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PUBLIC HEALTH ASSESSMENT

HEBELKA AUTO SALVAGE YARD
WEISENBURG TOWNSHIP, LEHIGH COUNTY, PENNSYLVANIA


ENVIRONMENTAL CONTAMINATION AND OTHER HAZARDS

The tables in this section list 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- and off-site concentrations with health assessment comparison values for noncarcinogenic 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 Environmental Media Evaluation Guides (EMEGs) and other relevant guidelines such as a Reference Dose Media Evaluation Guide (RMEG). RMEGs are calculated from EPA's Reference Dose (RfD), which is an estimate of the daily exposure to a contaminant that is unlikely to cause noncarcinogenic health effects. EPA's Maximum Contaminant Level Goal (MCLG) is a drinking water health goal. The MCLG represents a level where no known or anticipated adverse health effect on human health should occur. The MCLG allows an adequate margin of safety. Proposed Maximum Contaminant Level Goals (PMCLGs) are MCLGs that are being proposed. 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. While MCLs are regulatory concentrations, PMCLGs and MCLGs are not.

In addition, the EPA Toxic Chemical Release Inventory database was accessed by PADOH through the National Library of Medicine's Toxicology Data Network. This database was searched for estimated annual releases of toxic chemicals to the environment from industries within a 1-mile radius of the Hebelka Auto Salvage Yard site to identify possible facilities that could contribute to the contamination of groundwater and other media 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, or 1989 databases.

A. ON-SITE CONTAMINATION

Groundwater (Phase 1)

Ten on-site monitoring wells were installed during the RI (Figure 4). They were intended to identify on-site background (upgradient) levels of minerals (metals that occur naturally in groundwater and soil), contaminant levels near but downgradient from the battery piles, and contaminant levels at the downgradient extreme of the site. Monitoring wells MW-01 and MW-01A (the "A" indicates the deeper well in a two-well cluster) were installed in the northwest corner of the site for the purpose of establishing background mineral levels. MW-02 and MW-02A measured contaminant levels downgradient from the Western Battery Pile and MW-05 was installed downgradient from the Eastern Battery Pile. Downgradient on-site groundwater contamination was addressed by the installation of MW-03 and MW-03A at the site's south central extreme and the installation of MW-06 and MW-06A in the southeastern corner of the site.

All groundwater samples were obtained as both filtered and unfiltered samples and were submitted to a contract laboratory for inorganic analysis. The sampling was performed on October 13, 1987. Results are shown on Table 1.

Groundwater (Phase 2)

The same monitoring wells were tested during Phase 2 of the RI in February 1991. Results are also shown in Table 1. The on-site residential well was also tested in 1991, along with off-site residential wells. The sampling data sheets for the on-site well were not available. However, a summary of contamination, which includes information on the on-site well, appears in the Off-Site Contamination section.

Table 1. Maximum Concentrations of Contaminants in On-Site
Groundwater (1)


CONTAMINANT

UNFILTERED
(µg/L)
FILTERED
(µg/L)
COMPARISON VALUE
(µg/L) Source
Lead
6,250a
6.8a
15.0
AL
Arsenic
61a
ND
0.02
CREG
Cadmium
44a
6.0a
2
EMEG(c)
Nickel
1,760a
696.0b
100
MCL (P)
µg/L - micrograms per liter
a - Phase 1
b - Phase 2
AL - EPA Action Level
MCL (P) - Proposed Maximum Contaminant Level
EMEG (c) - Environmental Media Evaluation Guide (child)
CREG - Cancer Risk Evaluation Guide


Surface Water and Sediment (Phase 1)

One on-site surface water sample (SW-04) and one on-site sediment sample (SD-04) were collected. The single on-site sampling location was at the southern extreme of the site in the unnamed tributary (Figure 4). The surface water sample was unfiltered and analyzed for hexavalent chromium and other EPA target inorganics. The sediment sample included analysis for inorganics. EPA's contractor collected the sediment sample on September 15, 1987, and the surface water sample on September 16, 1987. Results are shown on Table 2.


Surface Water and Sediment (Phase 2)

On-site sampling included the locations (Figure 4) SW-04 SD-04, SW-13 SD-13 and SW-18 SD-18 during Phase 2 in February 1991. Results are shown on Table 2.

