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The MichiganDepartment ofCommunityHealthreceived arequest fromthe City ofCharlotte andthe Barry-Eaton HealthDepartment toevaluate thehealthimplications ofrecreationaluses of the 4-acre pond onthe site of theformer JohnsonIron Industriesfoundry. Sincethe late 1980s,the propertyhas undergoneextensiveremoval andremedialactions by theUnited StatesEnvironmentalProtectionAgency (U.S.EPA) and theMichiganDepartment ofEnvironmentalQuality(MDEQ) toaddress onsitecontamination.

The purpose ofthisconsultation isto evaluate thepotential publichealth hazards posed byresidualcontaminantsin the pond. Activitiescould includeboating,swimming,wading, fishingand fishconsumption. The pond ispart of a largerpiece ofproperty,which, withland acrossWest ShepardStreet, hasbeen developedinto a publicpark. The citydoes not havemany surfacewaterrecreationalareas andwants toexplore thebest and safestuse of thisrestored pieceof property.

The primarycontaminantsof concern arelead and PCBs. Both are foundin thesediments ofthe pond and PCB's arefound in thetissues of pondfish. Theprincipalpathways ofexposure areincidentalingestion of,and dermal contact with,sediments andingestion offish.

The pond represents a public health hazard because of the physical hazards associated with the rocky, uneven shoreline and the rapidly increasing depth of the water. Consumption of fish found in the pond represents an indeterminate health hazard because it has not been established that anyone is eating fish taken from the pond. If fish consumption was occurring by children under 15 and women of childbearing age the PCB contaminated fish would pose a health hazard. This consultation recommends posting the pond to warn of physical hazards, requiring the supervision of young children at all times in the area of the pond, replacing the fish population, and modifying the shore for boat access.


The JohnsonIron Industriessite is a formeriron-workingfoundrylocated at 615West ShepardStreet,Charlotte,Eaton County,Michigan andis currentlyowned by theCity ofCharlotte(Figure 1). Theneighborhoodis a mixedresidential andlight industrialarea. It is a 14-acre parcel butthe area ofinterest for thisconsultation isan irregularshaped 4-acrepond in thesoutheastcorner of thesite that wasoriginally aquarry pit. There is asecond pond inclose proximitythat is fencedoff andprivatelyowned and isnot part of thefocus of thisevaluation. The foundryoperated from1947 to 1986during whichtime thecompanydeposited slag,foundry sandand sludge Exiting ATSDR Website onthe property. Effluent from apit where thesludge wasplaced to allowthe solids tosettle out of itwas drainedthrough aculvert and aditch into thepond.

Investigations conducted by the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ) and the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in the late 1980s found that the slag, foundry sand and sludge present contained high levels of metals, polynuclear aromatic hydrocarbons and polychlorinated biphenyl's (PCB). The EPA conducted a drum removal action in 1995. In 1999 the City of Charlotte succeeded in securing Clean Michigan Initiative (CMI) funds and the assistance of the MDEQ in preparing the site for reuse as a recreational resource for the community. CMI activities included building demolition, PCB removal, additional drum removal, tank excavation, clearing debris and covering a consolidated slag pile directly north of the pond with soil and vegetative material. The CMI funded activates did not address contaminated sediments in the pond.

Early in 2001,EPA conductedan evaluationthat identifiedhealth hazardspresented byelevated levelsof lead andPCBcontaminatedsediments, andPCBcontaminatedfish in thepond. Thehighestconcentrationsof PCBcontaminationwere found inthe area ofsamples SD-01and SD-02 in anorthern lobeof the pondclosest towhere theeffluent fromthe sludge pitwas believed tohave entered. The EPAsubsequentlyinitiated aremoval actionto extract themost highlycontaminatedsediments fromthe pond. Thepond sedimentswere notsampledfollowing theremoval toidentify thelevel ofresidualcontamination.

Michigan Department of Community Health staff accompanied by MDEQ staff and a representative of the City of Charlotte toured the site on March 25, 2003. The capped and vegetated slag pile had been used as a sledding hill over the winter. MDCH staff also observed a square pond a few hundred square yard in area that had been frozen during the winter and used for ice skating. This small pond is not connected to the 4 acre pond that is the focus of this consultation.


Environmental Contamination

The chemicalsof concern forthisconsultationare lead andPCBs. Contractors forthe EPAconducted thesedimentsampling intwo rounds. The first round,in August2001, tooksamples from22 locations in12-inchsediment depthintervals. Thenumber ofsamples takenat a specificspot variedaccording tothe maximumthickness ofsedimentsfound. All thelead samplesexceededsedimentquality criteriaexcept onetaken from adepth of 12 to23 inches fromthe sedimentsurface. Leaddetected inthose samplesranged from104 to 68,700parts permillion (ppm),dry weight.The results ofthe PCBanalysisshowed thatsamplesexceeded theToxicSubstanceControl Act(TSCA) triggerlevel of 50parts permillion (ppm)at 3 samplinglocations.

