PUBLIC HEALTH ASSESSMENT
SANGAMO ELECTRIC DUMP/CRAB ORCHARD NATIONAL WILDLIFE REFUGE
(a/k/a CRAB ORCHARD NATIONAL WILDLIFE REFUGE)
CARTERVILLE, WILLIAMSON COUNTY, ILLINOIS
The U.S. Department of the Interior has owned the Crab Orchard National Wildlife Refuge (the Refuge) since 1947. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service currently administers the Refuge. In the 1920s and 1930s, before the Refuge was established, the area was used as farm land. During World War II, the Department of Defense (DOD) administered the area and constructed the former Illinois Ordnance Plant for munitions production. The plant was constructed on the eastern portion of the Refuge in 1941 and operated until 1945. Following the war, DOD leased the land to private industrial tenants. Some industry continues to operate on the eastern portion of the Refuge. The Refuge currently serves four interests: wildlife, recreation, agriculture, and industry.
The industrial area has been used for manufacturing munitions, transformers, automobile parts, fiberglass boats, metal parts, electrical components, electroplating, cardboard boxes, and ink. Because of past disposal practices in the industrialized, eastern portion of the Refuge, soil, groundwater, surface water, and sediment have been contaminated with various compounds including polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), lead, cadmium, chromium, cyanide, arsenic, and explosives. As a result of investigations that identified the contamination, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency placed the Refuge on the National Priorities List in 1987.
High levels of PCBs were found in some of the large bottom-feeding fish (e.g., channel catfish, carp) in Crab Orchard Lake. The Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) issued a sport fish health advisory in 1988. More recent fish sampling efforts suggest the PCB levels in Crab Orchard Lake fish are decreasing.
This site has drawn much attention and concern from the surrounding communities. Primarily, the community voiced concern about the potential release of contaminants into the ambient air from the on-site incineration of the PCB-contaminated soil and sediment. Incineration is complete, and no contaminants that were monitored during the incineration activities were released at levels associated with adverse health effects.
Current conditions at the Crab Orchard Refuge present no apparent public health hazard to the general population. Periodic fish sampling efforts to monitor PCB concentrations in the fish population should be continued at Crab Orchard Lake. Contaminated areas should be posted and remain closed to the public. If data become available suggesting that people are exposed to contaminants at the site at levels of health concern, IDPH will reevaluate the need for any follow-up at the site.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) listed the Crab Orchard National Wildlife Refuge (the Refuge) on the National Priorities List (NPL) in 1987. The Refuge is in southern Illinois and comprises an area of approximately 43,000 acres, mostly in Williamson County, but extending into neighboring Jackson, Union, and Johnson Counties (Figures 1 and 2). The U.S. Government owns the Refuge and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS), a bureau of the U.S. Department of the Interior (DOI), currently administers it. The Department of Defense (DOD) previously administered this area. During the DOD administration, World War II spurred the development of several wartime manufacturing industries on the eastern end of Crab Orchard Lake. These industries were primarily involved with munitions and explosives manufacturing. Some nonmilitary industries involved in metal fabrication, plating, printing inks manufacturing, and electrical components manufacturing also operated in that area of the Refuge. Wastes generated by several of the industries were landfilled in the Refuge.
After World War II, DOD turned the Refuge over to DOI for use as a National Wildlife Refuge. Some industrial tenants continued their operations, while others left or were replaced by new industries. Explosives production continued to be the principal industry in the Refuge. Some new industries manufactured transformers and capacitors, automobile parts, jet engine starters, fiberglass boats, plated metal parts, corrugated boxes, tape, and flares. Those industries used landfills and dumps in the Refuge to dispose of wastes generated in their operations. A few industries still operate at the Refuge. Munitions and explosives manufacturing is still the principal industry, and corrugated boxes, wood products, printing products and various office supply businesses are still in operation. Commercial companies and the U.S. Government keep munitions and explosives in storage bunkers on Refuge property.
Besides the industrial facilities, two apple orchards were once on 200 acres of the Refuge. Reportedly, lead arsenate was used for insect control on and around the orchards. The Refuge was and still is used for recreation, agriculture, and wildlife habitat. Approximately 21,000 acres of the Refuge are forested. About 3,000 acres are pine plantations, and about 11,000 acres are cultivated (1). Wildlife on the Refuge includes deer, geese, ducks, quail, bald eagles, rabbits, and many non-game species. The western end of the Refuge around Crab Orchard Lake is open to the public for recreational purposes while the eastern portion is closed to the public. Access to that area is limited to workers at the industrial sites.
