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PUBLIC HEALTH ASSESSMENT

SIDNEY LANDFILL
SIDNEY, DELAWARE COUNTY, NEW YORK


DISCUSSION - ADULT AND CHILDREN'S HEALTH ISSUES

To evaluate the potential health risks from contaminants of concern associated with the SidneyLandfill site, the NYS DOH has assessed the risks for cancer and noncancer health effects. Thehealth effects are related to contaminant concentration, exposure pathway, exposure frequencyand duration. For additional information on how the NYS DOH determined and qualified healthrisks applicable to this Public Health Assessment, see Appendix C.

  1. Past completed and present potential ingestion, dermal contact and inhalation exposureto on-site surface soils.
  2. Workers at the Sidney Landfill were likely exposed to contaminants in on-site surfacesoils. Also, trespassers may have come in contact with contaminated soils. Major on-site soil contaminants are polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), arsenic, and lead. PCBscause cancer in laboratory animals exposed to high levels over their lifetimes (ATSDR,1995a). Based on the results of animal studies, the NYS DOH estimates that long-termchronic exposure of workers and trespassers to the highest levels (158 mg/kg) of PCBsfound in on-site surface soils at the Sidney Landfill site could pose a low increased cancerrisk. The site is currently posted and there is little evidence of use; however, it is notfenced. Remedial measures under way, which include consolidating and covering wastes,will eliminate this potential exposure pathway in the future.

    PCBs also cause noncarcinogenic toxic effects. Effects reported in humans afteroccupational exposures to PCBs include skin, eye and respiratory tract irritation, and lessfrequently, effects on the liver and the nervous and digestive systems (ATSDR, 1995a). There may be a link between a mother's increased exposure to PCBs and effects on herchild's birthweight and behavior (ATSDR, 1995a; Rogan and Gladen, 1991, 1992). PCBshave also caused skin, liver, nervous system, immune system and reproductive effects inanimals (ATSDR, 1995a). Although the risks of noncarcinogenic effects from exposureto on-site soils contaminated with PCBs are not completely understood, the existing datasuggest that they could be low.

    Arsenic is a known human carcinogen (ATSDR, 1993a). Ingesting inorganic arsenicincreases the risk of skin cancer and tumors of the bladder, kidney, liver and lungs. Studies of people exposed to high levels of arsenic in drinking water in foreign countriesprovide evidence of an association between arsenic ingestion and skin cancer. To date,however, studies in the United States have not shown such an association. The existingdata suggest that chronic exposure of workers or trespassers to the highest levels (376mg/kg) of arsenic detected in soil at the Sidney Landfill site could pose a low increasedcancer risk. Chronic exposure to lead is predominantly associated with neurological andhematological effects and the developing fetus and young children are particularlysensitive to lead-induced neurological effects (ATSDR, 1993b). Chronic exposure tolead at the highest levels (53,800 mg/kg) found in on-site surface soils could pose a highrisk of adverse health effects.

  3. Past completed, present and future potential ingestion, dermal contact and inhalationexposure to PCB contaminated sediments and surface water from the South Pond.
  4. Individuals could have and may still be exposed to PCB-contaminated sediments at theSouth Pond. The PCB mixture Aroclor 1248 was detected in sediment at levels as highas 44 mg/kg. The toxicological properties of the PCBs have already been discussed. Based on the results of animal studies, chronic exposure to PCBs in off-site sedimentscould pose a low increased cancer risk. The risks of noncarcinogenic effects frompotential exposure to PCB-contaminated sediments could be low. People who use SouthPond for recreational purposes also may be exposed to the PCB mixture Aroclor 1248 insurface water (Appendix B, Table 4). Chronic exposure to PCBs at the highest level(1.19 mcg/L) found in surface water could pose a low increased cancer risk. The risks ofnoncarcinogenic effects from potential exposure to PCB-contaminated surface waterwould be minimal.

  5. Exposure to contaminants in drinking water as a result of contaminant migration.
  6. Chronic exposure to chemicals in drinking water is possible by ingestion, dermal contactand inhalation from water uses such as showering, bathing, and cooking. Althoughexposure varies depending on an individual's lifestyle, each of these exposure routescontributes to the overall daily uptake of contaminants and thus increases the potential forchronic health effects.

    Three seasonally used private residential water supplies adjacent to the Sidney Landfill siteand one seasonally used spring from which water was carried (also adjacent to the site) to aresident's home, are contaminated with chlorinated solvents at levels that exceed New YorkState drinking water standards. Residents using these spring water supplies were exposedto these contaminants in their drinking water for an undetermined period of time, possiblyup to about 26 years from some time after the Sidney Landfill began operating in 1968 to1994 when whole house carbon filter units were installed on the two water suppliescontaining the highest levels of chlorinated solvent contaminants. Levels of contaminationprior to 1985/1986 are not known. Although residents began using bottled water fordrinking in 1985/1986, exposure to these contaminants by dermal contact and inhalationfrom water uses such as showering, bathing and washing dishes was still possible. Inaddition, the resident who used a spring from which water was carried was advised of itscontamination and no longer uses the spring for potable purposes.

    Trichloroethene was detected in drinking water at levels as high as 1,025 mcg/L. Thehighest levels of tetrachloroethene, total 1,2-dichloroethene and 1,1,1-trichloroethane were14, 29, and 66 mcg/L, respectively. Trichloroethene and tetrachloroethene cause cancer inlaboratory animals exposed to high levels over their lifetimes (ATSDR, 1995,b,d). Chemicals that cause cancer in laboratory animals may also increase the risk of cancer inhumans who are exposed to lower levels over long periods of time. Based on the limitedsampling data and results of animal studies, past exposure to trichloroethene andtetrachloroethene contaminated drinking water could pose a low to moderate increasedcancer risk. Toxicological data are inadequate to assess the carcinogenic potential of 1,1,1-trichloroethane and total 1,2-dichloroethene detected in some of these private watersupplies.

