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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 G9-8-1 (Dorothy Amos Park), G9-8-9, and contiguous parcels in Pittsfield, Massachusetts.

The subject properties 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 G9-8-1 (Dorthy Amos Park)

The park is located on West Street in a residential area adjacent to the Housatonic River. A basketball court and play areas are located on the park property. Although the park is currently closed and signs are posted warning trespassers, the property will be assessed assuming unrestricted access.

Over one-hundred sample locations were selected at the park (see attached map). Sampling results showed extensive PCB contamination in the surface and subsurface soils. Surface PCB concentrations ranged up to 320 ppm with 11 samples exceeding 100 ppm. Subsurface PCB levels ranged up to 420 ppm with 9 locations exceeding 100 ppm. The highest surface PCB levels were located on the northern end of the park adjacent to residential properties.

G9-8-9 and other properties contiguous to the park

The contaminated fill from the park does not extend into, nor has it greatly impacted the residential properties that border the east side of the park. Only two surface soil samples exceeded 2 ppm; sample SS-1 on lot G9-8-8 (2.4 ppm), and sample SB-1 on lot G9-8-9 (66 ppm). Subsurface PCB levels were also low throughout the residential lots. The only subsurface PCB concentrations exceeding 2 ppm were at the same two locations where the surface levels were elevated.

 

DISCUSSION 1

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 G9-8-1 (Dorothy Amos Park)

The surface soils at the park pose a public health hazard. Although exposure to the surface soil at the park is expected to be intermittent, the PCB concentrations are elevated such that occasional exposure may result in an unacceptable dose. Subsurface PCB contamination also poses a public health hazard should excavations or other activities result in contaminated soil being brought to the surface.

G9-8-9 and other properties contiguous to the park

An area of surface PCB contamination (66 ppm) was identified in the backyard of lot G9-8-9. Long-term exposure to soil at this location would pose a public health hazard. The sampling data do not show PCB contamination at levels that pose a health hazard for the other properties that border the park. However, given the level of contamination on nearby lots, there is a potential for PCB-laden dirt to be carried into homes on shoes or pets.

CONCLUSIONS

Lot G9-8-1 (Dorothy Amos Park)

PCBs in surface soils at the park pose a public health hazard. Subsurface PCB contamination also pose a public health hazard should excavations or other activities occur resulting in contaminated soil being brought to the surface.

G9-8-9 and other properties contiguous to the park

Long-term exposure to soil at this location would pose a public health hazard. There is a potential for PCB-laden dirt to be carried into homes on shoes or pets.

RECOMMENDATIONS

Based on the information provided, ATSDR recommends the following:

  1. If remediation of surface soil does not occur at the park, consider sampling dust for PCBs in areas of high activity in homes on lots G9-8-7 and G9-8-9.

  2. Continue to restrict access to the park, or remediate surface and subsurface soils to a safe level.

  3. Remediate soil at sample location SB-1 on lot G9-8-9.

PREPARERS OF REPORT

Timothy Walker, MS
Environmental Health Specialist

Concurred: Richard Canady, PhD, DABT
Senior Toxicologist


1EPA has reported that remediation has been completed on lots G9-8-1 and G9-8-9

 

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