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PUBLIC HEALTH ASSESSMENT

CRYO-CHEM INC.
WORMAN TOWNSHIP, BOYERTOWN, BERKS COUNTY, PENNSYLVANIA

ENVIRONMENTAL CONTAMINATION AND OTHER HAZARDS

The tables in this section list the contaminants of concern. However, their listing does not imply that a health threat exists. When selected as a contaminant of concern in one medium, that contaminant will be reported in all media. This public health assessment evaluates these contaminants in subsequent sections and determines whether exposure to them has public health significance. PADOH selected these contaminants based upon the following factors: on and off-site concentrations; field and laboratory data quality; sample design; and comparison of on-site and off-site concentrations with public health assessment comparison values for non-carcinogenic and carcinogenic endpoints. Comparison values for public health assessments are contaminant concentrations in specific media that are used to select contaminants for further evaluation. Values used in this public health assessment include ATSDR's Cancer Risk Evaluation Guides (CREGs), and other relevant guidelines. Maximum Contaminant Levels (MCLs) represent contaminant concentrations that EPA deems protective of public health over a lifetime of 70 years at an exposure rate of 2 liters of water per day. The MCL takes into consideration the availability and economics of water treatment technology. EPA Action Levels (AL) are concentrations at which some action is required to lower levels in public water supplies in order to prevent possible adverse health effects.

In addition, the U.S. EPA's Toxic Chemical Release Inventory (TRI) data base was accessed by PADOH through the National Library of Medicine's Toxicology Data Network. The TRI data base was searched for estimated annual releases of toxic chemicals to the environment, from industries within a one-mile radius of the CryoChem, Inc. site, to identify possible facilities that could contribute to the groundwater and other media contamination near the site. No significant releases which would affect the quality of the groundwater or other media near the site were reported in the 1987, 1988, and 1989 data bases.

A. On-Site Contamination

The CryoChem, Inc. production well was sampled on October 13, 1988, and analyzed for all parameters under normal EPA Contract Laboratory Protocol (CLP) procedures and methodologies described in the "Sampling and Analysis Plan" (SAP) for the CryoChem, Inc. site prepared by JACA Corporation. Figure 5 identifies the sampling locations of the two on-site production wells as CP-1 and CP-2. The results are recorded in Table 1.

(Note: units are recorded in µg/L (micrograms per liter or ppb) or mg/kg (milligrams per kilogram or parts per million (ppm) in all tables.)

Table 1. Maximum Contaminant Concentrations in On-Site
CryoChem Production Well (Round 1)
(1)

CONTAMINANT MAXIMUM
CONC.
µg/L
COMPARISON VALUE
µg/L Source
Tetrachloroethene (PCE)
ND
0.7
CREG
Trichloroethene (TCE)
2J
3.0
CREG
1,1-Dichloroethene (DCE)
8
0.06
CREG
1,1,1-Trichloroethane (TCA)
140
200.0
MCL
Lead
7
15
AL
J - Estimated Result
ND - Not Detected

Eleven on-site monitoring wells were sampled for VOCs and metals. Round 1 of the sampling program began on May 15, 1989. Figure 4 identifies the sampling locations. The results are recorded in Table 2.

Table 2. Maximum Contaminant Concentrations in On-Site
Monitoring Wells (Round 1)
(1)

CONTAMINANT MAXIMUM
CONC.
µg/L
COMPARISON VALUE
µg/L Source
Tetrachloroethene (PCE)
8.0
0.7
CREG
Trichloroethene (TCE)
14.0
3.0
CREG
1,1-Dichloroethene (DCE)
62.0
0.06
CREG
1,1,1-Trichloroethane (TCA)
280.0E
200.0
MCL
Lead
ND
15
AL
E - Detected Above Standard
ND - Not Detected

Ten on-site monitoring wells were sampled for VOCs on August 16 and 17, 1989. Monitoring well RI-4S which was sampled during Round 1 was dry and could not be sampled. Figure 4 identifies the sampling locations. Results are recorded in Table 3.

