Evaluation of Beryllium in Surface Soil
STARMET/NUCLEAR METALS, INCORPORATED SITE
(a/k/a NUCLEAR METALS, INCORPORATED)
CONCORD, MIDDLESEX COUNTY, MASSACHUSETTS
This health consultation evaluates data on beryllium concentrations in surface soil samples taken at the Starmet/Nuclear Metals, Inc., National Priorities List (NPL) site in Concord, Massachusetts. In 2001, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA), Removal Program Office, Region I, conducted soil sampling for inorganic metals and radionuclides (e.g., uranium) at two specific areas on the site in response to reports of possible buried drums. These locations are (1) just to the south of the cooling water recharge pond, and (2) to the east of the former holding basin and south of the sphagnum bog, known as the "old landfill" area (see Figure 1). The USEPA asked the U.S. Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) to evaluate soil sampling results, specifically for beryllium concentrations, in terms of possible health concerns. The Massachusetts Department of Public Health, Bureau of Environmental Health Assessment (MDPH/BEHA), has a cooperative agreement with ATSDR to conduct public health assessments or consultations at NPL or other hazardous waste sites in Massachusetts, and hence, this consultation is being conducted by MDPH/BEHA. MDPH/BEHA is also conducting a public health assessment (PHA) for the Starmet site. An evaluation of other data generated during the USEPA Removal Program activities will be included in the PHA for the site. However, based on the USEPA's specific request, only the beryllium data are reviewed in this health consultation.
In order to best evaluate health concerns that may be related to opportunities for beryllium exposures at the Starmet site, MDPH/BEHA staff reviewed both the USEPA 2001 sampling data as well as more historical data available from previous site investigations.
In response to reports of possible buried drums on the Starmet site, the USEPA Removal Program Office conducted soil sampling at the site in spring and summer 2001. Sampling focused on the two suspected drum disposal areas between the cooling water recharge pond and holding basin, and to the east of the holding basin. In 49 locations, soil samples were taken at a 3-inch depth (surface soil), while at 21 other locations; samples were taken from a 24-inch depth (subsurface soil). Two 24-inch depth samples were taken in the northern portion of the property. Ten 3-inch samples were taken at offsite locations thought to represent background conditions and located within a half-mile of the site. Four different town conservation lands were sampled for background concentrations. Samples were analyzed for beryllium using methods detailed in the USEPA, Office of Solid Waste, Test Methods for Evaluating Solid Waste, SW-846, Third Edition, Update III. Figures 2 and 3 show the onsite and background sample locations.
Results from the two drum disposal areas showed that beryllium concentrations were generally higher in the old landfill area than near the cooling water recharge pond area. Table 1 shows results of surface soil sampling.
In the cooling water recharge pond area, concentrations ranged from 0.51 to 4.11 parts per million (ppm) beryllium, with an average of 2.39 ppm in the 3-inch samples (total of 9 samples). In the 24-inch samples, the range was from 0.78 to 2.58 ppm, with an average of 1.71 ppm (total of 7 samples).
In the old landfill area, the range of concentrations in the 3-inch samples was 0.28 to 1,300 ppm, with an average of 75.5 ppm (total of 25 samples). In the 24-inch samples, the concentrations ranged from 0.41 to 29.1 ppm, with an average of 4.92 ppm (total of 12 samples).
Nine samples were taken in between the two drum disposal areas (samples 17 through 25) Five samples from the 3-inch depth showed beryllium concentrations ranging from 0.43 to 2.02 ppm, while three of the four samples from the 24-inch depth were 0.6 ppm or less. A fourth sample taken from a 24-inch depth showed a beryllium concentration of 68 ppm (sample 23d).
