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HEALTH CONSULTATION

HAMBURG LEAD-GEARY DRIVE SITE
HAMBURG, BERKS COUNTY, PENNSYLVANIA
EPA FACILITY ID: PAN000305722


BACKGROUND AND STATEMENT OF ISSUES

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Region III, requested that the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) review the possible public health implications posed by lead contamination in soil at the Hamburg Lead site, Geary Drive site in Hamburg, Pennsylvania (1). Area residents had expressed concerns about improperly dumped battery casing materials causing lead contamination in on-site soil. In response to those concerns, in April and May of 2002 EPA conducted a sampling assessment of the Geary Drive site (2).

In addition to the Geary Drive site, the Hamburg Lead site encompasses several properties throughout Hamburg, including but not limited to the Berry site, the Hamburg Field House, the Hamburg Playground, and the Kaercher Creek State Park. In the 1940s and 1950s lead-contaminated battery casings were disposed of on these properties, and some evidence suggests that the practice could have continued into the early 1980s (3). In December 1993, September 1995, October 1995, September 2000, and January 2003 ATSDR released health consultations related to various land parcels for the Hamburg Lead site (4,5,6,7,8).

ATSDR reviewed soil sampling data, site history, maps, site photos, and demographics as part of its evaluation. In addition, ATSDR visited the Geary Drive site and met with EPA representatives.

Site description

The Geary Drive site is located at the dead end of Geary Drive at Kaercher Creek in Hamburg, Berks County, Pennsylvania. The geographic coordinates of the site are 40.555545º north latitude and 75.974185º west longitude (Figure 1). The approximately 1½-acre site is bordered to the northeast by a freshwater marsh, to the southeast by Kaercher Creek and the Pine Terrace Apartments, to the southwest by two private residences, and to the northwest by Geary Drive–almost entirely a residential area. The site is grass-covered and contains a grouping of trees in the east corner. There is no restricted access to the site (2).

A review of the current physical state and the general conditions at the site indicate that lead contamination present at the Geary Drive site is not physically contained. Heavy rain and flooding of the Kaercher Creek could result in off site lead migration into the Schuylkill River. Also, uncontrolled runoff from Geary Drive is eroding the site surface soil. The township is planning to install a storm drain to minimize erosion.

Although the site is currently undeveloped, building activities could possibly expose or disturb lead-contaminated subsurface soil. Also, any flooding of the Kaercher Creek is likely to result in migration of creek bank soils into the creek.

Kaercher Creek is a tributary to the Schuylkill River, a warm-water fishery. A freshwater wetland-designated area is upstream of the site. The creek flows downstream from the site, past the Borough of Hamburg where it is channeled through the Schuylkill River (2).

Demographics

The total population of the Hamburg Borough is 3,906. The total number of residences in Hamburg is 1,801. About 85 residences are within ¼-mile of the site (9). There are approximately 184 persons living within ¼-mile of the site (2).


DISCUSSION

Soil / Sediment

Methods

The following data review is from the Geary Drive site sampling assessment. Sampling was conducted in April and May 2002 to determine the extent of lead contamination.

In April 2002 EPA collected 87 on-site surface soil samples from the Geary Drive site, and three background soil samples were collected from the eastern edge of the Hamburg playground, the Kernsville Dam area, and the eastern section of the Kaercher State Park. In addition, five sediment samples were collected from Kaercher Creek. Figure 2, Sampling Location Map, shows the approximate sampling locations. During sampling assessment activities, a small amount of lead battery waste, including battery casing chips and fragments, was visible in one area of on-site surface soils. Samples were collected 0-12 inches below ground surface using dedicated sampling equipment to prevent any cross contamination (2).

In May 2002 EPA returned to the Geary Drive site. Its purpose was to collect additional soil samples from a proposed drainage trench area located on the site. To determine lead concentrations in soils, three test pits were excavated to a maximum depth of 36 inches. Three samples were collected from each pit, at intervals of 0-12, 12-24, and 24-36 inches along the path of proposed excavation. Figure 3, Test Pit Location Map, shows the sampling locations with the sample identifiers. A total of nine soil samples from the three test pits were analyzed.

