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HEALTH CONSULTATION

TITANIUM WIRE CORPORATION
FRACKVILLE, WEST MAHANOY TOWNSHIP,
SCHUYLKILL COUNTY, PENNSYLVANIA


DISCUSSION

The United States Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) has shown that groundwater beneath the Titanium Wire site (the site) is contaminated with low levels of VOCs. USEPA has shown that the groundwater is also contaminated with lead and manganese. The highest level of VOCs found on site was 6.5 µg/l of trichloroethylene (TCE), which is just above USEPA's maximum contaminant level (MCL) of 5 µg/l. The highest level of lead that was present was estimated at 125 µg/l. USEPA does not have an MCL for lead, but uses the maximum contaminant level goal (MCLG) of zero and regulates it under the Safe Drinking Water Act of 1986, taking action when the level of lead at the municipal water customer's tap reaches a level of 15 µg/l. The highest level of manganese was 5,380 µg/l (6). USEPA does not have an MCL for manganese but does have a secondary drinking water standard of 50 µg/l. Secondary drinking water standards are applied where contaminants do not present a health risk but affect taste, odor and other aesthetic qualities of the water. None of the on-site wells were contaminated with tetrachloroethylene (PCE) above USEPA's MCL of 5 µg/l for PCE.

Although the above described levels of contamination would present a public health hazard if people were to be exposed to them, nobody is using the groundwater beneath the site. While some residents nearby do use groundwater for their potable water supply, onsite groundwater is not used for drinking. The question asked by USEPA is whether Frackville Borough's wells are endangered by the contamination. In order to answer this question, PADOH conducted a hydrogeological evaluation (including field measurements described above and data review) of the area around the site. Using the available data, PADOH has determined that the borough's public water supply wells are almost certainly beyond the range of site influences. Contaminants in the public water supply wells are coming from other sources closer to those wells.

Frackville's water supply is passed through air stripping treatment equipment to remove VOCs prior to delivering the water to consumers. There are no known public health hazards associated with this water supply.

In 1991, USEPA sampled the water from three private wells (H. W.-1, 2, & 3) near the site during the site inspection, finding up to 12 µg/l of PCE and 53.7 µg/l of lead (Appendix A, Figure 2) (5). Then, in 1993, USEPA sampled the water from six private residential wells near the site during the expanded site inspection and found up to 17.7 µg/l of PCE in the wells plus low levels of other VOCs (6). PADOH does not know the locations of the latter set of private wells because a map showing the positions is not available at this time.

If a person were to consume two liters, or if a child were to consume one liter, of water containing up to 17.7 µg/l of PCE per day, PADOH does not expect that the person or child would experience any noncancerous adverse health effects. USEPA does not have a cancer slope factor established for PCE. Therefore, PADOH is not able to calculate an increased cancer risk for consuming water contaminated with 17.7 µg/l of PCE.

The private well containing the 53.7 µg/l of lead was used in an office building. Although PADOH does not expect that people who consume water contaminated with lead at this level would experience any noncancerous adverse health effects, steps should be taken to reduce the exposure levels to below USEPA's action level of 15 µg/l for lead in drinking water. Children are not likely to use the water in an office setting.

PADOH is working with the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection to resample the two wells found in 1991 to be contaminated with PCE and lead. Depending on the results of chemical analyses of the samples, PADOH is planning an additional Health Consultation.

During the site visit PADOH counted about 12 homes across Morea Road from the site. Given the nearness of these 12 homes down the inferred dip of bedrock (degree of dip is unknown) under the site, PADOH expects them to be at some risk of being contaminated from waste sources on or near the site. PADOH did not measure bedrock dip at the site for lack of suitable outcrops, but infers the down-dip direction from measurements made about one mile northwest of the site. Additional sampling of the 12 homes seems to be in order to protect the health of people living in them. Depending on the results of chemical analyses of the samples, an additional Health Consultation is planned.

As part of the ATSDR Child Health Initiative, PADOH evaluated the potential risks to children and determined that children are not being exposed to contaminants in groundwater near the site at levels considered harmful to human health.


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