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PETITIONED PUBLIC HEALTH ASSESSMENT

MORSE CUTTING TOOLS
NEW BEDFORD, BRISTOL COUNTY, MASSACHUSETTS


4 DISCUSSION

ATSDR evaluates contaminants detected in environmental media at a site and determines whether an exposure to them has public health significance. ATSDR begins this evaluation by gathering reports that contain relevant environmental data for the site. These data are reviewed to determine if contaminant levels are above health-based comparison values. Health-based comparison values are media-specific concentrations of chemicals that are not likely to result in adverse health effects under default conditions of exposure. They are used only for screening purposes (see Appendix D). For this public health assessment, ATSDR staff obtained and evaluated environmental data collected during and after demolition and removal activities at the site. Data for groundwater, soil, asbestos containing materials, paint chips, concrete tank water, miscellaneous debris, underground storage tank and catch basin material, and indoor air are reviewed in this section.

Once the environmental data have been evaluated, ATSDR staff determine whether people were, or continue to be, exposed to contaminants at levels of health concern. For further information on ATSDR's methodology, please refer to Appendix E. The following text provides ATSDR's evaluation of the Morse Cutting Tools site. Table 1, Appendix C, contains a description of the exposure pathways for this site.

4.1 On-Site Data Evaluation

4.1.1 Groundwater

In September 1990, five monitoring wells (MW-1 through MW-5) were sampled to assess groundwater conditions at the site (see Figure 2, Appendix A). Groundwater samples from the five wells were analyzed for volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and total petroleum hydrocarbons (TPHs). One composite sample from the five wells was analyzed for semivolatile organic compounds (SVOCs). Results indicated that chloroform, 1,2-dichloroethane, and trichloroethene levels exceeded health-based comparison values. The results of this sampling event are included in Table 2, Appendix C.

During the September 1990 sampling event, approximately 36 inches of free product (a dark colored, light-weight oil) were found in MW-2 and soils extracted from the test boring at MW-2 were "very oily" (Harborline, 1990). The free product was also detected in MW-5, but at only 1/8 of an inch in depth. On January 7, 1991, 1.75 feet and 2.11 feet of free product thickness were measured in MW-2 and MW-5, respectively (Haley & Aldrich, 1997a). On April 23, 1991, a 29-foot long test trench was excavated along Purchase Street, approximately 10 feet from MW-2, to determine the lateral limits of the free product. Because the groundwater encountered in the trench did not exhibit any product, sheen, or odors, the investigators concluded that the oil product had limited lateral migration (Haley & Aldrich, 1997a). Figures 2 and 5, Appendix A, include the approximate horizontal extent of the free product in 1997 and 1998, respectively.

On February 20, 1997, groundwater samples were again collected from the five monitoring wells at the site (Haley & Aldrich, 1997a). The samples were analyzed for VOCs only. Vinyl chloride was detected at levels above health-based comparison values. The results of this sampling event are included in Table 2, Appendix C.

On August 26, 1998, groundwater samples were collected from existing wells MW-1 and MW-3, and from three newly installed wells B103-OW, B105-OW, and B106-OW (see Figure 5, Appendix A) (Haley & Aldrich, 1998d). These groundwater samples were analyzed for VOCs, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), and 13 dissolved metals. Chloroform, cis-1,2-dichloroethylene, trichloroethene, and vinyl chloride were detected at levels above health-based comparison values. The results of this sampling event are included in Table 2, Appendix C.

During the August 1998 sampling event, approximately 1.3 feet of free product thickness, identified as nonaqueous phase liquid (NAPL), was measured in MW-02. A sample of the NAPL found in MW-2 was analyzed for physical parameter tests (e.g., viscosity, sulfur, and total chlorides). Results of the testing indicated that the NAPL sample had characteristics similar to a cutting oil (Haley & Aldrich, 1998d). Monitoring of NAPL removal from two on-site wells has occurred periodically since August 1998 for well MW-2 and since February 1999 for well B213-OW (Haley & Aldrich, 1999b).

