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

PUBLIC HEALTH ASSESSMENT

LANSON CHEMICAL COMPANY
EAST ST. LOUIS, ST. CLAIR COUNTY, ILLINOIS


CONCLUSIONS

Past operations at Lanson Chemical resulted in exposure to a variety of organic solvents. These chemicals regularly escaped into the air, accounting, at least in part, for the odors and odor complaints associated with this facility over the years. Additional exposure resulted from the reported practice of inappropriate disposal of waste chemicals into the combined sewers serving this neighborhood. Disposing of chemicals in sumps or on the ground could also result in similar problems if contaminated groundwater or free chemical product followed sewer or water lines and penetrated into buildings through cracks and sewer traps. The complaints voiced and reported symptoms are consistent with intermittent exposure to elevated levels of organic solvents.

The abandonment of the facility in the 1980s was a potential public health hazard since several corroding tanks and drums filled with a variety of products were left behind untended. This situation presented a fire hazard and physical and chemical hazards to the neighboring residents as illustrated by the release of tank contents following the vandalism incident in 1992. Fortunately, no major exposure to off-site populations occurred because of the incident. The removal action by USEPA and IEPA has effectively eliminated the risk to public health and the environment from the stored products. Review of the environmental data indicates that most of the contamination was confined to the site and was removed in the site cleanup, along with the tank and drum contents and the contaminated building components. The extent and direction of the contaminated groundwater plume, however, remain unknown.

Off-site soil sampling generally did not reveal the presence of site-related contaminants. PCBs were only detected in one off-site location (a shallow drainage ditch northeast of the site), but not at levels thought to pose a health risk. Given the environmental persistence and low volatility of PCBs, the lack of residential soil contamination argues against there having been any significant exposure to these contaminants from air or soil. Additionally, because of their persistence, the PCBs can be used as a surrogate for less persistent contaminants that may have escaped from the site in surface runoff. Again, the lack of widespread contamination by PCBs argues against the residential properties to the north and east having been markedly contaminated from surface runoff of on-site soil. Based on surface topography and past reports, surface runoff would have most likely flowed to the north-northeast along the drainage ditch and south-southwest into the uninhabited wetland area.

Health concerns among the residents have focused on the reported high rate of cancer (and other chronic diseases) and exposure to PCBs originating from the Lanson Chemical site. Review of cancer incidence data from the past few years for the zip code containing Lanson Chemical does not confirm an elevated rate of cancer. The cancers that the residents reported are generally not considered to have an environmental origin or, if they do, are not associated with the chemicals found at this site. Further, it does not appear likely that the residents have been exposed to significant levels of PCBs from this site for the reasons previously discussed. PCBs found at this site (Aroclor 1016, 1242, 1248 and 1254) are not the type linked to cancer in animals (Aroclor 1260). Likewise, PCBs cannot account for the reported liver and kidney disease. First, it is unclear if there is an unusual occurrence of these diseases in this population. Second, significant exposure is lacking. Third, even in highly exposed worker populations, PCBs are not associated with permanent or serious liver or kidney injury.

The solvent exposure that occurred during past plant operations undoubtedly contributed to irritant symptoms reported by residents, including headache, nausea, and eye, nose, and throat irritation, among others. Generally, these symptoms are of short duration and fade once exposure ends or the individual is removed to fresh air. Solvents may affect the liver and kidneys if the frequency and duration of exposure are high. However, in all but the highest chronic occupational exposures, most liver and kidney effects have been found to be reversible once exposure ends. Certain of the solvents found at the site (either in the tanks or drums, groundwater, or soil) are considered as known or probable human carcinogens (i.e., benzene, trichloroethylene, tetrachloroethylene, and 1,2-dichloroethane). It seems unlikely, however, given the intermittent and uncertain nature of the exposures, that the doses received were sufficient in magnitude to appreciably increase the risk of cancer in those exposed. This supposition cannot be verified because these chemicals do not persist in the body or environment, and no measures of exposure exist; however, since cancer incidence in this area is not elevated and the cancers reported (both by the citizens and by ISCR) are not associated with these chemicals either in humans or animals, this conclusion seems justified.

