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PUBLIC HEALTH ASSESSMENT
BORDNER MANUFACTURING
FREEPORT, STEPHENSON COUNTY, ILLINOIS
September 22, 2004


Summary

The Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) has reviewed environmental data and community information to prepare this public health assessment for the Bordner Manufacturing site in Freeport, Illinois. On the basis of available information and current site conditions, IDPH concludes that human exposures to chemicals in soil and sediments at and near the Bordner Manufacturing site are not at levels expected to cause adverse health effects.

Cadmium and lead were the chemicals of interest in soil. Antimony, arsenic, cadmium, chromium, and copper were the chemicals of interest in ditch sediment. No chemicals of interest were found in the private well water located upgradient of the site. On-site groundwater samples contained elevated levels of cadmium, lead, and chromium.

IDPH concludes that the Bordner Manufacturing site poses no apparent public health hazard. IDPH recognizes that off-site sampling of soil and private wells has been limited, and properties adjacent to the site have yet to be characterized. Area residents remain concerned about potential exposure to contaminants in residential areas adjacent to the site and potential health effects from such exposure. IDPH will review any new environmental information as it becomes available.

IDPH recommends sampling of soil in the residential areas adjacent to the Bordner Manufacturing site to determine whether former on-site contamination has affected nearby properties. IDPH will continue to work with the Freeport Community Task Force to answer health-related questions and assist with interpretation of any future environmental data that becomes available.

Purpose

The Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) conducted this public health assessment for the Bordner Manufacturing site, Freeport, Illinois, under a cooperative agreement with the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR), a public health agency of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. IDPH conducted this public health assessment at the request of the Stephenson County Health Department (SCHD) and the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency (Illinois EPA). IDPH evaluated potential hazards to human health from exposure to chemicals associated with the Bordner Manufacturing Company. The conclusions are based on a review of information provided by Illinois EPA, SCHD, and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA). IDPH staff also visited the site in September and November 2003 and in January 2004. The actions recommended for the site are intended to reduce or prevent potential adverse health effects and to identify any areas for which additional data are needed to assess potential health effects.

Background

The Bordner Manufacturing site is an abandoned plating facility located at 101 South Lewis Street in Freeport, Illinois. It occupies approximately 4 acres in a mixed-use area (light industrial, residential, and undeveloped) just outside the eastern city limits (Attachment 1). People living in this area of Freeport refer to it as the Taylor Park neighborhood. The facility is bordered on the north by a fenced drainage ditch, on the west by South Louis Street and a residential area, on the south by a wooded area and the Pecatonica River, and on the east by an abandoned railroad bed. A public school and Taylor Park are located within 0.25 miles of the site. The school and residential neighborhoods are connected to the public water supply.

The site formerly contained a small plating facility that operated from 1956 until October 1991. Past operations consisted of machining hinges and locks for commercial refrigerators and plating them with copper, nickel, cadmium, and chromium. The company also plated coffin handles with zinc [1].

In July 1992, the site owner contacted Illinois EPA regarding the proper method of disposing of plating wastes. Before this contact, Illinois EPA was not aware of former activities at the site that involved hazardous materials. An initial Illinois EPA investigation found the facility in poor condition, containing numerous drums, vats, and other containers of hazardous waste materials. In addition, the site owner informed Illinois EPA investigators that all plating wastes were disposed of on the site. Disposal of plating wastes were to the ground surface and into a drain that discharged directly into the ditch north of the facility. Access to the site is unrestricted [1].

Removal Actions by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency

At the request of Illinois EPA, USEPA inspected the site in August 1992 to evaluate the need for removal actions for hazardous materials. Abandoned plating wastes, soil and sediment contamination, and physical hazards prompted USEPA to initiate an immediate removal action. Beginning in February 1993, stored hazardous materials and most of the dilapidated buildings were removed from the site. Areas of surface-soil contamination were removed and backfilled with clean soil. Completion of the site cleanup was delayed until January 1994 because of flooding during the spring and summer of 1993 [2].