Crab Orchard Lake, a 7,000 acre reservoir, is the largest of twelve lakes within the Refuge (1). It supports a large population of sport fish. Crab Orchard Lake was used as a drinking water source for the Refuge and the Marion Federal Penitentiary until 1993. The Refuge currently purchases water from Herrin, Illinois, which gets water from Rend Lake. The penitentiary's current primary source of water is a well and a surface water reservoir on penitentiary property. The penitentiary also obtains water from Herrin, Illinois, when a supplemental supply is needed. From the early 1950s until the mid-1970s, several communities including Carbondale, Carterville, Herrin, and Marion used Crab Orchard Lake as a drinking water supply. Until the late 1980s, Marion continued to use Crab Orchard Lake to supplement their primary source of water.
Field investigations and contamination characterization at the Refuge and Crab Orchard Lake began in the late 1970s and continue through the present. In 1980 and 1981, Southern Illinois University in Carbondale (SIU-C) conducted a study that found lead levels in some Crab Orchard Refuge deer livers much higher than lead levels in the livers of other southern Illinois deer (10). As a result of the SIU-C study, FWS biologists initiated a study to identify Refuge areas high in lead and to determine how the lead was transmitted from those areas to the deer. The FWS biologists did not find high lead levels in deer livers like the SIU-C investigators; however, soil samples contained high levels of polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) in portions of the industrial area at the Refuge. PCB analyses of deer tissue samples from the Refuge revealed no measurable PCB residue in any of the deer tissue sampled. Fish samples collected from Crab Orchard Lake (particularly east of Route 148) did contain PCBs (11). In 1988, due to the PCB levels in the fish, the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) initiated a sport fish health advisory for consumption of certain species of fish caught in some areas of Crab Orchard Lake.
Any unusual incidents of animal mortality or stress at the Refuge have been tracked and recorded. Although none of the incidents was apparently attributable to site contaminants, available literature shows FWS staff were aware of at least one incident of mortality in which a deer was killed because previously unexploded ordnance detonated (14). In 1978, 300 deer were found dead. The cause of death was attributed to malnutrition. Several occurrences of mortality of Canada Geese in 1981 (413 dead) and 1984 (32 dead) were reported. The 1981 occurrences were attributed to an outbreak of avian cholera (54%), lead poisoning (16%), and gunshot wounds (12%). In 1984, 32 dead geese were found in a field near the Job Corps Pond (Figure 5). A direct cause of death, however, was never determined (14). Most recently (1995), an injured eaglet was found at the Refuge. Although a cause for the injury was not determined, the eaglet had PCBs in its blood. To monitor PCBs in the eagle population at the Refuge, FWS personnel have begun a 5-year study that will include collecting blood samples from the eaglets born each year at the Refuge.
O'Brien and Gere Engineers completed a remedial investigation (RI) of 33 study sites (Figure 3) at the Refuge in 1988. They evaluated existing conditions at the Refuge sites, Crab Orchard Lake, and its tributaries. The RI resulted in dividing the contaminated sites into four operable units, depending on the contamination present. Three more operable units were defined later. All operable units are in the closed portion of the Refuge. The units are titled (1) Metals Areas Operable Unit, (2) PCBs Areas Operable Unit, (3) Explosives-Munitions Manufacturing Areas Operable Unit, (4) Miscellaneous Areas Operable Unit, (5) Water Towers Removal Action, (6) Crab Orchard Lake Operable Unit, and (7) Uncharacterized and Additional Sites.
Three areas primarily contaminated with heavy metals comprise the Metals Area Operable Unit. The sites in this unit include the Plating Pond (Site 15), the Old Refuge Shop (Site 22), and the Fire Station Landfill (Site 29). The Metals Operable Unit cleanup was completed in October 1996. Approximately 41,000 cubic yards of contaminated soils and sediments were excavated from the three sites and were disposed in an on-site landfill. A brief description of the three sites that comprise the Metals Area Operable Unit follows:
The Plating Pond reportedly received wastewater from Olin Corporation's plating operations on the site. Elevated levels of chromium were detected in pond sediments.
