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PUBLIC HEALTH ASSESSMENT

JOHNSTOWN CITY LANDFILL
JOHNSTOWN, FULTON COUNTY, NEW YORK


ENVIRONMENTAL CONTAMINATION AND OTHER HAZARDS

To evaluate if a site poses an existing or potential hazard to the exposed or potentially exposed population(s), the site conditions are characterized. This site characterization involves a review of sampling data for environmental media (e.g., soil, surface water, groundwater, air) both on- and off-site and an evaluation of the physical conditions of the contaminant sources or physical hazards near the site which may pose an additional health risk to the community or receptor population(s).

Contaminants selected for further evaluation are identified based upon consideration of the following factors:

  1. Concentrations of contaminant(s) in environmental media both on- and off-site;

  2. Field data quality, laboratory data quality, and sample design;

  3. Comparison of on-site and off-site contaminant concentrations in environmental media with typical background levels;

  4. Comparison of contaminant concentrations in environmental media both on- and off-site with public health assessment comparison values for (1) noncarcinogenic endpoints, and (2) carcinogenic endpoints. These comparison values include Environmental Media Evaluation Guides (EMEGs), Cancer Risk Evaluation Guides (CREGs), drinking water standards and other relevant guidelines. Contaminant concentrations which exceed a comparison value do not necessarily pose a health threat; and

  5. Community health concerns.

The selected contaminant(s) are evaluated in the Public Health Implications section (Toxicological Evaluation) of the Public Health Assessment (PHA) to determine whether exposure to these chemicals is of public health significance.

The On-site Contamination and the Off-site Contamination subsections include discussions of sampling data for environmental media; summary tables of sampling data are presented in Appendix B. If a chemical is selected for further evaluation in one medium (e.g., soil, sediment, surface water, groundwater, air), that contaminant will also be reported in all other media, if detected. A listed contaminant does not necessarily mean that it will cause adverse health effects from exposure.

For the purpose of evaluating environmental sampling data and site conditions in this public health assessment (PHA) "on-site" refers to the area within the property boundary as indicated on Figure 3 (Appendix A) of this PHA and "off-site" refers to all areas outside of this property boundary.

A. On-site Contamination

SOIL GAS

As part of the RI, a soil gas study was conducted at the landfill in July 1989, to establish concentrations of landfill gases in the subsurface. Eighty, shallow (2 feet deep) sample points were established over a 200 foot by 200 foot grid at the site. Analytical results of total VOCs and methane detected during this sampling are depicted on Figures 3 (methane) and 4 (VOCs) in Appendix A. Based on these results four "hot spots" of methane were identified (refer to Figure 3, Appendix A); one of these hot spots is in the northeast corner of the landfill (near sample stations 37, 38, 46, 47, 48, 79 and 80); the second hot spot is along the eastern perimeter of the landfill (near sample stations 51, 52, 53 and 68); the third hot spot of methane is at the southeast corner of the landfill (near sample stations 9, 75 and 73); the fourth hot spot of methane is along the access road, south of the landfill (near sample stations 60, 61, 62 and 63). Concentrations of methane in these hot spots generally exceed 500 parts per million (ppm) and may be representative of areas where methane is being generated or where it has migrated and accumulated in the subsurface. Elevated VOCs (total concentrations exceeded 50 ppm) were detected at only two locations (sample stations 32 and 34), in shallow subsurface soil gas at 5.3 parts per million (ppm) and 1.3 ppm, respectively (refer to Figure 4, Appendix A).

AIR

During the RI, ambient air at the landfill was sampled at four locations on-site (HV-1P, HV-1C, ST-1 and ST-2) in September and October of 1989. VOCs were sampled at ST-1 and ST-2 and particulate chromium was sampled at HV-1P and HV-1C. Sample locations are shown in Figure 5 (Appendix A) and analytical results are shown in Table 1 (VOCs) and Table 2 (particulate chromium) of Appendix B. Acetone, benzene, toluene, 2-butanone, 1,1,1-trichloroethane and carbon tetrachloride were the VOCs detected in on-site ambient air. Particulate chromium was detected at concentrations ranging from 0.003 mcg/m3 to 0.005 mcg/m3.

SURFACE SOIL

No surface soil samples were collected during the RI.

WASTES

During the RI, a total of 79 test pits were excavated around the landfill perimeter to visually evaluate the areal extent and general types of landfilled wastes. No waste samples were collected. Findings of the test pit investigation indicated that soil cover at the landfill varied from 6 inches to over 12 feet. Wastes encountered during the test pit excavations included tires, animal hides, construction debris, and municipal wastes.

SUBSURFACE SOIL

During installation of monitoring wells, one subsurface soil sample was collected from each deep well boring (refer to Figure 6 of Appendix B). During Phase I of the RI, samples were analyzed for VOCs. During Phase II of the RI, soil boring samples were analyzed for VOCs and metals; in addition, soil samples from MW-16, MW-17 and MW-18 were also analyzed for semi-volatile organic compounds (SVOCs), pesticides and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs). A summary of the chemicals detected in on-site subsurface soil boring samples is presented in Table 3 (metals) and Table 4 (organic chemicals). Soil samples from MW16 and MW17 correspond to native soils below the landfill. The depth at which soil boring samples were collected are presented in Table 5 (Appendix B).

SURFACE WATER

Storm water runoff and drainage from West Fulton Street Extension flow on to the surface of the landfill, creating ponded water at the northeast corner of the site. The water in this one acre pond either evaporates or infiltrates into the landfilled wastes. This area of ponded water was not sampled during the RI.

GROUNDWATER

On January 17, 1991, NYS DOH staff collected groundwater samples from three on-site monitoring wells (MW14D, MW18 and MW19). No VOCs were detected; a summary of the metals data is presented in Table 6 (Appendix B).

Three rounds of groundwater sampling were completed during the RI. The first round of sampling was conducted in February through March 1990; a second round of sampling was conducted in July 1990 and a third round was conducted in April 1991. The multiple sampling rounds allowed for evaluation of seasonal changes in groundwater quality. There are sixteen shallow (S), intermediate (I) and deep (D) monitoring wells (MW) on-site (refer to Figure 6, Appendix A). These monitoring wells include MW-14S and MW-14D, MW-13S and MW-13D, MW-12S and MW-12D, MW-18, MW-17, MW-16, MW-19, MW's 5S/5M/5D and MW's 4S/4M/4D. All groundwater samples were analyzed for metals, VOCs, pesticides and PCBs. Analytical results for metals and organic compounds are summarized in Tables 7 and 8, respectively (Appendix B).

No PCBs were detected in any groundwater samples from on-site monitoring wells. The only pesticides detected in groundwater were Dieldrin (0.01 mcg/L), 4,4'-DDE (0.19 mcg/L), 4,4'-DDD (0.35 mcg/L), 4,4'-DDT (0.03 mcg/L), alpha-chlordane (0.06 mcg/L) and gamma-chlordane (0.05 mcg/L) in monitoring well 16 (MW-16).

B. Off-site Contamination

LEACHATE

Leachate is a liquid that can be generated at a landfill as a result of the downward seepage of rain and ponded surface water through the buried waste mass (TWM Northeast, 1992). As this water moves through the waste mass, soluble contaminants are "leached" (i.e., dissolved) into this water. Leachate may also carry contaminated particulates from the waste mass. Often, contaminants in leachate are present in higher concentrations than might be present in other environmental media. As leachate moves through the subsurface, it can become a source of contamination to soils and groundwater. Leachate may migrate through the subsurface, following local topography and slopes (i.e., downhill) or it may move along a buried rock formation which is resistant to percolation by groundwater (i.e., an aquitard). If the aquitard unit outcrops at the ground surface, leachate may be discharged at this point in the form of a leachate seep or it may be mixed with spring water discharges.

In March 1992, representatives of the NYS DOH and NYS DEC collected a sample of leachate near the headwaters of Mathew Creek (i.e., LaGrange Springs) for analysis of VOCs and metals. Analytical results are summarized in Table 9 (Appendix B); the location of LaGrange Springs is shown on Figure 2 (Appendix A).