In February 1999, groundwater samples were collected from on-site wells MW-1, MW-3, B103-OW, B105-OW, and B106-OW. Groundwater samples were also collected from newly installed wells B201-OW through B217-OW (Haley & Aldrich, 1999a). The samples were analyzed for VOCs, PAHs, PCBs, and metals. Arsenic, barium, benzene, bromodichloromethane, chloroform, cis-1,2-dichloroethylene, tetrachloroethylene, trichloroethene, 1,2,4-trimethylbenzene, and vinyl chloride were detected at levels above health-based comparison values. The results of this sampling event are included in Table 2, Appendix C.

The maximum contaminant concentrations detected in groundwater exceeded EPA maximum contaminant levels (MCLs) or ATSDR comparison values, or both. However, where there is no exposure, there can be no exposure-related health effects, regardless of the level of environmental contamination. As far as ATSDR has been able to determine, no one is using this contaminated groundwater as a source of drinking water, and no groundwater wells (other than monitoring wells) are located down gradient of the facility. The site and surrounding area are provided with municipal drinking water. Past and current exposures to on-site groundwater are considered eliminated exposure pathways because there was and is no potential for groundwater exposure. ATSDR, therefore, concludes that on-site groundwater was not and is not of public health concern.

On-site groundwater contains contamination at levels of health concern for ingestion as drinking water. On-site groundwater exposure could occur in the future. The future use of the site is not known and ATSDR is not aware of any measures that are currently in place to prevent new wells from being installed; therefore, measures should be taken to ensure that no one uses this contaminated groundwater as a source of drinking water.

4.1.2 Soil

During the removal of two on-site underground storage tanks, contaminated soil was removed. In May 1998, on-site subsurface soil samples (CS-1 through CS-6) were taken at six locations (see Figure 4, Appendix A) and two composite samples (SP-1 and Stockpile#1) were taken from the soil stockpile destined for off-site recycling (Haley & Aldrich, Inc., 1998b). Refer to Table 3, Appendix C, for the results of this on-site soil sampling.

In August 1998, five on-site test borings (B101, B102, B103, B105, and B106) were completed to assess the lateral and vertical extent of free product located in the vicinity of MW-2 (see Figure 5, Appendix A). Evidence of petroleum odors and staining were found in test boring B101 (2 to 13 feet), B102 (5 to 10.5 feet), B105 (2 to 6 feet), and B106 (2 to 5 feet) (Haley & Aldrich, 1998d). The soil samples collected were analyzed for VOCs, PCBs, and total metals. The results for the on-site test borings are shown in Table 3, Appendix C.

In January 1999 and February 1999, additional on-site soil sampling efforts were completed. This Phase II effort included sampling at test boring locations B201 through B217 and test pit locations TP1 through TP8. The soil samples collected were analyzed for VOCs, PAHs, and total metals. The results for the on-site test borings are shown in Table 3, Appendix C.

Workers were potentially exposed in the past to on-site subsurface soils during demolition activities. Dermal contact with the on-site subsurface soil would have been the main route of exposure. Contaminants were not detected in subsurface soil above ATSDR's non-carcinogenic comparison values (specifically, the adult intermediate environmental media evaluation guide (EMEG), the chronic EMEG, or the reference dose media evaluation guide (RMEG)). These health-based comparison values represent soil contaminant concentrations that are not likely to result in adverse health effects for adult exposures (see Appendix C). Therefore, potential subsurface soil exposures via dermal absorption by workers during and after demolition activities are unlikely to have resulted in exposures at levels of health concern.