Table 2. Maximum Concentrations of Contaminants in On-Site
Sediment and Surface Water (Phases 1 and 2) (1)


CONTAMINANT

SURFACE
WATER
(µg/L)
COMPARISON VALUES FOR
SURFACE WATER
SEDIMENT

(mg/kg)

COMPARISON VALUES FOR SEDIMENT
(µg/L) Source (mg/kg) Source
Lead
ND
15
AL
268Ja
NAL
NA
Arsenic
ND
0.02
CREG
14a
0.4
CREG
Cadmium
ND
2
EMEG(CC)
ND
10
EMEG (c)
Nickel
ND
100
MCL (P)
37a
NAL
NA
µg/L - micrograms per liter
mg/kg - milligrams per kilogram
a - Phase 1
AL - EPA Action Level
ND - Not Detected
NA - Not Applicable
J - Reported Value is Estimated
EMEG (c) - Environmental Media Evaluation Guide (child)
NAL - Not Available


Soils (Phase 1)

The soils investigation included on-site background soils and soils under and adjacent to the battery piles (Figure 4). Samples for chemical analysis were taken at 0-3 inches (surface soil) and at 3-5 foot and 6-8 foot depths (subsurface). Background soils were investigated by drilling soil borings S001 and S002 on the east and north side of the site, respectively.

The investigation of soils at the Western and Eastern Battery Piles included soil borings under and downgradient from each pile, as well as surface soil grid sampling on the slope downgradient from each pile (Figure 4). Soil borings were drilled for the collection of subsurface soil samples to establish the vertical gradient of contaminant concentrations. In the case of the western pile, three borings (S004, S005, and S006) were installed under the batteries, and four borings (S009, S010, S011, and S012) were installed downgradient from the pile. At the eastern pile, two borings (S007 and S008) were located under the pile, and four downgradient borings (S013, S014, S015, and S016) were installed. All of the samples included analyses for lead. The results are reported in Table 3.

Table 3. On-Site Concentrations of Lead for Soil Borings by
Depth for Background, Western Battery Pile and Eastern Pile (Phase 1)
(1)

BACKGROUND
SOIL BORING DEPTH LEAD (mg/kg)
S001
0-3 Inches
3-5 Feet
6-8 Feet
140
38
48
S002
0-3 Inches
3-5 Feet
6-8 Feet
133
34
25
Background Concentration 2-200
Range from Literature (1)
WESTERN BATTERY PILE
SOIL BORING DEPTH LEAD (mg/kg)
S004
0-3 Inches
3-5 Feet
6-8 Feet
1,160
19
22
S005
0-3 Inches
3-5 Feet
6-8 Feet
4,100
18
18
S006
0-3 Inches
3-5 Feet
6-8 Feet
1,380
19
28
S009
0-3 Inches
3-5 Feet
6-8 Feet
2,910
19
14
S010
0-3 Inches
3-5 Feet
6-8 Feet
84
28
26
S011
0-3 Inches
3-5 Feet
6-8 Feet
130
26
26
S012
0-3 Inches
3-5 Feet
6-8 Feet
206
31
31



Table 3 (Continued)

EASTERN BATTERY PILE
SOIL BORING DEPTH LEAD (mg/kg)
S007
0-3 Inches
3-5 Feet
6-8 Feet
1,400
31
73
S008
0-3 Inches
3-5 Feet
6-8 Feet
65,100
1,140
263
S013
0-3 Inches
3-5 Feet
6-8 Feet
41
26
31
S014
0-3 Inches
3-5 Feet
6-8 Feet
130
26
31
S015
0-3 Inches
3-5 Feet
6-8 Feet
237
29
43
S016
0-3 Inches
3-5 Feet
6-8 Feet
662
29
29
mg/kg - milligrams per kilogram

Grid sampling of soil was used to determine the horizontal limits of contamination (Figure 5). The sampling was concentrated on the downgradient slope from each of the battery piles. Surface soil samples (0-3 inches deep) were collected from a total of 77 grid points (43 near the western pile, 34 near the eastern pile) and analyzed for lead. The samples were taken in September 1987 and analyzed by a contract laboratory. The results are shown on Table 4.

