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PUBLIC HEALTH ASSESSMENT
SILRESIM CHEMICAL CORPORATION
LOWELL, MIDDLESEX COUNTY, MASSACHUSETTS

CONCLUSIONS

  1. This site poses no apparent public health concern, because of the low levels of risk to human health from probable exposure to hazardous substances at the generally low concentrations present at the site.

  2. The current cancer incidence study generally does not indicate an increase of various cancers in the city, particularly in the census tracts around the site.

  3. Workers at the Silresim facility, children who played near the facility, and (possibly) residents who lived in the site vicinity were probably at greatest risk of exposure in the past. Various acute and chronic illnesses in children and adults living around the site have been reported by community groups. However, this health assessment cannot determine whether the diseases experienced were caused by exposure to Silresim contaminants. It is unlikely that determination of a cause-and-effect relationship will be determined in future investigations.

  4. The possible adverse health effects from site-related contaminants during remediation are unknown. Past exposures were uncontrolled, but appropriate engineering controls will be taken during remedial activities. Therefore, exposures during remediation should be reduced when compared to past exposures. Individuals in the immediate vicinity of the site will be at greatest risk of exposure during remediation, especially via inhalation of vapors or fugitive dusts. Possible exposure (absorption, ingestion) to excavated soil could occur if an individual comes into direct contact with excavated soils before treatment and/or removal.

  5. Site-related contaminants have not reached River Meadow Brook and East Pond in concentrations that would result in adverse health effects. However, based on the direction of groundwater flow, contaminants in the soils and aquifer may reach those surface-water bodies in the future. However, it is not expected that future contaminant levels will pose a risk to human health because of the proposed groundwater treatment.

  6. Remediation is not expected to remove all contaminants found in the soils and groundwater both on and around the site. The additional discharge of contaminants via volatilization of compounds; discharge of water or sediments to River Meadow Brook and East Pond; and dispersion of fugitive dusts could result in potential future exposure to workers on site and residents and workers in the site vicinity.

RECOMMENDATIONS

  1. Ambient air monitoring is recommended during the remedial period in order to prevent or mitigate any adverse health effects. Monitoring should be conducted on site, in the neighborhoods downwind from the site, and, as a control, farther away from the site. Monitoring for volatile organic compounds should be performed during all soil excavation, especially in the areas where the clay cap will be removed to expose underlying soil. Strict engineering controls should be implemented in order to reduce volatilization from soils.

  2. Employees in companies near the site and residents in the surrounding neighborhoods should be educated about exposure pathways and adverse health effects potentially associated with the chosen remediation.

  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. A follow-up letter should be sent to the residents of the house on Main Street where the private well is located. The letter should emphasize the historical contamination of the private well and remind the current residents that the well should not be used for drinking water purposes.

  5. Continue monitoring DNAPL in the bedrock aquifer in order to assess the extent of that contamination. Should the migration of DNAPL become a concern in the future, appropriate actions should be taken in order to minimize potential exposure and health impacts.

  6. Continue monitoring the overburden contamination plume in order to assess the potential for migration, and volatilization, into the basements of nearby structures. It would also be helpful to obtain information about the depth and structure (e.g., dirt, concrete, or stone) of the basements in the site vicinity.

  7. Continued monitoring of the surface water and sediments of the River Meadow Brook and East Pond is strongly recommended. Although not currently a health concern, migration of contaminants to those surface water bodies could result in exposure via ingestion and absorption to the children who are reported to play in that water.

  8. Remediation is not expected to result in complete cleanup of the soils and groundwater on site and in the site vicinity. Therefore, future land-use restrictions should be considered to limit the use of the site and site vicinity.

  9. Should additional information become available that alters the findings of this health assessment, or addresses the data needs described here, this health assessment will be modified by amendment, when appropriate.

HEALTH ACTIVITIES RECOMMENDATION PANEL
RECOMMENDATION

The Public Health Assessment for the Silresim Chemical Corporation site, Lowell, Massachusetts, has been evaluated by ATSDR's Health Activities Recommendation Panel for appropriate follow-up with respect to health activities. The Panel determined that community health and physician education are indicated. No health studies are indicated at this time.