Ten surface soil samples (63s through 72s) were taken generally to the south and east of the old landfill area. Concentrations ranged from 0.05 to 1.92 ppm, with an average beryllium concentration of 0.37 ppm. An additional ten surface soil samples were taken at off-site locations (four town conservation lands) to represent background conditions (Figure 3). Beryllium concentrations in samples from three of the four conservation lands ranged from 2.59 to 3.93 ppm. Two samples from the fourth conservation land property (samples 73s and 74s), located on the Assabet River, showed concentrations of 60.1 and 25.9 ppm, which are higher than all other areas sampled, onsite or offsite, other than the samples from the old landfill area.
In order to more fully evaluate the 2001 USEPA soil sample results, MDPH/BEHA also reviewed available information from previous investigations conducted at the Starmet site for beryllium in surface soil. Specifically, surface soil sampling results are available for beryllium from the following reports:
1984 Soil Monitoring Program and Additional Soil Analysis for NMI Facility (GZA 1985)
Phase II Comprehensive Site Assessment (GZA 1994)
Supplemental Phase II Field Investigation (GZA 1996)
Additional Phase II Field Investigation (GZA 1998)
Table 2 summarizes surface soil data from these previous investigations. Figure 4 depicts sample locations. It should be noted that Figure 4 does not show sampling locations for the 1984 study as MDPH/BEHA was unable to locate a map showing all the sampling points of this effort.
In order to meet requirements by the Concord Board of Health to study the possible extent of metals migration in soil around the holding basin on the site, soil sampling was conducted by a Nuclear Metals Inc. (NMI) contractor in 1984. A total of 162 samples were taken from 81 locations. Fifteen of the locations were along the eastern property line, while the other locations were near the holding basin. For each location, samples were taken at 0-1 inch and 3-4 inch depths. For the 15 locations along the eastern boundary, all the samples for each depth were composited and analyzed for metals, including beryllium. Thus, one composite sample per depth was available to represent the 15 perimeter locations. For the holding basin locations, samples were composited into five samples per depth, with three of the composites representing locations closer to the holding basin perimeter than the other two samples. MDPH/BEHA was unable to locate any description in the GZA 1985 report as to the specific laboratory analytical method used for the beryllium analyses.
The results from the eastern property line showed beryllium concentrations of less than 0.38 ppm (0-1 inch; sample C-1) and 0.30 ppm (3-4 inch; sample C-2). For the 0-1 inch samples around the holding basin, beryllium concentrations ranged from 0.52 to 2.1 ppm, with an average of 1 ppm (samples C-3, C-5, C-7, C-9, C-11). For the 3-4 inch samples around the holding basin, concentrations ranged from 0.39 to 2.1 ppm, with an average of 0.9 ppm (samples C-4, C-6, C-8, C-10, C-12).
Environmental sampling was undertaken by a contractor for NMI, in fulfillment of requirements to conduct a Phase II Comprehensive Site Assessment in accordance with Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MDEP) regulations. The results of this investigation are contained in a 1994 report. For this investigation, surface soil samples were taken in May 1994 from 16 locations around the site (soil sample series L-1 through L-16; see Figure 4 for locations). Sample locations were approved by the MDEP and included areas around the northeast end of Building D, around Building E, and in a low lying area south of Building E that received runoff from a former waste handling area (see Figure 1 for site map). In addition, three locations elsewhere in Concord were analyzed for beryllium concentrations to represent background conditions.
Soil samples were taken from 0-2 inch and 2-6 inch depths at each location. Samples were analyzed with EPA method 6010. The maximum beryllium concentration reported in 0-2 inch soil samples was 2 ppm, while for the 2-6 inch depth, it was 1.5 ppm. The average concentration in both the 0-2 inch and 2-6 inch depth samples was 0.57 ppm. The maximum concentration reported at a background location (0-2 inch) was just under 0.5 ppm. These background locations (A, B, C) are shown in Figure 3.
