PUBLIC HEALTH ASSESSMENT
HOOKER CHEMICAL/RUCO POLYMER
HICKSVILLE, NASSAU COUNTY, NEW YORK
A summary of the environmental contamination data collected during the remedial investigation (RI) for the Hooker/Ruco site is presented in Tables 1 and 3. The listing of a contaminant does not necessarily mean that its presence is a public health concern. Contaminants selected for further evaluation are identified and evaluated in subsequent sections of the public health assessment to determine whether exposure to them has public health significance. When selected as a contaminant of concern in one medium, that contaminant will be reported in all media where it is detected.
- Concentrations of contaminants on and off the site.
- Field data quality, laboratory data quality and sampling design.
- Comparison of on-site and off-site concentrations with background concentrations.
- Comparison of on-site and off-site concentrations in specific media with public health assessment comparison values for (1) noncarcinogenic endpoints and (2) carcinogenic endpoints. These values include Environmental Media Evaluation Guides (EMEGs), Cancer Risk Evaluation Guides (CREGs), drinking water standards, and other relevant guidelines.
- Community health concerns.
Environmental data in this section have been collected principallyas part of the 1990 Hooker/Ruco Remedial Investigation/FeasibilityStudy (RI/FS). RI/FS studies at the NWIRP site and the GrummanAerospace site have also been reviewed.
Table 1 summarizes the on-site soil sampling program results from the 1990 RI. All of the chemicals detected were found in soils at concentrations above public health assessment comparison values (see Table 2). Antimony, cadmium and trichloroethene were found in concentrations just above the comparison values. PCB 1248 and tetrachloroethene were found most frequently and exceeded comparison values the most. These trends occurred for both shallow (less than two feet) and deep (greater than one foot) samples. Shallow soil samples are considered to be all of the samples collected from ground surface to a maximum of 2 feet below ground surface. Soil collected from one foot below ground surface and deeper are considered deep samples.
Sediment samples from sumps 3 and 4 were collected during the 1990 RI (see Table 1). The highest concentration of PCB 1248 found was 73.0 milligram per kilogram (mg/kg). PCBs were found in seven of eleven samples and is the most significant contamination in the sediment. Antimony and cadmium were also found in concentrations above comparison values.
The groundwater data from the 1990 RI sampling program are summarized in Table 3. 1,2-Dichloroethene, trichloroethene, vinyl chloride, tetrachloroethene, antimony and cadmium were found in concentrations exceeding comparison values (see Table 3). The on-site, upgradient and off-site monitoring data suggest that the site is the source of contamination in groundwater off-site (see Tables 3 and 4). The contaminants of concern include trichloroethene, tetrachloroethene and vinyl chloride. However, the upgradient monitoring well supply indicate that a source of groundwater contamination is upgradient of the Hooker/Ruco site (see tetrachloroethene data in Table 3). All of the data reported here is for monitoring wells installed to a depth of less than 200 feet below ground surface. PCBs and carbon tetrachloride were not detected in groundwater on- or off-site.
A summary of the contaminants found in three surface water samples collected from the recharge basins on-site is in Table 3.
No volatile organic chemicals were detected during air monitoring in the fall of 1989, which was conducted as part of the 1990 RI. This included the contaminants which were in either the on-site soils or groundwater (see Table 1 and 3).
No off-site soil samples have been collected to define thepotential for contamination of this medium from operations at theHooker/Ruco site. Spillage and discharge of liquids on-site, whichresulted in on-site soil contamination, should not have resulted inoff-site contamination.
The data in Table 3 shows that off-site groundwater is contaminated. Two contaminants, vinyl chloride and tetrachloro-ethene were found in on-site and off-site groundwater samples. Both of these chemicals were used on-site at one time. Tetra-chloroethene was also found in on-site soils and vinyl chloride is a known breakdown product of tetrachloroethene. It was also produced on-site from 1956 to 1975. Table 4 gives the sampling results for monitoring wells installed by the United States Geological Survey (USGS) near the Hooker/Ruco Polymer site. The location of the USGS groundwater monitoring wells is given in Figure 3.
