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PUBLIC HEALTH ASSESSMENT ADDENDUM

IRON HORSE PARK
BILLERICA, MIDDLESEX COUNTY, MASSACHUSETTS


CONCLUSIONS

Based on the data reviewed for this public health assessment addendum, ATSDR has concluded that the Shaffer Landfill part of the Iron Horse Park site is of indeterminate public health hazard due to the lack of quantitative air monitoring data collected at the landfill. Although results of preliminary monitoring indicate the presence of VOCs in the gas collection system, actual levels of these compounds have not been adequately measured in ambient air and as a result, the health risk associated with exposure via inhalation at the landfill can not be assessed. As stated in the April 4, 1990 Amended Health Assessment, however, the Iron Horse Park site, as a whole, poses a public health hazard because past exposure to asbestos may have occurred through inhalation of fugitive dusts. This exposure may result in adverse health effects.

Exposure to landfill gases via inhalation is occurring since water bubbling through fissures in the landfill cap has been observed. In addition, evidence of pedestrian and recreational vehicular traffic is prevalent at the landfill grounds. As mentioned above, it can not be determined at this time if health risks are associated with exposure via inhalation to ambient air at the landfill at this time.

Extensive hydrologic characterization at the landfill and VOC monitoring of Tewksbury municipal ground water wells were recently conducted. Findings of these investigations indicate that exposure to ground and surface water contamination associated the landfill via ingestion of ground water drawn from these wells is unlikely.

No evidence exists that indicates whether lateral migration of landfill gas through subsurface soil is ongoing. The possibility of this occurrence, however, can not be ruled out at this time.

Review of recent cancer incidence data conducted by the Bureau of Environmental Health Assessment indicates that relative to the state experience, lung cancer incidence rates among men and women are elevated in the census tracts proximal to Iron Horse Park. An increase in the lung cancer mortality rate among males residing in Billerica within a one mile radius of the site was also reported by the MDPH in 1988. This increase is relative to the rate observed for males in the remainder of the town. It is uncertain whether or not there exists an association between these rate elevations and exposure to site-related contaminants. Currently, no ongoing exposure to lung carcinogens associated with the landfill can be identified.

Hazardous levels of benzene, vinyl chloride, TCE, arsenic, lead and mercury were detected in ground or surface waters associated with the site. It is unlikely, however that hazardous exposure to these contaminants is occurring.

PCB contamination was detected in tissue from fish caught in waters proximal to Iron Horse Park. The maximum PCB levels were detected in tissue from fish native to waters hydraulically upgradient to the Shaffer Landfill. Animal studies have demonstrated an association between ingestion of these levels and increased risk of liver cancer development. These findings, however, have not been substantiated by human studies.

Mercury levels detected in tissue from fish caught downstream of the landfill were greater that those detected in fish caught in upstream waters. Consumption of these mercury levels has not been associated with any health risk at this time.

Elevated benzene levels were detected in shallow overburden ground water southwest of the landfill monitored in 1985. Repeat monitoring of these waters again detected elevated benzene levels. The source and migration pathways of this contamination is not known at this time.

Trespassing is occurring at the site as evidenced by the presence of expended shotgun shells, recreational vehicle tracks and horse hoof prints.

RECOMMENDATIONS

  1. Environmental regulatory agencies should conduct on-site and off-site ambient air monitoring. On-site and off-site subsurface gas levels should also be monitored.

  2. Descriptive follow-up studies by the MDPH are indicated in order to determine the prevalence of other risk factors which may contribute to the increased rates of lung cancer mortality and incidence observed in the area.

  3. The site should be revisited by MDPH and ATSDR in order to determine to what extent the fence constructed in October of 1991 discourages trespassing on the landfill.

  4. Biannual monitoring of municipal water supplies for VOC contamination by MDEP should continue.

  5. The source and migration patterns of benzene contamination detected in shallow overburden ground water southwest of the site should be characterized by the environmental regulatory agencies.

  6. Means to restrict access to leachate contaminated surface waters should be determined.

  7. Since on-site ground water treatment is not being conducted, institutional controls restricting future ground water use should be considered by the environmental regulatory agencies.