To supplement work detailed in the 1994 Phase II Comprehensive Site Assessment report, additional environmental sampling was conducted in August 1996 at the site. Twenty locations along the northern and eastern portions of the site were sampled for beryllium (GS-1 through GS-20; see Figure 4 for locations). Samples were taken from 0-2 inch and from 2-6 inch depths at each location and analyzed for beryllium using EPA method 6010. The maximum beryllium concentration in 0-2 inch samples was 0.74 ppm, while it was 0.61 ppm in the 2-6 inch depth samples.
As part of additional field investigations for the Phase II, Comprehensive Site Assessment, more environmental sampling was conducted in June and July 1998. Soil samples were taken around the old landfill area immediately to the south of the bog (GR-1 through GR-9) and from the outfall pipes of the surface water drain lines on the property (OF-1 through OF-3; see Figure 4 for locations). All but one of these three samples were taken at a 3- or 4-inch depths (the text notes samples were taken at a 3-inch depth; the table with results shows a depth of "0.3 ft" for the samples, which would be approximately 4 inches). One sample was taken at a 12-inch depth (GR-7). Beryllium analysis was performed using EPA method 6010.
Results from the old landfill samples showed a maximum concentration of beryllium in the landfill samples of 3,200 ppm. Of eight samples taken at a 3-inch depth, four ranged from 0.47 to 3.24 ppm, while the other four ranged from 55.9 to 3,200 ppm. A ninth sample in this location (GR-7) was taken from a depth of one foot (and thus, not considered surface soil) and showed a beryllium concentration of about 1 ppm. Beryllium results from the outfall samples were 0.5 ppm or less.
This health consultation contains a summary of available beryllium in surface soil concentration data for the Starmet site. To provide a screening level evaluation of the potential health significance of beryllium detected in soil at the site, concentrations were compared with ATSDR comparison values (ATSDR 2001). ATSDR comparison values are chemical- and media-specific concentrations that are used to select environmental contaminants for further evaluation.
Comparison values are screening values. Chemical concentrations less than a comparison value are unlikely to pose a health threat. However, concentrations above a comparison value do not necessarily represent a health threat. For beryllium in soil, comparison values include an Environmental Media Evaluation Guide (EMEG). If the concentration of beryllium in soil is greater than the EMEG, the potential for exposure to beryllium in soil should be further evaluated for the specific situation to determine whether non-cancer health effects may be possible. EMEG values are derived for different durations of exposure, according to ATSDR guidelines. Acute EMEGs correspond to exposures lasting less than 14 days. Intermediate EMEGs correspond to exposures lasting 14-365 days. Chronic EMEGs correspond to exposures for more than one year. All the comparison values are derived assuming opportunities for exposures in a residential setting.
The chronic EMEG for beryllium in soil is 50 ppm for young children (i.e., less than five years of age) and 700 ppm for older children and adults.
It should also be noted that beryllium is present in the earth's crust at an average concentration of approximately 2-5 ppm (ATSDR 2000), and thus, background concentrations of beryllium exist in soils. For the eastern U.S., typical background concentrations range from less than one to about 7 ppm, with an estimated average concentrated of 0.85 ppm (Shacklette and Boerngen 1984; ATSDR 2000).
Review of available data on beryllium in surface soil on the Starmet site indicate that concentrations that exceeded ATSDR's comparison value for soil were located in the old landfill area, south of the sphagnum bog. All other surface soil data for other areas of the site, including the northern and eastern portions of the site, have not indicated that beryllium concentrations in surface soil exceeded ATSDR's health-based screening values. Thus, opportunities for exposures to beryllium in soil in these other areas of the site are not expected to result in health effects and are not discussed further in this document.
The EPA 2001 sampling also included 23 subsurface soil samples (i.e., samples taken at 24-inch depths). All but one sample were less than ATSDR's health-based screening values for beryllium in soil. Sample 23d indicated a concentration of 68 ppm beryllium. Three other surface soil samples in the vicinity of sample 23d all showed beryllium concentrations 0.6 ppm or less. Because contact with subsurface soil does not occur under routine conditions (e.g., no excavation is occurring), this potential exposure pathway is not complete. The available subsurface soil data from the EPA 2001 investigation do not suggest widespread concentrations of beryllium above health-based screening values.