BIOTA (FISH)

In November 1978, the NYS DEC conducted a study of Mathew Creek to evaluate if leachate discharge from the landfill was affecting fish and other aquatic life in the stream. The study included both in-situ (i.e., field) and laboratory testing (i.e., bioassays) of fish. Four points in the creek were selected for the in-situ testing as follows (see Figure 7, Appendix A):

  • Site 1 (furthest downstream point) - Near the outlet of a small 1 to 2-acre pond (Hulbert's Pond);

  • Site 2 (furthest upstream point) - Near the headwaters of Mathew Creek;

  • Site 3 (midstream sample point) - 0.4 mile downstream from creek headwaters;

  • Site 4 (control/reference site) - Unnamed tributary which joins Mathew Creek about one-half mile downstream of headwaters.

During the investigation of the spring area at the creek headwaters (LaGrange Springs), a thick, slimy, reddish-brown scum was observed and this film and sloughed material was also observed about one-half mile downstream; no significant quantity of this scum was observed at one mile downstream from the headwaters (i.e., the location of sample station 1). Most of the spring seeps were clear, but one seep was observed to be cloudy and appeared to increase turbidity downstream. A preliminary inspection of the creek indicated the absence of fish life and limited presence of other aquatic species.

Due to the absence of fish in Mathew Creek, adult and sub-adult longnose dace fish were collected from Hale Creek in Johnstown on 11/13/78 for use in the laboratory and field studies. The test fish were placed in cages at four different locations in Mathew Creek for a period of several days (Figure 7, Appendix A). Findings of the in-situ studies showed total mortality of the test fish at Station 2 and 60% mortality of the test fish at Station 3. The test fish at Station 1 showed signs of distress, but also showed signs of recovery after removal from the test site. Fish at test site 4 appeared very healthy and showed no signs of distress during the test period. During the laboratory tests, gentle aeration of the water hastened the death of the test fish and it was concluded that toxic substances may have been present in the water. Findings of the laboratory tests showed that the creek water from stations 2 and 3 were toxic to the fish species studied and caused gill damage to the test fish. Water from site 4 did not appear to cause any distress to the test fish. Chemical analyses showed continually high levels of ammonia in the creek and it was concluded that ammonia levels in Matthew Creek were contributing to poor fish survival.

As part of the RI, fish, wildlife, benthic macroinvertabrates and vegetation were assessed in the area of LaGrange Springs and Mathew Creek between October 1989 and August 1990 to evaluate if contaminants originating at the Johnstown City Landfill had resulted in contamination of biota or other adverse effects. No impacts to the wetlands or wildlife community near the landfill were observed. For this health assessment, the following discussion of biota will focus on fish, as that is considered the most likely route of human exposure to contaminants in biota.

Mathew Creek - Fish were collected from three sample stations (3a, 3b, 4) in Mathew Creek (Figure 8, Appendix A) and frozen for later analysis. No native fish were found at the headwaters of Mathew Creek (i.e., LaGrange Springs). Fish tissue samples were analyzed for PCBs, pesticides, metals and organic compounds. Fish tissue analyses showed copper, chromium, lead, zinc, mercury, aluminum, barium, DDT (dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane), DDE (dichlorodiphenyldichloroethene) and DDD (dichlorodiphenyldichloroethane). The contaminant levels detected in fish were determined not to be high enough to adversely affect wildlife predators that consume fish from Mathew Creek (TWM Northeast; September 1992). A summary of the concentrations of metals detected in fish tissue are presented in Table 10 (Appendix B). In addition, DDD was detected at 64 mcg/kg in fish tissue (Brook Trout) collected from Station 2B in 1990; DDE was detected at 92 mcg/kg in Brook Trout tissue samples collected at Station 2B in 1990 and at 13 mcg/kg in Creek Chub samples collected at Stations 3B and 4 in 1991; DDT was detected at 110 mcg/kg in Brook Trout tissue samples collected from Station 2B in 1990 and at 140 mcg/kg in Largemouth Bass tissue samples collected from Station 3A in 1990.

Surface Water

LaGrange Gravel Pit - The LaGrange Gravel Pit is about 100 feet east of the eastern margin of the landfill. Reportedly, surface water runoff from nearby hill slopes as well as precipitation-related surface water runoff and minor flows from leachate seeps at the landfill, discharge to the gravel pit. As part of the RI, surface-water samples were collected from the LaGrange Gravel Pit (Station #5 on Figure 9, Appendix A) during the second and third rounds of on-site water quality sampling. The reported concentrations of metals in surface water at the LaGrange Gravel Pit are typically consistent with those detected in groundwater around the landfill (Table 11, Appendix B). The analytical results for organic compounds detected in samples collected during Round 2 are summarized in Table 12 (Appendix B). No pesticides or PCBs were detected in any surface water samples from the LaGrange Gravel Pit.

Mathew Creek - In 1980, a representative of US EPA collected a water sample from Mathew Creek. Benzene and methylene chloride were both reported at 1.0 mcg/L and all reported levels for metals were below NYS DEC ambient water quality standards. Bis(2-ethylhexyl)phthalate and di-n-butylphthalate were reported at 63 mcg/L and 1.5 mcg/L, respectively; these two compounds were present in all of the samples collected during this sampling event, including on- and off-site groundwater samples and the presence of these compounds in Mathew Creek surface water samples have been attributed to laboratory or field introduced contamination. In 1983, a NYS DEC representative collected a water sample from Mathew Creek; no VOCs were detected in the sample from Mathew Creek and the only metal detected was nickel at 6.5 mcg/L.

Surface water sampling locations during the RI are shown on Figures 9 and 10 of Appendix A. Inorganics detected in surface water samples collected from Mathew Creek included aluminum, antimony, barium, chromium, cobalt, copper, iron, lead, magnesium, mercury, nickel, potassium, selenium, sodium, zinc and cyanide (Table 11, Appendix B). Concentrations were generally higher at the headwater springs than at other locations. Several metals, including chromium, lead, iron, and zinc, were detected at the highest concentration at the furthest downstream sampling location (Station #4); however, sampling locations up-stream of this point show decreasing concentrations of metals.

Organic contaminants detected in Mathew Creek surface water samples are summarized in Table 12, Appendix B. The surface water samples collected in Mathew Creek had detectable concentrations of bis(2-ethylhexyl)phthalate that exceeded the NYS DEC ambient surface water quality standard of 0.6 mcg/L. Bis(2-ethylhexyl)phthalate was also detected in the laboratory blank samples. No pesticides or PCBs were detected in any surface-water samples from Mathew Creek.

Hulberts Pond - In March 1983, a representative of the NYS DEC collected samples of water from Hulbert Pond. No VOCs or metals were reported to be present. During the RI, surface water samples were collected at Station 3a (inlet) at Hulberts Pond (refer to Figure 10, Appendix A). Metals and organic compounds detected in surface water samples collected from Hulberts Pond during the RI are summarized in Tables 11 and 12, respectively (Appendix B). During Round 2, acetone and methylene chloride were reported to be present in the sample; however, these two compounds were also detected in the laboratory control samples at higher concentrations, indicating the likelihood of cross contamination during laboratory handling.

Sediment

In general, sediment samples collected during the RI, were collected at the surface water sample points (Figures 9 and 10, Appendix A). Sediment samples were collected from two depth intervals: 0-6 inches and 6-12 inches. All sediment samples collected during the RI were analyzed for metals, SVOCs, pesticides and VOCs. Analytical results are summarized in Table 13 (metals) and Table 14 (organic compounds) of Appendix B.

Mathew Creek - Sediment contamination in Mathew Creek includes metals, VOCs, SVOCs, and pesticides (Tables 13 and 14, Appendix B).

LaGrange Gravel Pit - Sediment contamination in the LaGrange Gravel Pit includes metals, VOCs, SVOCs, and pesticides (Tables 13 and 14, Appendix B).

Hulberts Pond - During the RI, sediment samples were collected at Station 3a (inlet) and 3b (outlet) at the 0-6 inch depth during sample Rounds 1 and 2 (Figures 9 and 10, Appendix A). A summary of the metals and organic compounds detected in sediment at Hulberts Pond are summarized in Tables 13 and 14, respectively (Appendix B). At Station 3a in Round 1, acetone was detected at 380 mcg/kg, but was also found in the laboratory method blanks and may not be representative of the actual acetone concentration in sediment.