Table 3. Maximum Contaminant Concentrations in On-Site
Monitoring Wells (Round 2)
(1)

CONTAMINANT MAXIMUM
CONC.
µg/L
COMPARISON VALUE
µg/L Source
Tetrachloroethene (PCE)
8.0
0.7
CREG
Trichloroethene (TCE)
9.0
3.0
CREG
1,1-Dichloroethene (DCE)
58.0
0.06
CREG
1,1,1-Trichloroethane (TCA)
220.0D
200.0
MCL
Lead
NT
15
AL
D - Dilution
NT - Not Tested

Six on-site surface water samples were analyzed for VOCs and metals on January 31, 1989. Figure 9 identifies the sampling locations. The results are recorded in Table 4.

Table 4. Maximum Contaminant Concentrations in On-Site
Surface Water Samples
(1)

CONTAMINANT MAXIMUM
CONC.
µg/L
COMPARISON VALUE
µg/L Source
Tetrachloroethene (PCE)
ND
0.7
CREG
Trichloroethene (TCE)
ND
3.0
CREG
1,1-Dichloroethene (DCE)
7.0
0.06
CREG
1,1,1-Trichloroethane (TCA)
150.0
200.0
MCL
Lead
ND
15
AL
ND - Not Detected

Two on-site stream sediment samples were analyzed for VOCs and metals on January 31, 1989. Sampling locations are identified on Figure 9. The results are recorded in Table 5.

Table 5. Maximum Contaminant Concentrations in On-Site
Sediment Samples
(1)

CONTAMINANT MAXIMUM
CONC.
mg/kg
COMPARISON VALUE
mg/kg Source
Tetrachloroethene (PCE)
0.006J
10
CREG
Trichloroethene (TCE)
0.003J
60
CREG
1,1,1-Trichloroethane (TCA)
0.013
NA
NA
1,1-Dichloroethane (DCA)
0.003J
NA
NA
Lead
76.4
NA
NA
J - Estimated Value
NA - Not Available

Eleven on-site subsurface soil samples were collected on January 31, 1989, from soil borings drilled during the installation of monitoring wells. Soil samples were collected from RI-1S and RI-4S and RI-7. Surface soil samples were analyzed for Hazard Substance List (HSL) VOCs and the eight Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) list metals. EPA's Hazardous Substance List is provided in Appendix C. Table 6 identifies the maximum concentrations for the contaminants of concern. Figure 10 identifies the sample locations.

Table 6. Maximum Contaminant Concentrations in On-Site
Soil Samples (6-36 Inches)
(1)

CONTAMINANT MAXIMUM
CONC.
mg/kg
COMPARISON VALUE
mg/kg Source
Tetrachloroethene (PCE)
0.460J
10
CREG
Trichloroethene (TCE)
0.060J
60
CREG
1,1-Dichloroethene (DCE)
ND
NA
NA
1,1,1-Trichloroethane (TCA)
22.0E
NA
NA
Lead
57.1
NA
NA
J - Estimated Value
E - Detected Above Standard
ND - Not Detected
NA - Not Available

B. Off-Site Contamination

Six off-site monitoring wells were sampled for VOCs and metals on May 15, 1989, during Round 1. Four off-site monitoring wells were sampled on August 16 and 17, 1989, during Round 2 for VOCs. Figure 4 identifies the sample locations. The results are recorded in Table 7.

Table 7. Maximum Contaminant Concentration in Off-Site
Monitoring Wells
(1)

CONTAMINANT MAXIMUM
CONC.
µg/L
COMPARISON VALUE
µg/L Source
Tetrachloroethene (PCE)
ND
0.7
CREG
Trichloroethene (TCE)
ND
3.0
CREG
1,1-Dichloroethene (DCE)
5.0
0.06
CREG
1,1,1-Trichloroethane (TCA)
22.0
200.0
MCL
Lead
NT
15
AL
ND - Not Detected
NT - Not Tested

Off-site residential and commercial wells were selected through a residential well survey of homes and commercial properties conducted within a one-mile radius of CryoChem, Inc. Twenty-three residential wells, not on EPA carbon filters, were sampled for VOCs and metals during October 1988. Figure 11 identifies the sample locations. The results are recorded in Table 8.

