PUBLIC HEALTH ASSESSMENT
WESTBOROUGH, WORCESTER COUNTY, MASSACHUSETTS
Based on the information reviewed, ATSDR and MDPH have concluded that this site poses a public health hazard because of the potential risk to human health resulting from past and present exposure to hazardous substances that may result in adverse health effects. As noted in the public health implications section, exposure to hazardous levels of PAH's are ongoing as a result of fishing activities at the pond and discharge stream that could result in increased cancer risk.
- Analysis of data from the Massachusetts Cancer Registry failed to detect any differences in stomach cancer or malignant melanoma rates experienced in Westborough compared to the Commonwealth as a whole. Skin cancer rates for the area were, however, difficult to evaluate since only malignant melanoma data were available. Malignant melanoma rates for Westborough were not elevated when compared to those for the Commonwealth.
- The remediation planned by USEPA to remove contaminated pond sediment is necessary to reduce future health hazards associated with contaminated sediment at the pond. Reduction of PAH levels in fish may be observed in the future subsequent to the removal of contaminated pond sediment. It is not possible, however, to currently predict when PAH levels in fish will subside to those considered safe.
- It is not currently possible to estimate the time necessary to remove the extensive PAH contamination detected in subsurface soil below and near Kettle Pond using microbial degradation. In the event these efforts prove ineffective, soil flushing with detergent treated water will be implemented. If conducted under proper conditions, neither of the remedial alternatives mentioned are likely to pose a health risk to the surrounding community.
- Metal objects detected near the abandoned tank farm may pose a physical injury hazard.
- Monitoring data of waters sampled upgradient from the pond at the municipal water well were reviewed. No hazardous contamination levels are present in these waters based on these data.
- Airborne emission of volatilized PAHs may be possible in the event of a fire in the wooded area surrounding the pond. It is not currently possible to determine what if any health hazards would be posed in the event of such an occurrence.
- The Westborough community expressed concern over the generation of nuisance odors during the bioremedial process. Odors should not be produced if bioremediation is conducted in the presence of sufficient oxygen.
- The drinking water needs of some of the citizens of Westborough are served by private ground water wells. It is not known whether these wells are in existence near the site.
In order to protect the public health of individuals engaged in activities on or near the Hocomonco Pond site, the MDPH in conjunction with ATSDR puts forth the following recommendations:
- Fish from Hocomonco Pond should be routinely monitored in order to determine whether consumption continues to pose a health hazard and the pond should remain posted.
- The posted warnings not to swim or fish in pond waters should be heeded.
- Warnings should be posted within 1,000 feet of the Hocomonco Pond discharge point alerting individuals not to fish in the discharge stream waters.
- Ground water from the municipal well upgradient from the pond should continue to be monitored for VOC, PAH, and metal contamination.
- The scrap metal situated near the abandoned tank farm should be removed in order to reduce the risk of physical injury associated with the site.
- If currently nonexistent, the need for an emergency response plan should be determined in order to prevent any exposure to hazardous compounds at the site that may be emitted as a result of a fire in the wooded area surrounding the pond.
- A survey establishing the location of private wells in the vicinity of the site should be conducted.
The Public Health Assessment for the Hocomonco Pond site, Westborough, Worcester County, Massachusetts has been evaluated by ATSDR's Health Activities Recommendation Panel to determine appropriate follow-up health activities. Isolated incidents resulting in exposure to site contaminants have been observed. It is likely that these exposures are occurring to a limited number of people. In addition, no elevations of cancers that have been associated with exposure to such contaminants were observed in the area near the site. The panel has therefore determined that follow-up activities for the site are not indicated at this time.
The Public Health Action Plan (PHAP) for the Hocomonco Pond NPL Site contains a description of actions to be taken by ATSDR and/or the MDPH at and in the vicinity of the site subsequent to the completion of the this Public Health Assessment. For those actions taken at the site, please see the Background section of this document. The purpose of the PHAP is to ensure that this health assessment not only identifies public health hazards but provides a plan of action designed to mitigate and prevent adverse human health effects resulting from exposure to hazardous substances in the environment. Included is a commitment on the part of ATSDR/MDPH to ensure that it is implemented. The public health actions to be implemented are as follows:
- The Bureau of Environmental Health Assessment within MDPH will continue to monitor cancer incidence rates for the town of Westborough through the Massachusetts Cancer Registry at the MDPH.
