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PUBLIC HEALTH ASSESSMENT

C&D RECYCLING
FREELAND, LUZERNE COUNTY, PENNSYLVANIA

CONCLUSIONS

Based on the information reviewed, PADOH and ATSDR have concluded that the non-site related lead identified in private wells is a public health hazard. The C&D Recycling site is an indeterminate public health hazard because information needed to evaluate potential exposure pathways (air monitoring during remediation) is not available. A summary of findings include the following:

  1. Well #10 may be in the direction of groundwater flow from the site.
  2. Surface soils in neighboring yards have not been tested using EPA protocols.
  3. Ambient air in adjacent off-site areas has not been sampled for pertinent contaminants (lead and manganese).
  4. The likely source of lead in Well #1 occasionally detected above regional levels is a coal mine spoil waste pile.
  5. Before facility closure, on-site workers may have been exposed to contaminants in air and soils. People living near the site also may have been occasionally exposed to contaminants in the air. Smoke was seen leaving the facility boundary. Data needed to evaluate the public health significance of past exposures are lacking, and no information is available on levels of contaminants released through the air when the facility was operating.
  6. A ROD was issued September 30, 1992. The selected remedy is protective of public health over the long term; however, short-term exposure to contaminants may be possible if conditions are dry and windy during the remediation. If on-site disposal is accepted as an alternative, ATSDR cannot comment on the effectiveness of such an alternative without reviewing the proposal. Because the process of contaminant stabilization and on-site disposal is relatively new, institutional controls restricting land use may enhance the effectiveness of such an alternative. Land use restrictions could be revised as information becomes available on the effectiveness of the disposal cell over time.

RECOMMENDATIONS

Site Characterization Recommendations

PADOH and ATSDR make the following recommendations:

  1. Conduct monitoring of residential Well #10 to determine if groundwater quality may degrade in the future.
  2. Conduct 0-3 inch soil sampling in nearby residential yards and the wooded area near the site to determine the extent of off-site contamination.
  3. Conduct off-site air monitoring for lead and manganese during remediation.

Cease/Reduce Exposure Recommendation

  1. Remove the coal mine spoil waste pile that crosses the property where residential Well #1 exists.
  2. Local authorities should consider institutional controls on land use at and near the site if on-site disposal of stabilized contaminated materials is approved.
  3. If off-site disposal is selected as the remedy, dust should be controlled as indicated in the ROD.

Health Activities Recommendation Panel (HARP) Recommendation

The information and data developed in the public health assessment for the C&D Recycling site, Luzerne County, Pennsylvania, have been evaluated by ATSDR's Health Activities Recommendation Panel for appropriate followup with respect to health activities. Because of the past, current, and possible future exposure to lead (which is not site related) at levels of public health concern, the Panel determined that community health education and a site-specific biological indicators of exposure study are indicated.

PUBLIC HEALTH ACTIONS

The public health action plan (PHAP) for the C&D Recycling site contains a description of actions to be taken (or that have been taken) by ATSDR and/or other governmental agencies at and in the vicinity of the site subsequent or prior to the completion of this public health assessment. The purpose of the PHAP is to ensure that this public health assessment not only identifies public health hazards, but provides a plan of action designed to mitigate and prevent adverse human health effects resulting from exposure to hazardous substances in the environment. Included is a commitment on the part of PADOH and ATSDR to follow up on this plan to ensure that it is implemented.

Public Health Actions Planned

ATSDR and PADOH have developed the following public health actions based on the HARP recommendations:

  1. ATSDR, in cooperation with the PADOH, will provide environmental health education for the population residing near the former C&D Recycling facility to assist the community in understanding possible adverse health outcomes associated with exposure to lead that is not believed to be site-related.
  2. PADOH has requested funding for a site-specific indicators of exposure project. ATSDR's Division of Health Studies will conduct, as resources permit, a blood lead screening project in the vicinity of the site to determine exposures to lead. However, because lead exposures are not limited to the vicinity of the site, HARP advised that a regional approach to the problem is needed. PADOH's Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention Program has a system to provide case management and environmental investigation services to families of children who have venous blood lead levels at or above 20 g/dL, as resources permit, in non-lead project areas in the Commonwealth.
  3. PADOH's Health Assessment Team will provide the Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention Program with copies of this public health assessment and the health consultation that is being prepared for this site. In addition, results of the blood lead screening project, which will be done by ATSDR as resources permit, will be forwarded to the program.
  4. PADER sampled Well #10 on March 10, 1993. No contamination was found. No data available indicate that further monitoring of that well is needed at this time. Other wells in the area were sampled at that time. Some of those wells are upgradient of the site. No arsenic or selenium were detected in any of the wells tested (see Attachment regarding that community concern). Lead was present in two of the upgradient wells, which further supports the evidence that lead is present in groundwater regionally and is not site related.
  5. A health consultation is being prepared to address specific community concerns and environmental data that were provided after the close of the public comment period. That consultation should be available for public comment on or around June 28, 1993.

