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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 include 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 K10-10-10 in Pittsfield, Massachusetts.

Lot K10-10-10 is a residential property 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 collected from 52 locations within the property and analyzed for PCBs.

Of the 52 sample locations on lot K10-10-10, only two samples exceeded 2 parts per million (ppm) in the surface soil. The highest concentration detected in the surface soil was 6.5 ppm. Subsurface sampling yielded similar results with only two locations exceeding 2 ppm. The highest PCB concentration in the subsurface was detected in SS-19 at 6-to-12 inches.

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.

PCB surface and subsurface soil concentrations on the subject property were generally less than 1 ppm. A small fraction of the samples showed slightly elevated levels of PCBs.

CONCLUSIONS

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

RECOMMENDATIONS

None.

PREPARERS OF REPORT

Timothy Walker, MS
Environmental Health Specialist

Concurred: Richard Canady, PhD, DABT
Senior Toxicologist

REFERENCES

[1]    E-Mail request for consultation from Don Berger (EPA Region I) to Suzanne Simon, ATSDR, March 2, 1998.

[2]    ATSDR Toxicological Profile for Polychlorinated Biphenyls.

 

APPENDIX


Figure 2 - Investigation Locations and PCB results

 

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