Air

Ambient air near the landfill was sampled at three off-site locations (HV-2, HV-3 and ST-3) in September and October of 1989. VOCs were sampled at ST-3 and particulate chromium was sampled at HV-2 and HV-3. Sample locations are shown on Figure 5 in Appendix A and analytical results are presented in Tables 1 and 2 (Appendix B). Sampling was conducted on days when winds were light in order to measure worst case background concentrations. During air sampling, winds were light and generally from the north. Acetone, benzene, toluene and 1,1,1-trichloroethane were detected in off-site ambient air. Airborne chromium was detected at concentrations ranging from 0.002 to 0.005 mcg/m3.

Groundwater

Private Wells

NYS DOH, NYS DEC and US EPA have sampled private water supplies near the Johnstown City Landfill on numerous occasions between 1979 and 1991. Additionally, private water supplies near the site were also sampled as part of the RI. A summary of the sampling history of private wells near the site through 1991 is presented in Table 15 (Appendix B).

In the late spring of 1979, representatives of the NYS DOH collected a sample of water from a residential well north of the landfill, following a complaint of a change in drinking water quality. Analytical results showed benzene (125 mcg/L), toluene (20 mcg/L) and xylenes (20 mcg/L).

In April 1979, a representative of the NYS DOH collected water samples from the Pine Tree Rifle Club as part of an ongoing investigation of groundwater quality near the Johnstown City Landfill. Analytical results indicated the presence of benzene (1.0 mcg/L), toluene (2.0 mcg/L) and xylenes (3.0 mcg/L); iron and sodium were reported at 4.2 mg/L and 100 mg/L, respectively. NYS DOH has not developed a maximum contaminant level (MCL) for sodium in drinking water; rather, guidelines have been developed in consideration of people who are modifying or restricting their sodium intake for health reasons. These guidance values are 20 mg/L for persons on severely restricted sodium diets and 200 mg/L for persons on moderately restricted sodium diets. A secondary drinking water quality standard for iron has been developed (0.3 mg/L) and is based upon consideration of aesthetic water quality conditions such as taste, odor and staining of fixtures. The reported levels of benzene, toluene and xylene were within applicable guidelines, at that time.

In 1980, a representative of US EPA collected water samples from four homes near the landfill and the Pine Tree Rifle Club. Results of the residential well samples indicated that all metals were below current NYS DOH MCLs. Bis(2-ethylhexyl)phthalate and di-n-butylphthalate were detected in all four residential water supply samples at levels ranging from 3.3 mcg/L to 47.0 mcg/L and 0.4 mcg/L to 1.0 mcg/L, respectively. Bis(2-ethylhexyl)phthalate and di-n-butylphthalate were also detected in the sample from the Pine Tree Rifle Club at 81 mcg/L and 1.0 mcg/L, respectively. Both bis(2-ethylhexyl)phthalate and di-n-butylphthalate were present in all samples (including surface water, leachate, and on- and off-site groundwater samples) collected during this event and the presence of these compounds is considered to be from laboratory or field introduced contamination. Toluene was detected in two residential wells at 0.1 mcg/L and 3.6 mcg/L and methylene chloride was detected in the two other residential wells at 0.2 mcg/L and 10.4 mcg/L; all of these levels are below current NYS DOH MCLs for drinking water. No VOCs, PCBs, or pesticides were detected in the sample from the Pine Tree Rifle Club. One residential well sample showed benzene (2.5 mcg/L), 1,1-dichloroethane (3.7 mcg/L), trans-1,2-dichloroethene (5.4 mcg/L), 1,2-dichloropropane (0.3 mcg/L), methylene chloride (10.4 mcg/L), trichlorofluoromethane (0.4 mcg/L), trichloroethene (0.3 mcg/L) and vinyl chloride (3.7 mcg/L). The concentration of bis(2-ethylhexyl)phthalate in this well was 3.3 mcg/L and the concentration of di-n-butylphthlate was 0.8 mcg/L. The reported levels of these compounds did not exceed the applicable standards for drinking water at that time. Copper was reported at 22.0 mcg/L and selenium was reported at 6.0 mcg/L in the sample from the Pine Tree Rifle Club and these reported concentrations are below current NYS DOH MCLs for drinking water.

In March 1983, a representative of the NYS DEC collected a sample of the water supply serving the Pine Tree Rifle Club and four homes near the landfill. No VOCs were detected in any of the samples. The only metals reported to be present above the detection limit in the sample from the Pine Tree Rifle Club were nickel (8.1 mcg/L) and zinc (760 mcg/L). The reported level for zinc is below the current NYS DOH MCL for drinking water; NYS DOH has not developed MCL for nickel in drinking water. All reported levels for metals in the residential wells sampled were below the applicable NYS DOH MCLs for drinking water at that time.

In July 1985, five residential wells and the well serving the Pine Tree Rifle Club were sampled by the NYS DOH. This sampling effort was conducted as part of an ongoing study to determine if the landfill was contributing to contamination of area water supply wells. Dichloromethane (also known as methylene chloride) was detected in all six samples at 1.0 mcg/L and was reported to be "suspect" by the laboratory, indicating that the presence of this compound in the samples was most likely attributed to laboratory introduced contamination. Trans-1,2-dichloroethene was detected in two residential well samples at 1.0 mcg/L; one of these water samples also showed low levels of 1,1-dichloroethane (1.0 mcg/L) and trichloroethene (1.0 mcg/L). In general, findings of this sampling effort indicated that for the parameters tested, most were below the detection limit and for those parameters which were detected, the reported concentrations were below the applicable standards in effect at that time.

In July 1986, a representative of the NYS DOH resampled the water supply of the Pine Tree Rifle Club. All of the parameters tested were found to be within acceptable limits, except for iron which was reported to be present at 4.3 mg/L and sodium which was reported at 140 mg/L.

As part of the evaluation of groundwater quality during the RI, samples of groundwater were collected from 23 residential wells north, east and south of the site (refer to Figure 11, Appendix A). Selection of homes to be sampled considered proximity to the landfill, results of the air monitoring survey, electromagnetic terrain conductivity survey (of groundwater contamination), groundwater flow direction and approval by NYS DOH and NYS DEC. The depths of the wells selected for sampling ranged from 24 feet to 205 feet.

Three rounds of sampling and analysis of residential wells were completed during the RI. The initial round of sampling was conducted in September 1989; a second round of sampling was completed in February 1990, and a third round was completed in May 1991. The additional rounds of sampling allowed for evaluation of seasonal water quality changes. The number, locations, and analytical parameters of the second and third sampling rounds were determined following review of the initial analytical data from Round 1. A list of the contaminants which were analyzed for residential well samples are presented in Tables 15 and 16 of Appendix B. All the residential well samples collected during the first two rounds were analyzed for metals, VOCs, SVOCs, pesticides and PCBs. Residential water samples were also analyzed for cyanide and hexavalent chromium.

Some metals were found in residential water samples which exceed NYS DOH drinking water quality standards, including iron, manganese, sodium and zinc. These compounds were detected at concentrations which may affect aesthetic qualities of drinking water such as taste, odor, and staining of fixtures. A summary of the analytical results for metals in residential wells is presented in Table 17 (Appendix B).

VOCs that were detected in residential well samples included acetone, carbon disulfide, methylene chloride, trichloroethene, 1,1,1-trichloroethane, and toluene, but were found at concentrations below NYS DOH drinking water standards (5.0 mcg/L). VOCs were detected in seven of 18 residential wells sampled during Round 1, two of 17 residential wells sampled in Round 2 and four of 17 residential wells sampled in Round 3. No VOCs were detected in the split samples collected by NYS DOH during the first round of sampling. Only one split sample collected by NYS DOH during Round 2 from a drilled residential well southeast of the site detected any VOCs (3.0 mcg/L of trichloroethene). No pesticide or PCB compounds were detected in any of the residential wells sampled during the RI. Organic contaminants detected in residential wells sampled during the RI are summarized in Table 15 (Appendix B).

On November 6, 1991, NYS DOH staff collected water samples from seven residential wells and the Pine Tree Rifle Club for analysis of ammonia-nitrogen and nitrate-nitrogen. The presence of ammonia-nitrogen in most waters results from biological degradation of organic matter, and less often from industrial waste discharges (TWM Northeast, 1992). The results indicate concentrations of ammonia-nitrogen ranging from 0.010 mg/L to 5.5 mg/L.

