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PUBLIC HEALTH ASSESSMENT

OUTBOARD MARINE CORPORATION
WAUKEGAN, LAKE COUNTY, ILLINOIS


CONCLUSIONS

On the basis of the information reviewed, the IDPH has concluded that this site is a public healthhazard because humans have probably been exposed to PCBs at concentrations which couldresult in adverse health effects. The chemicals of concern, contaminated media, exposurepathways, and possible receptors for each area of the site are summarized in Table 12. Theprimary concern is that anglers and their families have probably been exposed and mightcontinue to be exposed to PCBs via the consumption of contaminated fish. PCBs can cause livercancer in rats, and the EPA considers them probable human carcinogens. Smaller size at birthand neurological effects could occur in the infants of women who eat large quantities ofPCB-contaminated fish. However, the effects observed in various studies were not alwaysconsistent. Furthermore, it is uncertain whether PCBs caused the reported effects. Immunological depression and more serious reproductive effects have been observed in animalsafter the animals consumed food with PCB levels similar to those of some fish from WaukeganHarbor and Lake Michigan. In some studies, however, other chemicals might have confoundedthe results. The greatest human risk would be for people who regularly eat (or ate) fish from theharbor itself. The risk from eating fish obtained further from the harbor should be lower thanthe risk from eating fish from waters closer to the harbor. Whether the somewhat elevated, non-site-related levels of cadmium in the harbor sediments have contaminated fish is unknown. It isalso not known whether fish have been contaminated with polychlorinated dibenzofurans, whichgenerally contaminate commercial PCB mixtures.

At this time, the exposure of people to PCBs via inhalation or the ingestion of surface water isprobably negligible. However, remediation might have increased volatilization. A remediationplan is underway to clean the site permanently. The plan involves draining the highlycontaminated Slip 3 and placing dredged sediments into containment cells. The sediments arede-watered, and the effluent water is treated on site. Harbor sediments with more than 500 ppmof PCBs and soil with more than 10,000 ppm of PCBs are treated using a high-temperatureextraction process to remove at least 97% of the PCBs before disposal. The PCBs extracted inthis process are sent to an approved off-site disposal facility. Extraction wells maintain aninward hydraulic gradient to help prevent the escape of PCBs from the containment cells. Community concerns have been expressed regarding possible dioxin formation during theextraction process. Additional health concerns involve fear of eating PCB-contaminated fishfrom Lake Michigan and possible contamination of the Waukegan municipal water supply.

At this time, public exposure to PAHs from the site is probably negligible. Remediation mightcause increased exposure to on-site workers and possibly also to off-site workers and the publicvia dermal contact, inhalation, and/or ingestion. Public exposure is most likely at WaukeganHarbor or off site. This possible exposure is of concern because many PAHs are suspectedhuman carcinogens and might also have reproductive effects.

Remedial workers at the New Slip are the people most likely to inhale or contact phenols. Atthis time, the likelihood of exposure for other people is unknown but is probably negligible. During remediation, liberated phenols could cause respiratory irritation, and contact withcontaminated soil or groundwater could possibly cause skin irritation.

On- and off-site, groundwater is not used for any purpose; consequently, remedial workers arethe only people likely to be exposed to it. Dermal contact is the most likely route of exposure togroundwater.


RECOMMENDATIONS

  1. Continue monitoring PCBs in filets from fish caught in and around Waukegan Harbor. Use monitoring data to determine the levels of contamination at different distances from the harbor. Define the spacial distribution of fish contamination around Waukegan Harbor.
  2. Signs warning people of the potential health hazards of eating fish from Waukegan Harbor should be placed along the northern side of the harbor, which has not been posted. Warning signs at the northern and southern sides of the harbor should be removed only if fish monitoring shows that contaminants have reached acceptable levels for consumption.
  3. Evaluate cadmium levels in filets of fish from Waukegan Harbor. (Possible cadmium contamination of those fish is not related to the site. Because the contamination is not site related, the EPA Superfund program will not be involved with this recommendation.)
  4. Determine concentrations of polychlorinated dibenzofuran concentrations in filets from fish caught on and off the site; groundwater (on-site only, since groundwater which leaves the site enters Lake Michigan); sediments; soils; and surface water.
  5. Examine the air quality at Slip 3, the North Ditch, the New Slip, and the grassy portion of the Parking Lot Area before, during, and after remediation.
  6. Take care to minimize the suspension of contaminated sediments during remediation of Waukegan Harbor.
  7. Do not dredge when salmon, trout, and alewife move inshore to breed or feed.
  8. Examine the release of PCBs and other contaminants from agitated Waukegan Harbor sediments before dredging.
  9. Take care to minimize volatilization of chemicals and the production of contaminated airborne dust during remediation. Monitor the air during cleanup.
  10. Educate people eating fish from Lake Michigan to follow the fish advisories of the Stateof Illinois for the maximum amounts, species, and sizes of fish they eat as well as themethod of preparation.