Monitoring well N10594 is on Grumman Aerospace Property. Monitoring well N10812, which is upgradient of the site, is the least contaminated. Monitoring well N10593 is the first well downgradient of the Hooker/Ruco site and is contaminated the most. These monitoring wells are all installed to a depth of less than 200 feet deep.
Public Water Supplies
The results from specific samples for the Bethpage Water District supply wells were not available during preparation of this public health assessment. However, Plant Number 6 was closed in 1978 because of contamination with trichloroethene and was not reopened until a treatment system was installed in 1990. Recently, concentrations of trichloroethene below standards were detected in Bethpage Water District Plant 4. Bethpage Water District Plant 5 has not shown contamination. The location of these facilities is shown on Figure 4. Additionally, wells used by the Levittown and Hicksville water supplies are in areas that may be downgradient of the Hooker/Ruco site.
The Quality Assurance and Quality Control information for the data in this document has been reviewed. The information indicates that the data are acceptable and were obtained using established protocols. Some common analytical problems were identified such as laboratory contamination of samples with methylene chloride and acetone. In accordance with acceptable QA/QC criteria many of the positive findings in the 1990 RI/FS were estimated values. Estimated values and quantitative values in the 1990 RI/FS were used to generate Tables 1 and 3 in this report.
No physical hazards to the public were identified at this site.
To identify facilities that could contribute to groundwater, soil,or air contamination in the area around the Hooker/Ruco site and/orcreate health risks unrelated to the site, NYS DOH searched theToxic Chemical Release Inventory (TRI) data for 1990. TRI isdeveloped by the US EPA from the chemical release (air, water,soil) information provided by certain industries.
A search of the 1990 Toxic Chemical Release Inventory (TRI) identified six industrial facilities within a 2.5 mile radius of the Hooker/Ruco site. A summary of reported TRI air emissions for the six facilities is presented in Table 5. None of the facilities report discharges to water or soil. Based on TRI data and air emissions modeling, results of the screening evaluation indicate that emissions from the Grumman Aerospace Corporation facility could affect ambient air near the Hooker/Ruco site. As presented in Table 5, the screening criterion of 1 microgram per cubic meter is exceeded for reported releases of trichloroethene, Freon 113 and tetrachloroethene. Further discussion of TRI is included in the Public Health Implications section.
To determine whether nearby residents are exposed to contaminantsmigrating from the site, an evaluation was made of theenvironmental and human components that lead to human exposures. This pathways analysis consists of five elements: a source ofcontamination, transport through an environmental medium, a pointof exposure, a route of human exposure, and an exposed population.
An exposure pathway is categorized as a completed or potentialexposure pathway. A completed exposure pathway occurs when thefive elements of an exposure pathway link the contaminant source toa receptor population. Should a completed exposure pathway existin the past, present, or future, the population is consideredexposed. A potential exposure pathway exists when one or more ofthe five elements are missing, or if modeling is performed toreplace real sampling data. Potential pathways indicate thatexposure to a contaminant could have occurred in the past, could beoccurring now, or could occur in the future. An exposure pathwaycan be eliminated if at least one of the five elements is missingand will never be present.
Table 6 describes those exposure pathways that are important andrelevant to the site.
The one completed exposure pathway found for this site is for workers of Hooker/Ruco on-site. The source of contamination for this exposure is from spillage of PCB-laden oil. The contaminated area is near the pilot plant. The area is not used by most of the employees on-site. Additionally, remedial work completed in August 1992 removed those soils contaminated with PCBs in concentrations greater than 10.0 ppm. The highest concentrations of contamination was found in soils at a depth of 1 to 3 feet, so the greatest concern is for any workers involved in excavations on-site. These conditions indicate that a small number of people that work for Hooker/Ruco on an infrequent basis can be exposed to soils that contain PCBs in concentrations above comparison values (see Tables 1 and 2) but below 10 ppm. Prior to the 1992 removal action, workers had a potential to be exposed to soils with PCBs at concentrations as high as 2,100 ppm.