In summary, the Lanson Chemical site poses no apparent public health hazard. Actions by USEPA and IEPA in removing bulk liquids and contaminated soil equipment and structures from the Lanson Chemical site have eliminated this site as a potential public health hazard. The groundwater remains contaminated and should be evaluated further, any remaining soil contamination should be removed or covered, the remaining structures should be demolished to eliminate the physical hazard, and the site fenced, but the most pressing problems have been resolved. While past operations exposed residents to a variety of organic solvents and probably resulted in short-term symptoms consistent with that type of exposure, the stated health concerns of residents have not been borne out by review of available health outcome records and are inconsistent with the toxicological data and the most likely exposure scenarios.


RECOMMENDATIONS

  1. Complete removal or covering of any remaining surface soil contamination or other wastes on the site as indicated by the results of the l992 surface soil tests. USEPA or IEPA should address this recommendation.
  2. Demolish and remove the remaining structures to eliminate obvious physical hazards. The site should be graded and revegetated. The fence should be extended and repaired to keep trespassers off the site.
  3. Resample the on-site monitoring wells to provide information on the groundwater contamination. Consideration should be given to installing off-site monitoring wells in and around the Lanson Chemical site if indications exist that a plume is off the site.
  4. Establish the extent of the groundwater contamination plume in terms of direction, speed, and level of contamination. If the plume has moved off the site toward residential areas, the presence of downgradient private wells needs to be determined. If such wells exist, they should be sampled. If the groundwater plume occurs beneath area homes or buildings, the impact of VOCs on indoor air should be considered.

PREPARERS AND REVIEWERS OF REPORT

Preparers of Report

Valeri DeCastris
Thomas F. Long
Environmental Toxicologists
Illinois Department of Public Health

Reviewers of Report

Ken Runkle
David Webb
Environmental Toxicologists
Illinois Department of Public Health

ATSDR REGIONAL REPRESENTATIVE

Louise Fabinski
Regional Operations
Office of the Assistant Administrator

ATSDR TECHNICAL PROJECT OFFICERS

Gail Godfrey
Division of Health Assessment and Consultation

Steve Inserra
Division of Health Studies

Grant Baldwin
Division of Health Education and Promotion


CERTIFICATION

This Lanson Chemical Co. Public Health Assessment 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 public health assessment was begun.

Gail D. Godfrey
Technical Project Officer
Division of Health Assessment and Consultation
ATSDR

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

Richard E. Gillig
Chief, State Programs Section
Division of Health Assessment and Consultation
ATSDR


REFERENCES

Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry. 1994a. Toxicological Profile for Naphthalene, Atlanta, GA.

Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry. 1994b. Toxicological Profile for Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons, Atlanta, GA.

Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry. 1994c. Toxicological Profile for 1,1,1-Trichloroethane (update), Atlanta, GA.

Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry. 1994d. Toxicological Profile for Xylenes (update), Atlanta, Ga.

Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry. 1993a. Toxicological Profile for Toluene, Atlanta, GA.

Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry. 1993b. Toxicological Profile for 1,2-Dichloroethane, Atlanta, GA.

Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry. 1993c. Toxicological Profile for 1,1-Dichloroethene, Atlanta, GA.

Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry. 1992a. Public Health Guidance Manual, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Public Health Service, Atlanta, GA.

Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry. 1992b. Toxicological Profile for Selected PCBs (update) (Aroclor, 1260, 1254, 1348, 1242, 1232, 1221, and 1016), Atlanta, GA.

Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry. 1992c. Toxicological Profile for Benzene (update), Atlanta, GA.

Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry. 1992d. Toxicological Profile for Lead (update), Atlanta, GA.

Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry. 1992e. Toxicological Profile for Tetrachloroethylene (update), Atlanta, GA.

Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry. 1992f. Toxicological Profile for Trichloroethylene, Atlanta, GA.

Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry. 1992g. Toxicological Profile for Cadmium (update), Atlanta, GA.

Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry. 1992h. Toxicological Profile for Methylene Chloride, Atlanta, GA.

Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry. 1990a. Toxicological Profile for Ethylbenzene, Atlanta, GA.

Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry. 1990b. Toxicological Profile for 1-Butanone, Atlanta, GA.

Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry. 1990c. Toxicological Profile for Creosols, Atlanta, GA.

Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry. 1990d. Toxicological Profile for 1,1-Dichloroethane, Atlanta, GA.

Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry. 1990e. Toxicological Profile for 1,1-Dichloroethene, Atlanta, GA.

Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry. 1990f. Toxicological Profile for Di(2-ethylhexyl)phthalate (update), Atlanta, GA.

Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry. 1990g. Toxicological Profile for cis, Trans 1,2-Dichloroethene, Atlanta, GA.

Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry. 1989. Toxicological Profile for 1,1,2-Trichloroethane, Atlanta, GA.

Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry. 1988a. Toxicological Profile for Benzo(a)pyrene, Atlanta, GA.

Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry. 1988b. Toxicological Profile for 2,3,7,8-Tetrachlorodibenzo-p-dioxin, Atlanta, GA.

CDM. 1991. Remedial Investigation/Feasibility Study for Lanson Chemical, Camp, Dresser and McKee, Inc., Chicago, IL.

CDM. 1990. Remedial Investigation Investigation Status Report for Lanson Chemical, Camp, Dresser and McKee, Inc., Chicago, IL.

CDM. 1990. Plan for Containment Assessment at the Lanson Chemical Site, Camp, Dresser and McKee, Inc., Chicago, IL.

E & E. 1992. Site Assessment Report for Lanson Chemical. Ecology and Environment, Inc. Chicago, IL.

Ellenhorn, M.J. and D.G. Barceloux, 1988. Medical Toxicology. Williams and Wilkins, Baltimore, MD.

IDPH. 1994. Cancer Incidence in Zip Code 62207 of East St. Louis, Illinois (1986-1990). Illinois Department of Public Health, Division of Epidemiologic Studies, Springfield, IL.

IDPH. 1994. Lanson Chemical Files. Illinois Department of Public Health, Division of Environmental Health, Springfield, IL.

IDPH. 1994. Vital Statistics for Illinois 1968-1990. Illinois Department of Public Health, Division of Vital Statistics, Springfield, IL.

IEPA. 1992a. Lanson Chemical File. Illinois Environmental Protection Agency, Division of Land Pollution, Springfield, IL.

IEPA. 1992b. Lanson Chemical File. Illinois Environmental Protection Agency, Division of Land Pollution, Springfield, IL.

IEPA. 1985a. Hazard Ranking System Worksheet for Lanson Chemical. Illinois Environmental Protection Agency, Springfield, IL.

IEPA. 1985b. Site Inspection Report for Lanson Chemical. Illinois Environmental Protection Agency, Springfield, IL.

IEHR. 1992. Reassessment of Liver Findings in Five PCB Studies in Rats. Institute for Evaluating Health Risks, Pathology Working Group Review, Washington, D.C.

Michaud, J.D., S.L. Huntley, R.A. Sherer, M.N. Gray, and D.J. Paustenbach, 1994. PCB and Dioxin Re-entry Criteria for Building Surfaces and Air. J.Ex.p. Anal. Environ. Epid. 4(2): 197-228.

Shacklette, H.J. and J.G. Boerngen, 1984. Element Concentrations in Soils and Other Surficial Materials of the Conterminous U.S. USGS Professional Paper 1270, U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington, D.C.

Sullivan, J.D. and G.R. Krieger (eds). 1992. Hazardous Materials Toxicology. Williams and Wilkins, Baltimore, MD.

USEPA. 1994a. Health Assessment for 2,3,7,8-Tetrachlorodibenzo-p-dioxin and Related Compounds. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Washington, D.C.

USEPA. 1994b. Estimating Exposure to Dixoin-like Compounds. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Washington, D.C.

USEPA. 1994c. Health Effects Assessment Summary Tables (HEAST). U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Washington, D.C.

USEPA. 1994d. Integrated Risk Information System, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Washington, D.C.

USEPA. 1994e. Toxic Release Inventory, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Washington, D.C.

USEPA. 1992. Pollution Reports on Lanson Chemical. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Emergency and Enforcement Response Branch, Chicago, IL.

USEPA. 1989. Interim Procedures for Estimating Risks Associated with Exposures to Mixtures of Chlorinated Dibenzo-p-dioxins and Dibenzofurans (CDDs, and CDFs) and 1989 Update. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Risk Assessment Forum, Washington, D.C.

USEPA. 1989. Exposure Factors Handbook. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Exposure Assessment Groups, Washington, D.C.


Next Section          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. #