other Hazards

    Project staff did not observe any significant physical hazards to the public or surroundingcommunity during site visits. Points of entry to the plant site are restricted by a security buildingwhere visitors must gain access. The plant property is enclosed by a chain link fence at accessiblepoints, although the north and east boundaries are not fenced. Security guards are present 24 hoursa day and make walking rounds of the plant property. According to the president of PCS, vandalismhas not been a problem and current security measures at the plant seem adequate.


    PATHWAYS ANALYSES

    To determine whether nearby residents are exposed to contaminants migrating from the site,ATSDR evaluates the environmental and human components that lead to human exposure. Thispathways analysis consists of five elements: A source of contamination, transport through anenvironmental medium, a point of exposure, a route of human exposure, and an exposed population.

    ATSDR categorizes an exposure pathway as a completed or potential exposure pathway if theexposure pathway cannot be eliminated. Completed pathways have all five elements and indicatethat exposure to a contaminant has occurred in the past, is currently occurring, or will occur in thefuture. Potential pathways, however, have at least one of the five elements missing, but couldbecome completed. Potential pathways indicate that exposure to a contaminant could have occurredin the past, could be occurring now, or could occur in the future. An exposure pathway can beeliminated if at least one of the five elements is missing and will never be present. The discussionthat follows incorporates only those pathways that are important and relevant to the site. We alsodiscuss some of those exposure pathways that have been eliminated.

    A. Completed Exposure Pathways

    In 1988, contaminants were detected in private drinking water wells at two residences along HowardDrive. However, the contamination has not been conclusively linked to the PCS site. Private well-use patterns in this area have not been examined adequately. Therefore, no conclusive indication ofpublic exposure to site-related contaminants currently exists. However, exposures could potentiallyoccur in the future via off-site, contaminated groundwater by ingestion, dermal (skin) exposure, orinhalation.

    B. Potential Exposure Pathways

    TABLE 6:

    POTENTIAL EXPOSURE PATHWAYS
    Exposure Pathway ElementsTime
    SourceEnvironmental
    Medium
    Point of
    Exposure
    Route of
    Exposure
    Exposed
    Population
    PCSGroundwaterOn-Site
    Off-Site
    Ingestion
    Dermal Contact
    Children
    Adults
    Workers
    Past
    Present
    Future
    PCSSoilOn-SiteIngestion
    Dermal Contact
    WorkersPast
    Present
    Future
    PCSAirOn-Site
    Off-Site
    InhalationChildren
    Adults
    Workers
    Past
    Present
    Future

    Groundwater Pathway

    Groundwater presents the most likely environmental transport medium for the contaminants ofconcern. Sampling indicates that contaminants have migrated from the site. Exposures may occurif humans ingest or have dermal contact with contaminated groundwater.

    Soil

    No surface soil data are available for review. Subsurface soil contamination was detected on-site;however, the depth of these contaminants are not considered to be a pathway of concern. Althoughsubsurface soil contamination may provide a continuing source of groundwater contamination, directcontact with subsurface soil contaminants is unlikely. Visitors and workmen do not appear to be atrisk for exposure. Exposures through accidental ingestion and/or dermal contact with contaminatedsoil may occur in the future if the site is excavated.

    Air

    Industrial air releases for this facility are regulated by SCDHEC through the Bureau Of Air QualityControl. Currently, there is no indication of atmospheric contamination from non-plant operations.


    PUBLIC HEALTH IMPLICATIONS

    A. Toxicological Evaluation

    Introduction

    In this section, we will discuss the health effects in persons exposed to specific contaminants, evaluatestate and local health databases, and address specific community health concerns. To evaluate healtheffects, ATSDR has developed a Minimal Risk Level (MRL) for contaminants commonly found athazardous waste sites. The MRL is an estimate of daily human exposure to a contaminant belowwhich non-cancer, adverse health effects are unlikely to occur. MRLs are developed for each routeof exposure, such as ingestion and inhalation, and for the length of exposure, such as acute (less than14 days), intermediate (15 to 364 days), and chronic (greater than 365 days). ATSDR presents theseMRLs in Toxicological Profiles. These chemical-specific profiles provide information on healtheffects, environmental transport, human exposure, and regulatory status.