The Old Refuge Shop treated fence posts with wood preservatives. A stream flows from the site to Pigeon Creek and ultimately into Crab Orchard Lake. Stream sediment contained cadmium, chromium, lead, cyanide, low-levels of dioxin, and pentachlorophenol (PCP).
The Fire Station Landfill was on the corner of a large open field. The field was previously covered with rock and was used to store machinery and vehicles during and after World War II. Eventually the L-shaped landfill was created when debris from the field was pushed north and east. Site debris included building rubble, cinders, ash, slag and metal. Elevated levels of lead were found in the soil.
The PCBs Area Operable Unit is comprised of four sites. The sites in this unit are the Job Corps Landfill (Site 17), the Water Tower Landfill (Site 28), Area 9 Landfill (Site 32), and Area 9 Building Complex (Site 33). The PCB Area Operable Unit was remediated using on-site incineration of contaminated soil and sediment. Incineration was completed in October 1997. A brief description of the four site areas follows:
The Job Corps Landfill is a 1-acre area located adjacent to a 10-acre pond created in the mid 1960s by the Job Corps. In the late 1980s, the pond was drained by FWS. PCBs in soil and sediment was the primary concern at this site; however, elevated levels of metals including lead and cadmium, were also identified in soils and pond sediments.
The Water Tower Landfill was a 1-acre abandoned landfill north of one of the Refuge water towers. Soil samples contained elevated levels of PCBs and lead.
Sangamo Electric Company Capacitor Division used Area 9 as a manufacturing site from 1946 to 1962. The area included a landfill (Site 32) and the building complex (Site 33). The landfill area is 100 yards south of Crab Orchard Lake, next to the Area 9 building complex. The landfill area is fenced, and portions of the building complex are currently occupied by Olin Corporation, an explosives manufacturer. Elevated levels of PCBs were found in Area 9 landfill soils. The presence of PCBs in Crab Orchard Lake sediments near the landfill suggests that contaminants could have migrated to the lake from Area 9. Groundwater samples collected under the landfill also contained low levels of PCBs and chromium. High levels of PCBs found at the Area 9 building complex were found mainly within areas near two buildings where capacitors and transformers were manufactured. Those areas were decontaminated during the PCB remediation.
The Explosives-Munitions Area Operable Unit is comprised of 15 sites contaminated with chemicals from explosives or munitions manufacturing (Figure 4). Ten of the sites are near the Hampton Cemetery and are called the Crab Orchard Cemetery (COC) sites. Four of the sites are in the previous plant area and are called the Crab Orchard Plant (COP) sites. One site is in the explosives storage bunker area. Many of the sites appeared to have been used for munitions disposal and munitions detonation, as suggested by surface depression areas. Two sites (COC-3 and COP-4) had the highest concentrations of explosives and visual contamination. Site COC-3 appears to have been used for burning operations. A layer of ash was noted approximately 1 foot below the ground surface. Crystalline trinitrotoluene (TNT) was found along a ditch. Site COP-4 is at the western end of the old ammonium nitrate plant area. This site was used mostly for landfilling. Both sites had ordnance components scattered on the ground surface. The explosives identified in groundwater, soil, and sediment samples from those site included TNT, trinitrobenzene (TNB), dinitrotoluene (DNT), High Melting Explosive (HMX), and Royal Demolition Explosive (RDX). In addition to explosives, elevated levels of metals were also found at the sites.
The Miscellaneous Areas Operable Unit is comprised of 24 sites, including Crab Orchard Lake. The original 1989 investigation included 22 sites, but the Refuge waste water treatment plant and the former post treatment facility were added when elevated levels of organic compounds were detected at both sites. Contaminants identified in sediments at the waste water treatment plant site included PCBs, metals, volatile organic compounds (VOCs), polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), pesticides, and dioxins/furans. Contaminants identified at the Old Refuge Shop post treatment facility include dioxins/furans, metals, PCP, pesticides, and PAHs. Most of the other sites in the Miscellaneous Areas Unit are drainage channels associated with industrial areas. The contamination in those areas varied, depending on the type of industrial and maintenance activities conducted at each location over the years. Contaminants identified included VOCs, PAHs, metals, and pesticides. Of the 24 sites investigated, sampling efforts showed seven sites, three of which are not within Refuge boundaries, will require no further action. Two sites were used by the War Department and were transferred to the Explosives-Munitions unit.