- In the event of such an occurrence, the Bureau of Environmental Health Assessment will review any reports of elevated metals and organics contamination of municipal water that are reported to the MDPH by the Division of Water Supply within the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MDEP). It is standard operating procedure for MDEP to report such information to MDPH.
- The Bureau of Environmental Health Assessment within MDPH will review results of fish monitoring from Hocomonco Pond as they become available. This review will be conducted by the Bureau in order to determine if consumption of fish caught from Hocomonco Pond continues to pose a health hazard.
- The Bureau of Environmental Health Assessment within MDPH will discuss with the Local Emergency Planning Committee whether emergency response plans are in place at the site. If appropriate, officials from the Right to Know/Emergency Response program within the Bureau will coordinate with this committee the development of measures designed to prevent possible hazardous exposures resulting from fire in the wooded area surrounding the pond.
- The Bureau of Environmental Health Assessment within MDPH in conjunction with ATSDR will review subsequent monitoring results of environmental media sampled from the site in order to determine if the risk of hazardous exposure has changed since the release of this document.
- The Bureau of Environmental Health Assessment within MDPH will determine the need for an environmental health education program for the local medical community. If appropriate, the Physicians Environmental Health Education Program within the Bureau will coordinate this activity with physicians and other health professionals in the Central Massachusetts area.
The public health assessment for the Hocomonco Pond site was prepared by the Massachusetts Department of Public Health under a cooperative agreement with the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR). It is in accordance with approved methodology and procedures existing at the time the public health assessment was begun.
Technical Project Officer, SPS, RPB, DHAC
The Division of Health Assessment and Consultation, ATSDR, has reviewed this public health assessment, and concurs with its findings.
William C. Strohsnitter,
Bureau of Environmental Health Assessment, MDPH
Jeffrey D. Purvis
Chief, Community Assessment Unit
Bureau of Environmental Health Assessment, MDPH
Suzanne K. Condon,
Bureau of Environmental Health Assessment, MDPH
ATSDR REGIONAL REPRESENTATIVE
Region I Senior Regional Representative
Office of the Assistant Administrator, ATSDR
ATSDR TECHNICAL PROJECT OFFICER
Division of Health Assessment and Consultation
Remedial Programs Branch
2) Public Health and Environmental Assessment for the Hocomonco Pond and Discharge Stream, prepared for Beazer East Inc. Pittsburgh, PA, prepared by Keystone Environmental Resources Inc., Monroeville, PA; Project No: 120420-73, February, 1992.
3) Public Health and Environmental Assessment for Kettle Pond and Isolated Areas, prepared for Beazer East Inc. Pittsburgh, PA, prepared by Keystone Environmental Resources Inc., Monroeville, PA; Project No: 120420-73, February, 1992.
4) Addendum to the Public Health and Environmental Assessment for Hocomonco Pond and Discharge Stream and Kettle Pond and Isolated Areas, prepared for Beazer East Inc. Pittsburgh, PA, prepared by Keystone Environmental Resources Inc., Monroeville, PA; Project No: 120430-06, May, 1992.
5) IARC Monographs on the Evaluation of Carcinogenic Risk of Chemicals to Humans, Volume 32, Polynuclear Aromatic Compounds Part 1, Chemical, Environmental and Experimental Data; International Agency for Research on Cancer, World Health Organization, December, 1983.
6) Draft Update Toxicological Profile for Arsenic, prepared by Life Systems Inc. for the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, USPHS, October, 1991.
7) Draft Update Toxicological Profile for Benzene, prepared by Clement International Corporation for the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, USPHS, October, 1991.
8) Toxicological Profile for Napthalene and 2-Methylnapthalene, prepared by Life Systems Inc. for the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, USPHS, December, 1990.
9) Toxicological Profile for Polynuclear Aromatic Hydrocarbons, prepared by Clement International Corporation for the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, USPHS, December, 1990.
10) Toxicological Profile for Polynuclear Aromatic Hydrocarbons, prepared by Clement International Corporation for the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, USPHS, December, 1990.
11) Health Assessment for Hocomonco Pond, Westborough, MA, prepared by the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, April 22, 1985.