PUBLIC HEALTH ASSESSMENT
HAUPPAUGE, SUFFOLK COUNTY, NEW YORK
Computer Circuits was a circuit board manufacturing company which operated at 145 MarcusBoulevard in Hauppauge, NY, between 1969 and 1977. In July 1998, Computer Circuits wasproposed for addition to the National Priorities List (NPL) due to the potential for improperlydisposed wastewater to contaminate the local drinking water supply. The site was added to theNPL on May 10, 1999.
While Computer Circuits was in operation, wastewater exceeding limits established by thecompany's State Pollution Discharge Elimination System (SPDES) permit was discharged tounderground leaching pools. These actions left on-site subsurface soils and groundwatercontaminated with heavy metals and volatile organic compounds. In 1976-1977 thecontaminated leaching pools and building interior were cleaned and the company ceasedoperation.
Investigations completed at the site between 1986 and 1996 included limited subsurface soil, soilgas and groundwater sampling. No surface soil or indoor air sampling has been conducted at thesite. Results of subsurface soil sampling and analysis conducted to date show elevated levels ofvolatile organic compounds and metals. However, due to the depth of the contamination, noexposures are expected. Trichloroethene, 1,1,1 - trichloroethane, total 1,2-dichloroethene andcopper were found in on-site groundwater. There are public drinking water supply wellsdowngradient of the site. These wells are contaminated with volatile organic compounds;however, it is unknown if this site is contributing to the contamination. The source or sources ofthe contamination in the wells are unknown. Public water from these wells is treated prior todistribution, reducing human exposures to contamination levels below New York State standardsfor public drinking water supplies. Private drinking water supply wells are not likely to existnear the site, due to the industrial nature of the area and the availability of public drinking water. However, all sources of contamination in the public drinking water supply wells and the presenceof private water supply wells should be determined. On-site surface soils may be contaminatedwith plating wastes. However, no samples have been taken to determine if they pose a healthconcern. Employees and trespassers could access this area, so additional data are needed toevaluate this exposure pathway. Soil gas has high levels of volatile organic compounds near theon-site building. Therefore, indoor air must be sampled to evaluate possible exposures.
No community health concerns have been identified at this site, by county, state or federal healthand environmental agencies. Health outcome data were not evaluated specifically for this site, ascurrent information has not identified any exposures associated with the site. Health outcomedata could be evaluated in the future if additional data indicate exposures.
The New York State Department of Health (NYS DOH) and Agency for Toxic Substances andDisease Registry (ATSDR) have no information that persons have been exposed to site-relatedcontaminants at levels that may cause adverse health effects. However, because of the lack ofsoil, groundwater and indoor air data, the NYS DOH and ATSDR concludes that the siterepresents an indeterminate public health hazard.
Additional surface soil, groundwater and indoor air data are needed to determine whether peopleare currently being or have been exposed to contamination at levels of health concern. Aremedial investigation and feasibility study is currently planned for this site, under United StatesEnvironmental Protection Agency (US EPA) oversight, that will provide needed information. The results of the investigation will be reviewed once available, to determine if any health actions are necessary, and the public health hazard category will be changed accordingly.
Under a cooperative agreement with the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry(ATSDR), the New York State Department of Health (NYS DOH) will evaluate the publichealth significance of the Computer Circuits site. More specifically, ATSDR and the NYS DOHwill determine whether adverse health effects are possible from exposure to site-relatedcontaminants and will recommend actions to reduce or prevent possible health effects. ATSDRis a federal agency within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and is authorizedby the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act of 1980(CERCLA) as amended by the Superfund Amendments and Reauthorization Act (SARA) of1986, to conduct public health assessments at hazardous waste sites proposed for the National Priorities List (NPL).
The Computer Circuits site, 145 Marcus Boulevard in Hauppauge, NY, (see Figure, Appendix A)is owned by MCS Realty of Melville, NY. On July 28, 1998, Computer Circuits was proposedfor addition to the NPL due to the potential for improperly disposed wastewater to contaminatethe local public drinking water supply. The site was added to the NPL on May 10, 1999. Thearea is industrial/commercial and several manufacturing and commercial facilities surround thesite. The nearest residential area is 0.4 miles to the north. The site is about 1.7 acres in size,consists of a single story building, and is bounded by Marcus Boulevard to the west, parking lotsto the north and south and a sand and gravel lot with sparse vegetation behind the building to theeast. Groundwater is the primary source of drinking water on Long Island, and the nearest publicdrinking water supply wellfield is 4,200 feet to the northeast, on Falcon Drive. Depth to groundwater is approximately 100 feet.