Soils (Phase 2)

An additional 110 surface soil samples were collected and analyzed for lead only. Seventy-seven Phase 2 sampling locations were situated in a 50-foot grid network roughly encompassing the western side of the Western Battery Pile. Three surface soil samples (SS-112 through SS-114) were taken from the soil piles along the front (southern boundary) of the site. The remainder of the samples were located on site along the west side of Tercha Road. A contract laboratory collected samples in February 1991 (Figure 6). The results are also shown on Table 4.

Table 4. Maximum Concentration of Lead in On-Site Surface
Soil Grid Samples (2)


AREA OF SAMPLE
(0-3")
PHASE

# OF
SAMPLES
POSITIVE
VALUES
MAXIMUM
VALUE
(mg/kg)
Western Grid
1
43
43
18,000
Eastern Grid
1
34
34
32,000
Soil Borings
1
16
16
65,100
Western Side of Western
Battery Pile
2
77
77
1,210
Front (Southern Boundary)
2
3
3
204J
West Side of Tercha Road
2
34
34
2,610
Eastern Edge of Tercha Road
2
4
4
65.5a
mg/kg - milligrams per kilogram
a - Off-Site
J - Reported Value is Estimated

EPA collected 14 other surface soil samples to determine whether other areas on-site were contaminated. The field-selected locations for these samples consisted of stained soil areas and drainage paths downgradient from potential contaminant sources such as stored drums, tanks, automobiles, and miscellaneous junk. A contract laboratory collected the samples in September 1987. The results are shown on Table 5.

Table 5. Maximum Concentrations of Contaminants in On-Site
Surface Soil (Phase 1) (1)


CONTAMINANT mg/kg COMPARISON VALUE
mg/kg SOURCE
Lead
4,610
NAL
NA
Arsenic
25
0.4
CREG
Cadmium
11
10
EMEG (c)
Nickel
96
NAL
NA
mg/kg - milligrams per kilogram
EMEG (c) - Environmental Media Evaluation Guide (child)
CREG - Cancer Risk Evaluation Guide
NAL - Not Available
NA - Not Applicable

B. OFF-SITE CONTAMINATION

Surface Water and Sediment (Phase 1)

Surface water and sediment samples were collected at six locations during September 1987 by an EPA contract laboratory (Figure 4). Five of these locations were off-site. They were (SW-02 and SD-02) south of Interstate Highway 78 in an intermittent drainage path flowing northward under Interstate Highway 78 and discharging into Iron Run. The remaining four surface water and sediment sampling locations were in Iron Run. One was upstream from the site (SW-01 and SD-01); one was between the groundwater discharge from the site and the intermittent drainage path from the south (SW-03 and SD-03); and two were downstream from the site (SW-05, SD-05, SW-06, and SD-06). All surface water samples were unfiltered and were analyzed for hexavalent chromium and other inorganics. All the sediment samples were analyzed for hexavalent chromium, other inorganics, pesticides, and PAHs. Results are presented in Table 6.

Surface Water and Sediment (Phase 2)

The Phase 2 surface water and sediment sampling points were located as close as possible to the Phase 1 sampling points (01 through 06), and then sampling locations expanded from those points (Figure 3). Sample locations 08, 09, and 10 were located upstream of all initial sampling points. Locations 11 through 15 and 17 were located further downstream, and location 18 is at the outlet of the on-site sediment basin. Phase 2 surface water samples were analyzed for base/neutral/acid extractables (only PAHs were requested) and metals (both total and dissolved). Phase 2 sediment samples included analyses for base/neutral/acid extractables and metals.

The 11 sediment and surface water samples and one duplicate were collected in February 1991. All locations were off-site except for SW-04 SD-04, SW-13 SD-13, and SW-18 SD-18. Results are presented in Table 6.