PUBLIC HEALTH ACTION PLAN

The Public Health Action Plan (PHAP) for the Silresim Chemical Corporation site contains a description of actions to be taken by the ATSDR and/or the MDPH at and in the vicinity of the site subsequent to the completion of this health assessment. The purpose of the Pubic Health Action Plan is to ensure that this health assessment not only identifies public health hazards, but provides a plan of action 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 the ATSDR/MDPH are as follows:

  1. The MDPH will conduct public meetings upon request to educate residents and workers in the site vicinity about the exposure pathways and adverse health effects potentially associated with the chosen remeditation.

  2. The MDPH will send a follow-up letter to the residents of the house where the contaminated private well is located. This letter will emphasize the historical contamination of the private well and remind the current residents that the well should not be used for drinking water purposes.

  3. The MDPH will conduct health professionals education in relation to the site.

  4. The ATSDR and MDPH will coordinate with the appropriate agencies to develop plans to implement the cease/reduce exposure and site characterization recommendations contained in this health assessment.

  5. The MDPH will review any additional environmental data that becomes available for the site and modify the health assessment by amendment, when appropriate.

  6. The ATSDR will provide an annual follow-up to this PHAP, outline the actions completed and those in progress. This report will be placed in repositories that contain copies of this health assessment, and will be provided to persons who request it.

The ATSDR will reevaluate and expand the Public Health Action Plan when needed. New environmental, toxicological, or health outcome data, or the results of implementing the above proposed actions may determine the need for additional actions.

PREPARERS OF THE REPORT

Anne T. Fox
Environmental Analyst

Theresa A. Barry
Research Analyst

Elizabeth Case
Research Analyst

Suzanne K. Condon
Division Director

Division of Environmental Health Assessment
Massachusetts Department of Public Health

ATSDR Region Representatives

Louise House and Suzanne Simon
Office of Regional Operations
ATSDR

ATSDR Technical Project Officer

Gregory Ulirsch
Environmental Health EngineerSuperfund Site Assessment Branch
Division of Health Assessment and Consultation

CERTIFICATION

This public health assessment was prepared by the Massachusetts Department of Public Health under a cooperative with the Agency for Toxic Substance and Disease Registry (ATSDR). It is in accordance with approved methodology and procedures existing at the time the public health assessment was begun.

Technical Project Officer, SPS, SSAB, DHAC

The Division of Health Assessment and Consultation, ATSDR, has reviewed this public health assessment, and concurs with it's findings.

Director, DHAC, ATSDR

REFERENCES

  1. Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, U.S. Public Health Service. Toxicological Profile for - Arsenic, March 1989, ATSDR/TP-88/02 Aroclor-1016, -1221, -1242, -1248, -1254, -1260, June 1989, ATSDR/TP-88/21 Lead, June 1990, ATSDR/TP-88/17

  2. Ackerman, Jerry; Neuhaus, Joseph. 1978. Fire in Lowell Razes Chemical Storehouse. The Boston Globe. August 21, 1978.

  3. American Cancer Society. 1989. Cancer Facts and Figures, 1989. Atlanta, Georgia.

  4. American Cancer Society, Massachusetts Division. 1990. Cancer Manual, 8th Edition, Boston, Massachusetts.

  5. Boyd, Regina. EPA Butt of Lowell Wrath. The Boston Herald. July 21.

  6. Boston University, School of Public Health. 1985. Health Investigation of Residents Living Near the Majilite and Compo Facilities in Lowell, Massachusetts. Prepared for Massachusetts DEQE and Massachusetts DPH. March 1, 1985.

  7. Boston University, School of Public Health. 1983. Silresim Area Health Study, Report of Findings. Prepared for Massachusetts DEQE and Massachusetts DPH. November 22, 1983.

  8. Camp, Dresser & McKee, Inc. 1983. Remedial Action Master Plan (RAMP) for the Silresim Site, Lowell, Massachusetts. Prepared for Silresim Site Trust. April 1983.

  9. Camp, Dresser & McKee, Inc. 1991. Supplemental Remedial Investigation, Silresim Site, Lowell, Massachusetts. Prepared for the U.S. EPA, June 1991.

  10. Carey, J.; Katz, S. 1985. How to Track Down Toxins. Health Section. Newsweek, May 6, 1985.

  11. Chinlund, Chris. 1984. Higher Rate of Ills Near Toxic Site, Study Uncertain on Link to Closed Plant in Lowell. The Boston Globe. January 20, 1984.

  12. Commonwealth of Massachusetts, Executive Department. 1983. Letter from M.D. Xifaras, Special Assistant to the Governor, to J.S. Hoyte, Secretary of Environmental Affairs; A. Cortese, Commissioner, DEQE; M. Carballo, Secretary of Human Services; Dr. A. Frechette, Commissioner DPH. RE: Silresim Site in Lowell - Individual Health Problems. March 18, 1983.