Computer Circuits manufactured circuit boards at this location between 1969 and 1977. Themanufacturing process discharged wastewater from the plating operation to undergroundleaching pools to the south and southwest of the building. The Suffolk County Department ofHealth Services (SCDHS) documented concentrations of heavy metals such as lead, copper,nickel, zinc, silver and iron in the waste discharge, which exceeded the limits established by thecompany's State Pollution Discharge Elimination System (SPDES) permit. Trichloroethene,cyanide and flouride were also detected in liquid and sludge discharges above permitted levels. About 0.6 to 2.0 million gallons of wastewater were discharged to the subsurface leaching poolson-site. The disposal of wastewater, which contained elevated concentrations of heavy metals and volatile organic compounds, contaminated soils and the underlying groundwater at the site.
Since Computer Circuits began operations in 1969, until its closure in 1977, the SCDHSreported that the operation of the plating room was generally poor, and spilled chemicals werenoted on the floor. The SCDHS inspector often noted throat and lung irritation during shortperiods of time spent in the plating room. During an inspection of the facility in January 1973,an illegal overflow pipe was discovered leading directly from a leaching pool to the storm seweron Marcus Boulevard. The storm sewer ultimately leads to a recharge basin located southwest ofthe intersection of Kennedy and Marcus Boulevards. Following a removal of the pipe, thecompany allowed wastewater from the plant to flow from the leaching pools down the paved driveway to the public street, and ultimately to the storm sewer, potentially exposing the publicto hazardous materials and contaminating surface soils.
This overland flow ceased in July 1976 following court efforts to reduce of the quantity ofwastewater and to install new leaching pools. At that time, the five old cesspools were cleanedand closed to the satisfaction of the SCDHS. In June 1977, a SCDHS inspector noted a return toprevious operating conditions and wastewater was again being discharged to leaching pools. Theowner of the adjacent business filed a formal complaint asking for correction of an overflowingcesspool problem which caused water to accumulate in the street in front of his building. Theoverflowing cesspool was located to the north of Computer Circuits. Several inspection reportsindicated the presence of up to 32 barrels of waste products stored haphazardly behind the platingfacility. At one point, a pile of blue-green copper sludge was noted on the ground near thebarrels. This pile was immediately cleaned up by an employee, following its discovery by theSCDHS inspector. Several violation notices and fines were issued while the company was inbusiness, without proper resolution, and a criminal action suit was filed. Operations ceased in1977 in response to an injunction filed by the New York State Department of EnvironmentalConservation (NYS DEC). After Computer Circuits vacated the site, the interior of the buildingwas cleaned to the satisfaction of the SCDHS. Since that time, a trade school (1977-1980),NAV-TEC (1980-1983) , TYMSHARE (1983 - unknown) and Algorex Power and ControlElectronics (APACE), have occupied this location. NAV-TEC assembled electroniccomponents and TYMSHARE was a tax preparation company. APACE is the current tenant. There is no indication that any tenant subsequent to Computer Circuits has inappropriatelydischarged contaminants to the environment.
Since the closure of Computer Circuits, the property owner, in cooperation with the NYS DEC,conducted several investigations at the site to determine the extent of environmental impactsresulting from improper waste disposal. A NYS DEC initial investigation report was preparedfor the site in January 1986 (Woodward-Clyde Consultants, Inc., 1986), and documented thedischarge of wastewater containing concentrations of heavy metals exceeding the limitsestablished by the SPDES permit. In 1989, soil and groundwater were investigated (RouxAssociates, Inc., 1989) at the site as required by an Order on Consent between the NYS DEC andthe property owner. Additional groundwater sampling occurred in February 1991, February 1994and October 1995 (P.W. Grosser Consulting, 1996). A soil vapor survey and additionalsubsurface soil and groundwater sampling occurred in February 1996 (CommonwealthAnalytical, 1996).
The most recent NYS DOH site visit was May 14, 1998 by Ms. Wendy Kuehner. At that time,there were no physical hazards visible at the site. Site access was not restricted, but no evidenceof trespassing was observed. Algorex Power and Control Electronics currently occupies the building.
The NYS DOH estimated from the 1990 Census (U.S. Bureau of the Census, 1991) that 5,769people live within one mile of the site. The following chart compares these demographics with statewide averages.
|New York State||Area within 1 mile of site|
|1989 Median Income||$32,965||$60,753|
|% Below Poverty Level||13.0%||1.9%|
Ten subsurface soil samples were collected and analyzed for volatile organic compounds,cadmium, chromium, nickel, zinc, copper, lead, silver and iron as part of the 1989 subsurface soiland groundwater investigation. Volatile organic compounds were detected at levels below healthcomparison values. Concentrations of metals at each sample location were also below healthcomparison values and Eastern USA Background Soil Conditions.
Five additional soil borings were installed in September 1995 near the former leaching pools atthe site. These soil borings contained volatile organic compounds including acetone,tetrachloroethene and trichloroethene at levels below health comparison values. Metals, including cadmium, nickel, silver, lead, mercury, copper and zinc, were detected at levels abovebackground conditions in subsurface soils (10 - 37 feet below the ground surface) in threelocations.