The EPAdetermined thatthe criteriaused toevaluate thefirst round ofsampling werenot sitespecific andmay have beentooconservative. Therefore, asecond roundof samplingwas conductedin September2001 thatcollected 5surficialsamples, usinga grab sampler,from 0 to 6inches in theareas thatshowed thehighestcontaminantlevels from thefirst samplinground (SD-01,SD-02, SDS-03, SD-04, SD-05). The leadsample results,reported inmilligrams perkilogram(mg/kg),ranged from487 to 43,100. The PCBexceedances,in microgramsper kilogram(ug/kg), rangedfrom 394 to 2,950 forAroclor 1254and from 650to 5,170 forAroclor 1248. The objectivewas to learn ifthecontaminantsin the sedimentwere toxic tobenthicorganisms inthe pond and ifthe fish werebioaccumulating enoughcontaminant topresent ahealth risk toanyone whoate them. Thesamples fromthe secondround weretaken from adepth of 0 to 6inches from thesurface of thesedimentsbecause thatwas the level inwhich most ofthe benthicorganismswould live.

Sedimentquality criteriafor the secondround sampleswere exceededat all 5locations forlead and at twolocations, SD-1and SD-2, forPCBs. Thosetwo locationsare in an areaon the northside of thepond nearestwhere most ofthe effluentfrom theformer sludgepit entered thewater.

The EPAinvestigationalso gatheredfish samples inSeptember2001 using gillnets. Oneinvestigativefish tissuesample and oneduplicatesample werecompositedfrom twelvecapturedhybrid sunfish. The resultsshowed nodetection oflead. However, totalPCBs weredetected in thefish samples at586 and 538microgram perkilogram(ug/kg). WhenPCB levels infish exceed200ug/kg, theMichiganDepartment ofCommunityHealth advisesthat childrenunder 15 yearsof age,pregnantwomen,nursingmothers, andwomen whoplan to havechildren limittheirconsumption tono more thanone meal permonth.

Human Exposure Pathways

To determinewhether nearbyresidents are,have been, orare likely to beexposed tocontaminantsassociated witha property,ATSDR andMDCHevaluate theenvironmentaland humancomponentsthat lead tohumanexposure. Anexposurepathwaycontains fivemajorelements: 1) asource ofcontamination,2) contaminanttransportthrough anenvironmentalmedium, 3) apoint ofexposure, 4) aroute of humanexposure, and5) a receptorpopulation. Anexposurepathway isconsidered acompletepathway ifthere isevidence thatall five of theseelements are,have been, orwill be presentat the property. Alternatively,an exposurepathway isconsideredcomplete ifthere is a highprobability ofexposure. It isconsidered apotentialpathway ifthere is noevidence thatat least one ofthe elementsabove are, havebeen, or will bepresent at theproperty, orthat there is alowerprobability ofexposure. Thetable belowlists thecomplete andpotentialpathways forhumanexposure to thechemicals ofinterest for thepond at theJohnson IronIndustries site.

Table 1. Human Exposure Pathways

Source Environmental Transport and Media Chemicals of Interest Exposure Point Exposure Route Exposed Population Time Frame Status
Foundry Waste Sediments Lead, PCBs Pond sediments Incidental Ingestion, Dermal contact Recreational users of the park Past Incomplete
Current Potential
Future Potential
Foundry Waste Contaminated sediments to fish PCBs Fish Direct Consumption Anglers Past Incomplete
Current Potential
Future Potential
Foundry Waste Slag at the ponds edge Lead, PCBs, Debris Pond Physical Contact Recreational users of the park Past Incomplete
Current Potential
Future Potential

At the time ofthe field visit,the shore edgesof the pondwere narrow orcovered with asurface thatwould notinvitesunbathing orpicnicking onthe ponds edge. There was nophysicalfeature thatwould facilitatethe convenientplacing of aheavy boat intothe pondalthough acanoe, kayakor light boatcould becarried to thewater in anumber ofplaces on theperimeter.

The banks arevery steep insome areas andthe depth of thewater increasesrapidly fromthe water'sedge all aroundthe pond. Thepond has amaximumdepth of 16feet. There areplaces on theperimeter ofthe pond,especially onthe south end,where theshore area isvery narrowbecause of theshort distancebetween thewater and afence on theproperty line.

The residentfish in the pondhavecontaminantsin their fleshthat wasaccumulated atthe time thehighestconcentrationsofcontaminantswere in thepond sediment. Though thehighlycontaminatedpond sedimentshave sincebeen removed,the half life ofthe PCBs in thefish is longenough that thefish couldremaincontaminatedfor many years.