  13. EPA, Office of Solid Waste Management Programs. 1974. Letter from J.P. Lehman, Director, Hazardous Waste Management Division, to C. Johnson, Silresim Chemical Corporation. RE: Draft Resume of Silresim Vital Statistics. October 31, 1974.

  14. EPA, Region I. 1980. Potential Hazardous Waste Site, Identification and Preliminary Assessment. July 3, 1980.

  15. EPA, Region I. 1980. Potential Hazardous Waste Site, Site Inspection Report. July 3, 1980.

  16. EPA. 1983. Memorandum from W.N. Hedeman, Jr., Director, Office of Emergency and Remedial Response to L.M. Thomas, Acting Assistant Administrator for Solid Waste and Emergency Response. RE: Authorization to Proceed with Initial Remedial Actions and Remedial Planning Activities at the Silresim Chemical Corporation Site, Lowell, Massachusetts. June 10, 1983.

  17. EPA. 1983. Remedial Action Operating Plan for the Silresim Site, Lowell, Massachusetts. June 1983.

  18. EPA. Risk Assessment Forum. 1988. Special report on Ingested Inorganic Arsenic. Skin Cancer; Nutritional Essentiality. EPA/625/3-87/013. July 1988.

  19. EPA, Silresim Case Study. Prepared by R.T. Leighton, Senior Environmental Engineer.

  20. Fleisher, J.M. 1990. Occupational and non-occupational risk factors in relation to an excess of primary liver cancer observed among residents of Brooklyn, New York. Cancer 65(1):180-5.

  21. Goldberg-Zoino and Associates, Inc. 1986. Silresim Site RI/FS, Lowell Massachusetts, Phase II Sampling Plan. Prepared for Silresim Site Trust. November 7, 1986.

  22. Goldberg-Zoino and Associates, Inc. 1990. Remedial Investigation Report, Silresim Site, Lowell, Massachusetts. Prepared for Silresim Site Trust. March 1990.

  23. Fred C. Hart Associates, Inc. 1978. Analysis of Hazardous Waste Mismanagement Incident in Lowell, Massachusetts. Prepared for U.S. EPA, Office of Solid Waste. June 1978.

  24. Howard, Robert. 1981. The Killing Ground. In These Times. September 9-15, 1981.

  25. IARC. 1974. IARC Monographs on the Evaluation of the Organochlorine Pesticides). International Agency for Research on Cancer, Lyon, France. December 1983.

  26. IARC. 1987. IARC Monographs of the Evaluation of the Carcinogenic Risk of Chemicals to Humans. Supplement 7 (Overall Evaluations of Carcinogenicity: An Updating of IARC Monographs, Volume 1-42). International Agency for Research on Cancer, Lyon, France.

  27. Kindleberge, R.S. 1984. Study No Surprise to Plants' Neighbors. The Boston Globe. January 21, 1984.

  28. Lowell Fair Share. 1983. Pilot Health Study at Silresim Hazardous Waste Site.

  29. Lowell Health Department. 1982. Letter from D.F. Cox, Lowell Chief Health Inspector to Mr. and Mrs. C.E. Pelland, Lowell Residents. RE: Contaminated Private Well. May 4, 1982.

  30. Massachusetts DEQE, Division of Water Supply. Monitoring Data for Lowell Public Water Supply for the Years 1980-1989.

  31. Massachusetts DEQE, Division of Water Supply. Water Supply Statistics for the Lowell Public Water Supply for the years 1980-1989.

  32. Massachusetts DEQE, Silresim Meeting Minutes, Lowell, Massachusetts. June 23, 1981.

  33. Massachusetts DEQE, Division of Air Quality Control. 1982. Preliminary Evaluation of the Silresim Air Monitoring Study, Lowell, Massachusetts. October 13, 1982.

  34. Massachusetts DEQE. 1982. Letter to J. Campbell, Lowell Assistant City and Hazardous Waste Coordinator. RE: Contaminated Private Well, Pelland Residence, 33 Main Street, Lowell. April 30, 1982.

  35. Massachusetts DEQE. 1983. Letter to J. Hackler, Waster Response and Compliance Branch, U.S. EPA. RE: Additional Comments on Draft Remedial Action Master Plan for the Silresim Chemical Corporation Site in Lowell. March 4, 1983.