The EPA has indicated that they plan to take the following actions related to the recommendations in the public health assessment.

  1. EPA has conducted surface soil (less than or equal to 3 inches) sampling in off-site areas to determine the extent of off-site soil contamination. The results of the sampling are evaluated in the health consultation.
  2. EPA is planning to conduct off-site air monitoring for lead, manganese, and other appropriate contaminants during remediation.

Furthermore, PADER has indicated that they will consider removing the coal mine spoil waste pile identified in this public health assessment. Residential Well #1 was sampled March 10, 1993, as part of an investigation of the mine spoils. Although lead levels were lower than in previous samples, the highest lead concentration detected from the well was 13.5 µg/L. That level is below, but approaching, EPA's Action Level of 15 µg/L.

PREPARERS OF THE REPORT

Preparers of Report:

    Robert M. Stroman, R.Ph.
    Pharmacist
    Pennsylvania Department of Health

    Kandiah Sivarajah, Ph.D.
    Director, Health Assessment Program
    and State Toxicologist
    Pennsylvania Department of Health

ATSDR Regional Representative:

    Charles Walters, Jr., Senior Regional Representative
    Public Health Advisor
    EPA Region III
    Office of the Assistant Administrator

ATSDR Technical Project Officers:

    Gail Godfrey
    Technical Project Officer
    Remedial Programs Branch
    Division of Health Assessment and Consultation

CERTIFICATION

The C&D Recycling Site Public Health Assessment has been prepared by the Pennsylvania Department of Health under a cooperative agreement with the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR). It is in accordance with approved methodology and procedures existing at the time the public health assessment was initiated.

Gail D. Godfrey
Technical Project Officer, SPS, RPB, DHAC

The Division of Health Assessment and Consultation, ATSDR, has reviewed this public health assessment and concurs with its findings.

Robert C. Williams, PE, DEE
Director, DHAC, ATSDR

REFERENCES

  1. C&D Recycling Site, Final Draft Remedial Investigation Report, July 1990.
  2. Population Characteristics, Pennsylvania Part 40, U.S. Department of Commerce, Bureau of the Census, August 1982.
  3. 1990 Municipal Population, Pennsylvania U.S. Department of Commerce, Bureau of the Census.
  4. 1986 Population and 1985 Per Capita Income Estimates, Pennsylvania U.S. Department of Commerce, Bureau of the Census, 1987.
  5. Public Schools, Elementary Enrollments, 1989-1990; Pennsylvania Department of Education, 1990.
  6. Directory of Pennsylvania Hospitals, State Health Data Center, Pennsylvania Department of Health, December 1990.
  7. Nursing Home Directory, State Health Data Center, Pennsylvania Department of Health, August 1989.
  8. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, Toxicological Profile for Lead, June 1990.
  9. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services/Public Health Service/Centers for Disease Control, Preventing Lead Poisoning in Young Children, January 1985.
  10. Pennsylvania Vital Statistics Record File, State Health Data Center, Pennsylvania Department of Health, 1991.
  11. Estimates of Pregnancies and Pregnancy Rates for the United States, 1976-1981; Ventura, Taffel and Mosher; Public Health Reports, January-February, 1985, Vol. 100, No. 1, pp. 31-33.
  12. January 21, 1992 memorandum, C&D Recycling Site - Blood Lead (Pb) Data and associated data package from Jack Kelly, ATSDR Region III, Regional Representative to Dr. Adrienne Hollis, DHAC/RPB, ATSDR, Atlanta, Georgia.
  13. Madhaven S, et al. (1989). Lead in soil: Recommended maximum permissible levels. Environ Res 49:136-42.
  14. Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry. Lead Toxicity: Case Studies and Environmental Medicine. June 1990.
  15. Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry. Toxicological Profile for Manganese and Compounds. July 1992.
  16. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Preventing Lead Poisoning in Young Children. October 1991.
  17. Record of Decision. C&D Recycling Site. Foster Township, Luzerne County, Pennsylvania. September 30, 1992.