  8. Ground water within one half mile east of the site should not be used for drinking water sources.

Health Activities Recommendation Panel (HARP) Recommendation

    The data and information within the public health assessment addendum for the Iron Horse Park (Shaffer Landfill) have been evaluated by ATSDR's Health Activities Recommendation Panel for appropriate follow-up with respect to health activities. Because of probable past exposure to asbestos and because the review of health outcome data indicate a possible excess occurrence of lung cancer, the Panel determines that consideration of biologic indicator testing for asbestos exposure (biomarkers) and a lung cancer cluster investigation are indicated. In addition, the Panel determines that community and health professions education are needed.

PUBLIC HEALTH ACTIONS

The Public Health Action Plan (PHAP) for the Iron Horse Park 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:

  1. The Bureau of Environmental Health Assessment (BEHA) within the Massachusetts Department of Public Health (MDPH) will continue to monitor cancer incidence rates especially those for lung cancer in the census tracts surrounding the Iron Horse Park site in Billerica and Tewksbury.

  2. The Bureau of Environmental Health Assessment within the MDPH will review the results of any air monitoring conducted in and around the Shaffer Landfill and will assess the potential health hazards associated with contaminant level exposure to contaminant levels if detected during such monitoring.

  3. The Bureau of Environmental Health Assessment within the MDPH will conduct descriptive follow-up studies in order to determine the prevalence of other risk factors which may contribute to the increased rates of lung cancer mortality and incidence observed in the area.

  4. The Bureau of Environmental Health Assessment within the MDPH will revisit the site and assess the extent to which the fence constructed in October of 1991 restricts access to the Shaffer Landfill.

  5. The Physician's Environmental Health Education Program within BEHA will coordinate an environmental health education program with physicians and other health professionals in the Billerica and Tewksbury communities.

CERTIFICATION

The public health assessment addendum for the Iron Horse Park 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 addendum was begun.


Gregory V. Ulirsch
Technical Project Officer, SPS, RPB, DHAC

The Division of Health Assessment and Consultation, ATSDR, has reviewed this public health assessment addendum, and concurs with its findings.


Robert C. Williams
Director, DHAC, ATSDR


PREPARERS OF REPORT

William C. Strohsnitter,
Environmental Analyst, Community Assessment Unit,
Bureau of Environmental Health Assessment, MDPH

Jeffrey Purvis,
Chief, Community Assessment Unit,
Bureau of Environmental Health Assessment, MDPH

Suzanne K. Condon,
Director,
Bureau of Environmental Health Assessment, MDPH

ATSDR REGIONAL REPRESENTATIVES

Louise House
Ted Bazenas
Susanne Simon
Regional Operations
Office of the Assistant Administrator, ATSDR

ATSDR TECHNICAL PROJECT OFFICER

Gregory V. Ulirsch
Remedial Programs Branch
Division of Health Assessment and Consultation, ATSDR


REFERENCES

  1. Phase 1A Remedial Investigation for the Iron Horse Park site, Billerica MA, July, 1987, USEPA document #:132-RI1-RT-EJFJ-1.

  2. Wetlands Characterization and Biological Investigations, Iron Horse Park Site, Billerica, MA January 1989, USEPA document #:132-RI3-EP-GTHU

  3. Phase 1C Remedial Investigation of the Shaffer Landfill, Iron Horse Park, Billerica MA, November 1989, USEPA document #:7710-001-RI-BBBP

  4. Final Draft Phase 1C Feasibility Study for the Shaffer Landfill, Iron Horse Park, Billerica, MA, January 1991, USEPA document #:7710-001-FS-BBBS

  5. Memorandum from Don McElroy, Remedial Project Manager, Connecticut Superfund Section, USEPA to Louise House, Region I Representative, ATSDR subject: Air Data-Iron Horse Park, Shaffer Landfill date: January 30, 1991

  6. Cancer Incidence in Census Tract 3155, Tewksbury, MA 1982-1986, March 1989, Community Assessment Unit, Division of Environmental Health Assessment, MDPH

  7. Sprince, NL, Oliver, LC, McLoud, TC et al, "Asbestos Exposure and Asbestos-Related Pleural and Parenchymal Disease: Associations with Immune Imbalance" Amer Rev Respir Dis 143(4):822-828, 1991.

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