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PETITIONED PUBLIC HEALTH ASSESSMENT

LAFARGE CORPORATION - ALPENA PLANT
ALPENA, ALPENA COUNTY, MICHIGAN


CONCLUSIONS

Previous sampling has found concentrations of lead in the soil and of benzene and carbon tetrachloride in the air in Alpena that are somewhat elevated but not to the levels at which adverse health effects have been observed. In general the levels of these chemicals in the city were similar to those typically found in urban areas. The benzene and carbon tetrachloride may have multiple industrial sources. The lead contamination in soil may have several sources, including lead paint, cement kiln dust, or residuals from historic use of leaded gasoline. As a precaution, the state and district health departments have screening programs in place to find children who might be at risk of health problems from exposure to lead in order to initiate appropriate treatment to prevent the problems.

Fish from Thunder Bay and northern Lake Huron contain various contaminants at concentrations that require the MDCH to issue advisories to limit consumption of the fish. The sources for this contamination have not been identified, and may not be related to the Lafarge Corporation Alpena Plant.

Preliminary evaluation of available cancer incidence data does not indicate that the population in the area has a high incidence of cancer. MDCH has not been able to identify environmental causes for many of the health complaints received in the process of the health assessment. Citizens of Alpena have expressed concerns about hydrogen chloride in the ambient air. HCl data is being collected and a health opinion will be produced in the form of a subsequent consultation. As of this writing there is one sampling meter collecting HCl data. A second HCl meter and a 2.5-micron particulate sampling device are soon to be operational.

Based upon evaluations conducted to date, the site is categorized as one of no apparent health hazard. MDCH will continue to monitor health outcome data for the area and be available for consultation as additional data and information becomes available.


RECOMMENDATIONS

MDCH continues to support activities for collecting additional environmental data in the Alpena area, including air sampling to measure hydrogen chloride concentrations, sampling of fish from Thunder Bay, and sampling of groundwater near the Wessel Road Quarry, a.k.a. "Pike's Peak."

People fishing in Thunder Bay, the Thunder Bay River, or other Michigan waters and taking the fish for food should follow the MDCH fish consumption advisories.

Workers carrying out any remedial action on the lakeshore CKD pile should follow appropriate precautions to minimize their own and the public's exposure to the CKD.


PUBLIC HEALTH ACTIONS

Public Health Actions Completed or In Progress

The MDCH has established an information repository at the Alpena Public Library. This repository contains information relating to this assessment and reference information on health concerns.

The Lafarge Corporation has purchased equipment for air sampling and donated it to the District Health Department, who has temporarily installed it at their Alpena offices. The MDEQ is operating and maintaining the equipment and collecting data. The ATSDR Exposure Investigation Branch, through MDCH contacts, consulted and advised on the installation and operation.

MDCH Environmental Epidemiology Division staff has met with staff of MDCH Division for Vital Records and Health Statistics and requested an updated health statistics database specifically targeted to the concerns expressed by Alpena residents.

MDCH and the district health department serving Alpena have programs in place to monitor blood lead concentrations in children.

The appropriate branches of the MDEQ, Ontario Ministry of Energy and the Environment, U.S. EPA, and other arms of the state, provincial, and federal governments are addressing the question of the contamination in the fish in Lake Huron, Thunder Bay, the Thunder Bay River, and other waterbodies in their respective jurisdictions.

Public Health Actions Planned

MDCH Environmental Epidemiology Division will review Alpena health statistics annually. Any increased incidence of any reviewed health outcome, including Standardized Incidence Ratios for colon, rectal, and colorectal cancer, will be further investigated.

MDCH will continue to evaluate health complaints received from the Alpena community.

The MDCH will request of both the MDEQ and MDNR that additional fish be collected from Thunder Bay to monitor the levels of contaminants.

The MDCH Environmental Epidemiology Division will provide support for the childhood blood lead-level screening programs conducted by the district health department serving Alpena and the Lead Abatement Section of the MDCH.