APPENDICES

Figure 1
Figure 1.

Figure 2
Figure 2.

Figure 3
Figure 3.

Figure 4
Figure 4.

Figure 5
Figure 5.

Figure 6
Figure 6.

Figure 7
Figure 7.

Figure 8
Figure 8.

Figure 9
Figure 9.

Figure 10
Figure 10.

Figure 11
Figure 11.

ATTACHMENT
PUBLIC COMMENTS AND RESPONSE

Comments from September 1, 1992, letter:

Comment: The March 1991 draft Public Health Assessment report should be withdrawn for the following reasons:

  1. PADOH failure to treat groundwater as a known past or future pathway of concern based on direction or representations from EPA was inappropriate.
  2. Conclusions were based on critical areas of misinformation; first, that they (ATSDR) were not made aware of the fact that the materials handled at the site included selenium, arsenic, cadmium, mercury, PCBs and antimony, as well as lead and copper; second, that the agency was not informed of the plume associated with the most likely pathway to groundwater, a 22-foot deep leach pit; third, there has been no consideration of the fact that acid material and water were mixed with hot metals, thus inducing conversion of selenium, arsenic and antimony oxide into extremely toxic hydrogen selenium and oxygen compounds; and fourth, site-imparted groundwater contamination is virtually undisputed.

Response:

  1. As discussed on page 12, Pathways Analyses, there are five elements of an exposure pathway. For a pathway to be complete, all five elements must be present. Determination of groundwater flow direction at the C&D site was determined by studies conducted at the site during the remedial investigation and a special investigation conducted by PADOH's Health Assessment Team. Although some elements of the exposure pathway were present, no point of exposure or receptor population was identified. This is because the groundwater is flowing away from most private wells. Recommendations are made in this public health assessment to monitor the one private well that was identified as possibly being in the direction of groundwater flow. However, no site-related groundwater contamination has been shown to be on or leaving the site at this time.
  2. First: ATSDR and PADOH were aware of the types of chemicals handled at the site.

    Second: No contaminant plume has been identified at the site; however, lead and manganese are present in the groundwater. When a citizen expressed concern about the "leach pit," PADOH and ATSDR conducted a special investigation to closely examine the location of the pit in relation to nearby residents. That investigation resulted in the determination that lead and manganese in the groundwater at the site, including at the leach pit, were flowing away from the community east of the site. Groundwater flow direction is determined by water elevations and local geology. Figures 10 and 11 illustrate some of the information used to determine groundwater flow direction. One well, Well #10 discussed in answer 1, was identified as possibly being downgradient of one area at the site.

    Third: As a result of this comment, a statement was added to the Environmental Contamination and Other Hazards section of this document to explain how and why contaminants are selected as contaminants of concern. Although processes that took place at the facility may have resulted in formation of other contaminants, none were identified as contaminants of concern.

    Fourth: Groundwater contains lead at levels of public health concern. However, a completed exposure pathway through groundwater has not been identified.

Comment: The report failed to consider groundwater as a pathway, and it failed to consider the multiplier effect of air and groundwater as joint pathways, cumulatively increasing the risk.

Response: To date, there is no evidence supporting a hydrogeologic connection between the site and nearby residential wells (except possibly Well #10, which contains no contamination as of March 10, 1993). Because the groundwater pathway has been eliminated, there is no multiplier effect between air and groundwater.

Comment: Neither ATSDR nor EPA considered the fact that the materials disposed of at the site included all of the aforementioned toxic metals, and that the process resulted in their conversion into enormously more toxic compounds.

Response: The substance, no matter how toxic, cannot hurt people unless people are exposed to levels of the contaminant that cause health problems. There are undesirable levels of contaminants in the environment at the site, but no documented exposures to those contaminants has occurred as far as ATSDR and PADOH can determine.

Comment: Neither ATSDR nor EPA considered the disposal of toxic materials into the groundwater by a 22-foot deep leach pit.

Response: On October 15, 1992, representatives from PADOH and PADER further investigated the groundwater flow at the C&D Recycling site. On October 16, 1992, representatives from ATSDR, EPA, PADOH, and PADER made a site visit to investigate the facility's drainage system including the area referred to as the "leach pit." Those investigations are discussed in this public health assessment. The results of the investigation further supported the conclusion that, although lead and manganese are in the groundwater at the site, the flow direction of the groundwater prevents the contaminants from entering private wells with the one possible exception of Well #10. That well is not contaminated now, and recent monitoring substantiates that finding.