Since the PCB contaminated soils are on-site and the site is only accessible to workers, this is the potentially exposed population with little potential for exposure to citizens of the local community. The PCB removal action that was conducted and managed by the US EPA reduced the exposure for workers. However, a concern still exists since the cleanup is to a level of 10.0 milligrams of PCBs per 1 kilogram of soil (10.0 mg/kg). This is just above the comparison value given in Table 2.
The restriction of site access through the use of fencing of theentire property and a 24-hour security force eliminates thepotential for the community to be exposed to the contaminated soilson-site. Although unlikely, future use of this site could bedevelopment of residential property. Under this unlikely scenario,residents would potentially be exposed to contaminated soils.
Hooker/Ruco site was and may still be a source of groundwater contamination. Groundwater is the sole source of potable water for residents near the site. The potential impact of the Hooker/Ruco site on these wells is not sufficiently described. However, one municipal well plant of Bethpage has been fitted with a treatment system because of contamination with low levels of trichloroethene. The reason this exposure pathway is considered a "potential" and not "complete" is that the "point of exposure" as described in Table 6 is not confirmed. A point of exposure is not confirmed for two very different reasons. The first reason is that the data is insufficient to conclude that the groundwater contamination by Hooker/Ruco will reach any currently existing public water supply wells in either the Bethpage, Hicksville or Levittown Water Districts. It is unknown because the data is inadequate to describe groundwater flow and the quantity of contamination. The second reason the point of exposure is considered a potential is that even if contamination reaches public water supply source wells, sampling programs and government regulations should prevent the serving of water contaminated above comparison values (Table 3).
Based on odor complaints expressed by local citizens inhalation anddirect contact to air contamination from the Hooker/Ruco site isconsidered a potential impact. The air sampling data do notsuggest Hooker/Ruco is the source of contaminants. However, thesedata are from the 1990 RI/FS study which was not designed tomeasure emissions from current operations of Ruco Polymer. Additionally, Ruco Polymer in 1990 installed a thermal oxidizer todestroy chemicals released from active process vents to addressconcerns with air emissions. Citizens have expressed that recentlythere have been no odors attributable to Ruco Polymer. Based onall of this information, there is a potential for the community tohave been exposed to contaminants from active manufacturingprocesses at Ruco Polymer, but the lack of data precludes atoxicological evaluation of these exposures. For this reason, thisexposure pathway is not evaluated further; however, the additionalinvestigation of this exposure pathway is recommended.
Exposure to contaminated surface water and sediment in sumps on-site have been eliminated. Human exposure to these media have beeneliminated since access to the sumps is restricted to on-siteworkers that should be trained in handling hazardous materials. However, these media are considered as formerly contributingsignificantly to the contamination of groundwater. Groundwater isdiscussed as a potential exposure pathway.
PUBLIC HEALTH IMPLICATIONS
- Past Completed and Present and Future Potential Ingestion, Inhalation and Dermal Exposure of Persons Coming in Contact with On-Site Soil
Exposure to contaminated on-site soils can occur since the site has workers on it. Additionally, although current local ordinances prohibit residential development of the site, residential development of the site in the future remains a possibility. Soils contaminated with PCBs at concentrations up to 10 mg/kg still exist on-site. Therefore, the potential exists for ingestion by future residents of soils and vegetables grown in on-site soil. On-site soil is contaminated with organic chemicals (PCBs, carbon tetrachloride, trichloroethene, tetrachloroethene and 1,2-dichloroethene) and inorganic metals (antimony and cadmium). A toxicological evaluation of the public health implications of exposure to on-site soil is provided below. PCBs, carbon tetrachloride, trichloroethene and tetrachloroethene have been shown to cause cancer in laboratory animals exposed to high levels over their lifetimes (ATSDR, 1989; 1991b, c, d). Chemicals that cause cancer in laboratory animals may also increase the risk of cancer in humans who are exposed to lower levels over long periods of time. Whether or not these four chemicals cause cancer in humans is not known. Based on the results of animal studies, chronic exposure of workers to PCBs at the highest level (5.3 mg/kg) found previously in on-site surface soil could result in a low increased cancer risk. On-site soil greater than one foot deep prior to the remedial action completed in 1992 contained much higher levels of PCBs (as high as 2,100 mg/kg). If the site were developed for residential use, chronic exposure of future residents to PCBs through soil and homegrown vegetable ingestion could pose a high increased cancer risk whereas, exposure to carbon tetrachloride, tetrachloroethene and trichloroethene could pose a low increased risk of developing cancer.
