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HEALTH CONSULTATION

HOFMANN INDUSTRIES, INCORPORATED
(a/k/a HOFFMAN INDUSTRIES, INCORPORATED HSCA)
SINKING SPRING, BERKS COUNTY, PENNSYLVANIA


SUMMARY

In collaboration with and at the request of the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR), the Pennsylvania Department of Health (PADOH) prepared this health consultation (HC) to reevaluate the Hofmann Industries, Incorporated site (the site) in Sinking Spring, Pennsylvania. The consultation's purpose is to determine if residents near the site are exposed to hexavalent chromium or lead in water from on-site production wells, a municipal well, private residential wells, and a residential spring at levels that would harm their health.

Exposure to hexavalent chromium in water from on-site production wells 1 and 2 (PW-1 and PW-2) represents no public health hazard. Hexavalent chromium was not detected in the water from these wells and the water is not used for potable purposes.

Exposure to hexavalent chromium represents no apparent health hazard for residents receiving water from the Citizens Utilities Water Company of Pennsylvania (CUWC of PA) Well #18A. The level of hexavalent chromium in the municipal well water was below regulatory standards, and existing laws prohibit consumers from receiving contaminated water at levels above these standards. The CUWC of PA regularly monitors the water from this well in order to ensure compliance with existing regulations.

Exposure to lead in private well water represents no apparent health hazard for residents in two homes along Martins Road. The lead levels were low and exposure would not harm the health of residents were they to use this well water for bathing, showering, and cooking.

Exposure to contaminants in a residential spring along Martins Road represents no current public health hazard. The spring is reportedly no longer productive and is not currently used. PADOH recommends that the owners sample the spring if it becomes productive in the future and they decide to use its water.

The interpretation, conclusions, and recommendations regarding the Hofmann Industries, Incorporated Site are site-specific and do not necessarily apply to any other site.


BACKGROUND AND STATEMENT OF ISSUES

The site occupies approximately 30 acres east of Pennsylvania Route 724 at 3145 Shillington Road, in Sinking Spring Borough, Berks County, Pennsylvania [1] (Figures 1, 2). Industrial operations began at the site in 1950. In 1967 the company reported it had initiated plating operations. [1].

There is a residential area about 2500 feet southwest of the site, along Martins Road, where a few homes are not connected to municipal water lines. Residents living these homes use water from their private wells. Additionally, one family may use water from a spring on their property. Approximately eight persons are served by private residential wells (RWs) in this area. Residents in one home were reported to have formerly obtained drinking water from a spring on their property [1]. A detailed description of the site history, conclusions, and recommendations are presented in a 1998 ATSDR Health Consultation (HC) for the site [1].

In that 1998 HC, ATSDR recommended that water from on-site production wells be sampled and analyzed for heavy metals. And, because of the past presence of hexavalent chromium in the water, that a review of the CUWC of PA chemical analyses monitoring reports be conducted for well 18A. ATSDR also recommended that a RW along Martins Road be sampled for metals because of the historical presence of lead in the well water, and that a residential spring be sampled.

On January 3, 2002, at the request of PADOH, PADEP sampled water from two on-site production wells (PW-1 and PW-2). Hexavalent chromium was not detected in either of the wells. During January 22-25, 2002, PADEP sampled water from four private wells (RWs- 355, 374, 375, 379) southwest of the site along Martins Road. Low levels of lead were detected in water from two of the wells (RW-355 and RW-379). Lead was detected in RW-355 at a concentration of 1.5 micrograms per liter (µg/L) and in RW-379 at a concentration of 1.1 µg/L [2]. In most cases, low levels of lead--like the levels in these wells--comes from household plumbing and can be purged from the system by running the water for a short time prior to use.

In this HC, PADOH evaluates these sampling results and determines the public health significance of families being exposed to hexavalent chromium and lead in their potable water.


SITE VISIT

On December 6, 2001, Robert M. Stroman, health assessor, PADOH, conducted a site visit with Ryan Kostival, Project Officer, Environmental Cleanup Program, PADEP, to determine the location of the homes along Martins Road in which water is supplied by private wells or by a spring. During the visit, Stroman and Kostival observed the homes that were using private wells, met with municipal water officials, and determined that a few additional homes along Martins Road with private wells should be sampled. With regard to the residence whose water was reportedly supplied by a spring, the spring was housed and the owners were not at home. Thus, it was impossible to observe whether the spring was productive. The spring is, however, reported to be dry and no longer in use [3].


DISCUSSION

To determine the possible health effects of site-specific chemicals, ATSDR has developed health-based comparison values (CVs). These are chemical-specific concentrations to help identify environmental contaminants of health concern [4]. CVs are used to determine those contaminants requiring further evaluation. CVs include Environmental Media Evaluation Guides (EMEGs) and Reference Dose Media Evaluation Guides (RMEGs) for noncancerous health effects, and Cancer Risk Evaluation Guides (CREGs) for cancerous health effects. If because of a lack of available health data environmental media guides cannot be established, other comparison values such as the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) Action Levels can be used to select a contaminant for further evaluation. While media concentrations less than a CV are unlikely to pose a health threat, media concentrations above a CV do not necessarily represent a health threat. Therefore, CVs are not be used as predictors of adverse health effects or for setting clean up levels.