Table 8. Maximum Contaminant Concentrations in Off-Site
Residential Wells (Round 1)
(1)

CONTAMINANT MAXIMUM
CONC.
µg/L
COMPARISON VALUE
µg/L Source
Tetrachloroethene (PCE)
15*
0.7
CREG
Trichloroethene (TCE)
77*
3.0
CREG
1,1-Dichloroethene (DCE)
3J
0.06
CREG
1,1,1-Trichloroethane (TCA)
40*
200.0
MCL
Lead
87*
15
AL
* - Concentration in Well Water Upgradient of CryoChem, Inc.
J - Observed Below Minimum Quantifiable Detection Limit

A second round of sampling was conducted on residential and commercial wells on August 16, 1989. The sampling was conducted to focus on VOC contamination. Wells were selected based on the following criteria: 1) location with regard to the suspect volatile organic contaminant plume, 2) the absence of a carbon filter treatment system supplied by EPA, 3) willingness of the property owner to allow sampling, and 4) accessibility of sampling faucet. Sampling was conducted in accordance with the procedures outlined in the SAP. Samples were collected and analyzed for HSL volatile organic compounds only. Figure 11 indicates the sample locations. Results are recorded in Table 9.

Table 9. Maximum Contaminant Concentrations in Off-Site
Residential and Commercial Wells (Round 2)
(1)

CONTAMINANT MAXIMUM
CONC.
µg/L
COMPARISON VALUE
µg/L Source
Tetrachloroethene (PCE)
3.0J
0.7
CREG
Trichloroethene (TCE)
4.0J
3.0
CREG
1,1-Dichloroethene (DCE)
42.0**
0.06
CREG
1,1,1-Trichloroethane (TCA)
190.0
200.0
MCL
Lead
NT
15
AL
J - Estimated Value
** - Mike's Service Center (Commercial Well)
NT - Not Tested

Seven off-site surface water samples were analyzed for VOCs and metals on January 31, 1989. Figure 9 identifies the sampling locations. None were detected.

On March 15, 1989, one additional surface water sample was collected from standing water, 50 feet south of Heimbach Dump. This sample was free of contaminants of concern.

Four off-site stream sediment samples were analyzed for VOCs and metals on January 31, 1989. No VOCs were detected in any sample and lead was detected at a maximum concentration of 62.1 mg/kg.

Seven off-site subsurface soil samples (6-24 inches) were collected on January 31, 1989. One additional off-site sample was collected on March 16, 1989, from the edge of Heimbach Dump. No VOCs of concern were detected. Lead was detected at a maximum concentration of 573.0 mg/kg at Keen Electric, which is part of the former James Boyertown Scrap Yard (Figure 8).

Soil samples were collected from four of the six areas investigated during the soil gas survey. The four areas as defined in Figure 8 are:

    Area 1 - CryoChem, Inc. and C.S. Garber
    Area 2 - Fancyhill Mobil Station
    Area 3 - R&R Garber, I.S.C., and Keen Electric
    Area 6 - Heimbach Dump

Nineteen sample locations were chosen based on site histories, site characteristics, and the results of the soil gas survey. Although these samples were categorized as surface soil samples in the RI, none of the samples meet ATSDR's definition of surface soil (0-3 inches). Soil samples were taken at depths no greater than 36" but all were at least 6 inches deep. Soil samples were taken from January 31, 1989, to March 16, 1989.

Results indicate that contaminants are present in subsurface soils with the highest concentrations at Area 1 present at 9-12 inches deep. VOCs were detected at Area 1 in a 25 by 50 foot section. The VOCs found include 1,1-DCA, 1,1,1-TCA, and TCE. The source(s) for subsurface soil at the other locations cannot necessarily be linked directly to CryoChem, Inc.