After the 1993 flooding, a limited number of soil samples were collected off site, and their testing results did not show elevated levels of cadmium, chromium, lead, or zinc. A limited number of on-site groundwater samples also were collected. A sample from a shallow well on the site contained elevated levels of cadmium and lead. A sample from an excavated pit under a chromium vat contained high levels of chromium [1].

Sediments from the north ditch were not removed after the 1993 floods because of the high water table. In addition, some soil contamination around a portion of the building foundation was not removed. A 6-foot-high chain-link fence restricted the areas that USEPA did not clean [2].

Environmental Sampling by the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency, 1996-2002

Illinois EPA staff revisited the site in May 1996 to collect soil and sediment samples from within the fenced area. Sample results showed elevated levels of cadmium, chromium, lead, and zinc. Maintenance of the fence is part of the closure plan for the site.

During December 2001, Illinois EPA received an inquiry from a concerned citizen regarding off-site contamination. This person was concerned specifically about potential metal contamination of vegetables and fruits grown in area garden plots.

In December 2002, Illinois EPA conducted an expanded site inspection that included on-site air monitoring and on-site soil, sediment, and groundwater sampling. Analysis of the samples detected elevated levels of several site-related metals in subsurface soil, sediments, and shallow groundwater samples [1].

GDR International, Inc., Report, 2003

In July 2003, GDR International, Inc. (GDR) released the results of a private environmental investigation conducted on behalf of a local community group that was concerned about a perceived increased cancer rate among the African-American community [3]. GDR sampled soil from five properties on June 27, 2003. The properties sampled were volunteers determined by the Freeport Weed and Seed Organization [3]. Because the five properties are not adjacent to the Bordner Manufacturing site, they probably were intended to characterize potential exposure to chemicals in soil in the surrounding neighborhood. Of the properties sampled, the nearest was about 2 blocks west of the Bordner site. The GDR report stated:

"The soil samples analytical reports identified for all five locations identifys [sic] elevated objective limits for RCRA metals compounds at 12'-0" depths. No further investigations have been performed beyond this limited scope. It is strictly the opinion of this organization that further investigation should be done based on the findings noted throughout this report [3]."

The primary flaw of the report is that the authors compared inorganic residential-soil-sample results (in milligrams per kilogram) to Illinois EPA Tiered Approach to Corrective Action Objectives (TACO) groundwater values (in milligrams per liter). No groundwater was encountered at any of the soil-boring locations. Unfortunately, the news article that appeared in the July 25, 2003, edition of Freeport's The Journal-Standard cited the incorrect comparisons used by the author of the report.

IDPH analysis of the data determined that the levels of inorganic chemicals in the soil are typical for Illinois and do not exceed the health-based comparison values developed by ATSDR or the soil cleanup objectives used by Illinois EPA (Table 1). ATSDR comparison values are levels of chemicals in environmental media below which no adverse health effects would be expected and above which would require further evaluation..

Another flaw in the GDR report is that the off-site soil samples were collected at a depth of 12 feet on residential property. The report is not clear as to why this was done, but residents would not be expected to be exposed to soil at 12 feet below ground. The contractor did test the soil borings for volatile organic chemicals at various depths using a photo ionization detector. No volatile organic chemicals were detected in any of the samples [3].

Residential Sampling by Illinois Environmental Protection Agency, 2003

On October 8, 2003, IEPA staff collected soil samples at the surface and at a depth of 2.5 feet at the same addresses sampled during the GDR investigation. The purpose of this sampling was to let residents know what they might be exposed to in their soil in light of the flaws in the GDR sampling, not to look for contamination that could be specifically linked to Bordner Manufacturing. Soil in Taylor Park and water from a private well on North Henderson Road also were sampled. The soil samples were analyzed for inorganic chemicals, volatile organic chemicals, semi-volatile organic chemicals, pesticides, and polychlorinated biphenyls. In total, the analytical laboratory tested for 182 chemicals in the soil samples. The water sample was tested for 34 inorganic and organic chemicals.

Results of these samples were provided to IDPH on November 5, 2003 (Table 4), and IDPH mailed letters to area residents interpreting the health implications of the data. On November 10, 2003, IDPH staff accompanied Illinois EPA staff to meet with area residents to discuss the sampling results.