Levels of benzo(a)pyrene, benzo(a)anthracene, benzo(b)flouranthene, dibenzo(a,h)anthracene, indeno(1,2,3-cd)pyrene, and exceeded comparison values for cancer. Levels of benzo(a)pyrene exceeded ATSDR's cancer risk evaluation guide (CREG) and levels of benzo(a)anthracene, benzo(b)flouranthene, dibenzo(a,h)anthracene, and indeno(1,2,3-cd)pyrene exceeded EPA's risk-based concentration for cancer effects (RBC (c)). Both the CREG and the RBC (c) are based on long-term (i.e., chronic) exposures. However, actual exposures to on-site subsurface soils would be intermittent and not long-term. The maximum concentration of lead detected in on-site soil exceeded EPA's interim soil guidance level only marginally (i.e., by less than a factor of two) at one location (B207). (All health-based comparison values are developed using substantial margins of safety.) Also, considering that the soil samples were taken from ½ to 4 feet below the ground surface inside a fenced area, it is reasonable to assume that exposures would occur infrequently. ATSDR, therefore, concludes that, under site-specific conditions of exposure, the levels of contaminants detected in subsurface soils are unlikely to pose a health hazard for site workers.

Surface soil sampling (0 to 3 inches in depth) has not been conducted at the site; however, after demolition of the on-site buildings, a 2- to 5-foot layer of clean fill material was placed on-site (Haley & Aldrich, Inc., 1998e). Following removal of the tanks, a topsoil and grass cover was placed over the two parcels (Haley & Aldrich, Inc., 1998e). Further, site access is restricted by a fence. Therefore, on-site current exposure to surface soil is an eliminated exposure pathway.

4.1.3 Asbestos Containing Materials

Friable asbestos containing materials (ACMs) were observed in several areas in the east building in 1992. The ACMs were observed in loose piles on the floor, piled in a storage closet, stored loose in a tank, and on pipe insulation (Weston, 1992a). Six samples of the ACMs were collected on March 16 and March 18, 1992. Results indicated chrysotile asbestos ranging from 10% to 70% total asbestos and amosite asbestos at 10% to 50% total asbestos (Weston, 1992b). The areas where the ACMs were observed were sealed off and marked with red asbestos banner tape (EPA, 1992). An on-site asbestos air monitoring program was initiated, but no fiber levels were detected above the action level (EPA, 1992). It is reasonable to conclude that the ACMs posed no public health hazard off-site because 1) the friable ACMs were located inside buildings, closets, and tanks; 2) the areas containing asbestos were sealed off; and 3) on-site air monitoring did not detect asbestos fibers at levels of health concern.

4.1.4 Paint Chips

During the asbestos sampling in 1992, several rooms contained sizable quantities of paint chips that had peeled from the walls and fallen to the floor (Weston, 1997a). Three samples of the paint chips were obtained and analyzed for metals. Results indicated 2,800 parts per million (ppm) lead, 70 ppm cadmium, and 1,700 ppm strontium.

The facility was not operating when the peeling paint chips were observed and sampled. Workers were potentially exposed in the past if the paint was peeling during facility operation. Before removal activities occurred, remedial workers and trespassers might have had infrequent exposures to the peeling paint chips. Incidental ingestion and dermal contact would have been potential routes of exposure in the past. Any incidental exposure via ingestion of paint chips by adult workers or trespassers would have been infrequent and unlikely to result in any adverse health effects.

No off-site exposures would have been expected because the peeling paint was observed inside the buildings, thereby limiting the potential for migration.

4.1.5 Concrete Tank Water

On June 20, 1997, a water sample was collected from a concrete tank located in the fenced-in perimeter of the property. Analysis of the sample revealed copper, zinc, chloroform, and bis-(2-ethylhexyl) phthalate (New Bedford DPW, 1997). Please refer to Table 4, Appendix C, for the results of this sampling event.

Workers were potentially exposed to water from inside this concrete tank. Dermal contact with the tank water would have been the main route of exposure. Sampling of the tank water indicated that contaminants were not detected at levels above relevant comparison values. Therefore, it is unlikely that potential past worker exposure to tank water resulted in adverse health effects. The tank has since been removed.

4.1.6 Miscellaneous Debris

Brick, wood, and other demolition materials were separated for processing or removal from the site after completion of the demolition activities (New Bedford DOH, 1997b). The wood debris pile was crushed on-site to smaller pieces. On November 4, 1997, a sample of the wood debris was collected and sent for analysis. Please refer to Table 5, Appendix C, for the results of this wood debris sampling event.