The Water Towers Removal Action involved the remediation of lead-contaminated soils at three water tower areas on the Refuge and at the Refuge Visitor's Center. The contamination was from the lead-based paint that fell onto the soil during past sandblasting operations at those facilities. The removal action occurred during June and July 1993 and involved the excavation of more than 2,000 tons of contaminated soil that was securely landfilled off the Refuge.
In 1990 and 1991, representatives with the Illinois State Water Survey Atmospheric Sciences Division conducted a study on portions of the Refuge. The study involved monitoring background airborne concentrations of PCBs and metals (12). The purpose of the study was to aid future assessment of air quality impacts as a result of PCB and metals-contaminated soil excavation and incineration and to evaluate emissions of the undisturbed sites. Preliminary review of the results suggested that soil did not contribute significantly to levels of metals in the air. The study suggested that PCBs were volatilizing into the atmosphere at the Area 9 landfill and building sites because PCB levels in the air greatly exceeded ambient background levels (12).
A 1992 study conducted by the SIU-C Cooperative Wildlife Research Laboratory at the Area 9 landfill site involved investigating PCBs and lead in soil and biota and relating the contaminants to biological effects. The study reported that adult beetles, caged house crickets, and white-footed mice contained high PCB residue levels, suggesting PCBs were mobilized from the soil into the terrestrial food chain (13). Elevated levels of lead were not observed in the terrestrial population. No significant adverse effects were found in the animals as a result of the PCBs or lead as compared with the control area animal population (13).
IDPH staff conducted site visits at the Refuge several times, including October 4, 1989, November 17, 1992, December 10, 1993, and March 18, 1997. Refuge personnel accompanied IDPH staff on each visit. Much of the information obtained during the site visits is incorporated into the text. At the time of the October 4, 1989, visit, the water level of Crab Orchard Lake had been purposely lowered about 4 feet below normal because of work being done on the dam. IDPH noted that the Area 9 bay was completely dry, as was much of the lake periphery area east of Wolf Creek Road. The areas visited had good ground cover. IDPH staff saw huge flocks of ducks and geese, as well as deer, coyotes, and a pair of bald eagles. Roads going into areas of concern had locked gates, and signs were highly visible marking "closed areas." No other people were seen in the closed areas except a few Refuge and industrial employees. The contaminated areas are quite remote and inaccessible from the area of the Refuge open to the public for recreational purposes.
Marion, Illinois, population approximately 14,000, is about 5 miles east of the Refuge and is the nearest community to the areas of concern. The nearest residents occupy approximately 23 mobile homes in the Hickory Leaf mobile home park, about 2 miles north of Site 12--Job Corps Landfill (Figure 5). No schools, nursing homes, or sensitive subpopulations, are near the areas of concern. The approximately 32 Refuge employees and the 400 to 700 Refuge industrial employees are the people at greatest risk of exposure to contaminants remaining on the Refuge.
Corn is the primary crop produced on the reported 11,000 acres of cultivated Refuge land, and according to the Refuge Manager, about 20 local farmers are contracted for sharecropping. One-fourth of the corn is left standing in the fields as food for the wildlife.
The Refuge comprises an area of approximately 43,000 acres and includes 21,000 acres of forested land, 3,000 acres of pine plantations, 11,000 acres of cultivated land, and 12 lakes, including Crab Orchard Lake, which has a surface area of 7,000 acres. The land is used as a wildlife refuge and for recreational, agricultural, and industrial purposes. The Refuge is a popular fishing, hunting, camping and recreational area. More than one million persons visit the Refuge each year (1,2). Most visitors use the western portion of the Refuge, which is remote from the manufacturing facilities on the eastern end.
Access to the eastern portion of the Refuge is generally limited to authorized personnel. Individual industries have security checkpoints for access to their facilities. Most of the abandoned industrial buildings, as well as the active manufacturing areas, are within fenced areas or are along roadways that are secrued. Areas no longer occupied are also locked to protect the wildlife and area ecology.
Before 1993, personnel of the Refuge and its industries, as well as those of the nearby Marion Federal Penitentiary, relied on Crab Orchard Lake for their drinking water supply. Refuge personnel state that 280,000 gallons of water were treated daily at the Refuge Water Treatment Plant. The Refuge currently purchases water from Herrin, Illinois, which obtains water from Rend Lake. The penitentiary's current primary source of water is a well and a surface water reservoir on penitentiary property.