Starting in March 1996, the US EPA collected fourteen subsurface soil samples for volatileorganic compound and metals analysis. These compounds were detected at levels significantlyabove background. However, due to the depth of contamination, it is unlikely that anyone willcome into contact with these soils. Therefore, this exposure pathway will not be evaluatedfurther.
A soil vapor survey was conducted at the site in February 1996. Results of this survey indicatehigh levels of volatile organic compounds in soil vapor 6 - 8 feet below the ground surface, nearthe former Computer Circuits building. These data suggest that some contamination remains atthe site. The interior of the building was not inspected during the 1998 site visit. Therefore, it isunknown whether there is a basement or floor drains. However, due to the location of theelevated soil vapor reading, indoor air may be affected by site related contamination. No indoorair sampling has been conducted at the site, so additional data are needed to evaluate thispotential exposure pathway. Analysis of air samples within the on-site building is needed todetermine whether employees are being exposed to site-related contaminants. Additionalsubsurface soil samples may be required to determine, if necessary, the source of indoor aircontaminants.
Surface soil samples were not collected at this site. Therefore, it is unknown whether surfacesoils contain contamination at levels of health concern. It is an industrial area and not frequentedby the general public. Also, the majority of the site is paved or covered with vegetation, limitingcontact with surface soils. However, due to the potential for employees or trespassers to come incontact with surface soils, samples should be collected from areas most likely affected by pastdisposal practices, and analyzed for contamination to further evaluate this exposure pathway.
Three monitoring wells were installed at the site in February 1989 and sampled to evaluategroundwater quality. Elevated levels of trichloroethene (up to 3,000 micrograms per liter(mcg/L), 1,1,1-trichloroethane (up to 240 mcg/L) and total 1,2-dichloroethene (up to 67 mcg/L)were detected in groundwater samples. Trichloroethene and 1,1,1-trichloroethane were alsodetected in the upgradient monitoring well. Therefore, an upgradient location appears to be anadditional source of the volatile organic compounds detected in on-site groundwater. However,higher concentrations were found in downgradient groundwater samples. These three monitoringwells were sampled again in February 1991, February 1994 and October 1995 and analyzed for awide range of volatile organic compounds, including trichloroethene and its breakdown products. Results from these sampling events show decreasing levels of volatile organic compounds ingroundwater at the site. The types of contaminants detected in downgradient monitoring wellswere again determined to be the same as those detected in the upgradient monitoring well. Barium, cadmium, chromium, lead, copper, nickel, mercury and zinc were all detected ingroundwater samples, but at levels below NYS DOH Drinking Water Standards for publicdrinking water supplies.
In conjunction with the March 1996 subsurface soil investigation, the US EPA installed threenew groundwater monitoring wells at the site. Unlike previous data, groundwater data fromthese wells showed levels of copper significantly above background. The extent ofcontamination has not been fully defined at this site. Therefore, additional groundwater data areneeded to determine if the site poses a threat to downgradient public drinking water supplies.
Public Drinking Water Supply Wells
The closest downgradient public drinking water supply wells are approximately three-quarters ofa mile to the northeast of the site, on Falcon Drive. There are two supply wells which aremaintained by the Suffolk County Water Authority (S-44774 and S-14326). The wells are 293feet and 225 feet deep, respectively. Routine monitoring detected volatile organic compounds inthese wells in September 1977, at levels below the drinking water guidelines in effect at thetime. Chemicals found at the site and detected in the wells included 1,1,1-trichloroethane atlevels up to 7.0 mcg/L in the wells and trichloroethene up to 8.0 mcg/L in the wells. Currentdrinking water standards for these chemicals are 5 mcg/L. The wells were equipped with granularactivated carbon filters in 1988 and 1990, to minimize public exposure to contaminated drinkingwater. The most recent sampling data for the Falcon Drive municipal wells continue to showlevels of volatile organic compounds which slightly exceed New York State Drinking WaterStandards for Public Drinking Water Supplies; however, the water is treated prior to distribution. The Computer Circuits site may have contributed to the contamination in the Falcon Drive wellfield. However, the source or sources of the contamination in these wells remain unknown. Further investigations are warranted to determine the source or sources of volatile organiccompounds in the public drinking water supply well.
Private Drinking Water Supply Wells
It is unknown whether private drinking water supply wells exist near the site. Given the locationof the site in an industrial park and the availability of public drinking water in the area, thepresence of private drinking water supply wells is unlikely. However, a February 1999 RemedialInvestigation Work Plan for the nearby and downgradient 100 Oser Avenue site (Site #152162)includes provisions for a private water supply well survey in the area. Information gatheredduring this investigation will be evaluated to determine the potential for exposures to contaminated groundwater as the data become available.