PCBs have also been shown to cause several non-carcinogenic toxicities in animals, including low birth weight and damage to the liver and immune system. Carbon tetrachloride, trichloroethene, 1,2-dichloroethene and tetrachloroethene also produce a variety of non-carcinogenic toxicities (primarily liver, kidney and nervous system effects) at exposures several orders of magnitude greater than potential exposures to on-site soil. Chemicals that cause effects in humans and/or animals after high levels of exposure may also pose a risk to humans who are exposed to lower levels over long periods of time. Although the risks of non-carcinogenic effects from possible exposures to on-site soils are not completely understood, the existing data suggest that they are minimal for workers and possible future residents exposed to PCBs in surface soils but would be high if subsurface soils were ever displaced to the surface. The risks to workers or future residents from exposure to the other organic contaminants is believed to be minimal.
On-site soil is also contaminated with antimony and cadmium (see Table 1). Antimony can alter cholesterol and glucose levels in the blood and possibly affect heart function (ATSDR, 1990a). The risks of these effects in workers or possible future residents would be minimal. Chronic exposure to cadmium can lead to kidney damage and may cause adverse effects on bone (ATSDR, 1991a). Chronic exposure to cadmium at the highest levels found in on-site soil greater than two feet deep could result in a high risk of adverse effects on kidney function if the site was developed for residential use.
- Potential Ingestion, Dermal and Inhalation Exposure to Contaminants in Drinking Water as a Result of Contaminant Plume Migration.
On-site and off-site groundwater is contaminated with organic chemicals (vinyl chloride, tetrachloroethene, trichloroethene, and 1,2-dichloroethene) and on-site groundwater with metals (antimony and cadmium) at concentrations that exceed groundwater and drinking water standards (see Table 3). Municipal drinking water supply wells could become contaminated by groundwater plume migration from the Hooker/Ruco site. The following is a discussion of the toxicological implications if exposure were to occur.
Vinyl chloride is a know human carcinogen (ATSDR, 1991e). Chronic exposure to drinking water containing vinyl chloride at the highest level found in on-site and off-site groundwater could pose a high increased cancer risk. As previously noted, tetrachloroethene and trichloroethene have caused cancer in laboratory animals exposed to high levels over their lifetimes (ATSDR 1991c,d) and may pose an increased cancer risk to humans exposed to lower levels over long periods of time. Based on the results of animal studies chronic exposure to drinking water containing tetrachloroethene at the highest level found in off-site groundwater could pose a moderate increased cancer risk, whereas exposure to trichloroethene could pose a low increased cancer risk. Toxicological data are inadequate to assess the carcinogenic potential of 1,2-dichloroethene (ATSDR 1990b).
Vinyl chloride, tetrachloroethene, trichloroethene, and 1,2-dichloroethene can also cause a variety of non-carcinogenic effects, primarily on the liver, kidneys, and nervous system (ATSDR, 1990b; 1991c,d,e). Except for vinyl chloride, all these contaminants produce their effects at exposures several orders of magnitude greater than potential exposure to on-site and/or off-site groundwater. Although the risks of non-carcinogenic effects from potential exposure to these volatile organic contaminants in drinking water are not completely understood, the existing data suggest that they could be high for vinyl chloride, low for tetrachloroethene, and minimal for trichloroethene and 1,2-dichloroethene at the highest levels found in on-site and/or off-site groundwater.