Marion, Illinois, is upgradient and adjacent to the northeastern boundary of the Refuge. The city has a population of approximately 14,000 and obtains its water supply from the Marion Reservoir, approximately 2 miles east of Crab Orchard Lake. Reports indicate that Crab Orchard Lake was previously used as an auxiliary intake for the Marion water supply during dry seasons. The last such use occurred in 1981 when Marion supplemented approximately 6 percent of its total water supply volume with water drawn from Crab Orchard Lake.
Many private wells are near the eastern half of Crab Orchard Lake (Figure 6). The Refuge Manager stated that no groundwater wells are currently in use within the boundaries of the Refuge. Many of the wells are old, hand-dug, brick-lined wells with open tops.
IDPH, using Illinois health databases, can sometimes determine whether certain health effects are higher than expected in a particular area, such as in an exposed population near a hazardous waste site (8). The Illinois Health and Hazardous Substances Registry Act was signed into law in 1984 and created the Health and Hazardous Substances Registry (IHHSR). The purpose of the IHHSR is to monitor Illinois residents' health effects related to exposures to hazardous substances in the work place and in the environment. Specifically, the IHHSR is a unified, statewide project to collect, compile, and correlate information on public health and hazardous substances. The registry consists of information in the following categories:
- Cancer incidence.
- Adverse pregnancy outcomes.
- Occupational diseases.
- Hazardous nuclear materials.
- Hazardous substances incidents.
The Illinois State Cancer Registry (ISCR) is one of the registries developed because of this Act. As of January 1, 1985, mandated reports on all cancer patients newly diagnosed in nonfederal Illinois hospitals are reported to ISCR. In addition, some federal hospitals in Illinois report cases voluntarily. Some bordering states also exchange cancer data with Illinois (9). The ISCR is the prime source for information on cancer incidence within the state, and includes cancer incidence data for the years 1985-1995.
Lead screening of children 6 months to 6 years is conducted in Illinois as mandated in the Lead Poisoning Prevention Act. The Act also requires that IDPH receive reports on individuals with elevated blood lead levels.
Both information obtained from ISCR and from the lead screening program were used to evaluate health conditions of people living around the Refuge. A discussion of the evaluations is presented in the Public Health Implications, Health Outcome Data Evaluation section of this document.
USEPA, FWS, and IEPA have sponsored several public meetings to discuss the status of actions taken at the site. Verbal comments from the public meetings and written comments submitted were recorded and published in the Consent Decree for each operable unit. Besides the public meetings, the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) and IDPH sponsored an availability session on November 19, 1992. The purpose of the availability session was to give citizens the opportunity to express their concerns regarding the site in a one-on-one environment.
A summary of the concerns include:
- Is on-site incineration of PCBs safe? Won't the incineration of PCB-contaminated waste create emissions of contaminants including dioxins, furans, and metals into the ambient atmosphere resulting in adverse health effects to the surrounding population? Several individuals are strongly opposed to the on-site incineration of PCB- contaminated material and do not believe that USEPA can guarantee the safe operation of an on-site incinerator at the Refuge.
- Are PCBs stable?
- Are there any dangers with using Crab Orchard Lake for recreational purposes?
- Can fish caught from Crab Orchard Lake be consumed safely?
- How are people who fish notified of the fish advisory for Crab Orchard Lake?
- Does the population surrounding the Refuge have any increased incidence of cancer or health problems?
- Do inmates of the Marion Federal Penitentiary have an increased incidence of cancer?
- Are municipal water supplies routinely tested for PCBs? Who sampled the water at the Refuge water treatment plant?
- Was food for the penitentiary grown on the Refuge?
- Were any tests conducted for radioactivity at the site?
- Is constructing an on-site landfill safe given that this area is in an earthquake prone area?
Those concerns are addressed later in the Public Health Implications, Community Health Concerns Evaluation section of this document.
The tables in this document section list the contaminants selected for further evaluation. IDPH bases the selection of contaminants on the following factors (9):
- Concentrations of contaminants on and off the site.
- Field data quality, laboratory data quality, and sample design.
- Comparison of contaminant concentrations and background concentrations with environmental media comparison values.
- Community health concerns.