Off-Site Monitoring Wells

There are twenty-six shallow, intermediate and deep monitoring wells off-site (refer to Figure 6, Appendix B). These monitoring wells include MW-7S and MW-7D; MW-6S, MW-6M and MW-6D; MW-3S, MW-3M and MW-3D; MW-9S and MW-9D; MW-2S, MW-2M and MW-2D; MW-1S, MW-1M and MW-1D; MW-11S and MW-11D; MW-15S and MW-15D; MW-8S and MW-8D; and MW-10S, MW-10M and MW-10D. These wells were sampled during the RI and results for metals and organic compounds are summarized in Tables 18 (metals) and 19 (organic compounds) of Appendix B. No PCBs or pesticides were detected in groundwater off-site.

On January 17, 1991, representatives of the NYS DOH and NYS DEC sampled seven groundwater monitoring wells around the Johnstown Landfill. Sampling was performed at off-site deep monitoring wells (MWs) 1D, 2D, 11D, 15D and 7D and shallow wells MWs 11S and 15S (refer to Figure 6, Appendix A). The samples collected by NYS DEC were analyzed for VOCs and eight metals including chromium, beryllium, lead, arsenic, iron, mercury and cadmium. The only VOC detected was acetone (300 mcg/L) in MW-7D. Mercury was detected in MW-1D and MW-7D at 0.2 mcg/L; lead and cadmium were detected in MW-7D at 6.9 mcg/L and 19.0 mcg/L, respectively. Iron was detected in MW-20 at 220 mcg/L and in MW-70 at 2,520 mcg/L; aluminum was detected in MW-1D, MW-2D and MW-7D at 1,720 mcg/L, 1,580 mcg/L and 690 mcg/L, respectively. The only chemicals which exceeded NYS DOH drinking water standards are cadmium (5 mcg/l), iron (300 mcg/L) and acetone (50 mcg/L) in MW-7D.

The groundwater quality samples collected by NYS DOH were analyzed for VOCs, ketones and metals. Acetone was the only VOC present above the method detection limit; acetone was present in MW7D (26 mcg/L) and MW2D (22 mcg/L). In March 1992, representatives of NYS DOH and NYS DEC collected groundwater samples from six monitoring wells (MW-8S, MW-8D, MW-11S, MW-11D, MW-15S and MW-15D) downgradient of the landfill. No VOCs were detected in any of the samples collected. Ammonia was detected in all six samples at concentrations ranging from 0.1 mcg/L to 60.7 mcg/L. Table 20 (Appendix B) provides a summary of the metals analytical data for samples collected from off-site monitoring wells by NYS DOH.

Three of the four bedrock wells were resampled by NYS DOH and the samples were sent to the NYS DOH analytical laboratory, which utilizes no acetone. The results showed that acetone was the only VOC detected in any of the samples collected. The results indicate acetone was present in MW-7D (26 mcg/L) and MW-2D (22 mcg/L) at levels below the current NYS DOH MCL (50 mcg/L). Acetone was not present above detectable levels in any of the other monitoring wells.

City of Johnstown Public Water Supply (Maple Avenue Wells)

In 1980, the US EPA collected a water sample from City Well Number (No.) 2 for analysis of metals, VOCs, PCBs and pesticides. No pesticides or PCBs were detected and all reported metals were below applicable standards. Benzene was the only VOC detected at 0.8 mcg/L. Bis(2-ethylhexyl)phthalate and di-n-butylphthalate were also detected at 31.0 mcg/L and 2.2 mcg/L, respectively; however, these two compounds were reported in all samples collected during this sample event and their presence is attributed to laboratory or field introduced contamination.

In October 1980, a representative of the NYS DOH Amsterdam District Office in Montgomery County, collected water samples from the Johnstown City water supply wells No. 1 and No. 2 on Maple Avenue. The purpose of this sampling event was to confirm earlier findings of elevated mercury in the No. 2 well which reportedly exceeded the applicable MCL, although documentation of the reported concentration is not currently available or known. Sample results indicated significant differences in water quality between well No. 1 and well No. 2; however, all parameters which were tested were within allowable MCLs.

In February 1981, a representative of the NYS DOH collected water samples from the City water supply wells No. 1 and No. 2 on Maple Avenue in Johnstown. The samples were analyzed for metals and general water quality parameters and results indicated that all of the parameters which were tested were within the allowable MCLs.

In March 1983, a representative of the NYS DEC collected a water sample from City well No. 2; no VOCs were detected and the reported concentrations for metals were within applicable standards.

C. Quality Assurance and Quality Control

In preparing this health assessment, ATSDR and NYS DOH rely on the information in the referenced documents and assume that adequate quality assurance and quality control (QA/QC) measures were followed with regard to chain-of-custody, laboratory procedures and data reporting, unless otherwise noted. The validity of analysis and conclusion drawn for this health assessment is determined by the completeness and reliability of that information.

For analytical data collected during the RI data quality objectives had been established in coordination with the NYS DOH, NYS DEC, US EPA and the New York State Department of Law (NYS DOL) during work plan development. Prior to initiation of field data collection activities for the RI, a data validation plan was submitted to the State of New York for approval. In addition, an independent laboratory was subcontracted to conduct reported data validation review of all the analytical data generated by the primary laboratory of samples collected during the RI.

A discussion of the QA/QC measures followed during field sampling activities is presented in Section 2.0 of the draft RI report (TWM Northeast, September 1992). Detailed discussions of other QA/QC evaluations for analytical data generated by the laboratory for the environmental samples submitted are presented in Appendix H of the draft RI report. During the RI sampling of residential wells, bis(2-ethylhexyl)phthalate was detected in laboratory sample blanks, indicating that it's presence in residential water supply samples and other environmental samples collected and analyzed during this sampling event may have been the result of laboratory introduced contamination. Acetone, di-n-butylphthalate and methylene chloride were also detected in the laboratory method blanks during analysis of residential water samples, often at higher concentrations then those found in the samples. The presence of these compounds in the laboratory control blanks is an indicator that cross-contamination in the laboratory may have occurred and the reported results for these compounds in private well samples may not be representative of actual water quality. In general, the analytical data generated for environmental samples collected at and near the Johnstown City Landfill during the RI are considered suitable for completion of this Public Health Assessment.

During the preparation of this health assessment (specifically, during review of the metals data in leachate and surface water samples collected during the RI), several inconsistencies were observed with respect to the units in which metals data was presented. In the RI report, metals data summarized for leachate samples are presented in milligrams per liter (mg/L) on page 2 of Table 2-58 of the RI report; the actual values are reported in mcg/L (verified with US EPA) and are presented in mcg/L on Table 9 of this public health assessment. The metals data for surface water samples are also presented in mg/L on Table 2-42 of the RI report; the actual values are reported in mcg/L (verified with NYS DEC and US EPA) and are presented in mcg/L on Table 11 of this public health assessment.

D. Physical and Other Hazards

The only known physical hazards associated with the Johnstown City Landfill include the steep terrain at and around the site and the ponded water on the northeast corner of the site. Methane has been detected in ambient air in the past and in U.S. EPA's preliminary assessment of the site, methane was reported to have been detected in excess of the lower explosive limit just outside of the landfill property boundary on three separate occasions between during 1980 and 1981. During the RI, four hot spots of methane were identified on the landfill. Testing of methane levels in air at homes near the site has been conducted in the past; elevated levels of methane have been detected on private property northeast of the site. Methane and other landfill gases could migrate through the subsurface and accumulate to form gas pockets, thereby posing a potential explosive hazard.

E. Toxic Chemical Release Inventory (TRI)

To identify other facilities that could possibly contribute to site-related contaminants in soil, air, groundwater, and/or surface water at or near the Johnstown City Landfill, the NYS DOH searched the Toxic Chemical Release Inventory (TRI). The TRI has been developed by the US EPA from chemical release information provided by those industries that are required to report contaminant emissions and releases on an annual basis. NYS DOH is using 1991 TRI data submitted by industrial facilities identified to be within a 2.5 mile radius of the site, as a means to evaluate other sources of additional health risk in the exposed population.

