PUBLIC HEALTH ASSESSMENT
PALMER, HAMPDEN COUNTY, MASSACHUSETTS
- Based on review of available monitoring data, the site could have posed a public health hazard in the past because of opportunities for exposure to contaminants, particularly lead, present at the site. Individuals most likely exposed in the past were employees working on the site.
- The site has been secured to limit access, and cleanup activities to remove or secure hazardous materials were started in September 1995. Exposure could occur through the remediation process and in the future (via groundwater). However, appropriate health and safety measures should protect remediation workers, and institutional controls (see Record of Decision 1992) along with natural attenuation of chemical concentrations over time in groundwater should minimize the potential for exposures.
- The current cancer incidence study revealed statistically significant elevations in census tract 8101 in Palmer for at least one of the time periods reviewed (1982-1986 and 1987-1992) for bladder, kidney, and lung cancers. The earlier time period had significant elevations for lung and bladder cancers in males, while the latter time period had a significant elevation in kidney cancer for males and females combined. It could not be determined if the environment played a role in these elevations. Review of information regarding smoking history revealed that smoking likely played a role in the development of these cancers.
- Children and adults who may have accessed the site and study area could have had
opportunities for exposure to contamination in the soil (0-6 inch depth) and wetland
sediment. However, the population generally at most risk from contaminants in soil are
young children (< 6 years old) due to the hand-to-mouth activities. It is unlikely that
young children were unsupervised in the on-site area or in the wetland where the highest
levels of contamination were detected. Sampling in the athletic field to the north of the
site indicate soil contaminant levels to be below comparison or background values.
Exposure to soils are not expected to pose significant exposure or health concerns.
Based on available information, no wells exist in the study area to allow exposure via the groundwater pathway. Residents in the area could be exposed in the future if private wells are installed in the study area. However, the possibility for exposure is mitigated by the 1992 Record of Decision which provides for the establishment of institutional controls on groundwater use and land development.
- The site once presented a physical hazard to those individuals who access it. In the 1994 site visit, it was reported that the fence enclosing the site had since been chained and locked. In addition, since this remedial action occurred, it has been reported that no further evidence of trespassing has been noted on the site.
- The potential for exposure to contaminants detected in property soils and lagoon and wetland sediment will be reduced upon completion of the remedial activities. Remedial measures include treatment of sediments and soils with stabilization agents that will reduce accessibility to contaminants detected in these media. It is reported that appropriate containment measures will be taken during these activities. For this reason, exposures during remediation should be reduced when compared to past exposure.
- The MADPH/ATSDR supports the Consent Decree which requires that the Performing Settling Defendents monitor airborne contaminants released by Site activities which may affect local populations. In addition MADPH/ATSDR supports the implementation of strict engineering controls in order to reduce the amount of contaminant migration from the soils and sediments.
- The MADPH/ATSDR supports the 1992 Record of Decision which provides for the establishment of institutional controls restricting onsite groundwater until site clean-up levels have been achieved and maintained. MADPH/ATSDR specifically supports restriction of future use of the contaminated aquifer for drinking water supplies until contaminants concentrations are below levels of health concern.
- Workers on-site during remediation should be provided with personal protective gear in order to minimize their exposure and the subsequent risk of adverse health effects.
- MADPH/ATSDR supports the current monitoring of the perimeter fence to ensure its integrity.
- The MADPH/ATSDR supports the 1992 Record of Decision which provides for the establishment of institutional controls restricting onsite land use until site clean-up levels have been achieved and maintained. Future land use restriction should limit the use of the site and the site vicinity, particularly the land around the spill area portion of the adjacent wetland.
- Employees in companies near the site and residents in the surrounding neighborhoods should be educated with regards to the exposure pathways and adverse health effects at the site as well as those associated with the chosen remedial activities.
- A community education program is recommended to discuss the risk factors associated with bladder, kidney, and lung cancers.
- Continued monitoring of bladder, kidney, and lung cancer cases in Palmer through the Massachusetts Cancer Registry is recommended.
- Should additional information become available that alters the findings of this public health assessment or addresses the data needs described herein, this public health assessment will be modified by amendment when appropriate.
HEALTH ACTIVITIES RECOMMENDATION PANEL (HARP)
The public health assessment for the PSC Resources site, Palmer, Massachusetts, has been evaluated by ATSDR's Health Activities Recommendation Panel (HARP) for appropriate follow-up with respect to health actions. The panel determined that a community health investigation is appropriate to review existing data on lead exposure - specifically to test for lead in children. In addition, the panel determined that community and health professionals education should be considered after additional well survey, drinking water testing, and/or blood lead testing results are available.
PUBLIC HEALTH ACTIONS
The Public Health Action Plan (PHAP) for the PSC Resources NPL Site contains a description of the actions to be taken by ATSDR and/or the MDPH at and in the vicinity of the site subsequent to the completion of 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 the MDPH will continue to monitor bladder, lung, and kidney cancer incidence rates for the towns of Palmer and Monson through the Massachusetts Cancer Registry.
- The Bureau of Environmental Health Assessment within the MDPH will prepare a health consultation that will review available data from the CLPPP on blood lead levels in children in Palmer and Monson.
- The Bureau of Environmental Health Assessment within the MDPH will consider the need for additional education programs for both the citizens of Palmer and Monson as well as for health professionals who practice in the area.
- ATSDR in conjunction with the MDPH will update this public health assessment as more environmental monitoring data become available or as the status of the site changes during the remediation process.
Community Assessment Unit
Martha J. Steele
Bureau of Environmental Health Assessment
Suzanne K. Condon
Bureau of Environmental Health Assessment
Massachusetts Department of Public Health
ATSDR Regional Representatives
Louise House and Suzanne Simon
Office of the Assistant Administrator, ATSDR
ATSDR Technical Project Officer
Technical Project Officer
Division of Health Assessment and
Consultation, Remedial Programs Branch
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