Once the list of contaminants that need further evaluation is compiled, IDPH evaluates whether people have been exposed to the contaminants and whether the exposure could harm someone's health. Exposures are evaluated in the Pathways Analyses section of this document, and possible health effects are evaluated in the Public Health Implications section.
Comparison values used for selecting contaminants for further evaluation are contaminant concentrations in specific environmental media. The comparison values include Environmental Media Evaluation Guides (EMEGs), Cancer Risk Evaluation Guides (CREGs), and other relevant guidelines. EMEGs are derived from Minimal Risk Levels used as a screen to evaluate non-cancer health effects. CREGs are calculated from the USEPA cancer slope factors, which are based on one excess cancer in a million persons exposed over a lifetime (a one in one million chance of developing cancer as a result of an exposure). The actual cancer risk may be zero.
USEPA's Maximum Contaminant Level Goal (MCLG) is a drinking water health goal. USEPA believes that the MCLG represents a level that no known or anticipated adverse health effects should occur in persons consuming the water. Proposed Maximum Contaminant Level Goals (PMCLGs) are MCLGs that are being proposed but have yet to be adopted. Maximum Contaminant Levels (MCLs) represent contaminant concentrations that USEPA deems protective of public health (considering the availability and economics of water treatment technology) over a lifetime (70 years) at an ingestion rate of 2 liters of water per day. While MCLs are regulatory concentrations, PMCLGs and MCLGs are not. USEPA's Reference Dose (RfD) and Reference Concentration (RfC) are estimates of the daily exposure of a contaminant that is unlikely to cause adverse health effects upon exposure (9). USEPA's RfD is used to calculate the Reference Dose Media Evaluation Guide (RMEG).
Compounds for which no comparison values exist are listed for further evaluation. Known or suspected human carcinogens are also included if no CREG exists.
The data tables include the following acronyms:
CREG = Cancer Risk Evaluation Guide EMEG = Environmental Media Evaluation Guide RMEG = Reference Dose Media Evaluation Guide MCLG = Maximum Contaminant Level Goal MCL = Maximum Contaminant Level PMCLG = Proposed Maximum Contaminant Level Goal ppm = parts per million ppb = parts per billion µg/m3 = micrograms per cubic meter RfD = Reference Dose RfC = Reference Concentration
The original remedial investigation (RI) completed in 1988 identified areas on the Refuge with elevated contamination levels. PCBs and lead were the most commonly found and widely dispersed contaminants within the environmental media. In 1991, the RI for the Explosives-Munitions areas was initiated. The identified areas were used for manufacturing explosives and munitions during World War II and the destruction of surplus explosives and munitions after the War. Contaminants identified included explosives and metals. An additional investigation, which began in 1992, showed that contaminants such as PAHs, VOCs, pesticides, metals, PCP, and dioxin/furans were present in the miscellaneous areas. Much of the contamination associated with the miscellaneous sites was found in sediments of creeks and drainage ditches. Further sampling of the PCB and metals areas was conducted in 1992 to better delineate the extent of the contamination at each site. Table 1 lists the study site number and site description for the areas where the highest levels of contamination were identified at the Refuge.
Contaminated soils were found throughout the Refuge study areas. PCBs were the primary contaminants found at four sites, while lead, cadmium, chromium, and cyanide were among the primary contaminants at three of the sites. Low levels of VOCs were identified in soils at a solvent storage drainage area, and a semi-volatile organic compound, 2-chloronaphthalene, was identified in a soil sample at the Area 9 building complex site. PCP contamination appeared to be confined to one area near the Old Refuge Shop site. PAHs were also identified at this site in addition to two other sites.
Soil samples collected at four of the sites showed the presence of various isomers of dioxins and furans. Table 2 shows the maximum concentration of contaminants detected in soils at the study areas that exceed comparison values.
Several sites were investigated for contaminants associated with explosives and munitions. Two of those sites contained high levels of explosives, including TNT, TNB, DNT, HMX, and RDX. Table 3 lists the explosives and maximum concentrations identified in surface soil samples at these sites that exceed comparison values.