One of the four town conservation lands sampled for background concentrations indicated beryllium concentrations (60.1 and 25.9 ppm) above what typical background has been reported in the literature (i.e., less than 1 to 7 ppm) or other Concord background data (less than 0.5 ppm). One sample exceeded the ATSDR EMEG for young children. Discussion of this background location will be included later in this document.
Combining available data from the 1998 and 2001 site investigations, eight of 33 surface soil samples in the old landfill area exceeded ATSDR's health-based screening value for young children (i.e., 50 ppm for children less than 5 years of age). These exceedances ranged from 55.9 to 3,200 ppm. Three samples (30s, GR-5, GR-6) exceeded the older children and adult screening value of 700 ppm. The average concentration of beryllium in surface soil on the old landfill area based on the 33 sample results from 1998 and 2001 testing is 183 ppm. Figure 5 shows the sample locations where surface soil samples exceeded ATSDR screening values for beryllium in soil.
Opportunities for exposures and hence health effects from beryllium in surface soil are further evaluated in this health consultation. The area near the old landfill where one of the buried drums spots is located was recently fenced with a temporary snow fence and warning signs. However, prior to that time, the area was completely accessible. Walking paths are evident near and around this area, which is mostly wooded, with forest debris (e.g., pine needles) (see Figures 6-9). The sphagnum bog, located just north of the old landfill area, is an open area. In addition, a staff person from USEPA observed teenagers setting up a tent on one of the old "access" roads near the old landfill, although not in the specific locations of the elevated beryllium concentrations. The teenagers were attending the nearby Camp Thoreau, which is a summer day camp for children age 3.5 and older. [The camp also offers programs during school vacations.] The grounds of Camp Thoreau are located several hundred yards to the southwest of the old landfill area. It is clear that local residents as well as individuals attending the camp use the area adjacent to the Starmet facility for walking, running, or other recreational activities. In addition, employees of the Starmet facility may have accessed this area in the past and under current conditions.
The greatest opportunities for exposures to beryllium in soil would likely occur via incidental hand-to-mouth activity, that is, by ingesting soil contaminated with beryllium. Another potential exposure pathway would be inhalation of soil particles that may become airborne (e.g., via wind, excavation). Beryllium in soil does not absorb well through intact skin and thus the dermal route of exposure is not expected to be an important exposure route and is not further evaluated here.
In order to evaluate possible public health implications, estimates of opportunities for exposure to beryllium in soil must be combined with what is known about beryllium's toxicity. ATSDR has developed minimal risk levels (MRL) for many chemicals, including beryllium. An MRL is an estimate of daily human exposure to a substance that is likely to be without an appreciable risk of adverse non-cancer health effects over a specified duration of exposure. MRLs are derived based on no-observed-adverse-effect levels (NOAELs) or lowest-observed-adverse-effect levels (LOAELs) from either human or animal studies. The LOAELs or NOAELs reflect the actual levels of exposure that are used in studies. To derive MRLs, ATSDR also accounts for uncertainties about the toxicity of a compound by applying various margins of safety, thereby establishing a level that is well below a level of health concern.
An MRL for beryllium based on oral exposures, such as would occur with incidental ingestion of soil containing beryllium, has been established. Specifically, an MRL of 0.001 milligram beryllium/kilogram body weight per day (mg/kg-day) has been derived for chronic duration oral exposures to beryllium (i.e., for 365 days or more). This is based on a chronic dog feeding study in which ulcerative gastrointestinal lesions were observed. The LOAEL from the study was 1.0 mg/kg-day, and the NOAEL was 0.1 mg/kg-day. An uncertainty factor of 100 was added to this NOAEL to derive the MRL of 0.001 mg/kg-day.