NYS DOH uses a simple mathematical model to estimate if potential contaminant concentrations resulting from air emissions at a facility may be contributing to community (receptor population) exposures to contaminants at a site. This model uses information about the facility location (distance from the exposed population) and annual air emission data to calculate the radial distance from the facility at which contaminant concentrations in ambient air have been diluted to 1 microgram per cubic meter of air (mcg/m3). NYS DOH then evaluates what portion, if any, of the population living within this distance from the manufacturing facility may also be exposed to contaminants originating at the site.

Eight manufacturing facilities within a 2.5 mile radius of the site, filed TRI data for 1991. These facilities are the Allied Leather Corporation, Pecks Product Company, Milligan and Higgins (Division of Hudson I), Omnicology, Independent Leather Manufacturing, Twin City Leather Company, Inc., SIMCO Leather Corporation and Pan American Tanning Corporation. A map identifying the approximate locations of these facilities is provided on Figure 12 (Appendix A). This figure also depicts the approximate locations of seven other TRI facilities; however, because they are farther than 2.5 miles from the Johnstown City Landfill site, they are not being considered as part of this evaluation.

The Allied Leather Corporation is at 422 North Perry Street in the City of Johnstown and is 2.0 miles southeast of Johnstown City Landfill. A summary of contaminant air emissions is presented in Table 21 of Appendix B. No other contaminant discharges or releases to water or land were reported to the TRI.

Peeks Products Company is 1.9 miles southeast of the landfill in the City of Johnstown. For 1991, this facility reported to the TRI, air emissions of 11-499 lbs/yr of glycol ethers from fugitive or non-point sources. No other discharges or releases to water or land were reported to the TRI.

Milligan & Higgins (Division of Hudson I) on Maple Avenue in Johnstown, is 1.6 miles southeast of the Johnstown City Landfill. A summary of the contaminant air emissions is presented in Table 21 of Appendix B. No other contaminant discharges or releases to water

Omnicology, Inc. is 2.1 miles east-southeast of the Johnstown City Landfill in Gloversville. A summary of the contaminant air emissions is presented in Table 21 of Appendix B. No other contaminant discharges or releases to water or land were reported to the TRI.

Independent Leather Manufacturing at the 300 block on South Main Street in Johnstown, is 2.5 miles east-southeast of the Johnstown City Landfill. This facility did not report any contaminant air emissions for 1991. No other contaminant discharges or releases to water or land were reported to the TRI.

The Twin City Leather Company, Inc. at 3-15 River Street in Gloversville, is 2.3 miles east of the Johnstown City Landfill. This facility reported to the TRI, air emissions of 11-499 lbs/yr of ammonium sulfate from fugitive or non-point sources. No other contaminant discharges or releases to water or land were reported to the TRI.

The SIMCO Leather Corporation at 99 Pleasant Avenue in Johnstown, is 2.2 miles southeast of the Johnstown City Landfill. For 1991, this facility reported to the TRI, air emissions of 1-10 lbs of chromium compounds from stack or point sources. No other contaminant discharges or releases to water or land were reported to the TRI.

The Pan American Tanning Corporation at 318 West Fulton Street in Gloversville is 1.5 miles east-northeast of the Johnstown City Landfill. A summary of the contaminant air emissions is presented in Table 21 of Appendix B. No other contaminant discharges or releases to water or land were reported to the TRI.

Results of the screening evaluation indicate that air emissions from these facilities would not increase contaminant levels in ambient air near the Johnstown City Landfill site to levels above the screening criterion of 0.1 mcg/m3 for chromium compounds or above the screening criterion of 1 mcg/m3 for other compounds. Based on the results of this screening evaluation, the public health significance of contaminant emissions from TRI facilities as an additional source of exposure to community exposures at the Johnstown City Landfill will not be evaluated further in this public health assessment.

PATHWAYS ANALYSES

This section of the public health assessment (PHA) identifies potential and completed exposure pathways associated with past, present and future use of the site. An exposure pathway is the process by which an individual may be exposed to contaminants originating from a site. An exposure pathway is comprised of five elements, including: (1) a contaminant source; (2) environmental media and transport mechanisms; (3) a point of exposure; (4) a route of exposure; and (5) a receptor population.

The source of contamination is the source of contaminant release to the environment (any waste disposal area or point of discharge); if the original source is unknown, it is the environmental media (soil, air, biota, water) which are contaminated at the point of exposure. Environmental media and transport mechanisms "carry" contaminants from the source to points where human exposure may occur. The exposure point is a location where actual or potential human contact with a contaminated medium may occur. The route of exposure is the manner in which a contaminant actually enters or contacts the body; exposure to chemicals can occur through eating and drinking (ingestion), contact with the skin (dermal adsorption) and breathing (inhalation). The receptor population is the person or people who are exposed or may be exposed to contaminants at a point of exposure.

Two types of exposure pathways are evaluated in the PHA; a completed exposure pathway exists when the criteria for all five elements of an exposure pathway are documented; a potential exposure pathway exists when the criteria for any one of the five elements comprising an exposure pathway is not met. A suspected exposure pathway is considered to be eliminated when any one of the five elements comprising an exposure pathway has not existed in the past, does not exist in the present and will never exist in the future.

A. Completed Exposure Pathways

GROUNDWATER

Private Wells

Low levels of organic compounds, including trans-1,2-dichloroethene, trichloroethene, 1,1-dichloroethene, di-n-octylphthalate, toluene, benzene, 1,2-dichloropropane, trichlorofluoromethane, acetone, chloroform, and 2-butane, 2-hexanone have been detected in water samples collected from residences near the site between 1979 and 1991. However, all of the reported concentrations for these compounds were below NYS DOH drinking water standards. For those wells where organic contamination had been previously detected, NYS DOH resampled the wells to confirm drinking water quality and none of the wells which were resampled were found to contain contaminants above NYS DOH drinking water standards.

Only one residential water supply which was first sampled in 1979 showed elevated levels of benzene (125 mcg/L), toluene (20 mcg/L) and xylenes (20 mcg/L). Resampling of this well in 1980 showed methylene chloride (10.4 mcg/l), trans-1,2-dichloroethene (5.4) and vinyl chloride (3.7 mcg/l) above drinking water quality standards. Prior to 1979, it is not known how long or if the people using this water supply may have been exposed to these contaminants. The City of Johnstown purchased this property and the residential water supply well was properly abandoned in 1980. This property is still vacant.

LEACHATE

During a past site visit by representatives of NYS DOH (refer to Background section, subsection C), leachate was observed to be flowing off-site, through areas which were known to be accessed by off-road vehicles and draining to a small pond. Direct contact with leachate was reportedly occurring by people accessing the site. Although analytical data is not available for leachate in the past, analytical data for leachate samples collected by the NYS DOH at LaGrange Springs (Table 9, Appendix B) have been evaluated as part of this public health assessment and none of the contaminants in leachate were found at levels exceeding public health assessment comparison values; therefore, these contaminants are not discussed in the Toxicological Evaluation section of this public health assessment.

ON-SITE WASTES

In US EPA's Site Inspection Report of the Johnstown City Landfill, which was completed in June 1983, it was reported that the site was not adequately fenced and that citizens freely accessed the site to dump household refuse. During this period, sewage sludge was reportedly dumped in open piles on-site and there was no landfill cover. Reportedly, these residents came in contact with disposed sewage sludge on-site. As discussed previously, (Background Section), sewage sludge disposed at the site reportedly contained elevated levels of chromium, although documentation of actual contaminant levels is not available or known to exist. Reportedly, people are using the site for hunting and other recreational activities, although this has not been confirmed by the NYS DOH.

B. Potential Exposure Pathways

BIOTA (FISH)

Mathew Creek - Ingestion of fish from Mathew Creek is a potential human exposure route of concern. During an inspection of Mathew Creek in 1978, representatives of NYS DEC observed an absence of fish life in the creek. However, during the RI, several fish species were collected from Mathew Creek, including edible fish. Results of the fish tissue analysis showed pesticides and metals. If the site is left unremediated, discharges of leachate at LaGrange Springs, the headwaters to Mathew Creek, will continue to provide a contaminant source to fish in the creek. Contaminants that bioaccumulate in fish or bioconcentrate through the food chain could result in exposure to people who eat fish caught in Mathew Creek.