Comment:

  1. Neither the ATSDR report nor the EPA Remedial Investigation considered the conversion of these materials from oxides into infinitely more dangerous compounds as a result of being washed with hot water and acid, much of the effluent from which was discharged directly to the leach pit; and,
  2. Neither EPA nor ATSDR considered the clustering of orders of magnitude higher readings of arsenic, as between the monitoring wells closest to the leach pit (and none were immediately adjacent) versus the monitoring wells at a greater distance, thereby confirming the relationship between the leach pit and the monitoring wells.

Response:

  1. Tests for target analytes determined by EPA would detect different forms of specific contaminants. No contaminants, other than those discussed in the document, met the criteria for being contaminants of concern. As previously stated, substances, no matter how toxic, cannot hurt people unless people are exposed to levels of the contaminant that cause health problems. EPA, ATSDR, and PADOH are aware that undesirable levels of contaminants are in the environment at the site, but no nearby residents have been exposed to these contaminants as far as ATSDR and PADOH can determine with the possible exception of occasional air releases in the past. No data are available to evaluate those exposures if they occurred. As stated in this document, former employees were likely exposed to some site contaminants. However, the public health significance of those past exposures may be difficult to determine.
  2. Contaminants were detected in groundwater monitoring wells at higher levels near the leach pit than further away. To ensure that any potential exposure may be avoided, this public health assessment recommends monitoring the private well (Well #10) that was identified as potentially downgradient from a site source area.

Comment: Neither in the Remedial Investigation nor in any other fashion was ATSDR advised of the findings of arsenic over 1,000 parts per million in the sediments from the pathways draining the process work area, by PADER, in 1985.

Response: One sediment sample from a pond south of the site collected in 1985 by PADER contained arsenic at 1,147.16 ppm (mg/Kg). No additional sampling was conducted at that time to verify the results. The data validity was questioned by the agencies because the results appeared to be an anomaly (possibly a laboratory or sampling error because the results have not been replicated). Additional pond sediment samples were collected in 1988 and 1989 (sampling locations are identified on Figure 8). Those samples were collected and analyzed using accepted QA/QC protocols. No contaminants of concern were identified in those samples. Additionally, no recreational, fishing, or other use by people has been identified for that pond. Therefore, people are not expected to come into contact with any contaminants that may be present below levels of public health concern.

Comment: Several sampling events showing higher levels of arsenic, selenium, and other such materials in groundwater were deleted from the Remedial Investigation, particularly the sampling events of January 1987 and the sediment results in August 1985.

Response: Chemical concentrations present in groundwater may increase or decrease, depending on rainfall and other factors, at different times of the year. Therefore, on-site chemical levels in groundwater are expected to fluctuate. However, groundwater flowing from the site will not reach private wells east of the site because of groundwater flow direction. Monitoring of the private well west of the site has been recommended (and conducted) because of the slight possibility that groundwater from the site may reach that well. The contamination in the sediment was discussed in the previous response.

Comment: Neither in the Remedial Investigation Report nor any other document is it revealed to ATSDR that virtually all the negative selenium samples were deemed out of control limits, and the EPA positive results for arsenic and selenium in groundwater were deemed unusable because biased extremely low (June 1988 sampling event).

Response: ATSDR and PADOH are aware of the analytical problems associated with some of the arsenic and selenium samples obtained at the C&D Recycling site. However, other samples analyzed for arsenic and selenium from residential well water near this site were acceptable. Conclusions were based on the analyses that were within QA/QC parameters.

Comment: The soil sample results were biased extremely low by reason of having been taken at depths of 1-6" rather than the top surface layer. When the top surface layers were finally sampled at Congressional request in November 1991 and June 1992, they showed lead levels in soil in the residential areas off-site in the range of 400 ppm to 500 ppm in soil. These results were not provided to ATSDR.

Response: Lead is a metal that occurs naturally in soils in the area. Naturally occurring lead levels vary from region to region and are dependent on rock formations found in the regions. Human activities, such as mining operations, can also affect expected surface soil lead levels. At areas around the C&D Recycling site, the average soil lead levels are expected to average about 3.3-119 ppm.

