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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 lots K10-6-11,-12 in Pittsfield, Massachusetts.

Lots K10-6-11, -12 are 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. EPA provided ATSDR with surface soil (0-to-6-inches) and subsurface soil (various depths) sampling data. Samples were analyzed for PCBs.

Lot K10-6-11

Five surface soil samples exceeded 2 parts per million (ppm). The two highest surface soil concentrations were 9.8 ppm and 42 ppm at sample location SS-6 and SS-7, respectively. Subsurface PCB levels were also elevated (10-to-11 ppm) at sample locations SS-6 and SS-7. The rest of the subsurface sample locations showed PCB levels <3.39 ppm.

Lot K10-6-12

The subject property is an empty lot adjacent to lot K10-6-11. Three of the eight surface soil samples collected from the property exceeded 2 ppm (5.8, 9.0, and 31.0 ppm). PCB contamination extended down 6-to-12 inches at the same three locations where surface contamination was detected.

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

Long-term exposure to the surface soils on these two lots poses a public health hazard.

RECOMMENDATION

Remediate soil on lots K10-6-11 and K10-6-12 to a safe level.

PREPARERS OF REPORT

Timothy Walker, MS
Environmental Health Specialist

Concurred: Richard Canady, PhD, DABT
Senior Toxicologist

 

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