An exposure pathway describes how a contaminant gets from a source area to an exposedpopulation. There are five elements of an exposure pathway: The source of contamination,environmental media, point of exposure, route of human exposure and receptor population. Sources of contamination are where contaminants were disposed. The environmental media arewhat contaminants move through or with, such as groundwater or soil. Points of exposure arewhere persons could come into contact with the contaminant. The route of human exposure ishow the contaminant enters a person's body, such as ingesting contaminated water or breathingcontaminated air. Anyone who comes into contact with the contaminant is the receptorpopulation. The following table describes the five elements of completed and potential exposure pathways at the Computer Circuits site.
|Exposure Pathway Elements||Time|
|Source of Contamination||Environmental Media||Point of Exposure||Route of Exposure||Receptor Population|
|*Public Water Supply||Computer Circuits Site, Other unknown sources||Groundwater||Residences, businesses||Ingestion, inhalation, |
|Residents, business employees||Past|
|**Private Water Supply||Computer Circuits Site, |
Other unknown sources
|Groundwater||Residences, businesses||Ingestion, inhalation, |
|Residents, business employees||Past, present, future|
|**Surface Soil||Computer Circuits Site||Surface Soil||Computer Circuits Site||Dermal contact, ingestion||On-site employees, trespassers||Past, present, future|
|**Indoor Air||Computer Circuits Site||Air||On-site building||Inhalation||On-site employees||Past, present, future|
** Potential exposure pathway.
The public drinking water supply is the only known route of exposure that may be associatedwith the Computer Circuits site. However, the actual source or sources of contamination in theFalcon Drive public drinking water supply wells are currently unknown, due to its proximity toother listed hazardous waste disposal sites that could also impact the wells. Contaminants at thesite have entered the groundwater and may have traveled with the groundwater to the FalconDrive wellfield. Residents and employees of local businesses were exposed to contaminatedgroundwater in the past, prior to the installation of the treatment system. Additional groundwaterdata are needed to determine the source of the contamination.
The remainder of the table lists potential exposure pathways, including private drinking watersupply wells, surface soil and indoor air. These are potential exposure pathways because at leastone of the five elements are unknown. It is unknown whether private drinking water supplywells exist in the area; therefore, the point of exposure is unknown in this pathway. No surfacesoil samples were collected at the site, so the point of exposure and route of exposure cannot bedetermined at this time. Likewise, no indoor air data have been collected at the site, so it isunknown if people are being exposed to contamination via this pathway. The recommendationssection details what actions and information are needed to determine if any of these exposurepathways, in addition to public drinking water supplies, are complete at the Computer Circuitssite.
Only one completed exposure pathway is defined that may be related to this site: public drinkingwater supply wells. During the period of exposure, levels of 1,1,1-trichloroethane andtrichloroethene in the drinking water were below New York State guidelines for public drinkingwater supplies in effect at the time. The levels of 1,1,1-trichloroethane and trichloroetheneexceeded current drinking water standards. However, we do not know whether the contaminants in the drinking water are from the site.
The remaining exposure pathways lack sufficient data to determine what, if any, health effectsare possible. Recommendations for collection of additional data are included at the end of thisassessment. Once sufficient data are obtained, the public health implications of this site will be evaluated further.
No public meetings have been held for this site. Community concerns about this specific sitehave not been documented with local, state or federal environmental agencies.
The public was invited to review a draft of this public health assessment during the publiccomment period, which ran from February 20, 2001 to April 15, 2001. We received nocomments from residents. The Suffolk County Department of Health Services submitted thefollowing comments:
Comment 1: "We concur and support the conclusions and recommendations for future actions. Our primary question regards cyanide. On page 4, it is mentioned that cyanide was detected in"...liquid and sludge discharge above permitted levels." However, cyanide is not mentioned asbeing detected in groundwater or soil samples. Is this because cyanide was analyzed for and notdetected or where the samples not analyzed for cyanide? If soil and groundwater samples havenot been analyzed for cyanide, we recommend that subsequent surface and subsurface soil, aswell as groundwater samples include this parameter."
Response 1: The NYS DOH and NYS DEC have recently reviewed the draft work plan for theremedial investigation to be completed at the Computer Circuits site. Comments provided to theUS EPA include a request for all soil and groundwater samples collected in the upcominginvestigation to by analyzed for cyanide, in addition to the currently proposed analytes.
Comment 2: "We consider indoor air sampling of the on-site building to be a very importantpublic health action. Because this is an industrial park, many buildings are in close proximity. Therefore, the need for sampling of neighboring buildings should be evaluated."
Response 2: Provisions have been made in the remedial investigation work plan for the site tocollect indoor air samples within the on-site building. The analytical results obtained from thisround of samples will be used to evaluate whether additional sampling is needed in neighboring buildings.
