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PUBLIC HEALTH ASSESSMENT

BRESLUBE-PENN INC., SUPERFUND SITE
MOON TOWNSHIP, ALLEGHENY COUNTY, PENNSYLVANIA


ENVIRONMENTAL CONTAMINATION AND OTHER HAZARDS

PADOH selects and discusses contaminants of concern (COCs) based upon several factors, including (a) concentrations of chemicals on site and off site; (b) comparison of on-site and off-site concentrations with health assessment comparison values for carcinogenic and noncarcinogenic end points, (c) community health concerns, and (d) quality of the field and laboratory data.

In the data tables in Appendix B the fact that a chemical is listed does not mean that it will cause adverse health effects from exposure, if, in fact, any human exposures are found or postulated at the Site. Instead, the list shows chemicals that will be evaluated further in this public health assessment (PHA), including reasons why they are or are not selected as COCs. The potential for adverse health effects resulting from actual or potential human exposure to COCs is discussed in the Public Health Implications section of this document.

Comparison values for PHAs are contaminant concentrations in specific media that are used to select contaminants for further evaluation. The federal Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) and other agencies developed the values to provide guidelines for estimating the media concentrations of a contaminant that are unlikely to cause adverse health effects if exposure occurs.

PCBs and lead are the selected COCs for the Site. The only pathway that exists for PCBs is the potential exposure pathway in off-site stream sediments upstream of the Site. The only pathway that exists for lead is the potential exposure pathway in off-site stream surface water near the Site. It is not clear that either of the COCs in the described pathways is related to the Site. These pathways will be discussed further in the Pathways Analyses section.

PADOH searched the Right-to-Know Network's copy of EPA's Toxic Chemical Release Inventory (TRI) database for the years 1987 through 1993. The search requested data on estimated annual releases of toxic chemicals to the environment by facilities in the same zip code area as the Site. In the reporting years 1987 through 1993, PADOH found no reports of releases of COCs by facilities in the 15108 zip code area (6).

A. On-site Contamination

Soil

As stated previously in the Site Description and History section, FIT 3 sampled on-site soils. None of the on-site soils samples were clearly designated as surface (0-3") soils. In the same discussions, we pointed out that EPA removed a total of 6,374 tons of PCB-contaminated soil from the Site and disposed of it at sites in Ohio and New York states. EPA did not cap the ground beneath the removed pile with clean fill following the removal action and did not take surface (0-3") soil samples from the position where the pile lay. For these reasons, PADOH is not able to draw any conclusions about current levels of PCBs in the area where on-site surface soil was stockpiled prior to removal from the site.

Groundwater

Appendix B, Table 3 shows that samples of on-site groundwater taken from the home wells HW-1 and HW-2 (Appendix A, Figure 4) were contaminated with 1,1-Dichlorothene (1,1-DCE), manganese, and zinc in 1988. These wells were upgradient of industrial operations at the Site. However, these two wells were not used for drinking and are no longer there. The background monitoring wells that were drilled on site, MW-D, MW-E, and MW-F (Appendix A, Figure 5)(1) were placed upgradient of industrial activities and samples from them showed no contamination that PADOH considers to be site related. The metals found in sample MW-4 (Appendix B, Table 3)(1), which was taken from MW-F, are, most likely, naturally occurring. No monitoring wells were drilled in the center of the industrially active portions of the property.

B. Off-site Contamination

Sediment

Sediment sample SD-1 taken upstream from the Site during the site inspection in 1988 showed an elevated level of the PCB Aroclor 1260 at 13 milligrams per kilogram (mg/kg) (Appendix A, Figure 4 and Appendix B, Table 1). The same sample showed a low level of the polyaromatic hydrocarbon (PAH) benzo(a)pyrene (B[a]P) at 0.1 mg/kg (1). Previous investigators provide no explanation to describe the source of the Aroclor 1260 in the upstream sample. Both upstream and downstream sediment samples SD-1 and SD-2, respectively, showed traces of arsenic and beryllium (Appendix B, Table 1). Neither of these occurrences is site related and neither is much above naturally occurring levels. Therefore, arsenic and beryllium will not be discussed further in this report.