    Analyses of environmental sampling data, demographic data, and plausible environmental pathwaydata show groundwater migration to be the most likely mechanism in which off-site populations maybe exposed to the contaminants of concern. It is also possible, although somewhat unlikely, thatsignificant windborne migration of contaminated dirt may occur.

    Currently available evidence does not conclusively demonstrate exposures to any individual or groupof individuals from site-related contaminants. Since no individuals are currently known to be exposedto contaminants, there are no health effects expected at the present time. However, the followingdiscussion of health effects is presented using a "worst-case scenario," that is, individuals consumingwater containing contaminants at concentrations equivalent to the maximally-contaminated, on-sitegroundwater.

    Lead

    Lead is a naturally occurring element that is found in most environmental media. It has a wide rangeof uses including storage batteries (automobile batteries), solders, pipes, various chemicals, andgasoline additives (ATSDR 1993a).

    Lead is a cumulative toxin. Chronic ingestion of low levels of lead by children may result in variousneurobehavioral deficits, decreased growth, and alterations in enzyme activities. ATSDR has statedthat blood lead levels of 10 to 15 micrograms per deciliter (µg/dL) (or possibly lower) may beassociated with neurobehavioral deficits. ATSDR has defined preschool-age children and fetusesas groups at special risk. White males between 40 and 59 years of age appear to be at risk to thehypertensive effects of lead. Lead acetate and lead phosphate have been demonstrated to be animalcarcinogens, although the evidence for similar effects in humans is inadequate (ATSDR 1993a).

    Lead was detected in on-site groundwater and monitoring wells on adjacent, off-site property atconcentrations exceeding federal drinking water levels. ATSDR has not set an MRL for lead. TheEPA has not set a reference dose (Rfd) for lead. However, the EPA has established an action levelof 15 ppb for lead in drinking water.

    Sulfate

    Ingestion of high levels of sulfate in water and infant formula have caused diarrhea and dehydrationin animals and humans, with infants showing a greater sensitivity. In adult humans, individuals havebecome acclimated to high sulfate levels in a short period of time, resulting in a cessation of ill effects. Infants appear to be more sensitive to the toxic effects of sulfate than adults; several cases of diarrheaand gastroenteritis have been reported in human infants, ages 5 months to 12 months old, consumingformula prepared with water containing 630,000 to 1,150,000 ppb. The effects ceased when thishigh-sulfate water was no longer used (55 FR 30370).

    Ingestion of drinking water containing sulfates at the concentrations reported from on-site wells couldproduce diarrhea, especially in infants. Sulfate concentrations exceed federal drinking water limits.

    Benzene

    Benzene is present in a wide variety of common products, including gasoline. Benzene is a highlyflammable, colorless liquid with a sweet odor. Benzene is man-made but also occurs naturally in theenvironment (ATSDR 1993b).

    The primary health concerns from long-term exposure to low concentrations of benzene are potentialchromosomal damage, bone marrow depression, and the development of leukemia in a significantnumber of exposed individuals. The EPA classifies benzene as a human carcinogen on the basis ofsufficient human epidemiologic evidence (ATSDR 1993b).

    Human exposure to benzene could occur in the future if contaminated, on-site groundwater is usedfor drinking water purposes; however, this is unlikely. Therefore, there is no reason to suspectexposure to benzene at the present time. Benzene concentrations in on-site subsurface soil range upto 173 ppm. Surface soil data are not available.

    Toluene

    Toluene is a clear, colorless liquid with a sweet smell. It is a gasoline additive and is used for makingother fuels from crude oil. It is also used in making coke from coal, and as a by-product in themanufacture of styrene. It is used in the making of paints, lacquers, adhesives, rubber, paint thinners,and in some printing an leather tanning processes (ATSDR 1993c).

