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HEALTH CONSULTATION

HAMMERMILL-SCOTT RUN SITE
HARBORCREEK TOWNSHIP, ERIE COUNTY, PENNSYLVANIA


DISCUSSION

RESIDENTIAL WELL WATER

Residential wells are upgradient and not impacted by the site. However, upon review of residential well data sampled by EPA's contractor in July 1988, PADOH identified one residential well with manganese at levels of human health concern. Chemical analysis of this residential well showed manganese at 2100 parts per billion (ppb). Manganese occurs naturally in groundwater in Pennsylvania and is an essential nutrient. Food is the main source of manganese and usual daily intakes range from about 1-5 mg/day. We learned that the City of Erie extended a public water line along Route 5 offering voluntary connections for residential well users. Representatives of the City of Erie verified that the residential well with elevated levels of manganese was connected to public water four years ago. Other area residents continue to use their private wells (3).

Past exposure, unrelated to the site occurred through the use of a private well which had manganese levels of 2100 (ppb). This residence connected to the public water supply in 1994. Prior to that contaminants in water would have been ingested and absorbed dermally through contact with the skin (while showering, cooking, or laundering). However, manganese is not well absorbed through the skin. ATSDR does not have a Minimal Risk Level (MRL) but EPA has an Reference Dose (RfD) of 5µg/kg/day for manganese. USEPA does not have a maximum contaminant level (MCL) for manganese but does have a secondary drinking water standard of 50 ppb. Secondary drinking water standards are applied where contaminants affect taste, odor and other aesthetic qualities of the water.

The estimated past daily exposures from ingestion of 2100 µg/L of manganese would have been 210 µg/kg/day for children and 60 µg/kg/day for adults. The estimated doses are above the manganese chronic RfD of 5 µg/kg/day. Therefore, possibility exists that past exposure to manganese may have caused some health effects particularly for children and some elderly adults. If health effects occur, we would expect them to appear as mild neurological symptoms. It is important to note that there is only one sampling event available from this home. PADOH is unable to determine if the 1988 sampling represents the levels of manganese that were consumed throughout the years that the well was used for human consumption. If there was continuing exposure, we would recommend additional samples to further define the current level of manganese in the well water.


ON-SITE DRUMS

The contents of the single sampled drum included antimony at 40 parts per million (ppm), cadmium at 35 ppm, chromium at 1670 ppm and lead at 7190 ppm. PADOH identified a total of 27 drums, 8 of which appeared intact. Some were partially buried and in various stages of decay. The EPA contractor estimated the presence of 50 drums during its July 1988 site visit. Since no removal action occurred on the site, additional drums may be present but undetectable due to the thick vegetation and/or sediment deposition during the ten years between site visits. PADOH feels that the analysis of a single sample is not sufficient to characterize the contents of a minimum of 27 drums.


SOIL AND SEDIMENT

Chemical analysis of the July 1988 samples (Figure 3) showed on-site arsenic contamination of the soil(S) and sediment (SD) in the marshy area at the following concentrations: SD-07 at 70 milligrams per kilogram (mg/kg), S-01 at 44 mg/kg, and S-04 at 87 mg/kg. These levels exceed the levels of a soil sample taken at the edge of the woods and the residential area representing background levels and having an arsenic concentration of 10 mg/kg. PADOH would not expect to see adverse non-cancerous health effects at these levels for an older child who visits the site. There would be no apparent increased cancer risk for an older child. Even so, all these samples were taken from the drum area and part of the area recommended to be removed with the drums and their contents.

The July 1988 sampling results also show on-site and off-site contamination of sediments with DDT. DDT was detected at the small lagoon's drainage pathway (SD-04 = 51 ppb), at the marshy area closest to Scott Run (SD-06 = 67 ppb), and at Scott Run (SD-03 = 38 ppb, SD-01 = 48 ppb, and SD-02 = 52 ppb). It is important to note that the sediment sample with levels of 38 ppb is upstream from the site and considered a background sample.

DDT is a widely used chemical to control insects on agricultural crops and insects that carry diseases like malaria and typhus. It does not occur naturally in the environment and is no longer used in the United States except in cases of public health emergency. DDT is not readily absorbed dermally and does not typically pose a significant threat to human health when present at low concentrations in sediment. DDT was detected in sediments along Scott Run. It was reported in the Site Reconnaissance Trip Report written by Weston, Inc. that no one is known to fish in either Scott Run or Eight Mile Run (into which Scott Run flows). Therefore, PADOH does not believe that children or adults occasionally visiting the site would develop adverse health effects from exposure to DDT. Due to the widespread use of DDT, combined with its persistence and lipid solubility, it is probable that most of the general population has had some exposure to DDT. The levels of DDT detected on site would not be expected to contribute significantly to exposures residents typically received from other sources.

Potential exposure pathways exist for the drum contents and surrounding soil and sediment. Ingestion of, and dermal contact with soil is an exposure route that applies to young children in particular. PADOH believes it unlikely that young children are playing on the site, particularly in the marshy area that has thick vegetation. However, it is apparent that older children visit the site. We saw bike and recreation vehicle tracks on the footpaths and in the old mulch area. If older children explore the marshy area, they might incidentally ingest soil and sediments containing arsenic, antimony, cadmium, chromium, and lead as well as other unidentified materials. High concentrations of chromium and arsenic may be toxic to the skin. Chronic, high level exposure to arsenic has been associated with a non-fatal form of skin cancer. We saw a can sitting on top of one of the drums being used for target practice. We cannot rule out the possibility of it containing an explosive material that could ignite if struck with a projectile. The rusty, jagged drums also pose a physical hazard. Children could cut themselves on the drums. It is very difficult to characterize the contents of the drums, the frequency of exposure or if an exposure has occurred in the drum area. Because exposure is possible, PADOH considers it a potential health hazard.


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