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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 Lot K9-1-45 in Pittsfield, Massachusetts.

The subject site is a residential property that may have either received PCB contaminated fill material from the G.E. facility, or 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.

Surface soil samples collected from the site were less than 2 parts per million (ppm) for PCBs in all but two samples (see attached map). The samples above 2 ppm were located along the east border of the property, and had PCB concentrations of 2.7 and 5.5 ppm, respectively. Subsurface soil concentrations were all less than 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.

CONCLUSIONS

Since surface soil PCB concentrations are only slightly elevated in just two samples, exposure to the soil on this lot would not pose a public health hazard.

RECOMMENDATIONS

None

PREPARERS OF REPORT

Timothy Walker, MS
Environmental Health Specialist

Concurred: Richard Canady, PhD, DABT
Senior Toxicologist

 

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