Table 6. Maximum Concentrations of Contaminants in Off-Site
Surface Water and Sediment
(3)


CONTAMINANT
SURFACE
WATER
(µg/L)
COMPARISON
VALUE

SEDIMENT
COMPARISON VALUE
(µg/L) SOURCE (mg/kg) SOURCE
Lead
2.0b
15.0
AL
1,810a
NAL
NA
Arsenic
ND
0.02
CREG
16a
0.4
CREG
Cadmium
ND
2
EMEG (c)
ND
10
EMEG(c)
Nickel
ND
100
MCL (P)
39b
NAL
NA
µg/L - micrograms per liter
mg/kg - milligrams per kilogram
a - Phase 1
b - Phase 2
ND - Not Detected
AL - EPA Action Level
NA - Not Applicable
NAL - Not Available
CREG - Cancer Risk Evaluation Guide
EMEG (c) - Environmental Medic Evaluation Guide (child)
MCL (P) - Proposed Maximum Contaminant Level

Phase 2 - Off-Site Soil Investigation

Phase 2 surface soils (SS-108 through SS-111) were sampled off-site in close proximity (within 20 feet) to the eastern edge of Tercha Road by a contract laboratory in February 1992 (Figure 6). These samples were analyzed for lead only. The maximum estimated concentration of lead in off-site soils was detected in SS-109 at a level of 65.5 mg/kg.

Groundwater Contamination - Residential Wells (Phase 2)

A residential well survey was conducted as part of the Phase 2 Field Investigation during February 1991 by an EPA contract laboratory. Unfiltered groundwater samples were collected from 11 residential wells located within approximately 1.5 miles of the site. Samples collected from the well included analyses for metals. One residential well that was sampled was an on-site well. The results are reported in Table 7.

Table 7. Maximum Concentrations of Contaminants in Off-Site*
Residential Well Water (Phase 2)
(2)


CONTAMINANT

(µg/L)
COMPARISON VALUE
(µg/L) SOURCE
Lead
2.6
15.0
AL
Arsenic
ND
0.02
CREG
Cadmium
ND
2
EMEG (c)
Nickel
ND
100
MCL (P)
* - One of the wells tested was an on-site residential well
µg/L - micrograms per liter
ND - Not Detected
AL - EPA Action Level
CREG - Cancer Risk Evaluation Guide
EMEG (c) - Environmental Media Evaluation Guide (c)
MCL (P) - Proposed Maximum Contaminant Level

C. QUALITY ASSURANCE AND QUALITY CONTROL

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 site is not secured and is accessible to the public. In the event of access, metal tanks and junk automobiles may pose a physical hazard to children or others trespassing on the site.


PATHWAYS 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 medium, a point of exposure, a route of human exposure, and an exposed population.

PADOH and ATSDR identifies exposure pathways as completed or potential exposure pathways if the exposure pathway cannot be eliminated. In completed exposure 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. In eliminated exposure pathways, at least one of the five elements is missing and will never be present. The discussion which follows identifies the completed and potential pathways at this site. Table 8 identifies the completed exposure pathways, and Table 9 identifies the potential exposure pathways.

Table 8. Completed Exposure Pathways


EXPOSURE PATHWAY ELEMENTS
PATHWAY TIME SOURCE MEDIA &
TRANSPORT
POINT OF
EXPOSURE
ROUTE OF
EXPOSURE
EXPOSED
POPULATION
Surface Soil Past Hebelka
Site
Surface Soil On-Site Soil Ingestion On-Site Children
Surface Soil Past
Present
Future
Hebelka
Site
Surface Soil On-Site Soil Ingestion On-Site Workers & Residents

Table 9. Potential Exposure Pathways


EXPOSURE PATHWAY ELEMENTS
PATHWAY TIME SOURCE MEDIA &
TRANSPORT
POINT OF
EXPOSURE
ROUTE OF
EXPOSURE
EXPOSED POPULATION
Surface Soil Past
Present
Future
Hebelka
Site
Surface Soil On-Site Soils Ingestion On-Site Trespassers
Sediment Past
Present
Future
Hebelka
Site
Surface Water
Sediment
Intermittent & Iron
Run Streams
Ingestion On-Site & Off-Site Children
Food Crops Future Hebelka
Site
Soil
Groundwater
Fruits and
Vegetables
Ingestion On-Site & Off-
Site Residents
Private Wells Future Hebelka
Site
Groundwater Residences Ingestion On-Site & Off-Site Residents