The ATSDR Child Health Initiative emphasizes the ongoing examination of relevant child healthissues in all of the agency's activities, including evaluating child-focused concerns through itsmandated public health assessment activities. The ATSDR and NYS DOH considers childrenwhen we evaluate exposure pathways and potential health effects from environmentalcontaminants. We recognize that children are of special concern because of their greaterpotential for exposure from play and other behavior patterns. Children sometimes differ fromadults in their susceptibility to hazardous chemicals, but whether there is a difference depends onthe chemical. Children may be more or less susceptible than adults to health effects, and the relationship may change with developmental age.
The Computer Circuits site is in an industrial park and manufacturing and commercial facilitiessurround the site. No evidence of trespassing was noted during the site visit in 1998. We do notknow whether contaminants found in public drinking water supply wells in the past are from the site. Currently, contaminants are below standards. Therefore, children's exposures to site-related contaminants are expected to be minimal.
The NYS DOH maintains several health outcome databases. These databases include the cancerregistry, the congenital malformations registry, the heavy metals registry, childhood leadreporting system, vital records (birth and death certificates) and hospital discharge information.
The NYS DOH has not evaluated health outcome data specifically for this site, as currentinformation has not identified any exposures associated with the site. However, in the pastpeople were exposed to contaminants in public drinking water at levels above currentstandards; the source of the contamination is not known. There are no community health studies planned at this time.
The NYS DOH concludes that although some exposures to contaminants may have occurredin the past via the public drinking water supply wells, we do not know whether contaminantscame from the site. Groundwater used as public drinking water is contaminated with lowlevels of volatile organic compounds and is treated prior to use, minimizing exposure. It isunknown if private drinking water supply wells exist in the area. Surface soils and indoor airwere not sampled. Additional data are needed to further evaluate these exposure pathwaysand to determine the potential for current or future exposures of on-site workers andtrespassers to site-related contamination. The NYS DOH and ATSDR have no informationthat persons have been exposed to contaminants from the site at levels that may result inadverse health effects; however, because of the lack of soil, groundwater and indoor air data,and information regarding the presence of private water supply wells, the NYS DOH andATSDR conclude that the site represents an "Indeterminate Public Health Hazard" (seeAppendix D).
Additional surface soil, groundwater and indoor air data are needed to determine whetherpeople are currently being or have been exposed to contamination at levels of health concern. A remedial investigation and feasibility study is currently planned for this site, under USEPA oversight, that will provide needed information. The results of the investigation will bereviewed once available, to determine if any health actions are necessary, and the public health hazard category will be changed accordingly.
The US EPA should:
- Sample surface and subsurface soil to evaluate the potential for on-site workers and trespassers to come in contact with site-related contaminants in soils at the site, and to determine if contaminant levels could cause adverse health effects.
- Sample indoor air to evaluate whether contamination from the site is present at levels of health concern within the former Computer Circuits building.
- Determine the source of volatile organic compounds in the Falcon Drive drinkingwater supply wells, so actions can be taken to protect the public drinking watersupply.
- Determine if any private wells exist near the site, to evaluate the potential forresidents to be exposed to groundwater contamination.
The Public Health Action Plan (PHAP) for the Computer Circuits site contains a description ofactions to be taken by the US EPA, ATSDR and/or NYS DOH following the completion of this health assessment. For those actions already completed at this site, please refer to theBackground section of this public health assessment. The purpose of the PHAP is to ensure that this health assessment not only identifies public health hazards, but provides a plan of actiondesigned to mitigate and prevent adverse human health effects resulting from exposure tohazardous substances in the environment. Included is a commitment on the part of ATSDR andthe NYS DOH to follow-up on this plan to ensure that it is implemented. The public health actions to be implemented are as follows:
- The NYS DOH will review the Remedial Investigation / Feasibility Study report to be prepared for the US EPA, once available, to determine if the necessary data wereobtained to determine the public health hazard posed by the site, and request additional data, if needed.
- The NYS DOH will evaluate additional soil, air and groundwater data as they becomeavailable to determine the overall public health hazard posed by the site.
- The ATSDR will provide follow-up to this PHAP as needed, outlining the actionscompleted and those in progress. The follow-up report will be placed in repositories that contain copies of this public health assessment and will be provided to persons who request it.
The Public Health Assessment for the Computer Circuits site was prepared by the New York State Department of Health under a cooperative agreement with the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR). It is in accordance with approved methodology and procedures existing at the time the public health assessment was initiated.
Gregory V. Ulirsch
Technical Project Officer, SPS, SSAB, DHAC
The Division of Health Assessment and Consultation (DHAC), ATSDR, has reviewed this public health assessment, and concurs with its findings.