C. Quality Assurance and Quality Control

In the On-Site Contamination subsection, the standard determinant for running a dilution was changed from 300 µg/L in Round 1 to 200 µg/L in Round 2. The "E" label in Round 1 represents a concentration which was too high to be accurately measured on the scale to which the analytic instrument was calibrated. If a sample concentration was under 300 µg/L but above 200 7 µg/L, an "E" label was placed after the estimated concentration for that particular compound. The "D" label, used in Round 2, represents a value which was run at a dilution, since the original concentration was too high (over 200 µg/L) to be accurately measured on the set calibration scale. Therefore, we cannot determine if TCA levels in RI-1S increased or decreased between the sampling periods because the sample taken in Round 1, which had a concentration of 240 (E) µg/L, was not diluted. The concentration of TCA in RI-1S, Round 2, was 220 (D) µg/L. This can be considered an accurate concentration for TCA and not an estimate as with Round 1. The diluted sample of CP-1 was less than half the concentration detected in the undiluted sample. After verification with the analytical laboratory, the diluted concentration should be interpreted as the true value. The laboratory indicated that proper sample storage and handling was followed; however, it is possible that volatiles may have been lost.

In preparing this public health assessment, PADOH relies on information provided in the referenced documents and believes that adequate quality assurance and quality control measures were followed regarding chain-of-custody, laboratory procedures and data reporting. All analytical data generated during the Remedial Investigation have undergone a vigorous data review performed in accordance with the EPA guidance "Functional Guidelines for the Evaluation of Organic (and Inorganic) Analysis." Based on the quality assurance review, qualifier codes were placed next to specific sample results in the on and off-site contamination tables presented in the "Environmental Contamination and Other Hazards" section. PADOH believes that these qualifier codes serve as a reasonable indication of the qualitative and quantitative reliability of the data presented in this public health assessment. The analyses and conclusions in this public health assessment are valid only if the referenced information is complete and reliable.

D. Physical and Other Hazards

The CryoChem facility is not secured but not readily accessible to the public. Further, an open dug well was observed south of residential well number 330 (Figure 4). This well presents both a physical and environmental hazard since objects less than 3 feet in diameter can be dropped into or accidentally fall into the well.


PATHWAY ANALYSES

To determine whether nearby residents are exposed to contaminants migrating from the site, PADOH and ATSDR evaluate the environmental and human components that lead to human exposure. This pathways analysis consists of five elements: a source of contamination, transport through an environmental media, a point of exposure, a route of human exposure, and an exposed population.

PADOH and ATSDR identify exposure pathways as completed or potential exposure pathways. In completed pathways, the five elements exist and indicate that exposure to a contaminant has occurred in the past, is occurring, or will occur in the future. In potential pathways, however, at least one of the five elements is missing, but could exist. Potential pathways indicate that exposure to a contaminant could have occurred in the past, could be occurring, or could occur in the future. Pathways can be eliminated if an element is missing and is never likely to occur. The discussion which follows identifies the relevant exposure pathways at this site. Table 10 identifies the completed exposure pathway.

Table 10. Completed Exposure Pathway


EXPOSURE PATHWAY ELEMENTS
PATHWAY TIME SOURCE MEDIA &
TRANSPORT
POINT OF
EXPOSURE
ROUTES OF
EXPOSURE
EXPOSED
POPULATION
Private
Wells
Past
Present
Future
CryoChem
Site &
Other
Sources
Ground-
water
Residences
&
Commercial
Businesses
Ingestion,
Inhalation, &
Dermal
Absorption
On-Site
Employees &
Off-Site
Residents &
Local Patrons

A. Completed Exposure Pathway

Groundwater Pathway (Site-Related)

Groundwater in the vicinity of the CryoChem, Inc. site is the principal source of potable water for local residents. Exposure to VOCs, originating from the CryoChem, Inc. facility, in contaminated groundwater represents a completed exposure pathway. As indicated in Tables 9 and 10, nearby residential and commercial wells are contaminated with VOCs and lead. There are approximately 30 residences and two businesses (Figure 8) hydrogeologically downgradient and southeast of the site that are affected by a contamination plume which is not fully defined. Exposure to VOCs in groundwater, used in the home, may occur through ingestion, inhalation, and to a lesser extent dermal absorption of the contaminant.