A. COMPLETED EXPOSURE PATHWAY

Surface Soil Pathway

Piles of discarded battery casings have resulted in contamination of surface soils with heavy metals, particularly lead. At the time the contamination was first discovered, three Hebelka children visited relatives on the site. Those children are assumed to have played (although PADOH was told they did not), at least some of the time in contaminated areas because of the close proximity of the residence to those areas. The children are presently about 13-16 years old. Another child reportedly lived on the site but left at an early age. PADOH was unable to contact the child's father to confirm the age of the child when she moved and to document how often she visits. She is about 12 years old now. Also, several children between the ages of 8 and 18 years live nearby. That age group is the one most likely to wonder onto the site to play with discarded objects. Children, especially those less than 8 years of age, who play in yards typically ingest 200 milligrams (mg) of soil per day through their hand to mouth behavior. Children with pica, a condition in which people, especially children, eat non-food items, will ingest considerably more soil.

Adults who work or garden in the areas of contamination would also incidently ingest some of the soil through hand to mouth activities such as smoking or eating without washing their hands. Adults typically ingest about 100 mg of soil per day. In addition to ingestion, the people on the site, both residents and visitors playing with the children or working with the adults, are exposed to soil contaminants through dermal contact and inhalation of airborne particulates.

B. POTENTIAL EXPOSURE PATHWAYS

Surface Soil Pathway

As previously discussed, piles of discarded battery casings have resulted in on-site surface soil contamination. The contaminants could be dispersed to other areas of the site and off site as wind-blown particulates and through surface runoff when it rains. Only one round of off-site soil sampling has been conducted at one location. Only lead content was tested. Lead was present at 65.5 mg/kg, which is within the expected naturally occurring (background) range. The limited off-site sampling may not be representative of levels of lead and other metals that may migrate from the site if the sampling location is not downwind and in the direction of surface drainage from both battery pile areas. Therefore, a potential for people to come into contact with contaminants in surface soil in other areas of the site and off site exists. As with the identified completed pathway, people could ingest the soil contaminants, inhale airborne particulates, and come into direct contact with contaminants through touching the soil.

Groundwater

Contaminants in soils at the site have leached into the groundwater at the site. Heavy metals, including lead, arsenic, cadmium, and nickel are all present in groundwater at levels above comparison values. Groundwater is moving in a southeasterly direction at the site. This flow is in the direction of the on-site private well, which places those residents at risk of ingesting contaminants in groundwater through use of the well (Figure 7). To date, no contaminants have been detected in that well that are above comparison levels; however, the most recent sample was analyzed in 1991.

To date, no contamination, except for lead at levels considered to be naturally occurring in the area, has been detected in private wells off site that have been tested; however, those wells that are in the direction of groundwater flow are threatened if contaminants migrate from the site. People using contaminated well water could be exposed through ingestion of and dermal contact with the contaminants. Inhalation is not a significant route of exposure because metals only volatilize if present in groundwater in certain forms, which have not been associated with the site.

Surface Water and Sediment

Surface soil contaminants appear to have washed into sediments in off-site stream systems. On-site sediment contaminant levels are lower than off-site levels. No contaminants at levels above comparison values have been detected in on-site or off-site surface water. However, turbulence from storm conditions can occasionally cause particulates (contaminated sediment) to become suspended in the water column. No people are believed to use the stream systems for recreational or fishing purposes; however, children may play in the streams at times. In that event, the children could be exposed to contaminants, primarily in sediments, through incidental ingestion and dermal contact. Inhalation of contaminants in these media is unlikely.

Biota

No game animals are expected to accumulate contaminants associated with the site at levels that would harm people who consumed those animals. No fishing is believed to occur in the stream systems; therefore, no one is expected to consume any fish that may accumulate contaminants from sediments or surface water. Agricultural crops, on the other hand, can accumulate some metals, such as cadmium and arsenic, at levels that can be harmful to people. Fruits and vegetables grown in contaminated soils or irrigated with contaminated water may accumulate some of the metals. However, no garden was seen on the site where contaminated soils and groundwater have been documented. No off-site soil contamination or groundwater contamination (above naturally occurring levels) have been identified to date. Therefore, no exposures through consumption of food crops are believed to have occurred in the past or present. A possible future pathway exists if contaminants migrate through soils and groundwater to areas where crops are grown.


