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HEALTH CONSULTATION

STEPHENSON-BENNETT MINE SITE
ORGAN, DONA ANA COUNTY, NEW MEXICO

 

DISCUSSION

The soil underneath the trailer homes near the Stephenson-Bennett Mine site are potentially contaminated with high levels of lead and arsenic. Potential exposure pathways include incidental ingestion or inhalation of contaminated dust or soil. Populations that have the potential to come in contact with the soil underneath the homes include young children, utility workers, and residents doing repair work. Pets may also come in contact with contaminated soil and track contamination inside the home.

Since the contaminated soil is underneath the trailer homes, the potential for exposure is limited. Dona Ana County has an ordinance that requires metal skirting to be maintained around the bottom of trailers and prefabricated homes. The metal skirting should prevent contact (i.e., children or pets playing under the homes) with the potentially contaminated soil. Also, people doing repair work (utility workers and residents) may occasionally come in contact with the soil. Although it is unlikely that these exposures would result in exposures of health concern, the workers and residents should be aware of the potential contamination and exercise public health measures to reduce the potential exposure.

Because the soil under the homes was not remediated, the potential exist for people to be exposed to the soil in the future. New Mexico state government requires a full real-estate disclosure with any property sold. Therefore, a new home owner would be informed of potential contamination under the home. In addition, ATSDR recommends that a program should be implemented to ensure the metal skirting around all trailer homes is maintained as required by county ordinance and contingency plans to prevent exposure should be in place if a trailer is removed or any other action (such as a fire or construction project) results in access to potentially contaminated soil.

Because EPA was denied access to some of the vacant lots potentially impacted by mining waste, the potential exist for people to be exposed to contaminated soil. In addition, fugitive dust emissions from these potentially contaminated vacant lots may impact adjacent properties.

ATSDR Child Health Initiative

ATSDR considers children in the evaluation of all exposures. When ATSDR evaluated the levels of contaminants from the data and site specific information reported in this document, ATSDR used health guidelines and provided health based recommendations that are protective of children. ATSDR identified potential levels of lead and arsenic in indoor dust and soil under trailer homes that may represent a health threat. However, EPA plans remediation of contaminated indoor dust and the County of Ana Dona implements an ordinance that requires home owners to have and maintain the metal skirting surrounding their homes. These measures will reduce the liklihood of children coming into contact with potentially contaminated soil. In addition, the State of New Mexico requires full disclosure during real-estate transaction, thus, providing information to the buyer about the potential contamination.



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