Madhaven, et. al. derived a "safe" or permissible level of lead in soil. The authors proposed permissible levels of lead in soil ranging from 250 to 1,000 ppm depending on site conditions (13). The 250 ppm value applies to a worse case scenario in which an area without grass cover is repeatedly used by children under 5 years of age. Children in that age group are considered very likely to put objects (including dirt) in their mouths. In this situation, it was estimated that a soil lead concentration of 250 ppm would add, at most, about 2 µg/dL to the blood level of children. Levels of lead in the residential soil in the range of 400 to 500 ppm are not likely to be harmful to children residing in nearby residences. However, in the public health actions that are planned, blood lead levels of area residents will be evaluated. Although that evaluation will tell us how much lead is in the blood of individuals, it will not tell us if that lead came from the water, soil, paint chips, or other possible sources.

Comment: In the arsenic, selenium and antimony sampling, no effort was made to determine whether these materials are present in oxide or in compound form.

Response: The toxicity of a chemical can increase or decrease, depending on its form. The type of compound present may be important for EPA to consider when determining what clean-up actions may be necessary. However, as previously stated, for any contaminant to be harmful to human health, people must come in contact with the contaminant at levels that cause illness. A completed site-related exposure pathway for nearby residents has not been identified at the C&D Recycling site. (The possible exception was the previously discussed air pathway. The air pathway only involved those materials burned in the open pit. The compounds named above were not believed to be in the lead and plastic casings that were burned. More information would be necessary to evaluate the past air pathway. A health consultation is being prepared that will assess that information thoroughly. The health consultation should be available for public comment on or about June 28, 1993.)

Comment: No account was taken or given of the human health effects which have been presented to EPA: these include miscarriages and other diseases associated with selenium and arsenic poisoning.

Response: Miscarriages cannot be adequately addressed using Pennsylvania Vital Statistics (PVS). A very large number of miscarriages (probably in excess of 90%) are not reported because those that occur under 16 weeks of gestation are not included in the database. Those that are miscoded as to place of residence or not reported by physicians also may be lost when trying to capture data. The data obtained from PVS is, however, more comprehensive than most states in that Pennsylvania is one of the few states that reports fetal deaths at 16 weeks of gestation. Most states do not report fetal deaths that occur at less than 20 weeks of gestation. Therefore, since there is no mechanism to evaluate miscarriages under 16 weeks of gestation, except through special studies, we can only examine the frequency of fetal deaths in this public health assessment. Specifically, we compared reported fetal deaths for Foster Township with the state of Pennsylvania. As indicated in the public health assessment, the frequency of fetal deaths is quite low.

ATSDR and PADOH have evaluated health outcome and environmental data for the site. To date, the health outcome and environmental data evaluated support the conclusion that no exposure to arsenic or selenium originating from the C&D Recycling site has occurred and caused illnesses.

Comment: No effort was made to obtain descriptions of processes utilized from former employees at the site. Interviews for those employees disclosed to the township and the surrounding residents the facts that the plant burned lead through 1983, that the plant burned PVC through 1983 (which PVC contained copper, and the acid from which produced the fumes that produced the compounds), that the site handled acid from batteries, that the site handled arsenic, mercury, and PVCs in telephone equipment, and that the hot metal was washed with water (itself contaminated with acid).

Response: The burning of lead and plastic casings is discussed in this public health assessment. A likely completed pathway is identified in this document for workers and nearby residents as a result of that burning. The document states that without more information, those likely exposures cannot be evaluated. The public health actions planned include blood lead evaluation for nearby residences. That study should provide needed information on possible health effects that can be expected if lead is found in the blood; however, the study will not provide information on the source(s) of the lead.

(Note: The health consultation that is being prepared addresses this issue in more detail.)

Comment: You were evidently not informed of the fact that EPA contractors took split samples and data validation data, which established that selenium and arsenic concentrations in well water were biased "extremely low," but failed to make any valid assessment.

Response: As previously stated, ATSDR and PADOH are aware that some sampling data were rejected because the data were not within established quality control/quality assurance guidance. However, other sample analyses were acceptable. Conclusions and recommendations in this document are based on the data that are described in the Quality Assurance and Quality Control section of the public health assessment.

Comment: Your discussion of soils and sediment is unfortunately irrelevant since you did not know that AT&T had obliterated the major sediment channel, Mill Hopper Creek, prior to taking the readings. The actual readings, especially of arsenic, were much higher prior to the obliteration in December 1987.

Response: ATSDR and PADOH are aware of the fact that AT&T undertook actions to control erosion and runoff from the site. That was done in accordance with, and subject to, the terms and conditions of the Administrative Order on Consent, U.S. EPA Docket No. III-87-31-DC. Although the sediment channel may have been contaminated prior to the implementation of erosion control measures, the channel was not accessible to people for exposures to occur. Workers who were involved with the erosion control actions were informed about conditions and instructed in how to protect themselves from exposure.