PUBLIC HEALTH IMPLICATIONS

In this section, PADOH discusses the health effects that may occur in persons exposed to site contaminants in site soils, sediments, and groundwater from private wells, evaluates the relevancy of state health data bases to provide information for the Hebelka site, and evaluates community health concerns.

A. TOXICOLOGICAL EVALUATION

Introduction

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 ingestion and inhalation and for the length of exposure, such as acute (less than 14 days), intermediate (15 to 364 days), and chronic (greater than 365 days). EPA has also developed Reference Doses (RfDs) for some contaminants. The RfD is an estimate of daily exposure to a contaminant that is unlikely to cause non-cancer adverse health effects. To evaluate cancer-related health effects, EPA has developed cancer slope factors for some contaminants found at hazardous waste sites. The cancer slope factors, which are usually derived from animal studies, provide an estimate of the risk associated with one excess cancer as a result of exposure out of one million people exposed (a one-in-one million risk) over a lifetime (70 years).

Lead

As indicated in the Pathways Analyses section, site workers, on-site residents and visitors (adults and children), and trespassers have been exposed to lead in surface soil. Those people have been exposed to lead through ingestion and to a lesser degree through inhalation of airborne particulates. Dermal contact is not a relevant route of exposure for lead because lead is not readily absorbed through the skin (10). People living, working, or visiting the site may also be exposed to lead in sediments and through use of contaminated groundwater. The routes of exposure to lead in sediments are the same as for surface soils. Lead was found in private drinking water wells off site at levels below current comparison values. The lead found in private drinking water wells is not likely from the site.

The maximum concentration of lead in on-site surface soil is 6,500 mg/kg and in on-site sediments is 1,819 mg/kg. Upon exposure to lead, the amount of lead taken into the body is measured through a blood test. The exposure should be within 28-36 days of the test to accurately measure blood lead levels because the half-life of lead in the blood is 28-36 days; however, with exposure to high levels of lead, an equilibrium between bone and blood content is reached and some lead can be detected in blood long after exposure (11). No studies are available to indicate what levels of lead in the environment may result in elevated blood lead levels upon exposure to lead (11). Residential soil levels above 250 mg/kg do not indicate that health effects necessarily will occur, but they represent a level that a possibility may exist for the blood lead levels in young children to be increased above background levels as an additional contributing source for lead exposure (12). Because of the high levels of lead in on-site surface soil and sediment, as well as the possibility for lead in groundwater to reach the on-site residential well, lead exposure is of public health concern at the site. The maximum level of lead detected in private well water to date is 2.6 µg/L, which is below comparison values. That level is consistent with naturally occurring levels in the area. Although adverse health effects are not expected from ingesting that amount of lead in drinking water, it is another source of lead exposure to the residents.

Lead primarily effects 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. Neurologic deficits, as well as other effects caused by lead poisoning, may be irreversible (10). Effects in children generally occur at lower blood levels than adults. The developing nervous system in children can be affected adversely at blood lead levels of as low as 10 µg/dL (11). Lead inhibits several enzymes that are critical to the synthesis of heme; however, lead poisoning in children rarely results in anemia (11). Lead also interferes with vitamin D, which affects multiple processes in the body, including cell maturation and skeletal growth. Lead-induced chronic kidney insufficiency may result in gout (11).

Furthermore, lead in maternal blood readily crosses the placenta, thus exposing the developing fetus. The fetus is highly susceptible to lead exposure (11). Some persons with lead poisoning may not have obvious symptoms. Because of differences in individual susceptibility, the type of symptoms from lead toxicity and the time of onset may vary. With higher amounts and longer durations of exposure, the severity of symptoms will increase. Symptoms of lead exposure in children occur at blood lead levels generally ranging from 35 to 50 µg/dL (micrograms of lead per 100 milliliters of blood) (10). Symptoms occur in adults at 40 to 60 µg/dL. Severe toxicity occurs when blood lead levels exceed 70 µg/dL in children and 100 µg/dL in adults. Mild toxicity may result in muscle pain, irritability, and lethargy. Moderate toxicity may result in bone pain, general fatigue, difficulty concentrating, headache, diffuse abdominal pain, and weight loss. Severe lead toxicity may result in encephalopathy which may lead to seizures (11).

