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PETITIONED PUBLIC HEALTH ASSESSMENT

ROCK AVENUE 21-E DUMP
WINCHESTER, MIDDLESEX COUNTY, MASSACHUSETTS


SUMMARY

The Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) was petitioned to evaluate health concerns of residents living near the Rock Avenue 21-E Dumpsite in Winchester, Massachusetts. While the site existed from 1930 to 1978, it was reportedly used for sludge and sewage disposal for a short period of time in the 1970s until the Winchester Board of Health halted disposal due to complaints from local residents. During that same period, a trucking company reportedly disposed of oils, engine cleaners, and asphalt on site. It was also alleged that neighborhood residents used the sand pit for disposal of motor oils and car maintenance debris. Beginning in 1980, the site was used for disposal of construction and building demolition debris. Dumpsite operations on site ceased in 1983.

Area residents expressed concern about contamination carried off the site by the wind (fugitive dust) contaminating residential gardens, and causing adverse health effects from ingestion, inhalation, and dermal contact with the contamination. ATSDR evaluated available soil, soil gas, air, and groundwater data to assess possible human exposures. The results of this investigation were discussed in a public health consultation (dated February 26, 1998). ATSDR recommended that additional information was needed to characterize the location, concentration, and toxicity of any hazardous substances in surface soil and soil gasat the Rock Avenue Dumpsite. This recommendation was based on the lack of available surface soil data and limited soil gas data. As a result of that recommendation, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) conducted additional surface soil sampling in May 1999.

After a review of the additional surface soil data, ATSDR determined that current soil contamination is not a public health concern. ATSDR concluded that methane migration is an unknown physical hazard, and therefore recommended additional sampling to ensure that off-site migration of methane gas is not occurring. ATSDR classifies the Rock Avenue 21-E Dumpsite as an Indeterminate Public Health Hazard.


PURPOSE AND HEALTH ISSUES

On March 21, 1996, an area resident petitioned the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) to investigate potential health hazards associated with the Rock Avenue Dumpsite in Winchester, Massachusetts [1]. ATSDR reviewed and evaluated available environmental and analytical site data provided by the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MADEP) (formerly the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Quality), Winchester Department of Public Works (DPW), Winchester Board of Health, Hidell-Eyster, and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Center for Environmental Health Sciences (MIT). ATSDR evaluated available soil, soil gas, air, and groundwater data in the vicinity of the site, and issued a public health consultation to assess human exposures dated (February 26, 1998) [2].

ATSDR recommended that additional information was needed to characterize the location, concentration, and toxicity of any hazardous substances in surface soil and soil gasat the dumpsite. As a result of that recommendation, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) conducted additional surface soil sampling in May 1999 [3,4]. This Public Health Assessment evaluates these data for public health significance.


BACKGROUND

Site Description and History

The Rock Avenue Dumpsite is located at the intersection of Rock Avenue and Hill Street in Winchester, Massachusetts (see Appendix A, Figure 1). The dumpsite covers an area of approximately two acres that has been filled with sand, gravel, sewage/sludge materials, and demolition debris. Prior to the 1930s, the Rock Avenue Dumpsite was used as a sand and gravel pit. From 1930 to 1978, the site was used for sludge/sewage disposal for a short period of time. It was reported that during that same period, a trucking company disposed of oils, engine cleaners, and asphalt on site. Neighborhood residents may have used the sand pit for disposal of motor oils and car maintenance debris.

The present owner acquired ownership of the property in 1978, but did not begin dumpsite operations until 1980. Beginning in 1980, the site was used for disposal of construction and building demolition debris. Dumpsite operations ceased in 1983.

Demographics

Winchester is located in Middlesex County, Massachusetts. According to the 1990 U.S. census, 14,464 residents lived within one mile of the site: 1,373 of those residents were children 6 years old or younger; 1,892 were adults aged 65 years or older; and 3,529 were females aged 15 through 44 years (see Appendix A for the demographic map) [5].



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