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HEALTH CONSULTATION

FREELAND/GARLAND TCE SITE
(a/k/a GARLAND/FREELAND G.W. SITE)
FREELAND, LUZERNE COUNTY, PENNSYLVANIA


SUMMARY

At the request of the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (PADEP), the Pennsylvania Department of Health (PADOH), working under a cooperative agreement with the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR), prepared this health consultation (HC) to determine if residents near the Freeland/Garland TCE Site (the site) are exposed to trichloroethylene (TCE), acetone, methyl t-butyl ether (MTBE), and other volatile organic compounds (VOCs) in their private well water at levels that would harm their health.

Exposure to TCE, acetone, MTBE, and chloroform represents no apparent health hazard for all of the residents living in locations discussed in this HC who are using water from private residential wells. The levels of these contaminants are low and exposure to them would not threaten the health of residents using their well water for bathing, showering, and cooking.

There are additional private residential wells near the site along Loomis and Brengle Streets and Crescent Road that were not sampled and could not be evaluated in this HC. We do not know if residents using water from these wells are exposed to contaminants at levels that could harm their health because data is not available. Therefore, exposure to contaminants in water from these unsampled residential wells is an indeterminate public health hazard due to lack of data. We recommend sampling of previously unsampled residential wells in these areas for VOCs.

The interpretation, conclusions, and recommendations regarding the Freeland/Garland TCE Site are site-specific and do not necessarily apply to any other site.


BACKGROUND AND STATEMENT OF ISSUES

The Freeland/Garland TCE Site (the site) is in a residential area of Freeland Borough, Luzerne County, Pennsylvania (Figures 1-3). The site, which contains two buildings and two parking areas, is bordered to the north by the Borough of Freeland Municipal Authority Water Department, to the east by Graham Street, to the south by South Street (PA Route 940), and to the west by Adams Street. The site is owned by Garland Commercial Industries, Inc., and is used for fabricating steel commercial cooking equipment (1). The area of concern is a nearby residential area with a few homes that are not connected to municipal water lines and are using water from private wells.

Approximately eight people are served by private residential wells (RWs) near the site along Graham and Loomis Streets (Figure 3). During March and April 2001, PADEP sampled water from two residential wells (RW-1 and RW-2) northeast of the site along these streets and found acetone, MTBE, chloroform, and TCE in the water (2). TCE and acetone were detected along Graham Street in RW-1 at concentrations of 1.31 micrograms per liter (µg/L) and 3.10 µg/L, respectively (2). Acetone, MTBE, and chloroform were detected along Loomis Street in RW-2 at concentrations of 5.15 µg/L, 0.588 µg/L and 0.0966 µg/L, respectively (2). PADEP requested PADOH evaluate the sampling results and determine the public health significance of families being exposed to these contaminants in their well water. This health consultation (HC) responds to their request.

Garland representatives indicated that TCE was not produced or used in any process at the facility (3). PADEP is presently characterizing the site and will determine the source of the TCE and other contaminants in the nearby residential areas.


SITE VISITS

On October 2, 2001, Robert M. Stroman, health assessor from PADOH, conducted a site visit with John S. Mellow, hydrogeologist, PADEP, to determine the location of the homes sampled in March and April 2001. During the visit, residents living in the home served by RW-1 shared with us that they use an in-line carbon filtration unit that is designed to prevent exposure to VOCs. During this site visit, we met with residents in the area of concern and with municipal water officials and determined that there were additional homes that had private wells that were not sampled.

On November 28, 2001, Robert M. Stroman and John S. Mellow met with residents along Graham Street and Loomis Street (RW-1 and RW-2) where contaminants were detected in their private wells. Stroman discussed with residents possible public health implications of lifetime exposure to the contaminants in their well water at the levels detected and answered the residents' health questions. Mellow discussed PADEP's future plans for site characterization and answered residents' questions.


DISCUSSION

The levels of the VOCs in RW-1 and RW-2 are below federal standards and health-based guidelines and do not threaten the health of the residents using their well water. The contaminant levels are also not high enough to have public health significance if they migrated through soils into air. Although the levels of these contaminants presently represent no apparent health hazard to the residents using their well water, we cannot be certain that the levels will not increase in the future. If future contaminant levels in RW-1 and RW-2 exceed health-based guidelines or if the groundwater contaminant plume is determined to extend beyond these wells (at levels of health concern) then further evaluation, including the possible migration of the VOCs into air, is needed. The present levels of VOCs in the groundwater are not high enough to have public health significance if they migrated through soils into air.

