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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 polychlorinated biphenyl (PCB) contamination at Lots K10-4-1,-2,-22,-23,-24 and adjacent sections of Melrose Avenue and "undeveloped" Amherst Avenue in Pittsfield, Massachusetts.

The subject lots are residential properties that may have either received PCB contaminated fill material from the G.E. facility, or may have become contaminated through migration by one of several possible transport mechanisms. EPA provided ATSDR with surface soil (0-to-6-inches) and subsurface soil (various depths) sampling data. Samples were analyzed for PCBs.

Lot K10-4-1

PCBs were detected in the surface soil ranging from 0.060 to 1,200 parts per million (ppm). There were four surface soil samples that exceeded 20 ppm and eight surface soil samples ranging from 2 to 10 ppm. Subsurface soil concentrations ranged up to 1,200 ppm.

Lot K10-4-2

Five surface soil samples collected on the south end of the property ranged from 2 ppm to 35 ppm. Surface soil samples collected in the middle-to-north side of the property were less than 1 ppm for PCBs. Subsurface soil levels for PCBs were less than 2 ppm in all but one sample (SS-19, 30 ppm at 6-to-12 inches).

Amherst Avenue (undeveloped) and K10-3-24 (empty Lot)

These parcels are located between the residential lots K10-4-1,and -2 and Goodrich Pond. The area is frequented by people accessing the pond and by residents who live nearby. Four of the surface soil samples collected from this area were in the thousand ppm range for PCBs. Most of the remaining samples had PCB concentrations in the 2 ppm to 100 ppm range.

Melrose Avenue

Surface soil samples collected on the end of Melrose Avenue had PCB concentrations of 3.1, 9.2, 11, 13, and 35 ppm, respectively. Since the road is a dead end, and is unpaved at the sampling locations, contact with the soil is likely from residents and those accessing the pond.

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.

Lot K10-4-1

On this lot, short-term exposure to PCBs in the surface soil at concentrations up to 1,200 ppm pose a public health hazard.

Lot K10-4-2

PCB contamination on this lot was limited to the south end of the property where five surface soil samples ranged from 2 ppm to 35 ppm. The south end of the property poses a public health hazard should long-term exposure to the soil occur.

Amherst Avenue (undeveloped) and K10-3-24 (empty Lot)

These parcels are heavily contaminated with PCBs in the surface soil, with concentrations ranging up to 1,000 ppm. The soil poses a public health hazard for the occasional visitor, particularly children in the local area, who are more likely to come in contact with the soil.

Melrose Avenue

Surface soil samples collected on the end of Melrose Avenue detected PCBs in the surface soil at 3.1, 9.2, 11, 13, and 35 ppm, respectively. Since the street is unpaved and contiguous to residential lot K10-4-, it is assumed that frequent contact with the soil occurs. In addition, the area receives heavy foot traffic from people accessing the pond. Based on the above information, this lot poses a public health hazard.

CONCLUSIONS

Lot K10-4-1

PCBs in the surface soil pose a public health hazard for short-and long-term exposures.

Lot K10-4-2

PCBs found in the south end of the property pose a public health hazard should long-term exposure to the soil occur.

Amherst Avenue (undeveloped) and K10-3-24 (empty Lot)

PCBs in the soil pose a public health hazard for the occasional visitor, particularly children in the local area.

Melrose Avenue

PCBs found on this lot pose a public health hazard.

RECOMMENDATIONS

Based on the information provided, ATSDR recommends the following:

  1. Remediate PCB contamination at lot K10-4-1.
  2. Remediate PCB soil contamination on the south side of lot K10-4-2.
  3. Remediate the PCB contaminated soil on Amherst Avenue and lot K10-3-24.
  4. Remediate PCB contaminated soil on Melrose Avenue.

PREPARERS OF REPORT

Timothy Walker, MS
Environmental Health Specialist

Concurred: Richard Canady, PhD, DABT
Senior Toxicologist

 

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