Construction and demolition debris sampling occurred on November 17, 1997, (one sample) and again on January 15, 1998, (four samples) for PCBs (596 parts per billion (ppb) to 26,400 ppb). The material sampled consisted of crushed brick rubble with wood fragments. Chloroform, methylene chloride, and TPH were also detected (CGK, 1998). Please refer to Table 6, Appendix C, for the results of these sampling events.

Workers and trespassers were potentially exposed to the brick, wood, and other miscellaneous debris that were on-site after demolition activities. Dermal contact with the on-site debris would have been the main route of exposure. The site is fenced, thereby limiting trespassing. Inhalation exposures were minimized during the crushing of the wood debris pile by water directed at the crushing operation to minimize off-site dust migration (MADPH, 1997).

Most contaminants were detected at levels below health-based comparison values for adult and child exposures, with the exception of benzo(a)pyrene, PCBs, benzo(a)anthracene, benzo(b)flouranthene, indeno(1,2,3-cd)pyrene, and lead. Levels of benzo(a)pyrene and PCBs exceeded ATSDR's CREG comparison value, and levels of benzo(a)anthracene, benzo(b)flouranthene, and indeno(1,2,3-cd)pyrene exceeded EPA's RBC (c). However, since substantial margins of safety are incorporated into all health-based comparison values, exceeding a comparison value does not necessarily mean that a contaminant represents a public health threat. Also, the debris was on-site for a relatively short period of time, so that the maximum duration of potential exposures to on-site debris would have been negligible compared to the default exposure assumptions on which ATSDR's CREGs and EPA's RBCs (c) are based (i.e., lifetime exposure). Levels of lead exceeded EPA's interim soil guidance level. The maximum concentration of lead detected in a debris sample exceeded EPA's interim soil guidance level only marginally (i.e., by about a factor of two); however, as mentioned previously, all health-based comparison values are developed using substantial margins of safety. Therefore, site workers and trespassers were not likely to have been exposed at levels of health concern to the contaminants in this debris. All debris has been removed from the site.

4.1.7 Underground Storage Tank and Catch Basin Material

On April 24, 1998, samples of the material contained in two 10,000-gallon, #6 fuel oil underground storage tanks (USTs) and in a catch basin were obtained. A composite sample of the USTs and the catch basin sample were analyzed for VOCs, SVOCs, PCBs, TPH, and metals. Refer to Table 7, Appendix C, for the results of this sampling event.

Workers were potentially exposed to material from inside these USTs and in the catch basin in the past. Dermal contact with the material would have been the main route of exposure. Contaminants were not detected at levels above ATSDR's adult intermediate EMEG, chronic EMEG, or RMEG comparison values. Therefore, it is unlikely that past worker contact with these materials resulted in exposures at levels of health concern. The USTs have since been removed.

4.2 Off-Site Data Evaluation

4.2.1 Groundwater

Three groundwater wells were installed by Cistar Associated, Inc. (CAI) in 1993 at St. James Place and sampled on September 2, 1993. St. James Place is currently an abandoned 21-unit residential condominium complex (Paragon, 1997). For approximately 100 years (until 1988), the building operated as a parochial elementary school (St. Mary's/St. James School) (Paragon, 1997). The Morse Cutting Tools site is directly across Purchase Street. See Figure 5, Appendix A, for the location of St. James Place (referred to on the map as the "Former St. Mary's School Building").

Samples from off-site monitoring wells one and two (MW-1 and MW-2) were analyzed for VOCs, TPH, and eight Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA8) metals (total, rather than dissolved). Monitoring well three (MW-3) was analyzed for VOCs and TPH only. The three monitoring wells were resampled by Paragon Environmental Services, Inc. (Paragon) on August 12, 1997, (MW-1), and August 13, 1997, (MW-2 and MW-3), and analyzed for VOCs, and dissolved RCRA8 metals (Paragon, 1997). Results indicated that the levels of cis-1,2-dichloroethene, trichloroethene, vinyl chloride, barium, cadmium, chromium, lead, and silver exceeded health-based comparison values. Refer to Table 8, Appendix C, for the results of these sampling events.

