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HEALTH CONSULTATION

MASTER METALS INCORPORATED
DETROIT, WAYNE COUNTY, MICHIGAN


DISCUSSION

During the site assessment of the property in August 1996, a contractor for the EPA collected 9samples of soil, debris, dust, and other materials from inside and around the buildings on theproperty. Some of these samples contained antimony, arsenic, and lead at concentrations abovethe Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ) Generic Clean-up Criteria forIndustrial, Commercial, or Residential Use (Table 1) (4, 5). One sample (from near a baghouse inthe southeast corner of the property) contained copper above the MDEQ Generic Clean-upCriteria for Residential Use (5). The very high concentrations of lead (above 100,000 ppm) werefound in and around a baghouse in the southeast part of the property. Concentrations of ironabove 100,000 ppm were found in the former smelter building. The antimony and arsenicconcentrations above the MDEQ Industrial/Commercial Criteria were found in the smelterbuilding and in and around the baghouse. The contractor also collected two samples for asbestosanalysis -- one of insulation from a machine in a trailer on the property and one from a debris pilenear the trailer that appeared to be insulation. The sample from the machine in the trailercontained 50% asbestos (1).


Table 1. Concentrations of metals in soil and ash samples collected on the Master Metals property, August 1996.

In August 1997, the EPA and a contractor used an X-ray fluorescence (XRF) technique tomeasure the concentrations of lead and cadmium in the soil, concrete, and debris on the propertyin situ, verifying the measurements by comparison with the results of laboratory analysis ofsamples collected from some of the same locations. They collected results from 243 locationsthroughout the historic Master Metals property, on both sides of the "new fence". Summarystatistics are listed in Table 2. All of the measurements found lead, while only 45 found cadmium(detection limit 180 ppm). Two hundred thirty-six (97 %) of the measurements found leadconcentrations and 2 found cadmium concentrations in excess of the MDEQ Generic Clean-upCriteria for Industrial, Commercial, or Residential Use(1) (4, 5). An additional 38 measurementscontained cadmium at concentrations above the MDEQ Clean-Up Criteria for Residential Use (5).While only 7 of the measurements, mostly taken in the south part of the property, found morethan 100,000 ppm lead (10%), lead concentrations between 10,000 ppm and 100,000 ppm werefound throughout the property, including the 4740 Nevada Street property. One cluster ofmeasurements where the lead concentration exceeded 100,000 ppm was located in the southwestcorner of the 4740 Nevada Street property. The maximum concentrations of cadmium and leadwere found at the same location, and the lead concentration at the other location where thecadmium concentration exceeded the MDEQ Industrial/Commercial Criteria was 120,000 ppm.That location was in the southwest corner of the 4740 Nevada Street parcel. Lead concentrationsabove 100,000 ppm and cadmium concentrations above 1,000 ppm were only found whereconcrete was analyzed. One soil sample contained 97,000 ppm lead (2).

The area around the Master Metals buildings is mostly fenced, though access to that part of theproperty is possible through broken windows and a door in the office/warehouse building. Thebuilding is filled with debris and chemical containers left from the previous operation and ispartially collapsed, posing physical hazards to anyone trespassing in it. There is evidence oftrespass, such as graffiti, litter, and trash including tires and discarded appliances in the oldsmelter building. In addition, the 4740 Nevada Street parcel is freely accessible from aneighboring active trucking operation and workers from the trucking operation use the area formaterials storage. The neighboring operation is fenced, reducing the likelihood of access bytrespassers. As mentioned above, the EPA XRF investigation of the property in August 1997found lead concentrations in the soil above 10,000 ppm, (mean 28,364 ppm, median 24,000 ppm)throughout the 4740 Nevada Street parcel with concentrations above 100,000 ppm in thesouthwest corner of the parcel (2).

Lead is a cumulative poison, causing damage to the nervous system, kidneys, and blood. Anyonespending a major portion of his or her day on the property is likely to incidentally ingest enoughlead from the soil on the property to exceed the amounts that were observed to cause minor adverse health effects in experimental studies on human volunteer subjects. There is no evidencedirectly linking exposure to lead to cancer in humans, though some laboratory animals whoingested lead in their food or water developed cancer of the kidneys. The EPA as classified lead asa probable human carcinogen (EPA Class B2). It is not possible to evaluate the cancer risk fromexposure to lead based on the available information (6).


Table 2. Statistics on lead and cadmium concentrations in surface soil on the Master Metals property, from X-ray fluorescence measurements, August 1997.

Anyone spending a major portion of his or her day on the property might incidentally ingestenough cadmium from the soil to exceed the ATSDR Minimum Risk Level (MRL) or EPAReference Dose (RfD). However, no adult is likely to incidentally ingest as much cadmium fromthe soil as has been observed to cause adverse health effects. Studies of humans exposed tocadmium by either inhalation or ingestion have not found a relationship to cancer. Somelaboratory animals who inhaled cadmium dust developed lung cancer, and some laboratoryanimals whose food contained cadmium chloride developed prostate cancer. The EPA hasclassified cadmium by inhalation as a probable human carcinogen (EPA Class B1). It is notpossible to evaluate the risk of developing cancer from exposure to cadmium based on the available information (9).


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