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PUBLIC HEALTH ASSESSMENT

PSC RESOURCES
PALMER, HAMPDEN COUNTY, MASSACHUSETTS


CONCLUSIONS

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.

  5. 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.
  6. 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.

RECOMMENDATIONS

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. MADPH/ATSDR supports the current monitoring of the perimeter fence to ensure its integrity.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. A community education program is recommended to discuss the risk factors associated with bladder, kidney, and lung cancers.
  8. Continued monitoring of bladder, kidney, and lung cancer cases in Palmer through the Massachusetts Cancer Registry is recommended.
  9. 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)
RECOMMENDATION

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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.

Preparers of the Report

Kathy Heithaus
Research Analyst
Community Assessment Unit

Martha J. Steele
Deputy Director
Bureau of Environmental Health Assessment

Suzanne K. Condon
Bureau Director
Bureau of Environmental Health Assessment
Massachusetts Department of Public Health

ATSDR Regional Representatives
Louise House and Suzanne Simon
Regional Operations
Office of the Assistant Administrator, ATSDR

ATSDR Technical Project Officer
Tina Forrester
Technical Project Officer
Division of Health Assessment and
Consultation, Remedial Programs Branch


References

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ACS. 1992. Cancer Facts and Figures--1992. American Cancer Society, Atlanta, GA.

ATSDR. 1993a. Toxicological Profile for Benzene.

ATSDR. 1993b. Toxicological Profile for PAHs.

Glashan, R.W., and R.A. Cartwright. 1981. Occupational bladder cancer and cigarette smoking in West Yorkshire. Brit J Urology 53:602-604.

HMM. 1992. Remedial Investigation Report, PSC Resources, Palmer, Massachusetts. Prepared for the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection. January 1992.

Janerich, D.T., et al. 1990. Lung cancer and exposure to tobacco smoke in the household. New Eng J Med 323(10):632-636.

LaVecchia, C., E. Negri, B. D'Avanzo, and S. Franceschi. 1990. Smoking and renal cell carcinoma. Cancer Research 50(17):5231-5233. (Taken from National Library of Medicine Abstract #90352554).

Matanoski, G.M., and E.A. Elliot. 1981. Bladder Cancer Epidemiology. Epi Reviews: The Johns Hopkins University School of Hygiene and Public Health. 3:203-229.

MDEP. 1990. List of Confirmed Disposal Sites and Locations to be Investigated, March 1991. Division of Hazardous Wastes.

MDEP. 1991. Letter from Helen Waldorf, Chief, Federal Sites section, to Board of Selectmen, Town of Palmer. RE: PSC Resources Superfund Site, 10 Water Street, Palmer. March 8, 1991.

MDEP. 1995. Guidance for disposal site risk characterizaiton. Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection, Bureau of Waste Site Cleanup and Office of Research and Standards. July 1995. Boston, MA.

MDPH. 1988. Cancer Incidence and Mortality for Selected Sites, Monson, Massachusetts. January 1988.

MDPH. 1984. PCB Exposure Assessment in Norwood, Massachusetts. February 1984.

Monson School Department. 1991. Personal Communication December 13, 1991.

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Smith, A.H., V.I. Shearn, and R. Wood. 1989. Asbestos and kidney cancer: the evidence supports a causal association. Amer J Ind Med 16(2):159-166.

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U.S. DHEW. 1989. Reducing the health consequences of smoking - 25 years of progress. Surgeon General Report. U.S. Department of Health, Education, and Welfare, Public Health Service, Washington, D.C.

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Vineis, P., N. Segnan, G. Costa, B. Terracini. 1981. Evidence of a multiplicative effect between cigarette smoking and occupational exposures in the aetiology of bladder cancer. Cancer Letters 14:285-290.



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