For beryllium, the inhalation route of exposure is of greatest concern for systemic effects, as beryllium is poorly absorbed after dermal or oral exposures (e.g., less than one percent ingested beryllium is absorbed through the gastrointestinal tract [ATSDR 2000]). The respiratory tract is the primary target of inhalation exposure to beryllium. Inhalation of some forms of beryllium can cause chronic beryllium disease (berylliosis). Beryllium is also considered by the USEPA as a probable human carcinogen by the inhalation route of exposure.
Information on health effects resulting from inhalation of beryllium comes primarily from occupational studies in which workers were exposed during such activities as metal refining, manufacturing ceramics, or extraction processes. There has been some information on potential health effects on residents living near beryllium manufacturing facilities or in families of beryllium workers who brought home contaminated clothing. Based on the body of literature, the USEPA derived a reference concentration for beryllium in air of 0.02 microgram beryllium/cubic meter air (µg/m3). This value has also been adopted by ATSDR as a screening value. The reference concentration is based on an occupational study of workers in a facility manufacturing beryllium ceramics. The USEPA defines a reference concentration as an estimate with safety factors built in, of the daily, lifetime exposure of human populations, including more sensitive populations, such as children, to a possible hazard that is not likely to result in harm to the person. For the general population, daily exposures assume 24-hour per day exposures.
Because beryllium is considered carcinogenic by the inhalation route of exposure, ATSDR has also derived a cancer risk evaluation guide (CREG) value of 0.0004 µg/m3 beryllium in air. The CREG is derived based on daily exposure over a lifetime (i.e., 70 years).
As noted earlier, in order to assess the potential for health effects from opportunities for exposures to beryllium in surface soil, assumptions about use of the old landfill area of the site are combined with toxicity information on beryllium. The area around the Starmet facility is a wooded area with paths that were and are clearly being used by residents for various recreational activities (e.g., dog-walking, jogging). In addition, employees of the Starmet facility may have had opportunities for exposures in this area.
Further evaluating opportunities for exposures to beryllium in surface soil in the old landfill area, we conservatively assumed that 3 ½ year old children from Camp Thoreau would spend every day at the old landfill area during the approximately two summer months that Camp Thoreau has programs (e.g., the camp offers programs from June 24 through August 23, 2002). We also assumed that all of the daily amount of soil young children ingested came from this area during those days (i.e., USEPA reports that a conservative estimate of the average amount of soil ingested a day for young children (i.e., less than 5 years old) is 200 mg (USEPA 1997). We then assumed that the average beryllium in surface soil concentration from the old landfill area is 183 ppm. Under these assumptions, it is unlikely that adverse health effects will occur via incidental ingestion of soil.(1)
For older children (i.e., older than 5 but less than 18 years old), who may use the area more frequently, we assumed that they played specifically in the old landfill area for half the days of a year (i.e., 180 days). The USEPA (1997) reports that a conservative estimate of average soil ingestion per day for older children and adults is 100 mg/day. As above, under these assumptions, it is unlikely that adverse health effects will occur via incidental ingestion of soil.(2)
Similarly, under another scenario, we assumed employees of the facility accessed the old landfill area two days per week for a year, or a total of 104 days per year. Using the same soil ingestion assumptions and average detected beryllium soil concentrations, opportunities for exposures to workers via soil ingestion would not be expected to result in health effects.
It is also possible that some individuals (e.g., walkers, joggers) may use the trails adjacent to the facility grounds, including the old landfill area, on a daily basis. However, opportunities for exposure to beryllium in soil seem likely to be relatively low under these circumstances. The above scenarios represent conservative assumptions (e.g., all soil ingested on a daily basis originated from the old landfill area). Walking or jogging do not necessarily mean that soil would be ingested by the individuals.
The above scenarios represent conservative assumptions (e.g., all soil ingested on a daily basis originated from the old landfill area). The estimated exposures discussed in these scenarios result in exposures lower than the MRL, which itself is set at a level 1,000 times lower than the lowest reported dose that produced health effects in either animals or humans via the oral route of exposure.