All the sediment samples taken during the expanded site inspection in 1991 showed low levels of B[a]P. The highest level found was 1.2 mg/kg in SD-3 (Appendix B, Table 4) (2). PAHs, including B[a]P, are ubiquitous in many urban areas because the burning of petroleum and coal has led to the creation and deposition of them in soils and sediments. There is no way to show that the B[a]P found in the stream sediments is site related. Since the levels are low and it is found almost everywhere in urban U. S. environments, B[a]P will not be discussed further in this report.

Groundwater

In 1988 off-site monitoring wells showed a variety of contaminants in sample numbers MW-1, MW-2, and MW-3 (corresponding to MW-A, MW-B, and MW-C, respectively of Appendix A, Figure 4). Appendix B, Table 3 (1) lists these contaminants. The occurrence of high concentrations of the PCB Aroclor 1254 at 120 micrograms per liter (µg/L) almost guarantees that a petroleum-type carrier is present in the subsurface since PCBs are not very soluble in water. Benzene, for example, is reported in every downgradient monitoring well (1).

However, home wells HW-3 and HW-4 (Appendix A, Figure 6) are generally free of site-related contaminants and are not expected to be affected in the future. Every other residence in the vicinity of the Site is connected to a public water supply that is not affected by the Site. The levels of metals shown in Appendix B, Table 5 (2) are probably naturally occurring or artifacts of the residential well system.

Surface Water

The surface water samples taken upstream of the Site during the site inspection showed traces of a few organic compounds that are not site related. Both upstream and downstream samples showed traces of manganese above the comparison value (Appendix B, Table 2)(1). Because off-site groundwater showed high levels of manganese, the Site may be contributing to a gradual increase in concentration of manganese in Montour Run. However, there is not enough evidence to imply cause and effect. Manganese is discussed further in the paragraphs below.

Surface water samples taken upstream, midstream and downstream of the Site during the expanded site inspection in 1991 showed low levels of a number of metals above comparison values (Appendix B, Table 6)(2). The results of analyses show that the concentrations of the metals had a slight tendency to increase from upstream to downstream. Lead, chromium, nickel and manganese, in particular, showed the greatest increase in levels from upstream to downstream. All of these metals were found in high concentrations in off-site groundwater. Since shallow groundwater appears to be moving from the Site toward Montour Run it seems likely that the Site is adding to the metals burden of Montour Run.

The maximum level of lead found in Montour Run was 19 µg/L. Comparison values are not available for lead, but EPA's Action Level for lead in public drinking water supplies is 15 µg/L. For this reason, lead is selected as a COC and will be discussed further in the Public Health Implications section.

The maximum level of chromium found in Montour Run was 19.6 µg/L. However, from a human health standpoint this level is not significant if one takes into account that chromium in its natural valence state of +3 is an essential nutrient. The average adult in the U. S. takes in an estimated 60 µg of dietary chromium per day (9). A person would have to ingest about three liters of water per day from Montour Run to reach this level. It is for this reason that chromium is not a COC and will not be discussed further in this PHA.

The maximum level of manganese found in Montour Run was 1,110 µg/L. Eating a small amount of manganese each day is important for people to maintain their health. The average adult in the U. S. takes in from 2,000 to 9,000 µg of dietary manganese per day (10). A person would have to ingest about two to nine liters of water per day from Montour Run to reach these levels. It is for this reason that manganese is not a COC and will not be discussed further in this PHA.

The maximum level of nickel found in Montour Run was 65.6 µg/L. The average adult in the U. S. takes in about 170 µg of dietary nickel per day (11). A person would have to ingest about two-and-a-half liters of water per day from Montour Run to reach this level. It is for this reason that nickel is not a COC and will not be discussed further in this PHA.

Two confounding factors are present in this discussion. First, a metal salvage yard is active just upstream of the Site. Second, Montour Run may be receiving mine drainage from upstream deep coal mines. Both of these sources may be contributing to the metal burden of the surface water in the stream, but there is not enough evidence to identify the upstream sources of metals.

C. Quality Assurance and Quality Control

In preparing this PHA, ATSDR relies on the information provided in the referenced documents. Quality assurance and quality control programs were carried out for both the site inspection and expanded site inspection sampling and analyses. We assume that adequate quality assurance and quality control measures were followed regarding chain-of-custody, laboratory procedures, and data reporting. The analyses, conclusions, and recommendations in this PHA are valid only if the referenced documents are complete and reliable.