Children exhibiting pica behavior (mouthing non-food items, such as soil), pre-school children, older children and adults may experience lead-induced health effects, such as altered enzyme activity and possibly reduced white blood cell count from exposure to lead at this site. These effects are possible from a few days of exposure to lead-contaminated surface soil and sediments. Exposure to lead for several months may cause adverse effects on the blood, kidney, liver, and nervous system (10). Adverse effects, such as increased blood pressure, especially in middle-aged men, and damage to the nervous system, are also possible with exposures that exceed a year (11).

Lead is classified by EPA as a probable carcinogen. That classification is based on animal studies. Long-term exposure to lead detected in on-site surface soils, sediments, and groundwater could increase the risk of developing cancer.

Arsenic

As indicated in the Pathways Analyses section, people who lived on, worked, and visited the site have been exposed to arsenic through the ingestion of surface soil, and to a lesser degree inhalation of airborne particulates, and possibly through ingestion of contaminated sediments and groundwater. Skin contact with arsenic in soil, sediment, and groundwater is not an important route of exposure because very little arsenic can enter the body through the skin (13). Adults who currently live on site continue to be exposed to arsenic in the surface soil and possibly sediments and groundwater, primarily through ingestion of the contaminants present in the environmental media discussed.

Arsenic is a naturally-occurring element in the earth's crust. Pure arsenic is a gray-colored metal, but this form is not common in the environment. Rather, arsenic is usually found combined with one or more other elements such as oxygen, carbon, chlorine, and sulfur, which determine its form as inorganic or organic. Arsenic combined with inorganic elements is referred to as inorganic arsenic, whereas arsenic combined with carbon and hydrogen is referred to as organic arsenic. The distinction between inorganic and organic arsenic is important because the organic forms are usually less toxic than the inorganic forms (13).

The maximum concentration found in surface soils to date is 25 mg/kg. If a child were to ingest 200 mg of soil containing that amount of arsenic every day for 18 years, the daily dose of arsenic that child receives is not expected to exceed EPA's RfD (13). Also, the exposed adult would not ingest enough arsenic to exceed that level (13). Therefore, the amount of arsenic exposure from ingesting soil and sediment is unlikely to cause non-cancer adverse health effects in children and adults. However, children with pica behavior may ingest larger quantities of soil each day (10). Those children, if they live on site or play on site may be exposed to larger amounts of arsenic. The children with soil-pica behavior may experience non-cancer adverse health effects through ingesting arsenic in the soil (13). In addition, should the maximum amount of arsenic detected in groundwater at the site (61 µg/L) enter the on-site private well, that level of arsenic could cause adverse non-cancer health effects upon consumption (13).

Data gathered at the site do not give arsenic concentrations by specific form. However, the arsenic in soil and groundwater at the site is likely to be in the inorganic form. That is because the organic forms are usually found only in fish and sediment, and because the organic forms volatilize easily, they are usually not found in soil or water (13).

Low levels of inorganic arsenic (ranging from 0.3 to 30 ppm in food) can cause irritation to the stomach and intestines. Symptoms may include pain, nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. Other effects noted from ingesting arsenic include changes in the skin, decreased production of red and white blood cells, abnormal heart function, blood-vessel damage, and impaired nerve function, which causes a "pins and needles" sensation in your hands and feet (13).

Arsenic is a known human carcinogen through the ingestion and inhalation routes. Arsenic ingestion is associated with an increased risk of developing skin cancer (13). Inhalation of low levels of arsenic is believed to increase the risk of developing lung cancer. That effect has been seen in humans exposed to arsenic in and around smelters (13). Exposures to children and adults through ingesting soil contaminated with the maximum detected levels of arsenic may result in an increased risk of developing cancer. Arsenic is currently not present in residential wells. In the event that contaminated groundwater on-site migrates and impacts residential wells, and if the residents consume this water at levels detected on-site over a long period of time, those people are also increase their risk of developing cancer (13).

Cadmium

As indicated in the Pathways Analyses section, people living, working, and visiting on site have been exposed to cadmium in surface soils. Those people have been exposed to cadmium in surface soils through ingestion and to a lesser degree, inhalation of airborne particulates. If private wells are or become contaminated with cadmium, the primary route of exposure will be through ingestion because most forms of cadmium are not volatile. Skin contact is not a significant route of exposure because cadmium does not easily enter the body through the skin (14).