Toxicological evaluation


The EPA andthe Centers forDiseaseControl andPrevention(CDC) havedetermined thatchildhoodblood leadconcentrationsat or above 10microgramsper deciliter(ug/dl) presentrisks tochildren'shealth. Bloodleadconcentrationsgreater thanthis level havebeen associatedwithdevelopmentaldelays inlearning andcognition(ATSDR1999). Children whofrequently playin or on soilcontainingconcentrationsof lead greaterthan 400 ppmmay exhibitblood leadconcentrationsgreater than 10ug/dl.

While samplesof sedimentsfrom the pondat the JohnsonIron Industriessite haveshown elevatedlevels of lead,the steepslopes and thedepth of watermake itunlikely that achild will comeinto directcontact withthe sediments. Also, any pondsediment towhich a childmight beexposed wouldlikely wash offin the pondwater prior tothat childhaving theopportunity totransfer thesediment to hisor her mouth. Fish samplestaken from thepond on theJohnson IronIndustries sitedid not showelevated levelsof lead. Therefore, it isnot expectedthat exposureto lead in thesediment in thepond wouldresult inadverse healtheffects.


PCBs arecomplexmixtures ofsyntheticorganicchemicals withno knownnatural source. They exist ascolorless tolight yellow,oily liquids orsolids. Theyhave no knownsmell or taste. Some PCBsare volatile andmay exist as avapor in air. Because theydon't burneasily and aregood insulatingmaterials,PCBs wereused widely ascoolants andlubricants intransformers,capacitors, andother electricalequipment. Themanufacture ofPCBs stoppedin the UnitedStates in 1977because therewas evidencethat thechemicalsbuild up in theenvironmentand may causeharmfuleffects. Products thatmay containPCBs includeold fluorescentlightingfixtures,electricaldevices orappliancescontainingPCB capacitorsmade beforePCB use wasstopped, oldmicroscope oil,and oldhydraulic oil(ATSDR2000b).

In general,PCBs arerelativelyinsoluble inwater. Sediments thatcontain PCBscan release thePCBs into thesurroundingwater, but thenature of thechemicalscauses them toattach morestrongly to soilparticles thanenter the watercolumn. PCBsare taken upinto the bodiesof smallaquaticorganisms andfish, especiallythose fish thatare bottom-feeders, andcan accumulatethrough thefood chain. Theyaccumulate inthe body fatand can enterbreast milk. The mostlikely source ofhumanexposure toPCBs isthrough theeating ofcontaminatedfish (ATSDR2000b).

Some studiesof workersindicate thatPCBs areassociated withcertain kinds ofcancer inhumans, suchas cancer of theliver andbiliary tract. Rats that atefoodcontaining highlevels of PCBsfor two yearsdeveloped livercancer. TheDepartment ofHealth andHumanServices(DHHS) hasconcluded thatPCBs mayreasonably beanticipated tobe carcinogens.The EPA andtheInternationalAgency forResearch onCancer (IARC)havedetermined thatPCBs areprobablycarcinogenic tohumans.

Women whowere exposedto relativelyhigh levels ofPCBs in theworkplace orate largeamounts of fishcontaminatedwith PCBs hadbabies thatweighedslightly lessthan babiesfrom womenwho did nothave theseexposures. Babies born towomen whoate PCB-contaminatedfish alsoshowedabnormalresponses intests of infantbehavior.Some of thesebehaviors, suchas problemswith motorskills and adecrease inshort-termmemory, lastedfor severalyears. Otherstudies suggestthat theimmunesystem wasaffected inchildren bornto and nursedby mothersexposed toincreasedlevels of PCBs.

Fish samplesfrom the pondon the JohnsonIron Industriessite haveshown levelsof PCBs thatwould prompta MichiganAdvisory thatchildren lessthan 15 yearsof age,pregnantwomen,nursingmothers, andwomen whoplan to havechildren limittheirconsumption tono more thanone meal permonth. Ifpeople in thesegroupsfrequently atefish from thepond at the sitewith theselevels of PCBs,they couldexperience thehealth effectsdiscussedabove.

ATSDR Child Health Considerations

Children maybe at greaterrisk than adultsfrom certainkinds ofexposure tohazardoussubstances atsites ofenvironmentalcontamination. They engage inactivities suchas playingoutdoors andhand-to-mouthbehaviors thatincrease theirexposure tohazardoussubstances.They areshorter thanadults, whichmeans theybreathe dust,soil, andvapors close tothe ground. Their lowerbody weightand higherintake rateresult in agreater dose ofhazardoussubstance perunit of bodyweight. Thedevelopingbody systemsof the fetus,infants, andchildren cansustainpermanentdamage if toxicexposures arehigh enoughduring criticalgrowth stages. Prenatalexposures andthose thatoccur in thefirst few yearsof life are morelikely to causepermanentdamage.