    Trichloroethene, tetrachloroethene, 1,1,1-trichloroethane and total 1,2-dichloroethene canalso cause noncarcinogenic toxic effects primarily to the liver, kidneys and central nervoussystem (ATSDR, 1995b,c,d; 1996). Chemicals that cause effects in humans and/or animalsat high levels of exposure may also pose a risk to humans who are exposed to lower levelsover long periods of time. Although the risks of noncarcinogenic effects from exposure tothese contaminants in drinking water are not completely understood, the existing datasuggest that they could have been moderate for exposure to trichloroethene at a level of1,025 mcg/L.

    In June 1997, another private water supply well was found to be contaminated withchlorinated solvents at levels exceeding drinking water standards. Vinyl chloride wasdetected at 11 mcg/L, 1,2-dichloroethene at 21 mcg/L and trichloroethene at 9.4 mcg/L. Previous sampling in 1986 and 1990 did not detect contamination at levels abovestandards; however, we do not know when contaminant levels increased. Water from thewell was used seasonally from 1990 to 1996, when the house was destroyed by fire.

    Residents using this water supply were exposed on a seasonal basis to elevated levels ofthese contaminants for an undetermined period of time, possibly up to six years. Vinylchloride is a known human carcinogen (ATSDR 1997). It has been associated with anincreased risk of cancer in workers who breathed relatively high levels in workplace airover many years. Some workers who breathed vinyl chloride for several years have alsoshown noncarcinogenic effects, primarily on the liver, nervous system and immune system. Based on the limited sampling data, past exposure to vinyl chloride contaminated drinkingwater could pose a low increased cancer risk. The increased cancer risk from exposure totrichloroethene would be very low. The risks of noncarcinogenic effects would be low forvinyl chloride and minimal for 1,2-dichloroethene and trichloroethene.

    When the property was purchased by the current resident in June 1997, until a new wellwas drilled in 1998, the resident used bottled water for drinking and contaminated water forother household uses. The new well was tested after installation and is not contaminated. Although the level of exposure to these chemicals via inhalation and skin contact is notknown, NYS DOH estimates that the increased risk of cancer from household uses of thewater for one year would be very low to low for vinyl chloride, and very low fortrichloroethene. The increased risk of noncancer effects from household uses of thecontaminated water for less than one year are estimated to be minimal.

  7. Past completed and present potential ingestion, dermal contact and inhalation exposure toon-site leachate seeps.
  8. Workers and trespassers could have come in contact with contaminated leachate seeps onthe site. The contaminants selected for further evaluation are vinyl chloride and the PCBmixture Aroclor 1248 (Appendix B, Table 5). Chronic exposure to leachate contaminatedwith vinyl chloride at the highest level (16 mcg/L) detected could pose a low increasedcancer risk. The toxicological properties of PCBs have already been discussed. Chronicexposure to PCBs at the highest level (3.6 mcg/L) found in on-site leachate seeps couldpose a low increased cancer risk to workers. However, the site is currently posted and thereis little evidence of use; although it is not fenced. Remedial measures, which areunderway, and include consolidating and covering wastes, will eliminate this potentialexposure pathway in the future.

  9. Children's Health Issues.
  10. The ATSDR Child Health Initiative emphasizes examining child health issues in all of theagency activities, including evaluating child-focused concerns through its mandated publichealth assessment activities. The ATSDR and the NYS DOH consider children whenevaluating exposure pathways and potential health effects from environmentalcontaminants. We recognize that children are of special concern because of their greaterpotential for exposure from play and other behavior patterns. Children sometimes differfrom adults in their susceptibility to the effects of hazardous chemicals, but whether there isa difference depends on the chemical. Children may be more or less susceptible than adultsto health effects from a chemical and the relationship may change with developmental age.

    The potential for trichloroethene and PCBs (two of the primary contaminants detected atthe Sidney Landfill Site) to cause adverse effects in the offspring of humans and/orlaboratory animals has been assessed in several studies. Studies of children born towomen who were exposed to trichloroethene in drinking water during pregnancy providelimited evidence that an association may exist between oral trichloroethene exposure andadverse developmental effects (e.g., neural tube and oral cleft defects, low birth weight) aswell as childhood leukemia (ATSDR, 1995d). In each of these studies, the mothers wereexposed to other chemicals other than trichloroethene, and the overall data are not strongenough to conclude that the effects are caused by trichloroethene and not by some otherfactor or factors. When pregnant animals are exposed by ingestion and/or inhalation tolarge amounts of trichloroethene, adverse effects on the normal development of theoffspring are observed (ATSDR, 1995d). In most, but not all of these studies, the highamounts of trichloroethene also caused adverse health effects on the parent animal. Somestudies of pregnant women exposed to PCBs suggest a link between a mother's increasedPCB exposure from eating contaminated fish or from other environmental sources andslight effects on her child's birthweight, short-term memory, and learning (ATSDR, 1995a). However, the women in these studies were also exposed to other chemicals and the effectsof these chemicals on them and their children are not understood. PCBs given orally tolaboratory animals during pregnancy cause adverse effects on the animals' offspring(ATSDR, 1995a). In some of these studies, the high amounts of PCBs also caused healtheffects on the parent animal. The estimated levels of exposure to trichloroethene and PCBsin environmental media at and near the Sidney Landfill Site were compared to the exposurelevels in the animal studies in which adverse health effects were observed, and were foundto be lower. Thus, the possibility that children may have increased sensitivity totrichloroethene and PCBs was taken into account when evaluating the potential health risksassociated with the site.


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