Site Visit

IDPH staff visited the site and the surrounding area on September 15 and November 10, 2003, and January 6, 2004. The site is overgrown with brush and small trees. A fence is present on the northern portion of the site, and no evidence of human activity was observed. Surface drainage from the site flows east to Currier Creek and then into the Pecatonica River.

Discussion

Chemicals of Interest

IDPH compared the results of each of the available soil and groundwater samples with the appropriate ATSDR screening comparison value used to select contaminants for further evaluation for carcinogenic and noncarcinogenic health effects. Chemicals found at levels greater than comparison values and those for which no comparison values exist were selected for further evaluation. Attachment 2 contains a discussion of each comparison value used.

Cadmium and lead were the chemicals of interest in soil. Antimony, arsenic, cadmium, chromium, and copper were the chemicals of interest in ditch sediment. No chemicals of interest were found in the private well water located upgradient of the site. On-site groundwater samples contained elevated levels of cadmium, lead, and chromium.

Tables 2 and 3 show the maximum level of the chemicals of interest detected in various environmental media during the Illinois EPA sampling in 2002. Table 4 shows the chemicals of interest from the October 2003 residential sampling by Illinois EPA.

Exposure Analysis

IDPH evaluates human exposure pathways to determine the potential for development of adverse health effects resulting from exposure to contaminants. Exposure pathways are separated into completed and potential exposure pathways. An exposure pathway consists of five elements: 1) a source of contamination; 2) transport through an environmental medium; 3) a point of exposure; 4) a route of human exposure; and 5) a receptor population.

In completed exposure pathways, all five exposure elements must exist, and exposure has occurred, is occurring, or will occur without some type of intervention. In potential exposure pathways, at least one element is missing, but the missing element could exist. Potential exposure pathways suggest that exposure could have occurred, could be occurring, or could yet occur. An exposure pathway is eliminated if one or more of the elements is missing and will never be present.

Exposure to chemicals in soil, surface water, and hazardous waste materials may have occurred to employees and trespassers on the site. Direct contact with skin, incidental ingestion of dusts, inhalation of dusts, and hand-to-mouth activities are the likely routes of exposure. Past exposure doses cannot be evaluated without knowing the amount and duration of these exposures.

Current and future exposure to chemicals in on-site soil has been greatly reduced because of the 1993 USEPA removal actions and the fence that restricts site access. The chemicals of interest in on-site soil were found only below the surface and would not be contacted by trespassers unless they were digging.

In December 2001, Illinois EPA received an inquiry from a citizen concerned about potential metal contamination of vegetables and fruits grown in area garden plots [1]. Site-related chemicals are not believed to have been transported off the site, but useful soil-sampling data from off-site residential areas are limited.

Results of the October 2003 Illinois EPA sampling found lead at approximately 625 milligrams of chemical per kilogram of soil (mg/kg) in the surface soil of two residential yards. The IDPH Lead Poisoning Prevention Code states that the permissible limit of lead in soil that is contacted by children is 1,000 mg/kg. Elevated levels of arsenic and manganese were found at a depth of 2.5 feet (Table 4). Elevated levels of these chemicals were not found in surface soil, so exposure would be limited and not expected to cause adverse health effects.

Although the area is served by public water, some homes within 0.25 miles of the site still use private wells. These wells should be located upgradient of the site. The wells sampled by Illinois EPA in 2002 and in 2003 were not contaminated with site-related chemicals, and they are upgradient of the site. On-site groundwater is contaminated with metals, but no one currently uses or is exposed to on-site groundwater.

Health Outcome Data

In August 2003, the IDPH Division of Epidemiologic Studies reviewed cancer incidence and mortality in Stephenson County. According to an August 8, 2003, internal memorandum (Attachment 3), IDPH concluded that cancer incidence and mortality rates in Stephenson County are not higher than the state or country rates. This is true for both African Americans and whites. Cancer rates among African Americans in Stephenson County are higher than those among whites, but this is consistent with patterns observed elsewhere. Although this reflects the existence of cancer disparity, the question relevant to local environmental concerns is whether cancer rates in Stephenson County are higher than the state or national average. Analysis of the data suggests that cancer rates among African Americans in Stephenson County are not higher than the state or national average [4].