Sven E. Rodenbeck
Acting Chief, SSAB, DHAC, ATSDR
Bureau of Environmental Exposure Investigation
New York State Department of Health
ATSDR Regional Representative
Senior Regional Representative
Office of Regional Operations
ATSDR Technical Project Officer
Gregory V. Ulirsch
Environmental Health Engineer
Superfund Site Assessment Branch
Division of Health Assessment and Consultation
Commonwealth Analytical. 1996. Mobile Laboratory Field Analysis Report, Computer CircuitsSite, Hauppauge, NY. February.
P.W. Grosser Consulting. 1996. Groundwater Monitoring Report - Computer Circuits,Hauppauge, NY. February.
Rhodes, James P., 1996. Soil Quality Investigation, Computer Circuits Site, Hauppauge, NY.,P.W. Grosser Consulting.
Roux Associates (Prepared for US EPA). 1992. Computer Circuits Corporation Site InspectionPrioritization Evaluation. June.
Roux Associates, Inc. (Prepared for Shea & Gould). 1989. Investigation Report, Order onConsent (# W10061885), Computer Circuits Site, Hauppauge, New York. May.
US Bureau of the Census. 1990 Census of population and housing summary tape file 1B. US Department of Commerce. 1991.
US Bureau of the Census. 1990 Census of population and housing summary tape file 3A CD- ROM. US Department of Commerce. September 1992.
Woodward-Clyde Consultants, Inc. (Prepared for NYS DEC). 1986. Phase I Investigation: Computer Circuits (Site # 152034) - Town of Hauppauge, Suffolk County. January.
INTERIM PUBLIC HEALTH HAZARD CATEGORIES
|CATEGORY / DEFINITION||DATA SUFFICIENCY||CRITERIA|
|A. Urgent Public Health Hazard |
This category is used for sites where short-termexposures (< 1 yr) to hazardous substances orconditions could result in adverse health effectsthat require rapid intervention.
|This determination represents a professional judgement basedon critical data which ATSDR has judged sufficient to supporta decision. This does not necessarily imply that the availabledata are complete; in some cases additional data may berequired to confirm or further support the decision made.||Evaluation of available relevant information* indicates that site-specific conditions or likely exposures have had, are having, or are likely to have in the future, an adverse impact on human health that requires immediate action or intervention. Such site-specific conditions or exposures may include the presence of serious physical or safety hazards.|
|B. Public Health Hazard|
This category is used for sites that pose a publichealth hazard due to the existence of long-termexposures (> 1 yr) to hazardous substance orconditions that could result in adverse healtheffects.
|This determination represents a professional judgement basedon critical data which ATSDR has judged sufficient to supporta decision. This does not necessarily imply that the availabledata are complete; in some cases additional data may berequired to confirm or further support the decision made.||Evaluation of available relevant information* suggests that, undersite-specific conditions of exposure, long-term exposures to site-specific contaminants (including radionuclides) have had, are having,or are likely to have in the future, an adverse impact on human healththat requires one or more public health interventions. Such site-specific exposures may include the presence of serious physical orsafety hazards.|
|C. Indeterminate Public Health Hazard |
This category is used for sites in which"critical" data are insufficient with regard toextent of exposure and/or toxicologic propertiesat estimated exposure levels.
|This determination represents a professional judgement thatcritical data are missing and ATSDR has judged the data areinsufficient to support a decision. This does not necessarilyimply all data are incomplete; but that some additional data arerequired to support a decision.||The health assessor must determine, using professional judgement,the "criticality" of such data and the likelihood that the data can beobtained and will be obtained in a timely manner. Where some dataare available, even limited data, the health assessor is encouraged tothe extent possible to select other hazard categories and to supporttheir decision with clear narrative that explains the limits of the dataand the rationale for the decision.|
|D. No Apparent Public Health Hazard|
This category is used for sites where humanexposure to contaminated media may beoccurring, may have occurred in the past, and/ormay occur in the future, but the exposure is notexpected to cause any adverse health effects.
|This determination represents a professional judgement basedon critical data which ATSDR considers sufficient to support adecision. This does not necessarily imply that the availabledata are complete; in some cases additional data may berequired to confirm or further support the decision made.||Evaluation of available relevant information* indicates that, undersite-specific conditions of exposure, exposures to site-specificcontaminants in the past, present, or future are not likely to result inany adverse impact on human health.|
|E: No Public Health Hazard|
This category is used for sites that, because ofthe absence of exposure, do NOT pose a publichealth hazard.
|Sufficient evidence indicates that no human exposures tocontaminated media have occurred, none are now occurring,and none are likely to occur in the future|
- How a chemical enters a person's blood after the chemical has been swallowed, has come into contact with the skin, or has been breathed in.