In February and March 1999, samples were collected from off-site monitoring wells B218-OW through B223-OW and, in May 1999, samples were collected from wells B301-OW through B315-OW. The samples were analyzed for VOCs and PAHs. Levels of bromodichloromethane, chloroform, cis-1,2-dichloroethene, trichloroethene, and vinyl chloride were above health-based comparison values. Refer to Table 8, Appendix C, for the results of these sampling events.

As discussed previously in Section 4.1.1, the area surrounding the site is provided with municipal drinking water. Because there was and is no potential for exposure to off-site groundwater in the vicinity of the site, exposure to off-site groundwater was not and is not of public health concern.

As discussed previously in Section 4.1.1, groundwater contains contamination at levels of health concern for ingestion as drinking water. However, exposure to off-site groundwater could occur in the future, should usage patterns ever change. Measures should, therefore, be taken to ensure that no one uses this contaminated groundwater as a source of drinking water.

4.2.2 Soil

In August 1998, one off-site test boring (B104) was completed to assess the lateral and vertical extent of free product located in the vicinity of MW-2 (see Figure 5, Appendix A). Evidence of petroleum odors and staining were found at a depth of 0.5 to 2.5 feet (Haley & Aldrich, 1998d). Soil samples were collected from a depth of 0.5 to 2 feet and 6.5 to 8 feet and were analyzed for VOCs, PCBs, and PAHs. The results for off-site test boring B104 are shown in Table 9, Appendix C.

In February and April 1999, additional off-site soil sampling efforts were completed. This Phase II effort included sampling at test boring locations B218 through B222 and B301 through B304. The soil samples collected were analyzed for VOCs, PAHs, and total metals. The results for the off-site test borings are shown in Table 9, Appendix C.

Present and future potential exposures to off-site subsurface soil by residents and workers could exist because of soil-disturbing activities (e.g., drilling, building, or excavating). These potential exposures to subsurface soil are likely to be infrequent and primarily limited to dermal contact. To date, limited subsurface soil sampling did not indicate any contaminants at levels above health-based comparison values. Therefore, intermittent exposures to these subsurface soils during drilling, building, or excavating would be unlikely to result in adverse health effects.

4.2.3 Air

ATSDR was requested to focus on the potential for site activities to have been associated with respiratory ailments. No relevant ambient (outdoor) air samples were collected off-site when the facility was operating or during demolition activities. However, given the types of manufacturing processes and the amount of chemicals used at the site during operation, and the close proximity of residences, it appears possible that residents were exposed to air contamination in the past. ATSDR, therefore, considers ambient air to represent a past completed exposure pathway. However, without ambient air sampling data, it is not possible to estimate with any confidence the extent to which past off-site air exposures may be associated with the residents' respiratory ailments.

ATSDR was able to evaluate more recent off-site indoor air sampling data from November 1997 and from April 1999. While only a few samples were collected, this limited indoor air data assisted ATSDR in evaluating current and potential future exposures.

In November 1997, Paragon collected two 24-hour indoor air samples at St. James Place to determine if groundwater contaminants were discharging into the air. One location was under the west-side stairway and the second location was under the east-side stairway. The building was closed (not occupied) with the heating system shut down during the sample interval. Paragon concluded there was no substantial release migration from discharge of vapor into St. James Place because none of the contaminants identified in the groundwater samples were detected in indoor air at concentrations above their EPA RBC values (Paragon, 1997). Methylene chloride levels exceeded ATSDR's CREG comparison value. Please refer to Table 10, Appendix C, for the results of this sampling event.

Several contaminants, including vinyl chloride, were recently detected in off-site groundwater near two residences. In April 1999, indoor air sampling was performed in one of the residences. Samples were collected from two locations inside the residence (basement and kitchen) and from one location outside (backyard) and analyzed for VOCs (Haley & Aldrich, 1999b). Two additional outdoor air samples were obtained where groundwater contamination is not present. Benzene and 1,2-dichloroethane were detected in both indoor and outdoor air at levels above ATSDR's CREGs and 2-hexanone was detected in outdoor air at levels above EPA's risk-based concentration for noncancer effects (RBC (n)). Please refer to Table 10, Appendix C, for the results of this sampling event.