Cadmium was detected in soils at a maximum of 11 mg/kg. At that level, people are not expected to develop adverse health effects upon exposure. Cadmium was detected at 44 µg/L in groundwater on site. If that level of cadmium enters the on-site well water, exposure to that level through ingestion of the well water may result in adverse health effects (14).

Ingesting large amounts of cadmium (more than detected on site) can irritate the stomach and cause vomiting and diarrhea. Ingesting or inhaling lower levels of cadmium over a long period of time can cause kidney and bone damage (14). Birth defects have been noted in some animals that ingest or inhale cadmium, but whether or not birth defects may result from human exposure is not known (14).

EPA classifies cadmium is a probable carcinogen through the inhalation route and has not classified cadmium through the ingestion route. No cancer slope factor has been developed to calculate the risk of developing cancer through inhalation of airborne particulates (14). However, the levels of cadmium in surface soils that could become airborne are low. Therefore, little or no increased risk of developing cancer may be expected upon exposure. That conclusion may be reevaluated when new information becomes available.

Nickel

As stated in the Pathways Analyses section, people living, working and visiting the site have been and are exposed to nickel through ingestion of surface soils and sediments, inhalation of airborne particulates, and through skin contact (15). Nickel is also present in on-site groundwater. If the on-site residential well becomes contaminated with nickel, the residents who use the water would be exposed primarily through ingestion and skin contact.

The maximum concentration of nickel detected in on-site surface soils is 96 mg/kg. The maximum concentration found in on-site groundwater is 1,760 µg/L. The levels of nickel in the soil and sediment would not result in exposures that would be expected to cause non-cancer adverse health effects. The levels detected in groundwater could result in non-cancer adverse health effects if exposure to those levels occur (15).

Small amounts of nickel may be essential for proper body function; normal nickel intake through food is about 0.09 ppm, which is more than what would likely be ingested from surface soils, but much less than what would be ingested if drinking water contains maximum levels found in groundwater (15). Workers who drank 250 ppm (less than that detected in groundwater on site) had stomachaches, and increased red blood cells and protein in the urine were observed (15). Non-cancer effects from inhaling higher levels of nickel than those found in soils at the site include damage to the heart, blood, kidneys, and allergic reactions, including asthma (15). Studies show that 2.5 to 5.0% of the general population may be sensitive (have allergic reactions) to nickel. This group includes those predisposed to nickel sensitivity through family history. Also, housewives are more sensitive to nickel than other women or men (15). In addition, nickel may contribute to respiratory disorders associated with smoking (15).

Some nickel compounds are known to cause cancer in humans. However, metallic nickel is classified, based on animal studies, as a probable carcinogen. Workers exposed through inhaling nickel compounds have developed lung and nasal sinus cancers (15). There is no cancer slope factor developed for nickel to assess any possible cancer risk to exposed people (15).

B. HEALTH OUTCOME DATA EVALUATION

As previously stated, no health outcome data are available to evaluate possible health outcomes that may have or may result in adverse health effects from exposure to site-related contaminants; therefore, no health outcome data bases were researched for this public health assessment.

C. COMMUNITY HEALTH CONCERNS EVALUATION

PADOH has addressed the community concerns about health as follows:

  1. What is the volume of soils that will be removed from the site to protect the public health?

    EPA plans to excavate approximately 4,000 cubic yards of contaminated soils. Clean fill of a type similar to the soils removed will be used for backfill.

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

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

  3. Are Haafsville residents exposed to lead, migrating from the site in groundwater, through their private wells?

    Residents are exposed (and were exposed) to small amounts of lead when they drank water from their private wells. The source of that lead contamination could be either indoor plumbing, naturally occurring lead in the groundwater in that area, or lead from the site migrating in groundwater. However, no other site-related contaminants were detected in off-site private wells; therefore, the lead is more likely to be from the plumbing or naturally occurring. The highest lead concentration in off-site private wells (2.6 ug/L) is below EPA's action level of 15 ug/L. No adverse health effects are expected from exposure to those levels.


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