Metal contaminants of potential concern in on-site groundwater are antimony and cadmium. The toxicological properties of these two metals have already been discussed. Exposure to drinking water contaminated with cadmium and antimony at the highest level found in on-site groundwater could pose a high increased risk of non-carcinogenic effects.
NYS DOH has not evaluated health outcome data specifically for theHooker/Ruco site. Breast cancer incidence rates have been examinedfor small geographic areas of Nassau and Suffolk counties for theyears 1978-1987. No association was found between breast cancerincidence patterns and contaminated drinking water wells orhazardous waste sites. Additionally, the rate of breast cancer forresidents immediately adjacent to the Hooker/Ruco area was verynear the average rate for Nassau County. This study concluded thatthe highest rates of breast cancer were in the areas of Long Islandwith the highest socioeconomic status. Accordingly, no correlationhas been found between the incidence of breast cancer and residenceadjacent to the Hooker/Ruco plant site.
The community is primarily concerned about affects on theirdrinking water from the Hooker/Ruco site, Grumman Aerospace siteand NWIRP. Community health concerns are being addressed asfollows:
- Will the trichloroethene contamination found in the potable water supply result in cancer?
The public water supplies downgradient of the site are regulated and required to demonstrate the water they supply meets NYS DOH Drinking Water Standards. These standards are designed to be protective of human health including illness from long-term exposures. To date, no one has been served water that exceeds these standards. Additionally, monitoring wells which will serve as a warning system for contamination in these public supply wells are to be installed by Grumman Aerospace Corporation.
- Will the odors from the Hooker/Ruco site (Ruco Polymer Corporation) affect my health?
These concerns have been handled by the Nassau County Department of Health (NC DOH) and NYS DEC. The data do not show measurable impacts. The odors occurring from active processes still conducted on-site are not associated with groundwater and soil contamination. The Ruco Polymer Corporation has installed a thermal oxidizer on the exhaust from vents used at active processing facilities to eliminate these odors.
Odor complaints have been reported by County and other local municipal authorities. Because of community concerns and the results of the evaluation data from the Toxic Chemical Release Inventory (TRI) (see below), further evaluation of ambient air quality is needed. The NYS DOH, in conjunction with the NYS DEC and NC DOH, will conduct a further evaluation of the effect of chemical emissions from the TRI reporting facilities on local ambient air.
Concerns about the contamination of groundwater were addressed byexplaining that all potable water in this area is from municipalsupplies which must conform to NYS DOH standards. Reviewing theresults of the 1989 NYS DOH breast cancer study has helped toaddress concerns regarding PCB contamination. Additionally, theseconcerns were addressed by explaining that no routes of exposure tothe general public are associated with the PCB contamination on-site at Hooker/Ruco.
The screening evaluation of the TRI identified one industrial facility whose emissions of tetrachloroethene, trichloroethene and Freon 113 (Grumman Aerospace Corp.) could have an affect on ambient air quality in the community around the Hooker/Ruco Polymer site. Review of Table 5 shows that the screening criterion of 1.0 microgram per cubic meter for each of these contaminants is exceeded. As discussed earlier, tetrachloroethene and trichloroethene are chemicals that cause cancer in laboratory animals and may also increase the risk of cancer in humans who are exposed to lower levels over long periods of time. Based on the results of animal studies and the TRI screening evaluation, we estimate that emissions of these two chemicals could pose a low increased risk of cancer over a lifetime of exposure. Toxicological data are inadequate to assess the carcinogenic potential of Freon 113 (US EPA, 1992).
Tetrachloroethene, trichloroethene and Freon 113 are also know to produce a variety of non-carcinogenic toxicities (primarily liver, kidney and nervous system effects) at exposure levels several orders of magnitude greater than those estimated using the TRI screening model. Chemicals that cause effects in humans and/or animals after high levels of exposure may also pose a risk to humans who are exposed to lower levels over long periods of time. Although the risks of non-carcinogenic effects are not completely understood, the existing data suggest that they are minimal for emissions of these three chemicals from the Grumman Aerospace Corp.