Exposure to VOCs in nearby commercial businesses is most likely to occur through ingestion or dermal contact. Employees at Mike's Service Center use bottled water. Limited exposure to VOCs during handwashing may occur. All residential wells with known site-related contamination above regulatory standards have been provided carbon filters. Site-related groundwater contamination may extend some distance from the site (Figure 3). Since groundwater samples were not obtained during the RI from all appropriate off-site locations, it is not possible to fully determine the nature and extent of off-site groundwater contamination. Therefore, an exact number of people who may be exposed to contaminants is not known. Twenty residential wells (and estimated 70 people) with known site-related contamination above regulatory standards have been provided by EPA, carbon filters, thereby reducing exposure to site contaminants in their well water. However, there is one new well, along Sunrise Lane, that has not been tested and may be in the contamination plume. There are also two businesses downgradient of the site that are in the area of the groundwater contamination plume. The businesses are Mike's Service Center (formerly a Mobil gasoline station) and the Country Kitchen Restaurant. We were informed by the attendant at Mike's Service Center that the employees drink bottled spring water and they only use their well water for occasional handwashing. The manager of the County Kitchen informed us that the owner of the restaurant replaced the carbon filters for their well on August 31, 1992. CryoChem, Inc. employees 50 people who may have been and may be exposed to contaminants, but the number of employees at other facilities where contaminated well water is used is unknown.

Groundwater Pathway (Not Site-Related)

Lead was detected in residential well number 314 at a concentration of 87 µg/L. TCE was detected in residential wells 331, 330, and 343 at concentrations of 18 µg/L, 77 µg/L, and 28 g/L, respectively. Locations of homes are identified on Figure 4. These wells are all located upgradient of the site and the source of contamination is not the CryoChem, Inc. facility. The source of the lead is likely the household distribution system. The source of the TCE contamination is currently unknown.

B. Eliminated Exposure Pathways

Subsurface Soil, Sediment, and Surface Water Pathways
(Site-Related)

As indicated in the Environmental Contamination and Other Hazards section (ECOH), low levels of lead and VOCs were detected in on-site subsurface soil and sediments. Lead and VOCs were also detected in off-site sediment. TCA and DCE were detected in on-site surface water, but lead was not. Although site access is not restricted, the highly industrialized area is not frequented by children or other nearby residents. Workers at the facility are also not likely to come into contact with on-site contaminants at levels of public health concern other than through groundwater. Remediation workers are expected to use protective equipment to avoid contact with contaminants. Therefore, these pathways are eliminated.

Subsurface Soil, Sediment, and Surface Water Pathways
(Not Site-Related)

As described in the ECOH section, lead and VOCs were detected in off-site subsurface soil, and lead was detected in off-site stream sediments. However, no one is expected to come into contact with the contaminated subsurface soils or sediments except possibly remediation workers. Those workers will be provided protective equipment and be trained in avoiding contact with contaminants. Therefore, these pathways are eliminated.


PUBLIC HEALTH IMPLICATIONS

Introduction

In this section, we discuss the health effects that may occur in persons exposed to site contaminants in groundwater from private wells, evaluate the relevance of state health data bases to provide information for the CryoChem, Inc. site, and evaluate community health concerns.

A. Toxicological Evaluation

As reported in the Environmental Contamination and Other Hazards section, groundwater is contaminated with VOCs and lead.

To evaluate health effects, ATSDR developed Minimal Risk Levels (MRLs) for contaminants commonly found at hazardous waste sites. The MRL is an estimate of daily human exposure to a contaminant below which non-cancer, adverse health effects are unlikely to occur. MRLs are developed for routes of exposure, such as acute (less than 14 days), intermediate (15 to 364 days), and chronic (365 days or greater). EPA's Reference Dose (RfD) is an estimate of the daily exposure to a contaminant that is unlikely to cause adverse, non-cancer health effects. PADOH will give consideration to health guidelines (MRLs, RfDs, etc.) and environmental guidelines such as drinking water standards and criteria developed by other organizations to determine whether the groundwater in the vicinity of the site is acceptable to use as a potable water supply. The contaminants identified in private wells are PCE, TCE, DCE, TCA, and lead (1).