    The EPA has proposed an MCL of 2,000 ppb for the protection against adverse effects for exposuresoccurring over a lifetime. The maximum concentration of toluene in on-site groundwater is 16,000ppb. Toluene concentrations of up to 65 ppm were detected in on-site subsurface soil.

    Acute exposure to high levels of toluene in animals results in central nervous system depression andeffects on the lungs, liver, and kidney. Toxic effects following chronic exposure are similar to thoseseen following acute exposure. Although toluene is chemically similar to benzene, test animalexposure to toluene has not been associated with the development of cancer.

    Chlorinated Aliphatic Compounds

    Chlorinated aliphatic compounds share similar toxicologic, chemical, and environmental properties. This class of chemicals includes chloromethane, methylene chloride, chloroform, carbon tetrachloride,1,1-dichloroethane, 1,2-dichloroethane, 1,1,1-trichloroethane, 1,1,2-trichloroethane, 1,1-dichloroethylene, trichloroethylene, and tetrachloroethylene.

    Ingestion of these compounds produce, to varying degrees, toxicity of the liver, kidney, and centralnervous system. In the case of dichloroethylene, trichloroethylene, and tetrachloroethylene,significant renal toxicity is not a predominant effect.

    The EPA has derived a methodology for a series of Drinking Water Health Advisories. HealthAdvisories describe nonregulatory concentrations of drinking water contaminants at which adversehealth effects would not be anticipated to occur over specific exposure durations. The possible toxiceffects from ingesting "worst-case" groundwater contaminants may be assessed by comparing themaximal on-site concentrations to the relevant Health Advisories or limits. Because of theconservative assumptions included in the Health Advisories, ingestion of water containingcontaminant concentrations up to and slightly above the Health Advisory are not likely to cause organdamage. However, as the concentration increases, the likelihood of organ damage also increases.

    At this site, concentrations of 1,1-dichloroethylene exceed the one-day health advisory for a 10kilogram child. Additionally, the maximum concentrations of methylene chloride, carbontetrachloride, 1,1,1-trichloroethane, and tetrachloromethane range from 42% to 60% of theirrespective one-day health advisories. Therefore, ingestion of on-site groundwater and the futurepossibility of contaminant migration to off-site wells represents a potential public health concern.

    The EPA has classified both 1,1-dichloroethylene and 1,1,2-trichloroethane as possibly carcinogenicto humans (Group C). This classification includes chemicals in which there is limited evidence foranimal carcinogenicity in the absence of human data.

    On the basis of laboratory animal data, the EPA has classified methylene chloride, chloroform, carbontetrachloride, 1,1-dichloroethane, trichloroethylene, and tetrachloroethylene as probable humancarcinogens (Group B2). This classification includes chemicals in which there is sufficient evidencefor carcinogenicity in animals but insufficient evidence in humans.

    Methyl Ethyl Ketone

    Methyl Ethyl Ketone (MEK) is a colorless liquid with a sweet, but sharp odor. ATSDR has notestablished an MRL and the EPA has not established a reference dose for this chemical.

    The maximum on-site concentrations of MEK was found to be 140,000 ppb which exceeds both thelifetime and one-day health advisories. Therefore, ingestion of drinking water containing maximallycontaminated on-site groundwater may result in dizziness and/or vomiting.

    Tetrahydrofuran and Methylcyclopropane

    Inadequate toxicologic data are available for the evaluation of tetrahydofuran or methylcyclopropane.

    B. Health Outcome Data Evaluation

    The State of South Carolina does not currently have an implemented database or registry dealing withhealth effects in the vicinity of this site. Therefore, no evaluation may be made of health outcomedata.

    C. Community Health Concerns Evaluation

    In 1985, residents living near the site expressed concerns about odors from the PCS site. EPA airsampling did not reveal a need for any action beyond the ongoing cleanup.



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