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BACKGROUND AND STATEMENT OF ISSUES

The Region I U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has requested that the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) provide health consultations assessing properties associated with the General Electric (G.E.) site in Pittsfield, Massachusetts [1]. ATSDR personnel, accompanied by a representative from EPA and the Massachusetts Department of Public Health (MDPH), conducted a site visit on March 13, 1998. The evaluation of sites will be based on information contained in the data packages along with the information acquired during the site visit. This health consultation will only address sampling data from parcel 202-28 in Cheshire, Massachusetts.

EPA provided ATSDR with surface soil (0-to-6-inches) and subsurface soil (various depths) sampling data. Samples were collected from dirt piles located in a field adjacent to a dirt road (see attached map). Samples were analyzed for polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs). PCB levels in the surface and subsurface soils generally ranged from non-detect to 4 parts per million (ppm). There was one surface soil sample that detected PCBs at 12 ppm.

DISCUSSION

PCBs are a group of 209 synthetic organic chemicals that have varying levels of toxicity. In humans, long-term exposure to PCBs can effect the skin, liver, reproductive and endocrine systems [2]. While human evidence of PCB carcinogenicity is limited, animal studies provide sufficient evidence. EPA has characterized PCBs as "probable human carcinogens" [2].

Humans are exposed to PCBs through multiple pathways. In addition to the ingestion of soil, water, and inhalation of contaminated air, food serves as a major source of PCB exposure. The potential health threat from environmental PCBs is dependent on factors such as concentration in the media, completed exposure pathways, and frequency of exposure.

The dirt piles associated with parcel 202-28 are in an isolated area where exposure to the soil is likely to be infrequent. Soil containing PCBs in the low ppm range require frequent and long-term exposure to elicit a potential adverse health outcome.

CONCLUSIONS

Soil PCB levels on lot 202-28 do not pose a public health hazard.

RECOMMENDATIONS

Based on the information provided, ATSDR recommends the following:

If the site use should change such that frequent contact with the soil occurs, re-assess the site to determine the public health impact.

 

PREPARERS OF REPORT

Timothy Walker, MS
Environmental Health Specialist

Concurred: Richard Canady, PhD, DABT
Senior Toxicologist

 

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