The extent of the groundwater contamination plume has not yet been fully determined. There are additional residential wells near the site along Loomis and Brengle Streets and Crescent Road that have not been sampled that might contain TCE or other contaminants at levels of health concern. Since no data exist for us to review, we are unable to assure that the public health of those residents is protected.


CHILD HEALTH INITIATIVE

PADOH and ATSDR recognize that the unique vulnerabilities of infants and children demand special emphasis in communities faced with contamination of environmental media. As part of ATSDR's Child Health Initiative, ATSDR public health consultations indicate whether site-related exposures are of particular concern for children.

In general, children appear to be more sensitive to the effects of contaminants, presumably because of a higher body burden. However, there is no evidence that the pharmacokinetics (absorption, distribution, metabolism, and excretion) of TCE, acetone, MTBE, and chloroform differ in children (4-7).


CONCLUSIONS

PADOH and ATSDR conclude the following:

  1. Exposure to TCE, acetone, MTBE, and chloroform in private well water represents no apparent health hazard for all of the residents living in homes discussed in this HC at this time.

  2. Potential exposure to TCE, acetone, MTBE or even other VOCs in unsampled private wells near the site represents an indeterminate public health hazard due to lack of data.

  3. Further investigation is necessary to confirm whether VOCs at levels of health concern would affect these residential wells in the future.

  4. Further investigation is necessary to determine whether VOCs are present at levels of health concern and are affecting additional residential wells (not evaluated in this HC) near the site.

PUBLIC HEALTH RECOMMENDATIONS

  1. Discuss the public health implications of past exposure to TCE with residents exposed to this contaminant in their private wells.

  2. Fully characterize the site (with special emphasis on defining the groundwater contamination plume) to provide PADOH information to determine if TCE or other contaminants are present at levels of health concern in private residential wells that were not sampled or if contaminants become present in the future at levels of health concern in the wells evaluated in this HC.

  3. Evaluate future sampling results and prepare a health consultation that addresses the public health significance of the data. PADOH will implement this recommendation following receipt of sampling results.

PUBLIC HEALTH ACTIONS COMPLETED AND PLANNED

  1. PADOH met with affected residents identified in this HC and discussed the public health significance of their past exposure to TCE-contaminated well water. PADOH will continue to be available to answer residents' health questions as more information becomes available.

  2. PADEP will fully characterize the site with special emphasis on defining the groundwater contamination plume to determine if TCE or other contaminants are present in private residential wells that were not sampled or become present at levels of health concern in the wells discussed in this HC at some time in the future.

  3. PADOH will evaluate future sampling results and prepare a health consultation that addresses the public health significance of the data.

REFERENCES

  1. AMEC Earth & Environmental, Inc. Draft site investigation work plan for the Freeland/Garland TCE Site, Freeland Borough, Luzerne County, Pennsylvania, prepared for the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection. Hartford, Cheshire, UK: AMEC Earth & Environmental, Inc.; August 2001.

  2. Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection. E-mail to Robert M. Stroman, Pennsylvania Department of Health, from John S. Mellow concerning sampling data results. October 1, 2001.

  3. Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection. Scope of work, Garland/Freeland groundwater site, Freeland Borough, Luzerne County, Pennsylvania. Harrisburg, Pennsylvania: Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection; 2001.

  4. Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, Toxicological Profile for Trichloroethylene (Update), U.S. Public Health Service, Atlanta, Georgia: ATSDR, September 1997.

  5. Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, Toxicological Profile for Acetone, TP-93/01, U.S. Public Health Service, Atlanta, Georgia: ATSDR, May 1994.

  6. Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, Toxicological Profile for Methyl t- butyl ether, U.S. Public Health Service, Atlanta, Georgia: ATSDR, August 1996.

  7. Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, Toxicological Profile for Chloroform (Update), U.S. Public Health Service, Atlanta, Georgia: ATSDR, September 1997.

PREPARER OF REPORT

Robert M. Stroman, B.S., Pharm.
Health Assessor
Pennsylvania Department of Health


CERTIFICATION

This Freeland/Garland TCE Site Health Consultation has been prepared by the Pennsylvania Department of Health under 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 health consultation was initiated.

Roberta Erlwein
Technical Project Officer, SPS, SSAB, DHAC


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

Lisa C. Hayes
for Richard E. Gillig
Chief, SPS, SSAB, DHAC, ATSDR


FIGURES

Site Location Map
Figure 1. Site Location Map

Site Location Map
Figure 2. Site Location Map

Residential Areas Near the Freeland/Garland TCE Site
Figure 3. Residential Areas Near the Freeland/Garland TCE Site

Table of Contents

  
 
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