As noted earlier in this document, one of the town conservation properties sampled for background conditions had beryllium concentration of about 26 and 60 ppm in the two surface soil samples available for the property. These concentrations are clearly higher than the other three conservation properties sampled, as well as most on-site sample locations. Assuming similar use patterns for conservation lands as assumed for the area near the old landfill, opportunities for exposures to beryllium in these soils are not likely to result in health effects if the soil concentrations are representative (or an overestimate) of soil concentrations throughout this property (see figures 10 and 11 for pictures of general area where sampling was conducted). However, because there are only 2 samples available from the property, and both samples showed beryllium concentrations above background, it is important to better characterize beryllium concentrations on the property to better assess potential health concerns and possibly identify a source of the beryllium.
Another potential exposure pathway to beryllium in surface soil is via inhalation of soil particles that have become airborne. The ATSDR screening value for beryllium in ambient air is 0.02 µg/m3, which is based on non-cancer effects and assumes daily exposures. The USEPA considers beryllium a probable human carcinogen by the inhalation route of exposure (USEPA 1998). ATSDR has developed a Cancer Risk Evaluation Guide (CREG) for beryllium in air, which is 0.0004 µg/m3. CREGs are derived assuming a lifetime of daily exposures. Both screening values were derived from studies on occupational exposures to beryllium in air (e.g., during ceramics manufacturing processes).
The inhalation pathway is difficult to evaluate, as MDPH/BEHA is not aware of any ambient air data that have been generated for beryllium on the site. In the absence of data, MDPH/BEHA reviewed data from the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MDEP) on annual average air concentrations of particulate matter in Sudbury, Massachusetts, adjacent to Concord (MDEP does not have data for Concord). The Sudbury air monitoring station, previously located at the corner of Route 117 and Water Row, is considered by MDEP to represent background rural/suburban conditions for the Boston area (McGrath, pers.comm. 2002). Data from this station are available from 1988 to 1998. Over this time period the annual average concentrations of inhalable particulate matter (i.e., particulate matter less than 10 microns in diameter or PM10) in Sudbury ranged from 13-17 µg/m3 (MDEP 1999). If we assume the average beryllium in soil concentration in the old landfill area (183 ppm) and that all the PM10 directly above the area originates from soil in the old landfill area, the corresponding beryllium in air concentration would range from approximately 0.0024-0.0031 µg/m3, or less than the screening value for non-cancer effects but higher than the CREG for beryllium.
This scenario is highly conservative. If soil particles from the old landfill area become airborne, these soil particles would mix with other airborne particulates, thereby diluting the overall concentration of beryllium in airborne particulates. It also seems unlikely that significant amounts of inhalable soil particles from the old landfill area would become airborne, as the area is in a wooded section with forest debris on the ground (see Figures 6 through 9). Individuals jogging or walking on nearby trails would most likely be in the old landfill area for a few moments. The health-based screening values assume daily exposures (over a 24-hour period) to contaminants in ambient air. In the case of the CREG, exposures are assumed to occur over a lifetime. It seems unlikely that individuals, such as children who may play or camp in the area, would spend 24-hours at a time specifically in the old landfill area more than several days to a few weeks a year.
In addition, if significant amounts of airborne particles with beryllium were being generated from the old landfill area, it seems likely that nearby areas might show similar soil concentrations of beryllium from deposition of the airborne particulates. The available data at the site and at off-site locations do not indicate a pattern that would suggest such deposition, as surface soil concentrations of beryllium have not been shown to exceed the range of background concentrations reported in the literature at any other onsite or offsite location, with the exception of one of the town conservation lands sampled by the USEPA in 2001 and discussed earlier in this document.