PADOH also researches scientific literature and uses the ATSDR's minimal risk levels (MRLs), the EPA's reference doses (RfDs), and the EPA's Cancer Slope Factors (CSFs). MRLs are estimates of daily exposure to contaminants below which noncancerous adverse health effects are unlikely to occur. RfDs are estimates (with uncertainty spanning perhaps an order of magnitude) of daily oral exposure, in milligrams per kilogram per day (mg/kg/day), to the general public (including sensitive groups) that are likely to be without an appreciable risk of noncancerous harmful effects during a lifetime (70 years). Doses below the MRL or RfD are not likely to cause any noncancerous adverse health effects. Doses above the MRL or RfD require further evaluation to determine whether adverse effects are likely to occur. When RfDs and MRLs are not available, a no observed adverse effect level (NOAEL) or lowest observed adverse effect level (LOAEL) can be used to estimate levels below which no adverse health effects (noncancerous) are expected.

Health guidelines such as MRLs and RfDs, however, do not consider the risk of developing cancer. To evaluate exposure to carcinogens, EPA has established CSFs for inhalation and ingestion that define the relationship between exposure doses and the likelihood of an increased risk of cancer compared with controls that have not been exposed to the chemical. Usually derived from animal or occupational studies, CSFs are used to calculate the exposure dose likely to result in one excess cancer case per one million persons exposed over a lifetime (70 years).

Because children generally receive higher doses of contaminants than adults under similar circumstances, when children are known or thought to be involved the PADOH uses the higher doses in forming its conclusions about the health effects of exposures to site-related contaminants (see Child Health Initiative section).

Hexavalent chromium was not detected in the on-site PWs and water from these wells is not used for potable purposes. Exposure to hexavalent chromium from on-site production wells (PW-1 and PW-2) represents no public health hazard because there are no completed exposure pathways.

The PADEP is responsible for permitting and monitoring public water supplies under the Safe Drinking Water Act. This act requires that all public water suppliers in Pennsylvania test for contaminants to ensure water quality. The act also mandates suppliers to report to their customers any contaminants exceeding regulatory standards. The CUWC of PA well #18A is currently in compliance with the Safe Drinking Water Act requirements.

The levels of lead (1.5 µg/L in RW-355 and 1.1 µg/L in RW-379) are below the federal action level of 15 µg/L [4]. The levels of lead in all the other RWs are below the detection limit of 1.0 µg/L and would not threaten the health of the residents using their well water. Nevertheless, prudent public health practice avoids exposure to lead at any concentration. This is especially true for children, because children could be exposed to lead from multiple sources.

Exposure to contaminants in a residential spring along Martins Road represents no public health hazard. Reportedly the spring has ceased being productive and, therefore, is not currently used. To ensure quality drinking water, the owners will have to sample the spring--if it becomes productive in the future and they decide to use its water.


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 higher body burden. There are numerous potential sources of lead exposure in the environment. Small children can be exposed by eating lead-based paint chips, chewing on objects painted with lead-based paint, or swallowing house dust or soil that contains lead. Unborn children can be exposed to lead through their mothers. Lead can affect a child's mental and physical growth. In children, the central nervous system is particularly sensitive to the effects of exposure to lead [5].


CONCLUSIONS

PADOH and ATSDR conclude the following:

  1. Exposure to hexavalent chromium from two on-site production wells represents no public health hazard.

  2. Exposure to municipal water from CUWC of PA well #18A represents no apparent public health hazard.

  3. Exposure to lead in two private wells along Martins Road represents no apparent public health hazard.

  4. Exposure to potentially contaminated water from a residential spring represents no current public health hazard at this time because the spring is dry and there are no completed exposure pathways.

PUBLIC HEALTH ACTIONS RECOMMENDED AND PLANNED

  1. Discuss the public health implications of exposure to lead with those residents who are exposed to this contaminant in their private wells. PADOH will meet with residents owning the private wells identified in the HC and discuss the public health significance of their sampling results.

  2. In the event that it becomes productive and the residents wish to use the spring water for potable purposes, sample the residential spring along Martins Road. PADOH will meet with the owners of the spring and inform them that it is their responsibility to ensure the quality of the surface water prior to its potable use.

REFERENCES

  1. Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry. Health consultation for the Hofmann Industries, Incorporated Site, Sinking Spring, Berks, County, Pennsylvania. Atlanta: US Department of Health and Human Services. 1998 March 24.

  2. Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection. Electronic mail to Robert M. Stroman, Pennsylvania Department of Health from Ryan Kostival, containing sampling results. February, 2002.

  3. Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection. Personal communication to Robert M. Stroman, Pennsylvania Department of Health from Ryan Kostival, concerning the residential spring. February, 2002.

  4. Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry. Toxicological soil/water/air comparison values and health guideline comparison values. Atlanta: US Department of Health and Human Services. 2001 June 30.

  5. Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry. Toxicological ToxFAQs for lead . Atlanta: US Department of Health and Human Services. 1999 June.

REPORT PREPARED BY

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


CERTIFICATION

This Hofmann Industries, Incorporated 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.

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

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