St. James Place was vacant in November 1997 when the indoor sampling occurred. Because of the limited potential for exposure to indoor air at this abandoned condominium complex, ATSDR defines current exposure to indoor air at St. James Place as an eliminated exposure pathway.

A current and future completed exposure pathway to air exists for residents living in homes above known groundwater contamination. Exposures to indoor air may also occur if the condominium complex is used for residential housing in the future. While the maximum detected levels of benzene, 1,2-dichloroethane, and methylene chloride in air did exceed ATSDR's (conservative) CREGs, none of these chemicals would pose a realistic carcinogenic hazard to human beings chronically exposed to them at the levels detected. The maximum concentrations of 2-hexanone detected in outdoor air exceeded EPA's RBC (n) only marginally (i.e., by about a factor of two). All health-based comparison values are developed using substantial margins of safety and, therefore, the levels detected are unlikely to result in any adverse health effects. Because off-site air data are limited, ATSDR recommends that indoor air concentrations be periodically monitored to ensure groundwater contaminants are not volatilizing into the air in nearby residences.

4.2.4 Surface Wipe

In 1997, an off-site property near the Morse Cutting Tools site was remediated for lead (i.e., deleaded). After the property had been deleaded, the final inspection still detected trace levels of lead. The surface wipe lead analysis samples indicated lead concentrations of 463 to 5,800 micrograms per square foot (µg/ft2) (or 222 to 2,780 µg total lead) on August 25, 1997 (Franklin Analytical Services, Inc., 1997). The property owner felt the failing inspection was due to ongoing demolition activities at the Morse Cutting Tools site. However, the property owner was informed that it is not uncommon for a deleading job to fail its first wipe test (approximately 30% of all deleading jobs fail the first wipe test) (New Bedford DOH, 1997a). The property received full deleading compliance in September 1997 (Franklin Analytical Services, Inc., 1997).

Off-site migration of dust would have been considered minimal during demolition activities. The health department did not receive any complaints about dust from the site and no city employees who frequented the site noticed a problem with dust leaving the site (New Bedford DOH, 1997a). Further, due to the age of homes in the area, lead house paint may be considered a potential source of the elevated lead detected at this property. Because the property has been deleaded, current exposures to lead at this residence are considered an eliminated exposure pathway.


5 COMMUNITY HEALTH CONCERNS

As part of the petition process, ATSDR staff have gathered health concerns from the local community. ATSDR addressed each of the community concerns as follows:

Concern:

Respiratory problems including asthma, emphysema, bronchial asthma, bronchitis, lingering colds, flu-like symptoms, pneumonia, and allergies

Response:

ATSDR was requested to focus on the potential for site activities to have been associated with the respiratory ailments reported in this community concern. Air contamination, in the form of dust, from site demolition activities would have been the main contributor to respiratory ailments at that time. However, inhalation exposures were minimized during the crushing of the wood debris pile because water was directed at the crushing operation to minimize off-site dust migration (MADPH, 1997). No dust complaints were reported to the health department (New Bedford DOH, 1997a).

Odor complaints were logged when the facility was operating. Given the types of manufacturing processes and the amount of chemicals used at the site during operation, and the close proximity of residences, it appears possible that residents were exposed to air contamination in the past. However, no relevant ambient (outdoor) air samples were collected off-site. Without these data, it is not possible to estimate with any confidence the potential health implications of off-site air exposures.

Concern:

Cancer, including breast, stomach, pancreatic, bone, lymph, prostate, hodgkins, cervical, testicular, germ cell carcinoma, and colon

Response:

ATSDR was not able to determine whether the incidence of cancer is higher than expected in the residential population surrounding the Morse Cutting Tools site because no health outcome data were found to be specifically relevant to this community. However, ATSDR did obtain a study conducted by the Massachusetts Department of Public Health (MADPH) that reviewed cancer incidence data from 1982 through 1986 for leukemia, liver, and bladder cancer among residents of the entire city of New Bedford (MADPH, 1990). No statistically significant elevations for leukemia, liver, or bladder cancers were observed in either the city as a whole or within any of the individual census tracts (MADPH, 1990). Also, based on the available environmental data, none of the identified current exposures would, after correction for probable durations of exposure, exceed any health guidelines for cancer.