    a. Encourage preparation of new guidelines for people who eat average and large amounts of Lake Michigan fish.

  11. Take the following steps to ensure effective permanent containment in the disposal cellsfor as long as the wastes remain hazardous:

    a. Maintain an inward hydraulic gradient.

    b. Maintain the cap regularly to ensure its integrity.

    c. Use institutional controls to ensure that no one constructs buildings on the disposalcells.

  12. Before using the high temperature process to remove PCBs from the most contaminatedsediments and soils, verify that it will not produce dioxins at levels of concern.

Health Activities Recommendation Panel Statement

In accordance with the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and LiabilityAct (CERCLA) of 1980, as amended, the OMC/Waukegan Harbor site has been evaluated forappropriate follow-up with respect to health activities. Anglers and their families have beenexposed to PCBs via the consumption of contaminated fish. Action should be taken to reducepublic exposure to PCBs, including replacement of the signs at Waukegan Harbor warningpeople about the hazards of consuming its fish. The Great Lakes Initiative is conducting anongoing epidemiologic study of Lake Michigan fish eaters. If additional site information (e.g.,the completed Remedial Investigation for the New Slip), suggests that exposure to otherhazardous substances (e.g., PAHs) has occurred at levels that could cause adverse health effects,IDPH, in conjunction with ATSDR, will reevaluate this site for any indicated followup.

Health professionals in the Waukegan Harbor area should be educated about the health effects ofthe site contaminants.

Further environmental characterization and sampling of the New Slip during the RI/FS and fishmonitoring studies should be designed to address the environmental and human exposurepathways discussed above. Additional information and data that become available (e.g., thecompleted New Slip RI/FS) will form the basis for further assessment by IDPH or ATSDR.

Public Health Actions

Based on the recommendations made in the health assessment, the following public healthactions have been or will be undertaken:

  1. As part of the ATSDR Physician Education Cooperative Agreement, IDPH will inform area health professsionals of the public health implications associated with this site and others in the area.
  2. The ATSDR Great Lakes Human Health Effects Research Program is performing an epidemiological study of Lake Michigan fish eaters.
  3. The Illinois Department of Agriculture, Illinois Department of Conservation, Illinois Department of Public Health, and Illinois Environmental Protection Agency, by cooperative agreement, will continue to monitor the levels of PCBs and other contaminants in Lake Michigan fish.
  4. The State of Illinois is developing new fish eating guidelines that take different levels of consumption into account.
  5. IDPH and ATSDR will coordinate with federal and state environmental agencies to carryout the recommendations made in this assessments.

    IDPH/ATSDR will reevaluate and expand the Public Health Action Plan when needed. New environmental, toxicological, or health outcome data, or the results of implementingthe above proposed actions and recommendations may determine the need for additionalactions at this site.


CERTIFICATION

The Outboard Marine Corporation Public Health Assessment was prepared by the IllinoisDepartment of Public Health under a cooperative agreement with the Agency for ToxicSubstances and Disease Registry (ATSDR). It is in accordance with approved methodology andprocedures existing at the time the public health assessment was begun.

William Greim
Technical Project Officer
Division of Health Assessment and Consultation (DHAC)
ATSDR

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

Robert C. Williams, P.E., DEE
Director, DHAC, ATSDR


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REPARERS AND REVIEWERS OF REPORT
Preparer: Thomas A. Baughman, ABD
Environmental Toxicologist
IDPH - West Chicago Regional Office
Reviewers: Ken McCann
Environmental Toxicologist

Bruce C.Barrow
Environmental Toxicologist
ATSDR Regional Representative:
Louise Fabinski
Regional Operations, Region V
Office of the Assistant Administrator
ATSDR Technical Project Officer:
William Greim
Environmental Health Scientist
Division of Health Assessment and Consultation


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