- Acute Exposure:
- Contact with a chemical that happens once or only for a limited period of time. ATSDR defines acute exposures as those that might last up to 14 days.
- Additive Effect:
- A response to a chemical mixture, or combination of substances, that might be expected if the known effects of individual chemicals, seen at specific doses, were added together.
- Adverse Health Effect:
- A change in body function or the structures of cells that can lead to disease or health problems.
- Antagonistic Effect:
- A response to a mixture of chemicals or combination of substances that is less than might be expected if the known effects of individual chemicals, seen at specific doses, were added together.
- The Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry. ATSDR is a federal health agency in Atlanta, Georgia that deals with hazardous substance and waste site issues. ATSDR gives people information about harmful chemicals in their environment and tells people how to protect themselves from coming into contact with chemicals.
- Background Level:
- An average or expected amount of a chemical in a specific environment. Or, amounts of chemicals that occur naturally in a specific environment.
- Used in public health, things that humans would eat - including animals, fish and plants.
- See Community Assistance Panel.
- A group of diseases which occur when cells in the body become abnormal and grow, or multiply, out of control
- Any substance shown to cause tumors or cancer in experimental studies.
- See Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act.
- Chronic Exposure:
- A contact with a substance or chemical that happens over a long period of time. ATSDR considers exposures of more than one year to be chronic.
- Completed Exposure Pathway:
- See Exposure Pathway.
- Community Assistance Panel (CAP):
- A group of people from the community and health and environmental agencies who work together on issues and problems at hazardous waste sites.
- Comparison Value (CVs):
- Concentrations or the amount of substances in air, water, food, and soil that are unlikely, upon exposure, to cause adverse health effects. Comparison values are used by health assessors to select which substances and environmental media (air, water, food and soil) need additional evaluation while health concerns or effects are investigated.
- Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA):
- CERCLA was put into place in 1980. It is also known as Superfund. This act concerns releases of hazardous substances into the environment, and the cleanup of these substances and hazardous waste sites. ATSDR was created by this act and is responsible for looking into the health issues related to hazardous waste sites.
- A belief or worry that chemicals in the environment might cause harm to people.
- How much or the amount of a substance present in a certain amount of soil, water, air, or food.
- See Environmental Contaminant.
- Delayed Health Effect:
- A disease or injury that happens as a result of exposures that may have occurred far in the past.
- Dermal Contact:
- A chemical getting onto your skin. (see Route of Exposure).
- The amount of a substance to which a person may be exposed, usually on a daily basis. Dose is often explained as "amount of substance(s) per body weight per day".
- Dose / Response:
- The relationship between the amount of exposure (dose) and the change in body function or health that result.
- The amount of time (days, months, years) that a person is exposed to a chemical.
- Environmental Contaminant:
- A substance (chemical) that gets into a system (person, animal, or the environment) in amounts higher than that found in Background Level, or what would be expected.
- Environmental Media:
- Usually refers to the air, water, and soil in which chemical of interest are found. Sometimes refers to the plants and animals that are eaten by humans. Environmental Media is the second part of an Exposure Pathway.
- U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA):
- The federal agency that develops and enforces environmental laws to protect the environment and the public's health.
- The study of the different factors that determine how often, in how many people, and in which people will disease occur.
- Coming into contact with a chemical substance.(For the three ways people can come in contact with substances, see Route of Exposure.)
- Exposure Assessment:
- The process of finding the ways people come in contact with chemicals, how often and how long they come in contact with chemicals, and the amounts of chemicals with which they come in contact.
- Exposure Pathway:
- A description of the way that a chemical moves from its source (where it began) to where and how people can come into contact with (or get exposed to) the chemical.
ATSDR defines an exposure pathway as having 5 parts:
- Source of Contamination,
- Environmental Media and Transport Mechanism,
- Point of Exposure,
- Route of Exposure; and,
- Receptor Population.
- How often a person is exposed to a chemical over time; for example, every day, once a week, twice a month.
- Hazardous Waste:
- Substances that have been released or thrown away into the environment and, under certain conditions, could be harmful to people who come into contact with them.
- Health Effect:
- ATSDR deals only with Adverse Health Effects (see definition in this Glossary).
- Indeterminate Public Health Hazard:
- The category is used in Public Health Assessment documents for sites where important information is lacking (missing or has not yet been gathered) about site-related chemical exposures.
- Swallowing something, as in eating or drinking. It is a way a chemical can enter your body (See Route of Exposure).
- Breathing. It is a way a chemical can enter your body (See Route of Exposure).
- Lowest Observed Adverse Effect Level. The lowest dose of a chemical in a study, or group of studies, that has caused harmful health effects in people or animals.
- See Cancer.
- Minimal Risk Level. An estimate of daily human exposure - by a specified route and length of time -- to a dose of chemical that is likely to be without a measurable risk of adverse, noncancerous effects. An MRL should not be used as a predictor of adverse health effects.