Concern:

Other health problems including sarcoidosis, migraine headaches, learning disabilities, lead poisoning, kidney failure, suppressed immunity, diabetes, arthritis, dermatitis, eczema, limb deformity (in newborns), mental retardation, and nosebleeds

Response:

ATSDR was not able to determine whether the incidence of the health problems indicated in this community concern are higher than expected because data regarding several of these health endpoints are not routinely collected by public health agencies. However, environmental data collected during and after demolition activities did not indicate any contaminants at levels that would be associated with adverse health effects, including the ones mentioned in this community concern.

Concern:

Potential environmental threats stemming from the property, including past exposures during demolition activities

Response:

Unfortunately, environmental sampling data were not collected when the facility was operating. Therefore, ATSDR cannot comment on potential environmental hazards associated with the facility in the past (prior to 1990). The limited data collected during and after demolition activities do not indicate contaminants were released off-site into the environment at levels of health concern. Existing on-site environmental data from the former Morse Cutting Tools site indicated levels of contaminants that are unlikely to be related to adverse health effects for workers and trespassers.

Concern:

Oil seepage into area basements

Response:

When ATSDR staff visited the site in February 1998, access granted to two basements indicated puddles with an oily sheen. In the first basement, ATSDR staff noted an iridescent oily sheen on the wet floor and an odor of engine oil. In the second basement, ATSDR staff noted several puddles of dark brown to rusty colored water. These puddles contained a sheen and a dry, white residue around the edges. Other than a musty smell, no obvious odor was noted in the second basement.

The free product plume does not appear to reach area homes (see Figures 2 and 5). In April 1991, during the excavation of a 29-foot test trench on Purchase Street, no free product was encountered on the water table. However, recent groundwater sampling in 1999 indicated that several contaminants have migrated off-site. While other sources in the homes, like heating oil tanks associated with furnaces, may have contributed to the oily sheen, sampling of the oily sheen would determine if it resembles the free product (crude oil) in on-site groundwater.



6 ATSDR CHILD HEALTH INITIATIVE

ATSDR recognizes that infants and children may be more vulnerable to exposures than adults in communities faced with contamination of their air, water, soil, or food. This vulnerability is a result of the following factors:

  • Children are more likely to play outdoors and bring food into contaminated areas.

  • Children are shorter, and more likely to breathe dust, soil, and heavy vapors close to the ground.

  • Children are smaller, resulting in higher doses of chemical exposure per body weight.

  • The developing body systems of children can sustain permanent damage if toxic exposures occur during critical growth stages.

Because children depend completely on adults for risk identification and management decisions, ATSDR is committed to evaluating their special interests at the former Morse Cutting Tools site, as part of the ATSDR Child Health Initiative.

Children who are the most likely to be exposed to environmental media at the site include the children living in nearby homes and children attending nearby schools. Unfortunately, because no ambient (outdoor) air data were collected in the past, ATSDR cannot comment on the public health significance of past exposures to air. However, ATSDR determined that children currently exposed to indoor air in off-site residences are unlikely to suffer any adverse health effects at the contaminant levels detected.

Children who trespassed on-site during the demolition activities were not likely to eat paint chips, brick particles, or wood debris. Pica behavior is characteristic of only a small percentage of very young children who would probably not be wandering about this restricted site unsupervised. Dermal exposures would be minimal because the frequency and duration of any contact would be low. As indicated in the Discussion section of this public health assessment, the concentrations of contaminants detected in on-site media during and after demolition activities were not at levels of health concern for area residents, including children, who trespassed on-site. Additionally, because there was and is no potential for children to be exposed to groundwater beneath the site and surrounding area, ATSDR concludes that area groundwater was not and is not of public health concern.



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