  36. Massachusetts DEQE. 1986. Memorandum from Nancy Bettinger, Environmental Analyst I, through J. Fitzgerald, P.E., Principal Sanitary Engineer, to Richard Chalpin, Deputy Regional Environmental Engineer. RE: Chemical Analysis Results for Samples Collected from the Sewers in the Vicinity of the Silresim Site in Lowell. August 19, 1986.

  37. Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection, Division of Hazardous Wastes. "List of Confirmed Disposal Sites and Locations to be Investigated, March 1990."

  38. Massachusetts Department of Public Health. 1980-1990. Population estimates and projections from the MISER.

  39. McCue, Paul. 1986. Soil Contamination in Ayers City Threatening Neighborhood, Residents. The Lowell Sun. July 21, 1986.

  40. New Jersey Department of Health. Hazardous Substance Fact Sheet for 1,2,4-Trichlorobenzene, CAS NO. 120-82-1, June 1986.

  41. NUS Corporation. 1983. Internal Correspondence from P. Clay, FIT, to M.S. Hohman, Director, EPA Waste Management Division. RE: Interim Draft Report, Silresim Air Monitoring. March 29, 1983.

  42. NUS Corporation. 1983. Silresim Air Monitoring Study. Prepared for EPA, Hazardous Waste Management Division. September 1983.

  43. Page, H.S., Asire, A.J. 1985. Cancer Rates and Risks. 3rd Edition. Washington, D.C., National Institutes of Health. Publication no. 85-691.

  44. Perkins Jordan, Inc. 1982. Hydrogeologic Investigation, Silresim Chemical Corporation, Lowell, Massachusetts. Prepared for Massachusetts DEQE, Division of Water Pollution Control. February 1982.

  45. Perkins Jordan, Inc. 1983. Addendum to Hydrogeologic Investigation, Silresim Chemical Corporation, Lowell, Massachusetts. Prepared for Massachusetts DEQE, Division of Water Pollution Control. March 1983.

  46. Perkins Jordan, Inc. 1982. Remedial Action Study, Silresim Chemical Corporation Site, Lowell, Massachusetts. Prepared for Massachusetts DEQE, Division of Water Pollution Control. April 27, 1982.

  47. Perkins Jordan, Inc. 1982. Addendum to Remedial Action Study, Silresim Chemical Corporation Site, Lowell, Massachusetts. Prepared for Massachusetts DEQE, Division of Water Pollution Control. July 26, 1982.

  48. Personal Communication with C. Rodman, Director, Retired Senior Volunteer Program. January 1991.

  49. Personal Communication with B. Desmarais, Chairman, Lowell Board of Health. February 1991.

  50. Personal Communication with Lowell Housing Authority. February 1991.

  51. Personal Communication with R. Cohen, Superintendent of Distribution, Lowell Water Supply. February 1991.

  52. Personal Communication with Lowell School Department. January 1991.

  53. Personal Communication with Lowell Building Department. November 1991.

  54. Personal Communication with R. Petre, Massachusetts Department of Public Health, Lead Prevention Program. November 1991.

  55. Personal Communication with L. McVickar, United States Environmental Protection Agency, May 1991.

  56. Scannell Boiler Works. Letter to M.R. Deland, Esquire, Regional Administrator, U.S. EPA, Region I. RE: Silresim Superfund Site - Remedial Investigation Report.

  57. Schottenfeld, D. and Fraumeni, J.F. 1982. Cancer Epidemiology and Prevention. W.B. Saunders Co., Philadelphia.

  58. Squitieri, Tom. 1984. Toxic Waste Victims Evoke Tears, Support. The Lowell Sun. April 12,1984.

  59. TRC Environmental Consultants, Inc. 1982. Field Investigation of Silresim Chemical Waste Site and Surrounding Neighborhood, Lowell, Massachusetts. Prepared for Massachusetts DEQE. November 23, 1982.

  60. U.S. Department of Commerce. 1982. 1980 Census of Population: General Population Characteristics, Massachusetts. Washington, D.C., U.S. Government Printing Office.

  61. Weidmann, Gerard F., Ackermann, Jerry. 1978. Suspect, 17, Charged in Lowell Fire, Blast. The Boston Evening Globe. August 21, 1978.

  62. Move Families in Dump Area, EPA Urged. 1983. The Boston Globe. March 13, 1983.


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