PREPARERS OF REPORT

Michigan Department of Community Health

John Filpus, Environmental Engineer

David Wade, Toxicologist

Michael Haars, Community Involvement/Health Education Specialist

Robin Freer, GIS Specialist

Robert Wahl, Epidemiologist

Brendan Boyle, Principal Investigator

ATSDR Regional Representative

Louise Fabinski
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
State Programs Section


CERTIFICATION

This Lafarge Corporation - Alpena Plant Public Health Assessment was prepared by the Michigan Department of Community Health under a 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 public health assessment was begun.

Alan W. Yarbrough
Technical Project Officer, SPS, SSAB, DHAC, ATSDR

The Division of Health Assessment and Consultation, ATSDR, has reviewed this public health assessment and concurs with the findings.

Richard Gillig
Chief, State Program Section, SSAB, DHAC, ATSDR


REFERENCES

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  71. Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry. Toxicological Profile for Cadmium, Update, Draft for Public Comment. September 1997.

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1 Or "north" side, by local usage. The left, or northeast, bank of the Thunder Bay River is locally referred to as the "North Side." The streets of Alpena were originally laid out on a rectilinear grid but at an angle of 45° from due north-south and east-west, to conform to the general lay of the shores of Thunder Bay and the Thunder Bay River near the River's mouth (see the Figures) Since the river flows generally from the west to the east, streets running generally parallel to it, southeast-northwest within the city core, are designated east-west. Streets running northeast-southwest, roughly perpendicular to the River and paralell to the Bay shore, are designated north-south. The dividing lines for the street numbering are Second Avenue, which crosses the river closest to the mouth, and Chisholm Street, U.S. 23 north of the city center (Figure 2). Michigan state highway M-32 and the north-south/east-west grids of the streets near Long Lake Road on the North Side and in the southwest part of the city (Figures 1 and 2) were later additions.

2 As of October 1, 1995, the environmental protection and regulation functions of the Michigan Department of Natural Resources (MDNR) were transferred to the newly-formed Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ).

3 Alpena Township, as a political entity, includes the on-shore portions of 6 townships as designated for survey purposes: Michigan Townships T30N, R8E; T30N, R9E; T31N, R8E (except for those areas incorporated within the City of Alpena); T31N, R9E; T32N, R8E; and T32N, R9E. The Lafarge plant is located in T31N, R8E, Section 24. The Township population is primarily located in T31N, R8E, and T32N, R8E.

4 "The Census Bureau defines ‘urban' for the 1990 census as comprising all territory, population, and housing units in urbanized areas and in places of 2,500 or more persons outside urbanized areas." (Help Screen, CensusCD software, Reference 7.) "Urbanized areas" by the Census Bureau definition have a population density over 1,000 per square mile and a total population over 50,000.

5 ATSDR Minimal Risk Levels (MRLs), U.S. EPA Reference Doses (RfDs), and U.S. EPA Reference Concentration (RfCs) are levels of exposure below which toxicologists generally agree that non-cancer adverse health effects are not likely to occur.

6 Pica behavior is an abnormal consumption of non-food materials, such as soil, most often seen in children between 2 and 5 years of age.

7 Unlike many other adverse health effects, it is generally assumed that there is no threshold level for cancer. That is, if you are exposed to a carcinogen, no matter how little of the compound or for how short a time, it is assumed that your likelihood of contracting cancer in the future has increased by some finite amount. It is also assumed that this likelihood is proportional to the amount of exposure, related by a constant termed a "slope factor." This analysis of the potential increased cancer risk related to exposure to a chemical in the environment uses slope factors published by the U.S. EPA. These slope factors are derived from the epidemiological and laboratory data with consideration of differences between species and variation within species. The actual increase in rate of cancer occurrence after an exposure is not likely to exceed that calculated from the slope factor and the amount of exposure, and may be much less than the calculated value, even zero. ATSDR's Cancer Risk Evaluation Guides (CREGs) are concentrations at which, if a million people were exposed to the chemical in that medium and at that concentration for their lifetimes, one (1) additional case of cancer would be predicted to occur compared to a similar population not exposed to the chemical. As a comparison, between 1 out of 4 and 1 out of 3 Americans contract cancer in their lifetime.