Lead

Lead was found at levels of 87.0 and 70.0 µg/L in two residential wells located upgradient of the site. The source of the lead contamination is likely the home plumbing systems. The contribution of lead through drinking water will increase lead body burden to a level that may cause health problems, especially in children. While ATSDR has no MRLs and EPA has no RfD for lead, these lead exposures should be lowered to eliminate the potential for any adverse health effects. Lead levels are associated with a decrease in intelligence quotient (IQ) scores, slow growth, and hearing problems. Lead exposure is especially dangerous for unborn children because they can be harmed during fetal development. Pregnant women exposed to lead can transfer lead to unborn children, causing premature birth, low birthweight, and miscarriages (9).

Lead affects primarily the peripheral and central nervous systems, the blood cells, and metabolism of vitamin D and calcium. Lead also causes reproductive toxicity. The most sensitive target of lead poisoning is the nervous system. In children, neurologic deficits have been documented at exposure levels once thought to cause no harmful effects (9). Neurologic deficits, as well as other effects caused by lead poisoning, may be irreversible. Effects in children generally occur at lower blood levels than adults. Although the research has not completely defined the impact of blood lead levels of less than 10 µg/dl on central nervous system functions, it may be that these levels are associated with adverse effects (9).

Tetrachloroethene (PCE)

Exposure to PCE has occurred in the past in a private well at a concentration of 15.0 µg/L for an unknown length of time (1). The people who consumed the water were exposed to PCE through ingestion, inhalation, and to a lesser degree, dermal absorption. The maximum level of PCE detected in the well water is not expected to result in a dose that would exceed ATSDR's MRL (15). Therefore, no non-cancer adverse health effects would be expected to result from exposure to PCE at that level.

EPA has classified PCE as a probable (B2) human carcinogen because of the results of animal studies (15). Animal studies conducted with concentrations much higher than most people are exposed to have shown that PCE can cause cancer. Epidemiology studies have not shown an association between exposure to PCE and cancer in humans (15). Although ingestion of the maximum level of PCE in private well water would be expected to result in little or no increased risk of developing cancer, a prudent public health measure is to reduce or eliminate exposure to PCE (15).

Trichloroethylene (TCE)

TCE exposure has occurred to off-site residents in their private well water. TCE has occurred in the past in an off-site private well at 77.0 µg/L (1). That level is not expected to result in a dose that would exceed ATSDR's intermediate MRL (10). Therefore, no non-cancer adverse health effects are expected to occur.

Occupational studies of workers exposed to TCE (levels which are much higher than the levels found in the environment) have not detected TCE-induced cancer, while some animal studies have shown that TCE can produce lung and liver cancer (10). Animal studies also have shown that TCE can cause leukemia, a cancer of the tissues that form white blood cells. In reviewing the animal studies, the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS)/ National Toxicology Program could not find clear evidence that TCE causes cancer in animals. The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), an agency which classifies chemicals for their carcinogenicity, has decided that TCE is not classifiable as to human carcinogenicity (10). EPA, which also classifies chemicals for carcinogenicity, is conducting further studies on the carcinogenicity of TCE (10). Although little to no increased risk of developing cancer upon exposure to TCE at the maximum level detected is expected, people should reduce or eliminate exposures when possible until more information is available (10).

1,1-Dichloroethene (DCE)

Exposure to DCE has occurred in the past through the use of off-site private well water at an estimated concentration of 3.0 g/L (1). Those people were exposed through ingestion, inhalation of volatilized DCE, and dermal contact. That level of exposure does not exceed ATSDR's MRL (11). Therefore, the level of exposure to DCE is not likely to cause any non-cancer health effects. DCE was also detected in a commercial well at 42 µg/L (1). Those people were exposed, primarily, through inhalation of volatilized DCE and dermal contact. Although there is no MRL or RfD for the inhalation route, if the assumption is made that all of the DCE volatilizes and is inhaled, the dose would be about the same as through ingestion (11). That level of inhaled DCE is not expected to result in a dose that would cause adverse, non-cancer health effects.

EPA has classified, based on animal studies, DCE as a possible human carcinogen through the ingestion and inhalation routes (11). However, no human studies are available regarding carcinogenic effect in humans following exposure to DCE. The level of exposure used in animal studies were several orders of magnitude greater than the levels of exposure in the exposed population (11). At the levels found in private and commercial wells, little to no increased risk of developing cancer from exposures is expected (11).