Community Health Concerns

Taylor Park residents are concerned about several issues, including the following:
  • safety of gardening in residential soil,
  • cancer rates,
  • sarcoidosis, and
  • the number of African-American students from the area classified as having behavioral and learning disorders.
Limited off-site sampling has not found elevated levels of site-related chemicals in residential soil. Surface-soil sampling in residential areas conducted in October 2003 did not find elevated levels of contaminants. On the basis of data from soil sampling tests to date, residential surface soil is considered safe for gardening and other purposes. No soil data are available for residential properties adjacent to the Bordner Manufacturing site.

On the basis of an evaluation of cancer incidence and mortality data, the IDPH Division of Epidemiologic Studies concluded that rates are consistent with patterns observed across the state and country. Sarcoidosis is a disorder lacking any epidemiologic data, and its cause is not known. Many scientists believe that sarcoidosis is a disorder of the immune system or is caused by a viral respiratory infection [5]. No data are available on behavioral or learning disorders among children in the local school district; however, no data are available that would suggest an environmental cause for such disorders.

On September 15, 2003, IDPH staff participated in a public meeting with Illinois EPA staff, local officials, and local community representatives regarding environmental concerns of area residents. Residential concerns go far beyond the Bordner Manufacturing site. The concerns are driven by cancer data that show higher rates for African Americans than for whites in Stephenson County.

In September 2003, the Freeport Community Task Force was created. The task force consists of city officials and community members working together to answer questions about environmental contamination in east Freeport. The Bordner Manufacturing site is one potential source of contamination in this area. On January 6, 2004, IDPH staff attended a meeting of the task force to answer questions about the health interpretation of the data.

A copy of the draft Public Health Assessment for the Bordner Manufacturing Company site was available for public review and comment at Freeport Public Library, 100 E. Douglas Street, Freeport, from June 16, 2004, to July 30, 2004. The comments received can be found in Attachment 4.

Child Health Considerations

IDPH and ATSDR recognize that children are especially sensitive to some environmental contaminants. For that reason, IDPH includes children when evaluating exposures to contaminants. Children are the most sensitive population considered in this health assessment. Given the site conditions, available data, and the site's limited access, children are not currently exposed to site-related chemicals.

Conclusions

On the basis of available information and site conditions, IDPH concludes that human exposures to chemicals in soil at, and near, the Bordner Manufacturing site are not expected to cause adverse health effects. IDPH further concludes that the site currently poses no apparent public health hazard. Limited off-site sampling of soil and private wells has been done, and properties adjacent to the site have yet to be characterized. Area residents remain concerned about potential exposure to contaminants on properties adjacent to the site and about subsequent health effects of such exposure. IDPH will review any new information as it becomes available.

Recommendation

IDPH recommends the following activities for the site:
  • Illinois EPA will ensure that the site fence is maintained and that restricted access will continue for the area of remaining contamination. This is part of the site closure plan.
  • Illinois EPA will sample for metals on properties adjacent to the Bordner Manufacturing site. IDPH has discussed this recommendation with Illinois EPA, and the recommendation is under consideration by the Illinois EPA site assessment unit.

Public Health Action Plan

IDPH staff have reviewed the laboratory results from the 2003 GDR International, Inc. investigation and the 2003 Illinois EPA residential sampling. IDPH has mailed letters to area residents explaining the public health implications of their sampling results. In addition, IDPH staff have presented health information at a public meeting and in one-on-one sessions with area residents. Should more environmental sampling take place, IDPH staff will provide a health-based evaluation of these data for the residents and participating agencies.

Preparers of Report
Steve Johnson
Ken Runkle
Environmental Toxicologists
Illinois Department of Public Health

Reviewer of Report
Jennifer Davis
Environmental Toxicologist
Illinois Department of Public Health

ATSDR Regional Representative
Mark Johnson
Regional Operations
Office of the Assistant Administrator

ATSDR Technical Project Officers
Allen Robison
Division of Health Assessment and Consultation

Sylvia Allen-Lewis
Division of Health Education and Promotion

Steve Inserra
Division of Health Studies


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