The physicalhazards presentand the risksassociated withconsuming fishfrom the pondare especiallyimportant. Childrenrequiresupervisionaroundphysicalhazards andeven that maynot be enoughto protectthem. Childrenmay besensitive to theeffects ofPCBs. Studiesof younganimalsprenatallyexposedindicated thatPCBs cancausedevelopmentaleffects. Studies ofhuman infantswhose mothersate fishcontaminatedwith PCBswhile pregnantsuggest thatthesedevelopmentaleffects mayoccur in humanoffspring(ATSDR,2000). Youngchildren arealsoparticularlysensitive to theneurodevelopment effects oflead. While itdoes not seemlikely that asupervisedyoung child islikely to ingestleadcontaminatedsediments fromthe pond, theirpresencemakes it apossibility.


The JohnsonIron Industriessite pondrepresents aPublic HealthHazardbecause of thephysicalhazardspresent. Thetopography ofthe areasurroundingthe pond andthe rapidincrease of thewater's depthpresent seriouspotentialphysicalhazards topeople usingthe pond forrecreation. The pondedges are steepand coveredwith boulders,gravel, loosestones andslag. There aremanyopportunitiesfor injury fromfalling on theuneven terrain. Anyone fallingin the water orslipping whilewading mighthave a difficulttime gettingout of deepwater. Theconfigurationof the pondwould make itdifficult to posta lifeguardwho would beable to see theentireperimeter ofthe pond fromany onelocation.

Consumptionof fish from thepondrepresents anIndeterminateHealth Hazardbecause it isnot know ifanyone isconsuming fishfrom the pond. Consumptionof the fish nowresiding in thepond wouldpresent ahealth hazardto childrenunder 15 andwomen ofchildbearingage, those mostsensitive to thehealth effectsof PCBcontamination. Catch andrelease fishingof these wouldbe permissiblebut may behard to enforcewithconfidence.


  1. Thepondedgesshouldbepostedto warnrecreationusers oftheadjacent parkthat thewater isdeepandfootingpossiblydangerous.

  2. TheCity ofCharlotteshouldconsiderremoving theexistingpopulation offishfromthepondandconsulting withtheMichiganDepartmentsofNaturalResourcesregardingreplacing thefishbasedon theimproved post-removalsedimentquality. Anynewpopulation offishintroduced intothepondshouldbesampled todetermine iftheircontaminantlevelsaresuitableforconsumptionprior topermittingpeopleto takefishfromthepond.

  3. Ifrecreationalboatingisconsideredtheremust beprovisionsmadefor safeentryand exitopportunitiessuch asdocks,rampsor areasmadeshallow.

  4. Youngchildrenshouldbesupervised atall timein ornear thepond. Thephysicalhazardsand thepresence ofleadcontaminatedsedimentswarrantthis.

Newenvironmentaldata orinformationconcerning thefuture use ofthis propertymay requirefuture healthconsultations.

If any citizenhas additionalinformation orhealth concernsregarding thishealthconsultation,please contactthe MichiganDepartment ofCommunityHealth,EnvironmentalandOccupationalEpidemiologyDivision, at 1-800-648-6942.


MichiganDepartment ofCommunityHealth


Linda Dykema,Toxicologist

Robin Freer,GeographicInformationSpecialist

ATSDR Regional Representative

Mark Johnson
Regional Services, Region V
Office of the Assistant Administrator

ATSDR Technical Project Officer

Alan Yarbrough
Division of Health Assessment and Consultation
Superfund Site Assessment Branch


ATSDR(Agency forToxicSubstances andDiseaseRegistry). 1999. ToxicologicalProfile forlead. July 1999

ATSDR(Agency forToxicSubstances andDiseaseRegistry). 1999. ToxicologicalProfile for Polychlorinated Biphenyls. November2000

Tetra Tech EMInc. 2002. Removal SiteEvaluationReport

United StatesEnvironmentalProtectionAgency. 2002. PollutionReport, July12, 2002

United StatesEnvironmentalProtectionAgency. 2002. PollutionReport, July25, 2002

United StatesEnvironmentalProtectionAgency. 2002. PollutionReport,September 13,2002


This JohnsonIron IndustriesHealthConsultationwas preparedby theMichiganDepartment ofCommunityHealth under acooperativeagreement withthe Agency forToxicSubstances andDiseaseRegistry(ATSDR). It isin accordancewith approvedmethodologyand proceduresexisting at thetime the healthconsultationwas begun.

Alan W. Yarbrough
TechnicalProject Officer,SPS, SSAB,DHAC,ATSDR

The Divisionof HealthAssessmentandConsultation,ATSDR, hasreviewed thispublic healthconsultationand concurswith thefindings.

Roberta Erlwein
Chief, StateProgramSection, SSAB,DHAC,ATSDR

Site Location Map
Figure 1. Site Location Map

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