The 104 samples were analyzed for lead with X-ray fluorescence (XRF) instrumentation (10). Of the 104 soil and sediment samples collected, three were sent to the laboratory for total target analyte list (TAL) metals analysis, and 10 were sent to the laboratory for confirmatory analysis. Based on the confirmation sample results, all XRF data were confirmed accurate (2).

Results

The 3 background surface soil sample results were 99, 53, and 50 ppm (Table 1: mean 67 ppm). Of the 87 surface soil samples, 44 had lead concentrations above the average background level of 67 ppm. Only one sample (605 ppm) had a lead concentration that exceeded 400 parts per million (ppm) (2), the EPA established action level for lead in residential soil (Table 2: range 18 - 605 ppm, mean 96 ppm) (11). Lead battery waste (casing fragments) was present at the soil surface in the eastern corner of the site. All other samples collected from the eastern corner of the site have lead concentrations less than 400 ppm, despite the visible presence of lead battery waste in the vicinity. Additional surface soil analytes (TAL) reported in laboratory results were all below ATSDR comparison values.

Five sediment samples were collected from Kaercher Creek. Of the five sediment samples, four had lead concentrations above the average background level of 67 ppm. Sampling and analysis of the sediment indicated that lead was not present at levels of potential public health concern (Table 3: range 63-256 ppm, mean 125 ppm) (2). None of the lead concentrations exceeded the EPA-established action level for lead in residential soil (11).

As mentioned previously, EPA excavated and sampled three test pits at the site. None of these test pits had visible battery waste present at or below the soil surface. Three samples were collected from each pit, at intervals of 0-12, 12-24, and 24-36 inches. Of the nine test pit soil samples, eight had lead concentrations above the average background level of 67 ppm. No sample levels were found of public health concern (Table 4: range 44-304 ppm, mean 145 ppm) (2). None of the lead concentrations exceeded the EPA-established action level for lead in residential soil (11).

Although one of the 104 samples (B3) had a soil/sediment lead concentration exceeding a residential screening level of 400 ppm, ATSDR considered any potential exposures to be infrequent. Residential areas border the site, but ATSDR's risk analysis was based on a trespasser scenario. Despite the fact that site access is unlimited, the likelihood of exposure is limited: the site is along a creek bank and is mostly grass covered. No recreational activities have been observed on site or around this section of Kaercher Creek. Pedestrian foot traffic is described as infrequent. Thus evaluation of the potential exposure on a trespasser rather than residential scenario is appropriate (2).

ATSDR evaluated the human exposure dose for trespassers from incidental soil ingestion at the Geary Drive site. Deriving an exposure dose requires evaluating the concentration of the contaminant to which people could be exposed and how often and for how long they are exposed to those contaminants. Health effects are also related to individual characteristics such as age, sex, and nutritional status, all of which influence how a chemical might be absorbed, metabolized and eliminated by the body. Together, these factors help influence the individual's physiological response, contaminant exposure and potential adverse health outcomes. In the absence of exposure-specific information, ATSDR applied several conservative exposure assumptions to define site-specific exposures as accurately as possible for trespassers at the site.

In residential soil EPA has established an action level of 400 ppm lead (11). As a screening value ATSDR calculated a conservative reference dose estimate corresponding to a residential exposure of 400 ppm lead in soil and compared this estimate to a potential trespasser scenario. When an incidental ingestion dose was calculated for a trespasser exposure scenario using the average concentration detected (102 ppm), the result (0.00007 mg/kg/day) was an order of magnitude lower than the dose calculated using the screening value for lead in soil (0.0007 mg/kg/day). Thus the incidental ingestion dose for a trespasser is less than the dose calculated for the residential screening value. Furthermore, considering the actual exposure scenario is not residential and the average concentration of lead detected (102 ppm) at the Geary Drive site is less than the EPA action level, no health effects are expected from exposures at the site.

ATSDR'S Child Health Initiative

ATSDR recognizes that infants and children may be more sensitive to environmental exposure than adults in communities faced with contamination of their soil. This sensitivity is a result of the following factors: (1) children are more likely to be exposed to certain media (e.g., soil or surface water) because they play outdoors; and (2) children are smaller, therefore childhood exposures result in higher doses of chemicals per body weight. Children can sustain permanent damage if these factors lead to toxic exposure during critical growth stages. ATSDR is committed to evaluating their special interests at sites such as Geary Drive site as part of ATSDR's Child Health Initiative.

