Skip directly to search Skip directly to A to Z list Skip directly to site content

HEALTH CONSULTATION

BAUTSCH-GRAY MINE
(a/k/a BAUTSCH-GREY MINE)
GALENA, JO DAVIESS COUNTY, ILLINOIS


PURPOSE

The Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) has prepared this health consultation under a cooperative agreement with the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR). Its purpose is to evaluate any known or potential public health hazards from exposure to site contaminants and recommend actions to reduce or prevent potential adverse health effects. The conclusions of this health consultation are based on a review of available information provided by the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency (Illinois EPA).


BACKGROUND

The Bautsch-Gray Mine site is in a rural area approximately 4 miles south of Galena, Illinois (Attachment 1). Zinc mining in this area began in the 1850s. Although the Gray family owned parcels in this area at that time, the beginning of mining operations at the Bautsch-Gray Mine site is unknown. Little information is available regarding mining activities at this site, but operations reportedly ceased sometime in the 1970s (1).

The site comprises about 60 acres of mine tailings from two lead and zinc mines on the east side of Blackjack Road. During a June 2002 site visit, IDPH staff observed several large piles of tailings present throughout the site. No vegetation grows on the tailings. An overflow pipe located in the southwest portion of the site carries rain water and tailings toward the west and under Blackjack Road to an off-site drainage area. The drainage area extends about 0.5 miles to Smallpox Creek, which flows about 1.75 miles into the Mississippi River. The drainage area on the west side of Blackjack Road contains tailings and no vegetation for almost the entire 0.5 miles to the creek (Attachment 2). Both the site and the drainage area on the west side of the road are posted with no trespassing signs. An incomplete fence and gate deter, but do not prevent access to the site. All-terrain vehicle tracks on the site suggest that the site is used occasionally for recreational activity (1).

In June 1999, a complaint filed with Illinois Environmental Protection Agency (Illinois EPA) stated that the site was open to the public and that an excavating firm was using the mine tailings for fill material and seal coating. Reportedly, mine tailings have been used in the past for driveways and other uses, but the extent of this is not known. In July 1999, Illinois EPA conducted a preliminary investigation of the site. In October 2000, Illinois EPA collected soil, tailing, and water samples from three homes west of the site. The soil and tailing samples were analyzed for inorganic chemicals. The water samples were analyzed for organic and inorganic chemicals (2).

In September 2001, Illinois EPA began an expanded site inspection of the site. In early November 2001, Illinois EPA collected 26 sediment samples along Smallpox Creek to characterize the extent of inorganic chemical contamination (1).


DISCUSSION

IDPH compared the results of each sample with appropriate screening values (Attachment 3) used to select chemicals for further evaluation for adverse health effects. Lead was the only chemical of interest in the water samples. Lead, arsenic, and zinc are the chemicals of interest in the mine tailings. No chemicals of interest were present in the residential soil samples or the Smallpox Creek sediment samples.

A water sample from the home nearest the site had a lead level of 26 parts per billion (ppb). The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) has established an action level of 15 ppb for lead in drinking water. The Illinois Class I groundwater standard for lead is 7.5 ppb.

Samples of the mine tailings indicated lead levels ranging from 12.8 parts per million (ppm) to 15,700 ppm, arsenic levels from 4.2 ppm to 61.4 ppm, and zinc levels from 79 ppm to 64,800 ppm. Samples from the off-site drainage area contained elevated levels of lead that ranged from 17.9 ppm to 2,550 ppm, arsenic levels that ranged from 2.6 ppm to 60.4 ppm, and zinc levels that ranged from 143 ppm to 8,630 ppm (2).

Exposure Assessment

IDPH estimated exposure to the chemicals based on persons trespassing on the site. For the mine tailings, it was assumed that older children and adults contact the chemicals in the tailings 1 day per week, 9 months per year. On the basis of this scenario, exposure to zinc in mine tailings is not expected to cause adverse health effects. Exposure to arsenic and lead are discussed in the following two sections.

Arsenic

The maximum level of arsenic detected in the mine tailings on and off the site was 61.4 ppm. Based on our exposure scenarios, exposure to this level of arsenic in mine tailings is not expected to cause non-cancer adverse health effects to children nor adults. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has determined that arsenic is a known human carcinogen, but no apparent increased risk of cancer would be expected based on our exposure scenario (3).

Lead

The maximum level of lead detected in the mine tailings was 15,700 ppm. The IDPH Lead Poisoning Prevention Code states that the permissible limit of lead in soil accessible to children is 1,000 ppm (4). Exposure to lead in the tailings may increase lead uptake. Young children are not be expected to play on the site and would not be exposed to these elevated levels of lead.

Older children and adults trespassing on the site could be exposed to elevated levels of lead. Lead exposure in older children and adults can cause central nervous system effects such as decreased reaction time, weakness in fingers, wrists, or ankles and possibly affect the memory. Lead exposure may also cause anemia, a disorder of the blood. Lead exposure in middle-aged men may increase blood pressure.