Hulberts Pond - Ingestion of fish in Hulberts Pond could be a human exposure route of concern to contaminants that bioaccumulate. Hulberts Pond, a manmade pond, has been stocked with fish in the past. A fishkill in Hulberts Pond was reported in June 1984. While it is not known what caused the fishkill or if this pond has been restocked or is used for fishing, it is privately owned and access by unauthorized personnel is restricted by posted "No Trespassing" signs.

SURFACE WATER AND SEDIMENT

Hulberts Pond - In the past residents may have used Hulberts Pond for swimming or other recreational activities and could have been exposed to contaminants in surface water and sediment via dermal contact, incidental ingestion and inhalation of VOCs. Past sampling of water quality in Hulberts Pond has shown the presence of VOCs and metals. Hulberts Pond is privately owned on private property and there are "No Trespassing" signs posted to prevent unauthorized access. It is not known if Hulberts Pond is currently used for recreational activities.

LaGrange Gravel Pit - Surface water accumulates at the gravel pit only after heavy rains, periods of snow melt and when the groundwater table is high. Based on observations by NYS DOH staff during past visits to the area, the maximum amount of water that accumulates at the Gravel Pit is not very deep (about 2 feet). However, due to the remote location of the gravel pit from public areas and main roads, it is unlikely that the gravel pit was used for swimming or wading. Any exposures that may have occurred were likely to be infrequent and of short duration. However, in the past, persons working or trespassing at the LaGrange Gravel Pit may have been exposed to VOCs, SVOCs and metals in surface water and sediment. Possible exposures may have included dermal contact, incidental ingestion and inhalation of volatile compounds. It is not known if LaGrange Gravel Pit is currently being used for recreational or other purposes.

Mathew Creek

Persons using Mathew Creek for recreational purposes could be exposed to VOCs in surface water via dermal contact, incidental ingestion and inhalation. Exposure to elevated levels of metals in surface water including lead, iron, zinc, chromium could occur via dermal contact and incidental ingestion. Exposure to metals, VOCs, SVOCs and pesticides in sediment via direct contact and incidental ingestion are also potential routes of human exposure. However, none of the contaminants in sediment were found at levels exceeding public health assessment comparison values or background levels; therefore, exposure to these contaminants will not be discussed in the Toxicological Evaluation section of this public health assessment.

ON-SITE WASTES

In the past, chromium-contaminated sludge disposed at the landfill was reported to have migrated off-site onto an adjacent residential property. It is not known if residents at this property were exposed to contaminants in these sludge deposits or what the contaminant concentrations in the sludge were.

AIR

There is a potential for human exposure to VOC contaminants and particulate chromium in ambient air at and near the landfill. Workers involved with remediation activities at the site may be exposed to VOCs in air and particulate chromium. However, use of appropriate protective equipment and work practices during site remediation would minimize the potential for exposure and associated health risks to workers and nearby residents. Although air sample results from on-site and off-site locations did detect the presence of particulate chromium and several VOCs, none of the contaminants in ambient air were found at levels exceeding public health assessment comparison values or background levels; therefore, exposure to these air contaminants will not be evaluated in the Toxicological Evaluation section of this public health assessment.

GROUNDWATER

Private Water Supply Wells

If the landfill is left unremediated, groundwater contamination could persist and migrate to nearby private water supply wells. The community has expressed concern about the costs associated with use of the proposed extension of the public water supply to homes downgradient and near the landfill and many members of the community have indicated that they are opposed to paying for public water in the future. Because it is likely that some of the homeowners whose water supplies are not presently affected by contaminants at the Johnstown City Landfill will select not to be included to the public water distribution, there is a possibility that some residents could be exposed to site contaminants in groundwater in the future.

SOIL GAS

Exposure to VOCs and methane in soil gas is a potential human exposure route to contaminants originating at the Johnstown City Landfill. Total VOC concentrations in shallow soil gas were evaluated during the RI and results indicated the presence of VOCs at the landfill. Soil gas, if released at the ground surface, might result in exposure to VOCs; however, contaminant concentrations would most likely be further diluted by mixing with ambient air and volatilization to the atmosphere. In addition, there is a potential for VOCs and methane in soil gas to migrate through the subsurface to basements in nearby homes. The concentrations of VOCs detected at the site and along the northern site perimeter ranged from zero to 1 part per million (ppm).

C. Eliminated Exposure Pathways

ON-SITE SUBSURFACE SOIL

The potential for exposure to contaminants in subsurface soil at the landfill has been eliminated as human exposure pathway of concern because none of the contaminants detected in subsurface soil samples were found at levels which exceeded public health assessment comparison values. Furthermore, it is very unlikely that trespassers would come in contact with contaminated subsurface soils which ranged in depth from 2 to 52 feet. In addition, as declared in the ROD, the landfill is to be closed and capped in accordance with NYS DEC regulations, which will preclude the use of the site in the future for residential development.

GROUNDWATER

City of Johnstown Public Water Supply

The two city water supply wells which were installed in 1965 along Maple Avenue were last used in October 1980, to supplement the existing City water supply during a reported water shortage. Routine and supplemental sampling of these wells through 1985 indicated that naturally occurring groundwater quality was poor. Use of these wells by the City of Johnstown declined in the mid-to-late 1970's because of natural groundwater quality degradation in the wellfield. The wells were completely removed from service (i.e., the pumps were removed) in the mid-1980's. No VOCs were reported at levels above the applicable standards at any time. In 1980, a sample collected from Well No. 2 by the US EPA showed benzene at 0.8 mcg/L; however, this concentration is below the applicable NYS DOH drinking water. Reportedly, mercury was detected above the NYS DOH drinking water standard in Well No. 2 in a sample collected in 1980, however, resampling of this well did not confirm the presence of mercury at levels above the drinking water standard. Past sampling does not indicate that these wells were affected by contaminants at the site.

PUBLIC HEALTH IMPLICATIONS

A. Toxicological Evaluation

An analysis of the toxicological implications of the human exposure pathways of concern is presented below. To evaluate the potential health risks from contaminants of concern associated with the Johnstown City Landfill site, the NYS DOH has assessed the risks for cancer and noncancer health effects. The health effects are related to contaminant concentration, exposure pathway, exposure frequency and duration. For additional information on how the NYS DOH determined and qualified health risks applicable to this health assessment, refer to Appendix C.