ATSDR evaluated the likelihood that children living near Geary Drive site may be exposed to contaminants at levels of health concern. ATSDR did not identify any situations where children were likely to be or to have been exposed to contaminants at levels which pose a health concern.


CONCLUSIONS

Surface soil. Although lead is elevated above background in surface soil at the Geary Drive site, exposure is not expected to occur at levels of health concern. Only one sample was above the EPA residential screening level of 400 ppm. ATSDR concludes that there is no apparent public health hazard for the described exposure scenario.


RECOMMENDATIONS

If land use changes at the Geary Drive site, the site must be reevaluated based on the future exposure scenario.


FIGURES

Site Location Map
Figure 1. Site Location Map

Sampling Location Map
Figure 2. Sampling Location Map

Test Pit Location Map
Figure 3. Test Pit Location Map


PREPARERS OF REPORT

Todd M. Raziano, MPH
Environmental Health Scientist
Exposure Investigations and Consultation Branch
Division of Health Assessment and Consultation

David A. Fowler, PhD
Toxicologist
Health Consultation Section
Exposure Investigations and Consultations Branch
Division of Health Assessment and Consultation


Reviewed by:

Susan Moore
Section Chief
Health Consultation Section
Exposure Investigations and Consultations Branch
Division of Health Assessment and Consultation

Donald Joe
Section Chief
Petition Response Section
Exposure Investigations and Consultations Branch
Division of Health Assessment and Consultation

John E. Abraham, PhD
Branch Chief
Exposure Investigations and Consultations Branch
Division of Health Assessment and Consultation


REFERENCES

  1. Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry. Health consultation request from Charles J. Walters, Senior Regional Representative. [Philadelphia:] EPA Region III; 2002.

  2. US Environmental Protection Agency. Hamburg Geary Drive data package from Greg Ham, On-Scene Coordinator, to Charles J. Walters, Senior Regional Representative, Region III. [Philadelphia:] EPA Region III; May 31, 2002.

  3. US Environmental Protection Agency. Hamburg action memo from Bradley Campbell, Regional Administrator, to Timothy Field, Assistant Administrator. (Draft). [Philadelphia: EPA Region III]; 2000.

  4. Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry. Health consultation regarding the Hamburg Lead Site–Hamburg Playground and Hamburg Fieldhouse. Atlanta: US Department of Health and Human Services; 1993.

  5. Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry. Health consultation regarding the Hamburg Lead Site–Berry Site. Atlanta: US Department of Health and Human Services; 1995 October 06.

  6. Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry. Health consultation regarding the Hamburg Lead Site–Pine Street cornfield. Atlanta: US Department of Health and Human Services; 1995 October 06.

  7. Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry. Health consultation regarding Hamburg Lead Site–areas of concern B and E. Atlanta: US Department of Health and Human Services; 2000 September 22.

  8. Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry. Health consultation, Hamburg Lead site, Kaercher Creek. Atlanta: US Department of Health and Human Services; 2003 Jan 02.

  9. US Geological Survey (USGS). 7.5-minute series topographic map of Hamburg, Pennsylvania, Quadrangle. [Washington, DC]: US Department of the Interior; 1977.

  10. US Environmental Protection Agency. SOP 1707. X-MET 880 field portable X-ray fluorescence operating procedures. [Washington, DC]: U.S. Environmental Response Team; 1994 December.

  11. Madhaven S, Rosenman KD, Shehata T. Lead in soil: recommended maximum permissible levels. Environ Res 1989;49:136-42.

TABLES

Table 1. Background Lead in Soil

Sample ID Lead Concentration (ppm) Instrument Reading Error (+/- ppm)
GD-BGRD-01 50 13
GD-BGRD-02 99 15.7
GD-BGRD-03 53 11.2
Mean GD-BGRD 67  

Notes: GD=Geary Drive; BGD=Background

US Environmental Protection Agency. Hamburg Geary Drive data package from Greg Ham, On-Scene Coordinator, to Charles J. Walters, Senior Regional Representative, Region III. [Philadelphia:] EPA Region III; May 31, 2002