D. Physical and Other Hazards

The only physical hazards on site (three 30,000-gallon upright storage tanks) have been removed. During the first site visit, a Moon Township official stated that in about 1992 local police officers found a youngster inside one of the tanks and told him to leave.

Investigators should be aware of the rifle range across Montour Run. Also, because we found one target arrow on site we believe that archers who shoot at those targets facing the Site present a very small, but important risk to people on site as well as passers-by on the trail.

PATHWAYS ANALYSES

To determine whether nearby residents are exposed to contaminants migrating from the Site, PADOH evaluates the environmental and human components that lead to human exposure. An exposure pathway consists of five elements: (a) a source of contamination; (b) an environmental medium in which the contaminants may be present or may migrate; (c) a geographic point of human exposure; (d) a biologic route of exposure; and (e) a receptor population. Appendix B, Tables 7 and 8 describe exposure pathways at the Site.

PADOH and ATSDR identify exposure pathways as completed, potential, or eliminated. In completed exposure pathways, the five elements exist, and so exposure has occurred, is occurring, or will occur. In potential exposure pathways, however, at least one of the five elements is missing, and exposure to a contaminant could have occurred in the past, could be occurring now, or could occur in the future. An exposure pathway can be eliminated if at least one of the five elements is missing and will never be present.

A. Completed Exposure Pathways

PADOH is unable to identify any completed exposure pathways for the Site. The following items cite reasons for this.

  • A data gap exists for the on-site soil pathway because surface soils (0-3") were not clearly identified in any of the sampling procedures.
  • There are no known private or public water supply wells withdrawing water from the zone of groundwater contamination beneath and downgradient of the site.
  • During the site inspection and the expanded site inspection on-site air sampling was conducted with equipment that did not identify specific compounds.
  • There are no documented cases of human exposure to PCB-contaminated sediments.
  • Although we know of one instance of human exposure to oil atop the water in one of the 30,000-gallon storage tanks, we do not know if the oil was contaminated, for example, with PCBs.
  • There are no private or public water supplies using water from Montour Run.

B. Potential Exposure Pathways

PADOH recognizes that a large pile of PCB-contaminated soil and filter cake was removed from the Site in 1994, leaving behind an area of exposed soil that may be contaminated with PCBs. The previously described data gap for soils prevents us from including it as a potential exposure pathway in this PHA.

Sediment

PCBs were found in the upstream sediments during the site inspection. Sediment sample SD-1 taken upstream from the Site during the site inspection in 1988 showed an elevated level of the PCB Aroclor 1260 at 13 mg/kg. Existing data do not show how the PCBs got there. The data are about eight years old, which means that those sediments may have been flushed downstream. No PCBs were reported in sediments during the expanded site inspection in 1991. Therefore, current exposure is not expected. Reconstruction of the number of people who were potentially exposed in the past would be difficult, and anyone who may have been exposed to the contaminated sediments were not likely to have been exposed for long durations of time. However, because people, especially children, may sometimes play in areas that would not attract adults, possible exposure to the previously contaminated sediment is evaluated further in the Public Health Implications section.

Surface Water

The maximum level of lead found in Montour Run surface water was 19 µg/L, and it is not affecting any drinking water supplies. No surface water intakes have been identified within 15 miles downstream of the Site (8). If people were to swim in Montour Run near the Site, they could be exposed orally to lead at very low levels. Although Montour Run is not considered a high quality stream for reasons described previously in this report and people are not likely to use the water recreationally, PADOH recognizes that some people, primarily children, could swim in the water occasionally. For that reason, possible lead exposure through contact with Montour Run surface water is evaluated in the Public Health Implications section.

C. Eliminated Exposure Pathway

Groundwater

Exposure to groundwater contamination is not likely to occur because there are no private wells drilled into the plume of contaminants. The known plume of contamination is not threatening to pollute any public or private wells in the foreseeable future.