  1. Past and present ingestion, dermal and inhalation exposure to organic contaminants in private water supply wells.
    For an undetermined period of time (less than 33 years), four residential wells near the Johnstown Landfill site were contaminated with organic chemicals (see Table 15). Contaminant levels in these wells were first detected between 1979 and 1980. Contaminant levels in drinking water prior to this time are not known. In one residential well, levels of methylene chloride (10.4 mcg/L), vinyl chloride (3.7 mcg/L), benzene (2.5 mcg/L), trans-1,2-dichloroethene (5.4 mcg/L) and bis(2-ethylhexyl)phthalate (3.3 mcg/L) were found to exceed present New York State public drinking water standards and/or public health assessment comparison values for each of these chemicals (see Table 24). This residential water supply well has not been used since 1980.
    Chronic exposure to chemicals in drinking water is possible by ingestion, dermal contact and inhalation from water uses such as showering, bathing and cooking. Although exposure varies depending on an individual's lifestyle, each of these exposure routes contributes to the overall daily uptake of contaminants and thus increases the potential for chronic health effects.
    Vinyl chloride and benzene are known human carcinogens (ATSDR, 1991b,p). Chronic exposure to the highest levels of vinyl chloride and benzene found in one private drinking water well would pose moderate and low increased cancer risks, respectively. Methylene chloride and bis(2-ethylhexyl)phthalate cause cancer in laboratory animals exposed to high levels over their lifetimes (ATSDR 1991d,k). 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 chemicals cause cancer in humans is not known. Based on the results of animal studies and limited sampling of private water supply wells, it is estimated that persons who were exposed to drinking water contaminated with methylene chloride and bis(2-ethylhexyl)phthalate would have a low increased risk of developing cancer. Toxicological data are inadequate to assess the carcinogenic potential of trans-1,2-dichloroethene (ATSDR, 1990c).
    The chlorinated contaminants vinyl chloride, methylene chloride and trans-1,2-dichloroethene also produce noncarcinogenic toxic effects, primarily to the liver, the kidneys and the nervous system. Benzene is known to cause damage to blood-cell forming tissues and to the immune system (ATSDR, 1991b). Bis(2-ethylhexyl)phthalate can adversely affect the male reproductive system (ATSDR, 1991d). All these contaminants produce their effects following exposures which are several orders of magnitude greater than past exposure to these chemicals in residential well drinking water. 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 noncarcinogenic effects from past exposures are not completely understood, the existing data suggest that they would be high for vinyl chloride and minimal for exposure to benzene, methylene chloride, trans-1,2-dichloroethene and bis(2-ethylhexyl)phthalate.
    One year earlier, in March 1979, analysis of water samples collected from this same residential well had shown the presence of benzene (125 mcg/L), toluene (20 mcg/L) and xylenes (20 mcg/L). Chronic exposure to this level of benzene in drinking water would pose a low increased risk of developing cancer. Toxicological data are inadequate to assess the carcinogenic potential of toluene and xylene (ATSDR, 1990f; 1992f). The noncarcinogenic properties of benzene have already been discussed; toluene and xylene produce noncarcinogenic toxic effects primarily to the liver, the kidneys and the nervous system. The existing data suggest that the risks of noncarcinogenic effects from past exposures to these contaminants in this residential well water would be minimal for benzene, toluene and xylene.
    Sampling of the Pine Tree Rifle Club water supply in 1979, 1983, 1985 and 1986 indicated that the level of benzene detected in 1979 (1 mcg/L), the level of bis(2-ethylhexyl)phthalate detected in 1980 (81 mcg/L) and the level of sodium detected in 1986 (140,000 mcg/L), were found to exceed present New York State drinking water standards/guidelines or public health assessment comparison values (see Tables 15 and 24). The period of time that individuals drinking the water from the Pine Tree Rifle Club were exposed to these contaminants is not known. The toxicological properties of benzene and bis(2-ethylhexyl)phthalate have already been discussed. Exposure to these two contaminants would pose a very low to low increased cancer risk to individuals who had infrequently drank the water from the Pine Tree Rifle Club. In addition, the risks of noncarcinogenic effects from exposure to benzene and bis(2-ethylhexyl)phthalate would be minimal. The New York State drinking water guidance value for sodium is 20,000 mcg/L for individuals on a severely restricted sodium diet. Such individuals who may have infrequently drank water at the Pine Tree Rifle Club containing 140,000 mcg/L of sodium would have been at low risk.
    During the remedial investigation, three rounds of water sampling of residential wells occurred. The two organic contaminants which exceed public health assessment comparison values are bis(2-ethylhexyl)phthalate (66 mcg/L) and trichloroethene (5 mcg/L) (see Tables 15 and 24). At the time of sampling, these contaminants could have been present in residential wells for a period of up to 43 years (i.e., from the time the landfill began operation in 1947 to the time that these chemicals were detected in 1990). The toxicological properties of bis(2-ethylhexyl)phthalate have previously been discussed. Trichloroethene causes cancer in laboratory animals exposed to high levels over their lifetimes (ATSDR, 1991n ). This chemical also produces noncarcinogenic toxic effects, primarily to the liver, the kidneys and the nervous system. Exposure of individuals to these chemicals at the highest levels found in residential drinking water would pose a low increased cancer risk and a minimal noncancer risk. In addition, a community health concern was expressed over the presence of ammonia which was detected at a level of 2,200 mcg/L in a private drinking water well in the fall of 1991 near the Johnstown City Landfill site. At high levels of exposure to ammonia, kidney and liver damage have been reported in animals and humans (ATSDR, 1990h). These are at levels which are several orders of magnitude greater than exposure from this private well. Although the risks of adverse health effects from long-term exposure to ammonia in drinking water at 2,200 mcg/L are not completely understood, the existing data suggest that they are minimal.
    Metal contaminants of concern detected in residential wells during the remedial investigation are arsenic, antimony, and manganese (Tables 17 and 24). Studies of people exposed to high levels of arsenic in drinking water in foreign countries provide evidence of an association between arsenic ingestion and skin cancer. To date, however, studies in the United States of exposure to arsenic in drinking water have not shown an increased risk of cancer (ATSDR, 1991a). The existing data suggest that exposure to arsenic in drinking water would pose a low increased cancer risk.
    Antimony can cause alterations in blood chemistry (ATSDR, 1990a). The risk of noncarcinogenic effects from exposure to antimony in drinking water is low. Exposure to high manganese concentrations primarily causes nervous system effects (ATSDR, 1991j). The risk of noncarcinogenic effects from exposure to manganese in drinking water is high.

  2. Potential ingestion, dermal and inhalation exposure to contaminants in drinking water as a result of contaminant migration.
    As indicated in Tables 6, 7, 8, 18, 19 and 20, on-site and off-site groundwater are contaminated with organic chemicals and metals at concentrations that exceed New York State drinking water standards or public health assessment comparison values (Table 24). Municipal and private drinking water supply wells could become contaminated as a result of on-site and off-site groundwater contaminant migration.
    Organic Compounds:
    Benzene is a known human carcinogen (ATSDR, 1991b). Chronic exposure to the highest levels of benzene found in on-site and off-site groundwater could pose a low increased cancer risk. Methylene chloride, chloroform, and bis(2-ethylhexyl)phthalate which were detected in both on-site and off-site groundwater cause cancer in laboratory animals exposed to high levels over their lifetimes (ATSDR, 1991d, f and k). The pesticides dieldrin, 4,4'-DDT, 4,4'-DDD, 4,4'-DDE and chlordane which were detected in on-site groundwater and styrene, 3,3'-dichlorobenzidine and the polyaromatic hydrocarbons, benzo(a)anthracene, chrysene, benzo(b)fluoranthene, benzo(k)fluoranthene, benzo(a)pyrene and indeno(1,2,3-cd)pyrene which were detected in off-site groundwater also cause cancer in laboratory animals exposed to high levels over their lifetimes (ATSDR, 1989b; 1990e; 1991h; 1992b,c,d). Based on the results of animal studies, chronic exposure to total polycyclicaromatic hydrocarbons at the highest levels found in off-site groundwater could pose a high increased cancer risk, whereas exposure to methylene chloride, bis(2-ethylhexyl)phthalate, chloroform, dieldrin, 4,4'-DDE, 4,4'-DDD, 4,4'-DDT and chlordane at the highest levels found in on-site or off-site groundwater could pose a combined moderate increased cancer risk.
    In addition, exposure to styrene and 3,3'-dichlorobenzidine, which were detected in off-site groundwater could each pose a low increased cancer risk. Toxicological data are inadequate to assess the carcinogenic potential of acetone, ethylbenzene, naphthalene, xylene and toluene (ATSDR, 1990d,f,g; 1992a,f).
    The chlorinated contaminant methylene chloride as well as acetone, ethylbenzene, toluene and xylene produce noncarcinogenic toxic effects primarily to the liver, the kidneys and the nervous system (ATSDR, 1990f,g; 1991f,k; 1992a,f). The toxicological properties of benzene have already been discussed. Chemicals that cause effects in humans and/or animals at 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 noncarcinogenic effects from possible exposure to contaminated groundwater are not completely understood, the existing data suggest that they would be minimal.
    Metal Contaminants:
    Metal contaminants of potential concern in on-site and off-site groundwater include antimony, aluminum, arsenic, beryllium, cadmium, chromium, iron, lead, magnesium, manganese, mercury, nickel, sodium, thallium, vanadium and zinc. The toxicological properties of arsenic, antimony and manganese have already been discussed. The following is a summary of the potential health effects from exposure to the other metals. Although little is known about the chronic toxicity of aluminum in humans, some animal toxicity studies indicate that aluminum may cause nerve and skeletal damage and may also adversely affect the reproductive system (NYS DOH, 1990a). The primary toxic effects associated with ingestion of large amounts of chromium have been kidney damage, birth defects, and adverse effects on the reproductive system (ATSDR, 1991g). Although iron is an essential nutrient, ingestion of extremely large amounts can lead to accumulation in the body and to tissue damage (WHO, 1984; Henretig and Temple, 1984). Chronic exposure to lead is predominantly associated with neurological and hematological effects (ATSDR, 1991i) and the developing fetus and young children are particularly sensitive to lead-induced neurological effects. Magnesium is an essential element in human nutrition. However, at very high levels (greater than about 250,000 mcg/L) magnesium may have a laxative effect, although the human body can adapt to this effect with time (NAS, 1977). Exposure to high manganese concentrations primarily causes nervous system effects (ATSDR, 1991j). Exposure to high levels of nickel can cause reproductive effects and allergic reactions (ATSDR, 1991l). The main health concern about sodium ingestion is its association with high blood pressure and possibly heart disease (WHO, 1984). Effects on the gastrointestinal tract (cramps, diarrhea, nausea) have been observed following ingestion of large amounts of vanadium (ATSDR, 1991o). Long-term exposure to mercury can lead to damage to the kidneys and nervous system (ATSDR, 1992g). The most sensitive effect from chronic elevated exposure to cadmium is kidney damage (ATSDR, 1991e). Ingestion of large amounts of zinc can cause abdominal cramps, nausea, vomiting and diarrhea (ATSDR, 1992h). Chronic exposure to elevated levels of thallium can adversely affect the respiratory, cardiovascular, and gastrointestinal systems, liver, kidneys and the male reproductive system (ATSDR, 1992e). Long-term ingestion of beryllium has been associated with reduced body weight gain in animals (ATSDR, 1991c). Chronic (long-term) exposure to drinking water contaminated with lead, manganese, cadmium, chromium, iron and sodium at the highest concentrations found in groundwater monitoring wells would pose a high increased risk of adverse health effects, whereas chronic exposure to arsenic, aluminum and antimony would pose a low increased noncancer risk. The remaining metal contaminants would pose a minimal increased risk of adverse health effects.