Comment: Contrary to the statement on pages 17 and 18, there were two fetal deaths immediately adjacent to the site in 1984-85. In one of them, blood lead levels were taken, and Dr. John Rosen testified that lead poisoning is a possible cause, based on his laboratory analysis. The comparison should be to rural areas, since drug problems in metropolitan areas account for a high proportion of fetal death rates, and the statewide comparison is thus inappropriate.

Response: The database did not capture those deaths because of miscoding or non-reporting. We appreciate the mother of one of the children bringing this to our attention and offer the families our apology for not finding that information sooner. Dr. Rosen's laboratory findings are evaluated and discussed thoroughly in the health consultation that will be available for public comment on or about June 28, 1993. However, the letter which ATSDR has from Dr. Rosen states that no lead was found in fetal tissues.

The comparison of small, similar communities for health outcome data is desirable. Unfortunately, the databases that are established preclude the capability of doing that at this time. A new system is under development, Geographical Information System, that will, hopefully, generate information on similar communities. However, as noted by the miscodings, the health outcome database that is established, although excellent for state comparisons, may not be as valuable for small-area comparisons.

Comment: The reference to Taylor for lead levels is erroneous. At Table 13 of Taylor, the Luzerne County values of lead in the Mauch Chunk formation average approximately .003, and there is no reason to believe that the Foster Township sites merit a higher value. In fact, the on-site wells more distant from the leach pit show lower than 5.

Response: The Mauch Chunk formation is generally physically and chemically similar throughout the region. To achieve the best statistical values, one needs to consider the entire formation and not limit the evaluation to a small area of that region. The median concentrations of 7.0 µg/l of lead presented in Table 9 of the 1984 Taylor report is likely representative of averages of the entire region.

Opinion (an opinion was received from a consulting physician that was not in the form of a comment): Some people in the community around the C&D site appear to have symptoms consistent with arsenic and selenium poisoning and there is environmental data to support this.

Response: The opinion that was submitted did not contain all the information the consultant used to form the opinion. Therefore, ATSDR cannot evaluate that opinion. No environmental data indicate that anyone has been exposed to arsenic or selenium as a result of operations at C&D. For a person to be poisoned by a chemical, that person must be exposed to the chemical at a level that can cause harm.*

The available health outcome data are discussed in the Health Outcome Data Evaluation section of this document. ATSDR and PADOH have reviewed the health outcome data and find no evidence that the site has affected the health of nearby residents. However, the data have limitations which are discussed in the document. One limitation is that no specific community studies have been conducted. That is why a blood lead level test is under consideration as outlined in the Public Health Actions section of this document.

Arsenic and selenium at the site did not meet the criteria for selection as contaminants of concern. In addition, no completed exposure pathway was identified for those chemicals. However, the community does have concern about those chemicals and why those chemicals are present in their bodies. For that reason, a discussion of the role of those minerals in the body is warranted.

The biological sampling data indicate that people in the area do not have high arsenic or selenium levels in their bodies. People are expected to have a certain amount of arsenic and selenium in their bodies, depending on diet and other factors. For instance, people who eat large amounts of seafood will usually have more arsenic in their bodies than people who do not eat seafood. People who drink 2 liters of water per day average about 5 µg/dL blood levels of arsenic. In areas of the country where natural levels of arsenic are higher, people may have as much as 100 µg/dL blood levels. Some evidence indicates that small amounts of arsenic in the normal diet (10-50 ppb) may be beneficial to your health (Toxicological Profile for Arsenic, 1992).

Selenium is an essential mineral (a mineral needed for proper body function that can only be obtained through the diet). On the average, people in the United States eat from 0.071 to 0.152 mg selenium per day. Whole blood selenium levels in the general United States population range from 0.08 to 0.30 mg selenium per liter. People who take vitamin and mineral supplements containing selenium will likely have more selenium in their bodies than people who do not take those types of vitamins. Also, many over-the-counter medications and shampoos contain selenium (Toxicological Profile for Selenium, 1989). The levels of arsenic and selenium seen in biological samples submitted to date are within expected levels.

*(Since the time that opinion was submitted, more information has become available to ATSDR and PADOH for review. A more thorough discussion of that information will be available when the health consultation is released for public comment on or about June 28, 1993.)


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