The lead detected in the water sample may be site related. The water sample was taken from the tap after several minutes of flushing the pipes, which should eliminate any contribution of lead from the plumbing system. The USEPA action level for lead that public water supplies are required to meet 15 ppb. The level found in the private well nearest the site was 26 ppb. Because this level exceeded the USEPA action level, residents were advised they could reduce or eliminate their exposure to lead by using an alternate water source for drinking and cooking. It is not clear that this level of lead in drinking water will cause increased blood lead levels, but prudent public health practice suggests exposure reduction.

Public Notice

In May 2000, Illinois EPA issued a news release warning the public of the risks associated with using the mine tailings from the site. In February 2001, IDPH wrote a letter to the residents of the home with the elevated lead level in their drinking water and recommended they not use the water for drinking or cooking.


CHILD HEALTH CONSIDERATIONS

IDPH and ATSDR recognize that children can be especially sensitive to some contaminants. For that reason, IDPH includes children when evaluating exposures to contaminants. On-site soil and tailings have elevated levels of lead and arsenic; however, young children would not be expected to play on the site.


CONCLUSIONS

IDPH concludes that the Bautsch-Gray Mine site poses no apparent public health hazard. One nearby home has elevated levels of lead in the household water supply. Although the site has some fencing and a gate, people can still access and obtain mine tailings from the site.

Elevated levels of lead and arsenic were found on site, but young children would not be expected to play in these areas. No elevated levels of metals were found in residential soil. Residents who used mine tailing for driveways should cover these materials to reduce exposure to any lead.


PUBLIC HEALTH ACTIONS AND RECOMMENDATIONS

IDPH recommends the following:

  1. Residents with elevated levels of lead in their well water should not use this water for drinking or cooking. In February 2001, IDPH wrote a letter to the residents of the home with the elevated lead level in their drinking water and recommended they not use the water for drinking or cooking purposes.

  2. Residents who used mine tailings for driveways and exposed fill should cover these materials to reduce exposure to lead. In May 2000, Illinois EPA issued a news release warning the public of the risks associated with using the mine tailings from the site.

  3. Public access to the site should be restricted and the property posted to prevent exposure to and the use of mine tailings. Implementation of this recommendation is under consideration by the Illinois EPA.

  4. The drainage pipe on the site should be removed and the site configured so runoff will be contained on the site. Illinois EPA is considering the implementation of this recommendation.

PREPARER OF REPORT

Steve Johnson
Environmental Toxicologist
IDPH Rockford Regional Office


REFERENCES

  1. Illinois Environmental Protection Agency. CERCLA expanded site inspection for Bautsch-Gray Mine. Springfield, IL. 2002.

  2. Illinois Environmental Protection Agency Bureau of Land. Files for Bautsch-Gray Mine. Rockford, IL. 2002.

  3. Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry. Toxicological profile for arsenic. Atlanta: US Department of Health and Human Services; 2000.

  4. Illinois Department of Public Health. Lead poisoning prevention code (amended). 1993 Feb.

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

CERTIFICATION

This Bautsch-Gray Mine health consultation was prepared by the Illinois Department of Public 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 health consultation was begun.

W. Allen Robison
Technical Project Officer
Superfund Site Assessment Branch (SAAB)
Division of Health Assessment and Consultation (DAC)
ATSDR


The Division of Health Assessment and Consultation, ATSDR, has reviewed this health consultation and concurs with its findings.

Richard Gillig
for Roberta Erlwein
Chief, State Programs Section
SSAB, DHAC, ATSDR


ATTACHMENT 1: BAUTSCH-GRAY MINE SITE LOCATION MAP

Bautsch-Gray Mine Site Location Map


ATTACHMENT 2: BAUTSCH-GRAY MINE

Bautsch-Gray Mine


ATTACHMENT 3: COMPARISON VALUES USED IN SCREENING CONTAMINANTS FOR FURTHER EVALUATION

Environmental media evaluation guides (EMEGs) are developed for chemicals on the basis of their toxicity, frequency of occurrence at National Priorities List (NPL) sites, and potential for human exposure. They are derived to protect the most sensitive populations and are not action levels, but rather comparison values. They do not consider carcinogenic effects, chemical interactions, multiple route exposure, or other media-specific routes of exposure, and are very conservative concentration values designed to protect sensitive members of the population.

Reference dose media evaluation guides (RMEGs) are another type of comparison value derived to protect the most sensitive populations. They do not consider carcinogenic effects, chemical interactions, multiple route exposure, or other media-specific routes of exposure, and are very conservative concentration values designed to protect sensitive members of the population.

Cancer risk evaluation guides (CREGs) are estimated contaminant concentrations that are based on a probability of 1 excess cancer in 1 million persons exposed to a chemical over a lifetime. These are also very conservative values designed to protect sensitive members of the population.


Table of Contents

  
 
USA.gov: The U.S. Government's Official Web PortalDepartment of Health and Human Services
Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, 4770 Buford Hwy NE, Atlanta, GA 30341
Contact CDC: 800-232-4636 / TTY: 888-232-6348

A-Z Index

  1. A
  2. B
  3. C
  4. D
  5. E
  6. F
  7. G
  8. H
  9. I
  10. J
  11. K
  12. L
  13. M
  14. N
  15. O
  16. P
  17. Q
  18. R
  19. S
  20. T
  21. U
  22. V
  23. W
  24. X
  25. Y
  26. Z
  27. #