1,1,1-Trichloroethane (TCA)

Exposure to TCA has occurred in the past from use of an off-site private well at a concentration of 40 µg/L. Currently there are no health criteria for TCA (12). The MCL for TCA is 200 µg/L, which is much greater than the maximum concentration found in the private well (12).

TCA is a central nervous system depressant. Animal studies have shown that damage to breathing passages and lungs, as well as mild liver effects, can result from breathing air with high levels of TCA (12). However, no serious toxicological effects were noted in a study when animals were orally exposed to TCA (chronic) at high levels (1,500 mg/kg/body wt/day) (12). There are no studies in humans that can tell us whether health effects will occur if someone were to drink water contaminated with TCA (12).

EPA has not classified TCA for carcinogenicity (12). Therefore, no conclusions can be drawn about the risks of developing cancer from exposures to TCA.

B. Health Outcome Data Evaluation

The CryoChem site is located in both Earl and Douglass Townships in Berks County. Twenty-one years of all cause mortality and cancer mortality (total cancer and eight cancer sites) were collected for the two townships (13). The 1979-1989 Earl and Douglass Township data were analyzed using Pennsylvania's 1979-1981 mortality experience as a standard and the 1980 Census population for age and sex.

Total deaths (all causes) were below the expected number of deaths for the 1979-1989 period for both Earl and Douglass Townships. An "expected" death is a statistical term used for measuring mortality among a specified population. In this case, the age-sex specific deaths in Pennsylvania is applied to the same age-sex population in Earl and Douglass Townships to obtain an "expected" number of deaths. This tells the investigator how many deaths one would expect to see in the townships if the mortality experience was the same as in the standard population - Pennsylvania. (This is known as the indirect method of mortality adjustment). The observed number of deaths divided by the expected number of deaths produces a ratio known as the Standard Mortality Ratio (SMR 0.921). In Douglass Township, 218 deaths were observed, which was less than the 254.9 deaths expected (SMR 0.855). This SMR is the only one that is statistically significant (15).

All other SMR values for total cancer and the eight selected cancer sites do not differ significantly from the expected value. In both Earl and Douglass Townships, the observed cancer deaths were less than expected with 47 observed cancer deaths and 48.7 cancer deaths expected and 50 observed cancer deaths and 57.4 cancer deaths expected, respectively. The cancer sites were: (1) buccal cavity and pharynx; (2) digestive system; (3) respiratory system; (4) bone, connective tissue, skin, and breast; (5) genitourinary system; and (6) other and unspecified sites: (7) leukemia and (8) other lymphatic and hematopoietic tissues.

C. Community Health Concerns Evaluation

We have addressed the community concerns about health as follows:

  1. Are residents near the CryoChem, Inc. site exposed to contaminants in their private wells?

    As stated earlier, there is a contamination plume containing VOCs that passes through a residential area southeast of the site. The width and depth of this plume has not been fully determined; therefore, the total number of private wells affected by the plume is not currently known. Exposure to contaminants in the plume has occurred, may be occurring, and may occur in the future. This exposure represents past exposure for residents who have been provided carbon filters to reduce contaminants from their potable water supply. While exposure to VOCs in groundwater can be reduced by the use of carbon filters, lead is unaffected by the filters and remains a concern. The locations of homes with contaminated water are identified in Figures 4 and 11.

    As new residences are built in the area, current or future exposure is possible. Also, exposure to lead is occurring through use of private wells that are upgradient of the site. The lead is not associated with the site, but the source for the lead contamination, although believed to be the plumbing, has not been determined. Likewise, VOCs are in other private wells north (upgradient) of the site, and the source for that contamination has not yet been determined. The carbon filters that have been supplied to those residences are reducing current exposures to the VOCs.

  2. Will groundwater monitoring continue after remedial activities conclude to ensure that VOCs are not contaminating residential wells?

    This public health assessment recommends continued monitoring of groundwater to protect public health from the effects of current or future contamination.

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