  3. Potential inhalation exposure from exposure to migrating on-site soil gas.
    Adequate data are not available to assess the toxicological implications of this exposure pathway. Limited landfill gas sampling on-site indicates a potential for exposure to methane and VOCs. One public health threat from methane generation is the potential for explosive levels of methane to migrate off-site and accumulate in closed buildings such as adjacent homes, and hence be a safety problem. These risks are in addition to the effects that can be caused by large amounts of methane displacing oxygen in air. Individuals who continue to breathe high levels of methane may become dizzy, experience difficulty in breathing or lose consciousness (Sax, 1979). In addition, toxic gases may be carried with methane, which if inhaled, can result in adverse health effects.

  4. Potential exposure of persons ingesting fish from Mathew Creek.
    Ingestion of fish from Mathew Creek is a potential human exposure route of concern. Contaminants of concern detected in fish from Mathew Creek are 4,4'-DDT, 4,4'-DDE and 4,4'-DDD. The toxicological properties of these contaminants have already been discussed. Ingestion of fish from Mathew Creek containing these contaminants would pose a moderate increased risk of developing cancer. Noncarcinogenic adverse effects, however, would be minimal (see Tables 10 and 26).

  5. Potential ingestion, dermal and inhalation exposure of persons engaged in recreational activities in Mathew Creek or trespassing at the LaGrange Gravel Pit.
    As indicated in Table 12, the only surface water contaminants which exceed public health assessment comparison values (see Table 27) are bis(2-ethylhexyl)phthalate detected in Mathew Creek and tetrachloroethene detected in the LaGrange Gravel Pit. The toxicological properties of bis(2-ethylhexyl)phthalate have already been discussed. Tetrachloroethene causes cancer in laboratory animals exposed to high levels over their lifetimes (ATSDR, 1991m). This chemical also produces noncarcinogenic toxic effects primarily to the liver, the kidneys and the nervous system (ATSDR, 1991m). Exposure to bis(2-ethylhexyl)phthalate and tetrachloroethene from wading or swimming in these surface water bodies would pose a low increased cancer risk whereas the risks of noncarcinogenic effects would be minimal.


B. Health Outcome Data Evaluation

NYS DOH has not evaluated health outcome data specifically for the Johnstown City Landfill site and there are no community health studies planned at this time. Persons that were exposed in the past to VOC contaminated groundwater will be considered for inclusion in the NYS DOH's VOC registry. The NYS DOH registry will be matched with the cancer registry to evaluate possible adverse health outcomes in the exposed population.

C. Community Health Concerns Evaluation

In August and September of 1977, users of the public water supply served by the Maple Avenue wells reported taste, odor and health complaints to the NYS DOH. In response, NYS DOH conducted a detailed sampling of these wells for trace organics, heavy metals and bacteriological analysis. Results of these analyses showed that all of the organic and metal parameters which were tested were within applicable drinking water standards. Chlorides, sodium, hardness and total organic carbon content (TOC) were elevated, particularly in well No. 2. Based on these findings, NYS DOH recommended to the City of Johnstown that use of the Maple Avenue wells be avoided except during emergencies. The City was advised to limit their use of well No. 1 and well No. 2, as a potable water source, to only extreme emergencies.

In November of 1977, elevated lead levels were detected in a private water supply serving a residence southeast of the landfill. In response to concerns about possible health effects from exposure to elevated lead in drinking water, NYS DOH conducted additional sampling of the water supply and blood lead testing of all the family members using this water supply. The results of the blood lead testing indicated that blood lead levels of all of the family members tested were within normal limits. This source of lead in this water supply was never determined. The residents installed a new well in 1981 and follow-up sampling of their water supply serving this residence did not confirm the presence of elevated lead. NYS DOH provided information about the occurrence of lead in the environment and health aspects of lead was provided to concerned ingestion members of the community living near the landfill who expressed concern about the occurrence of lead in a private water supply.

In response to reports of poor fish survival in Hulbert's Pond, NYS DEC conducted an investigation of aquatic life in Mathew Creek in 1978. This investigation studied the effects of leachate discharges from the landfill to LaGrange Springs, Mathew Creek and Hulbert's Pond. A detailed discussion of this study is presented in the Environmental Contamination and Other Hazards section, subsection B, Off-Site Contamination, under the heading "Biota".

In March of 1979, a resident living north of the landfill reported a change in the quality of the drinking water supply serving his home to the NYS DOH. In response, the NYS DOH collected several samples of the water supply for analysis of metals and general water quality parameters. Analytical results indicated that aesthetically, the natural quality of the water serving this residence was poor. Additional samples of this resident's water supply were collected in late spring of 1979 for analysis of organic parameters; analytical results indicated the presence of benzene (125 mcg/l), toluene (20 mcg/l) and xylenes (20 mcg/l). This resident was advised by the NYS DOH of the possible health concerns associated with the continued use of this water source for drinking water and was advised to consider development of an alternate water source. In 1980, the City of Johnstown purchased this property from the homeowner and properly abandoned the water supply well and this property is still vacant.

In June 1990, a resident living near the Johnstown City Landfill expressed concern about groundwater contamination from the landfill to affect their drinking water. As part of the feasibility study for the site, several clean-up alternatives were evaluated including providing homeowners near the landfill with an alternate water supply. The March 1993 Record of Decision for this site provides for extension of the City of Johnstown public water supply to homes near the landfill. Preliminary design of the selected remedy is underway and it is anticipated that construction of the public water supply extension will begin sometime in the spring of 1995.

In 1991, a representative of the Rainbow Alliance for Clean Environment (RACE) expressed concern about the presence of ammonia in a residential water supply near the landfill. In response to these concerns, the NYS DOH's Health Liaison Program (HeLP) provided this citizen with toxicological and health information about the presence of ammonia in drinking water.

In response to community concerns about possible contamination of downgradient drinking water supplies and surficial waters, NYS DOH and NYS DEC have conducted investigations of Mathew Creek and collected samples of residential water supplies near the landfill. NYS DEC personnel have documented landfill contamination of surface water bodies adjacent to and downgradient of the site. Private wells surrounding the landfill have been sampled extensively by representatives of the NYS DOH, NYS DEC, US EPA and the potentially responsible parties (PRP's) consultant. Homeowners whose wells were sampled by the NYS DOH were provided with copies of the analytical results as well as information about the continued use of their water supply.

During public review of this health assessment, a citizen expressed concern about the high incidence of cancer in the area. Cancer develops in people of all ages, but most often in the middle-aged and elderly. The number of cancer cases has risen dramatically over the past 40 years, but much of this increase is a reflection of the increase in population, especially in the older age groups. The NYS DOH is developing a registry of people exposed to VOCs in drinking water. Residents near the Johnstown City Landfill who were exposed in the past to VOCs in drinking water will be considered for inclusion to this registry. This registry will be matched periodically with the cancer registry to evaluate possible adverse health outcomes.



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