PUBLIC HEALTH ASSESSMENT
SILRESIM CHEMICAL CORPORATION
LOWELL, MIDDLESEX COUNTY, MASSACHUSETTS
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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
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:
- 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.
- 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.
- The MDPH will conduct health professionals education in relation to the site.
- 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.
- The MDPH will review any additional environmental data that becomes available for the site and modify the health assessment by amendment, when appropriate.
- 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.
Anne T. Fox
Theresa A. Barry
Suzanne K. Condon
Division of Environmental Health Assessment
Massachusetts Department of Public Health
ATSDR Region Representatives
Louise House and Suzanne Simon
Office of Regional Operations
ATSDR Technical Project Officer
Environmental Health EngineerSuperfund Site Assessment Branch
Division of Health Assessment and Consultation
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
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