Table 2. Lead in Soil

Sample ID Lead Concentration (ppm) Instrument Reading Error (+/- ppm)
GD-2.5F 48 13.3
GD-2.5G 48 13.1
GD-2.5H 154 18
GD-2G 55 13.4
GD-2H 113 15.2
GD-3.5G 43 12.7
GD-3.5H 160 17.9
GD-3F 31 12.4
GD-3G 246 22.1
GD-3H 151 17.4
GD-4.5F 35 12.7
GD-4.5G 51 13.3
GD-4.5H 113 16.1
GD-4F 44 13.1
GD-4G 100 15.9
GD-4H 219 21.1
GD-5A 65 14.1
GD-5C 24 11.5
GD-5D 18 15.9
GD-5E 76 14.3
GD-5F 37 13
GD-5G 109 15.7
GD-5H 99 16
GD-5I 256 22.6
GD-6B 45 11.4
GD-6C 18 10.9
GD-6D 19 11.3
GD-6E 225 21.8
GD-6F 83 12.2
GD-6G 150 18.6
GD-6H 155 16.3
GD-6I 215 19.6
GD-6J 150 18.5
GD-7B 49 13.1
GD-7C 65 11.2
GD-7D 42 13.1
GD-7E 75 13.1
GD-7F 127 21.3
GD-7G 164 18.6
GD-7H 112 14.7
GD-7I 72 13.7
GD-8E 73 14.5
GD-8F 85 14.9
GD-8G 120 17.3
GD-8H 214 21.4
GD-8I 30 10.2
GD-8J 95 13.5
GD-9D 71 15
GD-9E 78 14.1
GD-9F 318 23.6
GD-9G 188 20.1
GD-9H 31 11.9
GD-9I 29 11.6
GD-9J 48 13.7
GD-10E 55 13
GD-10F 135 16.7
GD-10G 103 16.3
GD-10H 42 10.9
GD-10I 23 11.9
GD-10J 23 10.3
GD-10K 177 18.7
GD-11E 53 9.7
GD-11F 61 12.7
GD-11G 36 12.7
GD-11H 32 12.4
GD-11I 22 11.9
GD-11J 23 12.2
GD-11K 91 14.6
GD-12F 62 14.1
GD-12G 58 8.4
GD-12H 34 11.8
GD-12I 28 12.6
GD-12J 27 11.8
GD-12K 21 11.3
GD-13F 284 19
GD-13G 72 12.5
GD-13H 25 9.4
GD-13I 18 11.4
GD-13J 52 12.5
GD-14F 52 14.1
GD-14G 47 12.1
GD-B1 87 15
GD-B2 102 15.2
GD-B3 605 32.3
GD-B4 147 16.4
GD-B5 158 15.8
GD-B6 126 16.8
Mean GD 96  

Notes: Bold number =concentration >400ppm (EPA action level); ID=Identifier; GD=Geary Drive
US Environmental Protection Agency. Hamburg Geary Drive data package from Greg Ham, On-Scene Coordinator, to Charles J. Walters, Senior Regional Representative, Region III. [Philadelphia:] EPA Region III; May 31, 2002


Table 3. Lead in Sediment

Sample ID Lead Concentration (ppm) Instrument Reading Error
(+/- ppm)
GD-7J* 256 21.6
GD-8K* 152 18.1
GD-9K* 63 13.2
GD-10L* 80 14.9
GD-11L* 76 14.3
GD* Mean 125  

Notes: ID=Identifier; GD*=Geary Drive Sediment

Table 4. Lead in Test Pit
Sample ID Lead Concentration (ppm) Instrument Reading Error
(+/- ppm)
GDTP-01A 146 19.8
GDTP-01B 74 15.7
GDTP-01C 44 14
GDTP-02A 154 18.8
GDTP-02B 227 22.4
GDTP-02C 304 25.3
GDTP-03A 79 15.9
GDTP-03B 137 17.3
GDTP-03C 143 17.8
GDTP Mean 145  

Notes: ID=Identifier; GDTP=Geary Drive Test Pit
US Environmental Protection Agency. Hamburg Geary Drive data package from Greg Ham, On- Scene Coordinator, to Charles J. Walters, Senior Regional Representative, Region III. [Philadelphia:] EPA Region III; May 31, 2002


APPENDIX A: INCIDENTAL INGESTION OF SOIL

Click here to view Appendix A in PDF format (PDF, 28KB)

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