Given the probable use patterns of the old landfill area, available inhalable particulate data, concentrations typical of background conditions for surface soil at other locations on the site, and consideration of exposure assumptions used to derive health-based screening values, it does not seem likely that opportunities for exposures to beryllium in airborne soil particles would result in health effects, assuming no active excavation is being conducted. Should the old landfill area be excavated, precautions should be taken to minimize dust from being generated and migrating beyond the immediate area.
The type of cancer associated with beryllium exposures via inhalation is lung cancer (ATSDR 2000). The public health assessment being prepared by MDPH/BEHA on the Starmet site will include a detailed evaluation of lung cancer incidence in Concord and the geographic distribution of lung cancer incident cases including the area around the Starmet facility.
The ATSDR health-based screening values for ingestion and inhalation exposures are derived based on the assumption that opportunities for exposures correspond to a residential setting. At the present time, the old landfill area is not a residential area. Should residential development occur in the future, however, opportunities for exposure can increase such that health concerns, particularly for young children, may result. It would therefore be prudent public health practice to prevent opportunities for increased exposures that may result should future residential development occur in this area.
ATSDR and MDPH, through ATSDR's Child Health Initiative, recognize that the unique vulnerabilities of infants and children demand special emphasis when evaluating opportunities for exposures to environmental contaminants. Children are at a greater risk than adults from certain kinds of exposure to hazardous substances emitted from waste sites. They are more likely to be exposed for several reasons. Because of their small stature, they may breathe dust, soil, and heavy vapors close to the ground. Children are also smaller, resulting in higher doses of chemical exposure per body weight. The developing body systems of children can sustain permanent damage if certain toxic exposures occur during critical growth stages. Most importantly, children depend completely on adults for risk identification and management decisions, housing decisions, and access to medical care.
MDPH/BEHA evaluated the likelihood of exposures from beryllium at the Starmet site and included consideration of opportunities for exposures to young children in this evaluation. See the "Discussion" section for further details.
This health consultation reviewed available surface soil data for beryllium at the Starmet site. Data reviewed included data generated during 2001 by the USEPA, as well as data from earlier site investigations. Results of this evaluation showed that beryllium in surface soil concentrations exceeded health-based screening values in the old landfill area of the site. Also, one of two samples taken from a town conservation property to the north of the site and on the Assabet River also showed a beryllium concentrate above a health-based screening value.
It appears that the onsite area of contamination (old landfill area) is somewhat confined, as a number of other samples collected both in 2001 and earlier have not indicated levels above screening values in surface soils at other areas of the site. Exposure opportunities (i.e., via soil ingestion or inhalation of airborne soil particles) were evaluated for different population groups including young children. Evaluation of exposure opportunities to beryllium in the old landfill area did not suggest that adverse health effects were likely, based on conservative assumptions related to past or current use of the old landfill area. In addition, the physical characteristics of this area (e.g., woodlands with forest floor debris) reduce exposure opportunities to passersby, e.g., while jogging. However, should the use patterns of the site change in the future (e.g., residential development), the risk of public health impacts may increase. Because of this consideration, MDPH/BEHA believes that appropriate measures should be taken to remediate the old landfill area to prevent opportunities for exposures to beryllium in surface soil in the future.
Evaluation of exposure opportunities to beryllium in surface soil on a town conservation land with concentrations above background also did not suggest that adverse health impacts are likely under past or current conditions. However, the limited environmental sampling data for this property is a significant data gap. It is important to both characterize this property not only to better assess potential public health concerns but also to identify a potential source.
ATSDR requires that one of five conclusion categories be used to summarize findings of a health consultation. The categories are: 1) Urgent Public Health Hazard, 2) Public Health Hazard, 3) Indeterminate Public Health Hazard, 4) No Apparent Public Health Hazard, 5) No Public Health Hazard. A category is selected from site-specific conditions such as the degree of public health hazard based on the presence and duration of human exposure, contaminant concentration, the nature of toxic effects associated with the site related contaminants, presence of physical hazards, and community health concerns.