8 The MDEQ Industrial and Commercial Clean-Up Criteria for lead were developed using the U.S. EPA Integrated Uptake Biokinetic Model for children, and are equal to the Residential Criteria, 400 ppm. No widely-accepted risk assessment methods are currently available to evaluate lead toxicity in adults.

9 The 1991 MDNR Michigan Background Soil Survey reported maximum arsenic concentrations of 11 ppm in topsoil samples and 39 ppm in clay samples (15). The MDEQ Generic Clean-up Criteria for Residential Use for arsenic in soil is 6.6 ppm. They also list a Default Background Level of 5.8 ppm (13). Soil containing arsenic concentrations between the Residential Criteria and the above background concentrations is not generally considered to pose a significant health hazard. Although a person might ingest more arsenic from the soil than is generally considered safe, he or she would not be likely to ingest as much as has been observed to cause adverse health effects.

10 On April 1, 1996, the Michigan Department of Public Health (MDPH) Division of Water Supply was transferred to the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ) Division of Drinking Water and Radiological Protection.

11 The standard fish analyses used by the MDNR Fish Contaminant Monitoring Program since 1989 includes the following chemicals: aldrin, gamma-BHC (Lindane), alpha-chlordane, gamma-chlordane, cis-nonachlor, trans-nonachlor, oxy-chlordane, 4,4'-DDD, 4,4'-DDE, 4,4'-DDT, dieldrin, heptachlor, heptachlor epoxide, heptachlorostyrene, hexachlorobenzene, hexachlorostyrene, mercury, Mirex, octachlorostyrene, pentachlorostyrene, polybrominated biphenyls (PBBs), PCBs, terphenyl, and toxaphene. Chemicals not listed in Tables 20, 21 were not detected in any sample.

12 The U.S. EPA has proposed new standards for airborne particulate matter less than 2.5 microns in diameter (PM-2.5). The concentrations of particulate matter less than 10 microns (PM-10) measured in Alpena exceeded the proposed daily average standards on a few occasions and consistently exceeded the proposed annual average (Table 13) (23, 24, 50). This does not necessarily mean that the air in Alpena exceeded the new standards. The PM-10 measurement provides an upper bound to the PM-2.5 value; however, it is not possible based on available information to calculate one from the other. The fine particles might pose a health hazard, although more information is needed to evaluate the hazard. The MDEQ is planning to install a meter in Alpena to monitor these fine particle concentrations.

13 Since 1980, the MDNR has collected fish from 226 of the more than 10,000 inland lakes, impoundments, and reservoirs in the state for their Fish Contaminant Monitoring Program. At least one fish from 155 of these water bodies, 69% of the total, contained a mercury concentration above the MDCH's First Level of Concern. These lakes are distributed throughout the state, regardless of location, human access, or industrial activity. There are believed to be various sources for the mercury, including human activity and natural sources. In 1989, the MDPH issued a general fish consumption advisory for certain predator species of fish taken from any inland lake, impoundment, or reservoir within the state, including Lake Besser. This advisory is summarized in Table 2.

14 Note 7, page 9

15 Pica behavior is an abnormal urge to consume non-food substances, such as soil, that most commonly occurs between ages 2 and 5.

16 The cancer risk from exposure to various carcinogenic polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), including benzo(a)anthracene, benzo(a)pyrene, benzo(b)fluoranthene, benzo(k)fluoranthene, chrysene, dibenzo(a,h)anthracene, and indeno(1,2,3-c,d)pyrene, was estimated using relative risk factors from Reference 66 and the slope factor for benzo(a)pyrene (47).

17 A child subject to pica behavior (note 6, page 9) might ingest more arsenic from the soil in the city each day, body weight for body weight, than did people who experienced various cardiovascular, neurological, and skin disorders, including cancers of the skin and other organs, after many years of drinking water containing high concentrations of arsenic. Since pica behavior typically lasts for a few years at most, such a child would probably not ingest as much arsenic in total to incur these adverse health effects (28).

18 40 CFR 125.62 (b)


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