Skip directly to search Skip directly to A to Z list Skip directly to site content

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 include information contained in the data packages along with the information acquired during the site visit.

The sites consist of 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. J9-15-18 and J9-15-2 have been remediated and are not included in this consultation. EPA provided ATSDR with surface soil (0-to-6-inches) and subsurface soil (various depths) sampling data. Samples were analyzed for PCBs.

For all lots, PCB concentration addressed in this consulation were generally less than 10 parts per million (ppm) but often greater than 2 ppm. The 95% upper confidence level estimates of mean for the lots were below 10 ppm.

This health consultation will address only polychlorinated biphenyl (PCB) contamination at the following properties in Pittsfield, Massachusetts:

Lot J9-15-3

PCB concentrations in the surface soil ranged from 0.055 to 28 ppm. There were several samples throughout the property in the 2 ppm range. The three highest PCB levels (28 ppm, 15 ppm, and 8 ppm) were detected in the surface soil along the northwest border of the property (adjacent to lot J9-15-2). Subsurface concentrations of PCBs ranged from 0.16 ppm to 10.1 ppm with one sample collected near the street at 73 ppm.

Lot J9-15-19

PCB concentrations in the surface soil ranged from 0.08 to 9.6 ppm for 19 samples. The three highest PCB levels were 9.6, 7.2, and 6.3 ppm, respectively. The lowest PCB levels were "non-detect" and 0.89 ppm. The high concentrations were detected at different locations on the property. Subsurface concentrations of PCBs ranged from 0.25 ppm to 4.1 ppm.

Lot J9-15-20

PCB concentrations in the surface soil were less than 2 ppm for all the samples except for two along the property line of J9-15-19. These two samples detected PCBs at 4.2 ppm (SS-5) and 6.3 ppm (SS-6), respectively. PCBs were measured in the subsurface from 0.35 ppm to 3.3 ppm. In general, the concentrations were less than 1 ppm throughout the property.

Lot J9-15-21

PCB concentrations in the surface soil ranged from 1.3 to 25 ppm. The sample measuring 25 ppm was located in the backyard. At the same location where the 25 ppm surface soil level was detected, PCBs were detected at 245 ppm at 6-to-12 inches below the surface.

Lot J9-15-1

PCB surface soil concentrations ranged from non-detect to 16.1 ppm (SB-1). There was one sample collected at 6-to-12 inches below the surface (SB-1) at 34 ppm.

Lot J9-8-4

PCB surface soil concentrations ranged from non-detect to 11.7 ppm. The highest PCB concentrations were detected in the northwest corner of the property (average conc. approx.7 ppm). PCBs in the subsurface were generally in the low ppm range. There was one localized area of contamination at sample location SB-5 (340 ppm at 6-to-12 inches).

Lot J9-8-3

One surface soil sample collected in the front yard near the street detected PCBs at 8.9 ppm. The remaining surface concentrations ranged from 0.6 to 3.0 ppm. Subsurface PCB levels ranged from non-detect to 1.7 ppm.

Lot J9-8-2

One surface soil sample collected in the front yard near the street detected PCBs at 8.6 ppm. The remaining surface concentrations ranged from 0.78 to 2.5 ppm. Subsurface PCB levels ranged from non-detect to 3.0 ppm.

Lot J9-8-1

One surface soil sample collected in the north side of the property detected PCBs at 7.2 ppm. The remaining surface

concentrations were #2.53 ppm. Subsurface PCB concentrations ranged from non-detect to 7.7 ppm with the majority of the samples being <1 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.

Lot J9-15-3

Exposure to the surface soil at this location does not pose a public health hazard. Subsurface soil levels were also below levels that pose a public health hazard.

Lot J9-15-19

PCB concentrations in three samples ranged from 6.3 to 9.6 ppm (SS-15, SS-11, and SS-6). However, they were spaced throughout the site such that exposure to the average concentrations in the surface soil were below levels that would pose a public health hazard. Subsurface PCB levels do not pose a public health hazard.

Lot J9-15-20

PCBs in the surface and subsurface soils on this lot do not pose a public health hazard.

Lot J9-15-21

Exposure to the surface soil at this location does not pose a public health hazard. However, subsurface levels were elevated at sample location SS-1. PCBs were measured at this location at 25 ppm, 245 ppm, and 32 ppm at 0-to-6 inches, 6-to-12 inches, and 1-to-2 feet, respectively. Based on the elevated PCBs and the uncertainty regarding the potential for excavations exposing the soil to the surface, the subsurface soils on this lot are a public health hazard.

Lot J9-15-1

Average concentrations of PCBs in the backyard are approximately 7.0 ppm. Generally subsurface PCB concentrations were <1 ppm.

Neither the surface nor the subsurface concentrations pose a public health hazard to those residing on the property.

Lot J9-8-4

Several samples on the north end of the property averaged approximately 7.0 ppm. However, the average soil PCB levels were lower for the rest of the property. Therefore, the surface concentrations do not pose a public health hazard. A localized area of contamination is present in the subsurface (6-to-12 inches) at location SB-5 (380 ppm). Since the nearest subsurface sample is approximately 30 feet from this location, the extent of the contamination cannot be determined. It would be prudent to conduct additional sampling at this location to determine the health risk should digging in this area occur. On the basis of the uncertainty of subsurface PCB contamination, this lot is an indeterminate public health hazard.

Lot J9-8-3

There was one surface soil sample in the front yard (SB-1) that detected elevated PCBs (8.9 ppm). The remaining samples were relatively low for PCBs in the surface and subsurface soils, and do not pose a public health hazard.

Lot J9-8-2

There was one elevated surface soil sample detected in the front yard (8.6 ppm). However, the remaining samples were relatively low for PCBs in the surface and subsurface soils, and do not pose a public health hazard.

Lot J9-8-1

PCBs in the surface and subsurface soils on this lot do not pose a public health hazard.

CONCLUSIONS

Lot J9-15-3

Exposure to the soil at this location does not pose a public health hazard.

Lot J9-15-19

Exposure to the soil at this location does not pose a public health hazard.

Lot J9-15-20

Exposure to the soil on this lot does not pose a public health hazard.

Lot J9-15-21

Exposure to the surface soil at this location does not pose a public health hazard. However, at sample location SS-1 the subsurface soils pose a public health hazard given the uncertainty regarding the potential for excavations or other activities that may bring the soil to the surface.

Lot J9-15-1

Exposure to the soil at this location does not pose a public health hazard.

Lot J9-8-4

The surface concentrations on this lot do not pose a public health hazard. However, on the basis of the uncertainty of subsurface PCB contamination, this lot is an indeterminant public health hazard.

Lot J9-8-3

Exposure to the soil at this location does not pose a public health hazard.

Lot J9-8-2

Exposure to the soil at this location does not pose a public health hazard.

Lot J9-8-1

Exposure to the soil at this location does not pose a public health hazard.

 

Next Section   Table of Contents

  
 
USA.gov: The U.S. Government's Official Web PortalDepartment of Health and Human Services
Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, 4770 Buford Hwy NE, Atlanta, GA 30341
Contact CDC: 800-232-4636 / TTY: 888-232-6348

A-Z Index

  1. A
  2. B
  3. C
  4. D
  5. E
  6. F
  7. G
  8. H
  9. I
  10. J
  11. K
  12. L
  13. M
  14. N
  15. O
  16. P
  17. Q
  18. R
  19. S
  20. T
  21. U
  22. V
  23. W
  24. X
  25. Y
  26. Z
  27. #