PUBLIC HEALTH IMPLICATIONS

In this section, we will discuss potential health effects that may result from exposure to environmental contaminants, available health outcome data, and community health concerns. The Toxicological Evaluation section will assess the noncarcinogenic and carcinogenic effects of exposure to contaminants that are above comparison values. The Health Outcome Data Evaluation section will assess available community health information to determine whether adverse health effects have occurred. The Community Health Concerns Evaluation section discusses public health concerns voiced by the community about possible exposure to contaminants relative to documented exposures and potential health effects.

A. Toxicological Evaluation

Introduction

In this section, PADOH discusses health effects that could result from exposure to site-related contaminants. To determine the possible health effects of specific chemicals, PADOH researches scientific literature. To evaluate health effects, ATSDR's minimal risk level (MRL), EPA's reference dose (RfD), and EPA's Cancer Slope Factor (CSF) have been used. When RfDs and MRLs are not available, a no observed adverse effect level (NOAEL) or lowest observed adverse effect level (LOAEL) may be used to estimate levels below which no adverse health effects (noncancerous) are expected. The MRL is an estimate of daily exposure to a contaminant below which noncancerous adverse health effects are unlikely to occur. The chronic RfD is an estimate of a daily exposure (mg/kg/day) to the general public (including sensitive groups), which is likely to be without an appreciable risk of noncancerous harmful effects during a lifetime exposure (70 years). CSFs are usually derived from animal or occupational studies and are used to calculate the exposure dose likely to result in one excess cancer per million persons exposed over a lifetime (70 years).

PCBs

Investigators found PCBs in Montour Run sediments upstream of the Site in 1988. The highest level reported in those sediments was 13 mg/kg. Investigators did not report having found PCBs in sediments in 1991. PADOH has not determined the source of the PCBs in these sediments. PCBs in sediments, no matter what the source, are of concern to us.

PCBs are a group of manmade chemicals that contains 209 individual compounds with varying harmful effects. "Aroclor" is a trade name given to some commercial PCB mixtures (12). Skin irritations and a form of acne called "chloracne" can occur in people exposed to PCBs at levels that are much higher than what was found in Montour Run sediments. We have very little information about the effects of PCBs on people if they are exposed at levels in sediments of 13 mg/kg. Because effects have only been reported for exposures to much higher levels, we do not expect that someone who might have come into contact with them would suffer adverse health effects.

Lead

Previous investigators have reported lead levels in Montour Run to be 19 µg/L at maximum. PADOH has not determined the source of the lead in surface water near the Site. Lead in the water, no matter what the source, is of concern to us. Lead is a naturally occurring, bluish-grey metal found in small amounts in the earth's crust. It has no special taste or smell. Lead can be found in all parts of our environment. Most of it came from human activities like mining, manufacturing, and burning fossil fuels (13).

ATSDR has no MRL for lead. EPA has established an Action Level for lead in public drinking water supplies at 15 µg/L. Montour Run is not used as a source of drinking water but may be used for fishing and swimming, even though it is not thought to be a high quality stream. If people were to swim in Montour Run they could be exposed orally to lead at very low levels. Absorption of lead through the skin is negligible. PADOH assumes that a person accidentally ingests about 50 milliliters of water per day while swimming. If someone swam in Montour Run 100 days per year, then we assume that he would ingest about five liters of water from the stream per year. At the maximum level of 19 µg/L in the creek water this person would then have ingested about 95 µg of lead in one year. This is a very small amount of lead ingestion, and no adverse health effects are expected from this level of exposure.

B. Health Outcome Data Evaluation

People living in the area of the Site are served by a public water supply. The Site has not contaminated the public water supply. There are only two known private wells nearby. The first well is about 1,000 feet west of the Site and is not used for drinking. The second well is about 1,000 feet east of the Site. Available water quality data for this well show that no chemical contamination is present at levels above comparison values (1).

Trespassing has occurred on the Site. Earlier in this report we stated that local authorities found a youngster inside one of the upright 30,000-gallon storage tanks. The child was soaked with oil, according to the officials. We do not know if the oil was contaminated with substances that may be of human health concern. Also, we know of no databases that could segregate the incident and compare it to long-term adverse health effects. Therefore, no health outcome databases were evaluated.

C. Community Health Concerns Evaluation

PADOH knows of no organized or ad hoc groups that are voicing concerns about community health. We contacted EPA, PADEP, county, and local government officials to determine if any concerns were known at those levels. In all cases there were no known concerns.


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