- The National Priorities List. (Which is part of Superfund.) A list kept by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) of the most serious, uncontrolled or abandoned hazardous waste sites in the country. An NPL site needs to be cleaned up or is being looked at to see if people can be exposed to chemicals from the site.
- No Observed Adverse Effect Level. The highest dose of a chemical in a study, or group of studies, that did not cause harmful health effects in people or animals.
- No Apparent Public Health Hazard:
- The category is used in ATSDR's Public Health Assessment documents for sites where exposure to site-related chemicals may have occurred in the past or is still occurring but the exposures are not at levels expected to cause adverse health effects.
- No Public Health Hazard:
- The category is used in ATSDR's Public Health Assessment documents for sites where there is evidence of an absence of exposure to site-related chemicals.
- Public Health Assessment. A report or document that looks at chemicals at a hazardous waste site and tells if people could be harmed from coming into contact with those chemicals. The PHA also tells if possible further public health actions are needed.
- A line or column of air or water containing chemicals moving from the source to areas further away. A plume can be a column or clouds of smoke from a chimney or contaminated underground water sources or contaminated surface water (such as lakes, ponds and streams).
- Point of Exposure:
- The place where someone can come into contact with a contaminated environmental medium (air, water, food or soil). For examples:
the area of a playground that has contaminated dirt, a contaminated spring used for drinking water, the location where fruits or vegetables are grown in contaminated soil, or the backyard area where someone might breathe contaminated air.
- A group of people living in a certain area; or the number of people in a certain area.
- Potentially Responsible Party. A company, government or person that is responsible for causing the pollution at a hazardous waste site. PRP's are expected to help pay for the clean up of a site.
- Public Health Assessment(s):
- See PHA.
- Public Health Hazard:
- The category is used in PHAs for sites that have certain physical features or evidence of chronic, site-related chemical exposure that could result in adverse health effects.
- Public Health Hazard Criteria:
- PHA categories given to a site which tell whether people could be harmed by conditions present at the site. Each are defined in the Glossary. The categories are:
- Urgent Public Health Hazard
- Public Health Hazard
- Indeterminate Public Health Hazard
- No Apparent Public Health Hazard
- No Public Health Hazard
- Receptor Population:
- People who live or work in the path of one or more chemicals, and who could come into contact with them (See Exposure Pathway).
- Reference Dose (RfD):
- An estimate, with safety factors (see safety factor) built in, of the daily, life-time exposure of human populations to a possible hazard that is not likely to cause harm to the person.
- Route of Exposure:
- The way a chemical can get into a person's body. There are three exposure routes:
- breathing (also called inhalation),
- eating or drinking (also called ingestion), and
- or getting something on the skin (also called dermal contact).
- Safety Factor:
- Also called Uncertainty Factor. When scientists don't have enough information to decide if an exposure will cause harm to people, they use "safety factors" and formulas in place of the information that is not known. These factors and formulas can help determine the amount of a chemical that is not likely to cause harm to people.
- The Superfund Amendments and Reauthorization Act in 1986 amended CERCLA and expanded the health-related responsibilities of ATSDR. CERCLA and SARA direct ATSDR to look into the health effects from chemical exposures at hazardous waste sites.
- Sample Size:
- The number of people that are needed for a health study.
- A small number of people chosen from a larger population (See Population).
- Source (of Contamination):
- The place where a chemical comes from, such as a landfill, pond, creek, incinerator, tank, or drum. Contaminant source is the first part of an Exposure Pathway.
- Special Populations:
- People who may be more sensitive to chemical exposures because of certain factors such as age, a disease they already have, occupation, sex, or certain behaviors (like cigarette smoking). Children, pregnant women, and older people are often considered special populations.
- A branch of the math process of collecting, looking at, and summarizing data or information.
- Superfund Site:
- See NPL.
- A way to collect information or data from a group of people (population). Surveys can be done by phone, mail, or in person. ATSDR cannot do surveys of more than nine people without approval from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
- Synergistic effect:
- A health effect from an exposure to more than one chemical, where one of the chemicals worsens the effect of another chemical. The combined effect of the chemicals acting together are greater than the effects of the chemicals acting by themselves.
- Harmful. Any substance or chemical can be toxic at a certain dose (amount). The dose is what determines the potential harm of a chemical and whether it would cause someone to get sick.
- The study of the harmful effects of chemicals on humans or animals.
- Abnormal growth of tissue or cells that have formed a lump or mass.
- Uncertainty Factor:
- See Safety Factor.
- Urgent Public Health Hazard:
- This category is used in ATSDR's Public Health Assessment documents for sites that have certain physical features or evidence of short-term (less than 1 year), site-related chemical exposure that could result in adverse health effects and require quick intervention to stop people from being exposed.