Based on ATSDR criteria, ATSDR would classify the beryllium concentrations in surface soils at the Starmet site under past and current conditions as posing "No Apparent Public Health Hazard" based on the likely use patterns and physical characteristics of the site, as well as the likely population affected. However, MDPH believes it is important to note that this classification is based on current sampling data and assumes that the types of site activities/contact described in the consultation are an accurate description of historical contact with the site. Under future conditions ATSDR would classify the soil results in the old landfill area as posing a "Public Health Hazard" because of the potential to result in adverse health impacts should site use and condition change, resulting in increased opportunities for exposure.
In order to prevent potential future health impacts, the USEPA should undertake appropriate measures to remediate the old landfill area.
The USEPA should better characterize the beryllium in surface soil at the town conservation land located north of the Starmet site and on the Assabet River.
- MDPH/BEHA will review all other results (e.g., metals, radionuclides) generated by the USEPA during its 2001 sampling events in the public health assessment on the Starmet site.
- MDPH/BEHA will include an evaluation of lung cancer incidence including an examination of the geographic distribution of incident cases in the comprehensive public health assessment on the Starmet site.
- MDPH/BEHA will incorporate the results of this health consultation on beryllium into its evaluation of available environmental data for the Starmet site in the public health assessment being conducted by MDPH/BEHA.
ATSDR. 2000. Toxicological profile for beryllium. U.S. Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, Atlanta, GA.
ATSDR. 2001. Comparison value tables. U.S. Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, Atlanta, GA.
GZA. 1985. 1984 Soil monitoring program and additional soil analyses for NMI facility, 2229 Main Street, Concord, MA. Goldberg-Zoino & Associates, Newton, MA.
GZA. 1994. Results of field investigation: Phase II comprehensive site assessment, NMI facility, 2229 Main Street, Concord, MA.
GZA. 1996. Supplemental Phase II field investigation: Nuclear Metals, Inc., 2229 Main Street, Concord, MA. GZA Geo-Environmental, Inc., Newton, MA.
GZA. 19998. Additional Phase II field investigation: Starmet Corporation, 2229 Main Street, Concord, MA. GZA Geo-Environmental, Inc., Newton, MA.
McCrath, T. 2002. Personal communication with Greg Merriman, Massachusetts Department of Public Health, January 16, 2002, regarding particulate matter air monitoring. Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection, Boston, MA.
MDEP. 1999. Massachusetts 1998 Air Quality Report. Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection, Bureau of Waste Prevention, Boston, MA.
Shacklette, HT, and JG Boerngen. 1984. Element concentrations in soils and other materials of the conterminous United States. U.S. Geological Survey Professional Paper 1270.
USEPA. 1997. Exposure Factors Handbook. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Washington, DC.
USEPA. 1998. Toxicological review of beryllium and compounds. In support of summary information on the Integrated Risk Information System (IRIS). EPA/635/R-98/008. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Washington, DC.
The Health Consultation on Evaluation of Beryllium in Surface Soil, Starmet/Nuclear Metals, Inc., Site, was prepared by the Massachusetts Department of Public Health under a cooperative agreement with the federal Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR). It is in accordance with approved methodology and procedures existing at the time the health consultation was initiated. The Division of Health Assessment and Consultation (DHAC), ATSDR, has reviewed this health consultation and concurs with its findings.
Roberta Erlwein, MPH
Technical Project Officer
Superfund Site Assessment Branch (SSAB)
Division of Health Assessment and Consultation (DHAC) ATSDR
Richard E. Gillig, M.C.P.
Section Chief, SPS, SSAB, DHAC, ATSDR
|Location||Beryllium Concentration (ppm)|
|Inside Fence/Cooling Water Recharge Pond|
|Outside Fence Between Cooling Water Recharge Pond and Sphagnum Bog|
|South of Sphagnum Bog (Old Landfill Area)|
|Sample Location||Sample Depth (inch)||Concentration (ppm)|