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HEALTH CONSULTATION

FOR RESIDENTIAL SOIL

VEGA BAJA SOLID WASTE DISPOSAL
RIO ABAJO WARD/LA TROCHA, VEGA BAJA COUNTY, PUERTO RICO


DISCUSSION

A summary describing the type and number of soil samples are presented below:
surface soil (0 - 2 inches) 130
duplicate surface soil 8
subsurface soil (> 2 inches) 19
background 20
duplicate background 2
Total =      179

The chemical of concern at the Vega Baja landfill is lead; therefore, only the lead levels in soil will be reported here. Thelevel of lead in the top two inches of soil ranges from 7 ppm to 26,300 ppm. The level of lead in subsurface soil, the top2 feet, ranges from 18 ppm to 2,540 ppm. Soil samples taken in areas near the landfill (that is background samples) rangefrom 7 ppm to 81 ppm. Twenty-nine properties have lead levels that exceed 1,000 ppm.

Table 1 shows the address and range of lead levels for those properties that exceeded 400 ppm lead in soil. The resultscome from the July/August 1996 and the April 1997 soil samples.



Table 1.

Address Range of lead levels in soil (ppm) depth of sample

5564 Alturas Street 1260 surface*
5556 Alturas Street 725-1490 surface
5559 Alturas Street 749-1630 surface
5561 Alturas Street 1680 surface
5563 Alturas Street 1370-1610 surface
5565 Alturas Street 1090-1100 surface
5569 Alturas Street 1230-2250 surface
5570 Alturas Street 618-1540 surface
5572 Alturas Street 671 - 800 surface
5574 Alturas Street 797-2470 surface
5578 Alturas Street 475 surface
5580 Alturas Street 1240-1770 surface
5580 Alturas Street 1340-1980 subsurface**
Alturas at vacant lot 1380 subsurface
5536 Flamboyan Street 533 surface
5542 Flamboyan Street 268 - 425 surface
Flamboyan Street #18 (Las Monjitas) 1990-6380 surface
5460 Los Angeles Street 1620-6830 surface
5462 Los Angeles Street 2830-26300 surface
5462 Los Angeles Street 1390 subsurface
5466 (lot #451) Los Angeles Street 970-1510 surface
5772 Los Ortiz Street 638 surface
5782 End of Los Ortiz Street 1200-15300 surface
5782 End of Los Ortiz Street 1040-1210 subsurface
353C, Interior of Los Ortiz 960 surface
End of Los Ortiz Street 1470-4290 surface
End of Los Ortiz Street 1210 subsurface
Pentecostal Church 1450 surface
Pentecostal Church 1960 subsurface
5153 Principal Street 633 - 654 surface
5155 Principal Street 56-1990 surface
5165 Principal Street 389 - 575 surface
Principal at Alturas 657-1080 surface
5404 Roberto Clemente Street 77 - 657 surface
5411 Roberto Clemente Street 403 surface
5411 Roberto Clemente Street 18 - 144 subsurface
Street H V-5 Rosario II 28-2990 surface
5349 Santa Maria Street 423 surface
5356 Santa Maria Street 732 surface
5357 Santa Maria Street 3040 surface
5357 Santa Maria Street 1730 subsurface
5365 Santa Maria Street 679-12700 surface
5367 Santa Maria Street 327 - 569 surface
5370 Santa Maria Street 530 - 623 surface
5371 Santa Maria Street 1450 surface
5371 Santa Maria Street 1640-1670 subsurface
5372 Santa Maria Street 415-1670 surface
5373 Santa Maria Street 400 - 438 surface
5375 Santa Maria Street 675 - 819 surface
5376 Santa Maria Street 1100 surface
5376 Santa Maria Street 1940 subsurface
5378 Santa Maria Street 282 - 615 surface
527 Trio Vegabajeno Street 1300-3700 surface
534 Trio Vegabajeno Street 1830-2090 surface
534 Trio Vegabajeno Street 2540 subsurface

* all surface soil samples are from the top 2 inches of soil
** all subsurface soil samples are from the top 2 feet of soil

Children have been living on the Vega Baja site for years. Children, especially pre-school children, might be exposed to smallamounts of lead when they accidentally swallow soil and dust that cling to their hands. EPA has developed a biokinetic model(Integrated Exposure Uptake Biokinetic {IEUBK} Lead Model) that relates multimedia lead exposure to a probability distributionof blood lead levels in exposed children. Based on historical application of EPA's IEUBK model at other hazardous waste sitesin the United States, exposure to lead in soil above 400 ppm could shift the probability distribution of blood lead levels so thatgreater than 5% of the children could have blood lead levels above 10 micrograms per deciliter (µg/dL), the Centers for DiseaseControl and Prevention's level of concern. The shift in blood lead distribution is more pronounced when soil lead levels are above1,000 ppm, resulting in a greater probability of children attaining blood lead levels that are known to cause harmful effects. Insupport of EPA's IEUBK model, slope factors from epidemiological studies that correlate soil lead levels to blood lead levels showan increase of 1 to 8 µg/dL of blood lead in children living in residential areas with lead-contaminated soil for every 1,000 ppm lead in soil (2,3).

PREQB resampled three properties that previously showed very high lead levels (12,700 ppm to 26,300 ppm). The results ofadditional soil samples from the same location on those three properties showed lead levels ranging from approximately 100 ppmto 4,000 ppm. Lead levels from soil samples in other parts of the same properties showed a similar range.

In December 1996, the Puerto Rico Department of Health (DOH) conducted blood lead testing in some children ages 1 to 6 yearswho live on or near the site. The blood lead tests of the children sampled showed levels up to 5.7 µg/dL with a mean of 1.9 µg/dL(4). While the current blood lead results did not find significant lead exposure, the results should not be used to decide that the leadcontamination at the site is not a public health threat. The reasons are

(A)only 7 of 27 residential properties with lead levels in soil greater than 1,000 ppm had children that were tested, and
(B)children with more frequent hand to mouth activity will have greater contact with contaminated soil, thus potentially leading to higher blood lead levels.


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