Sediment samples were collected from areas such as drainage ditches, stream beds, ponds, and Crab Orchard Lake. Contaminants identified were similar to those found in soil samples. Sediment samples collected at Site 22, a drainage area at the Old Refuge Shop, contained metals, PCP, and low levels of dioxin. Crab Orchard Lake sediment samples, collected from the southeastern portion of the Lake that receives runoff from the Area 9 Landfill (site 32), contained low levels of PCBs. Elevated levels of chromium were found in sediment samples collected from the plating pond at Site 15. Both sediment and sludge samples were collected at Site 36, the Refuge waste water treatment plant. Contaminants identified in those samples included PCBs, metals, PAHs, and dioxins/furans. The two munitions sites that had high levels of explosives did not have areas requiring sediment sampling. Sediment samples collected at other munitions areas contained TNT and DNT. Table 4 shows the maximum concentrations of the contaminants identified in the sediment.
Monitoring wells were installed at sites throughout the Refuge to characterize the impact of contamination on area groundwater. Groundwater contamination was identified at several sites. The contaminants identified in groundwater samples included metals, trace levels of PCBs, dioxins/furans, and VOCs. Acetone (12,900 ppb) was detected in a monitoring well at the fire station landfill (site 29). Although acetone was a contaminant that was also detected in laboratory blanks, the levels identified in the well at site 29 were more than 10 times laboratory blank levels. Contaminants identified in the monitoring well at site 17, the Job Corps landfill, included not only PCBs and metals, but also PCP and nitrobenzene. Trace levels of explosives were also identified in monitoring wells at some munitions sites. Table 5 illustrates the maximum contaminant concentrations detected at the study sites.
Besides Crab Orchard Lake, small ponds and drainage pools are at some sites. Other sources of surface water include intermittent streams and drainage ways. Surface water samples from those areas contained PCBs and heavy metals such as lead, cadmium, chromium, manganese, and arsenic. Trichloroethene was detected in a surface water sample collected from a drainage channel at site 10. Water samples collected from the eastern portion of Crab Orchard Lake contained trace amounts of PCBs. PCB levels were not detected above drinking water standards in treated water from the Refuge or in samples taken from the raw water intake to the Refuge water treatment plant. The samples were collected when the water treatment plant was still in operation. The contaminants identified in site surface waters are listed in Table 6.
In 1990 and 1991, representatives with the Illinois State Water Survey, Atmospheric Sciences Division, conducted a study at the Refuge involving air monitoring for PCBs and metals. The purpose of the study was to establish background concentrations prior to cleanup activities to aid future assessment on impacts to air quality from the excavation and incineration of PCB and metal contaminated soil. In addition, the study included a report on emissions from the undisturbed sites.
Samples were collected at a background site and three of the contaminated sites (12). The background site was in an uncultivated field, approximately 1 mile southeast of the Area 9 landfill (site 32) and building complex (site 33). The contaminated sites sampled included the Area 9 landfill, the Area 9 building complex, and the fire station landfill (site 29). Background concentrations were measured for a year, while the other sites were monitored for shorter periods of 2 to 4 weeks (12).
Total PCB background concentrations averaged 0.00019 µg/m3 for the year. Slightly higher levels were averaged for summer months (0.00024 µg/m3) than winter months (0.00010 µg/m3) (12). Total PCB concentrations at the Area 9 landfill and building complex were higher than the background levels. Because of interference, the samples collected at the fire station landfill were deleted. Background levels of metals were also measured and compared to metal concentrations found at the contaminated sites. Table 7 lists the PCB and metal concentrations detected at the sites involved in the study.
Field investigations and sampling efforts to measure contamination in both plants and animals at the Refuge began in the late 1970s and continue through the present. One of the earliest studies (10) measured heavy metals in Refuge deer livers. Mean concentrations of contaminants identified included cadmium (0.43 ppm), chromium (3.1 ppm), manganese (8.4 ppm), and lead (5.6 ppm). A study of PCB contamination in deer tissue was conducted in 1982 (11). Fat and red meat tissues were collected from 10 deer (male and female) between 0.5 to 3 years of age that were harvested during the 1982 hunting season. No measurable PCB residues were detected in any of the tissues analyzed. Another 1982 study (25) measured lead levels in deer, earthworms, honeysuckle roots and leaves, prairie vole liver, and white-footed mouse liver. Deer tissue did not contain elevated lead levels. The highest level of lead (4.19 ppm) was detected in earthworms collected from the fire station landfill. Honeysuckle roots and leaves had lead levels less than 0.46 ppm, except for one root sample collected at the Area 9 landfill that had a lead concentration of 81.6 ppm. The lead concentrations in the prairie vole and white-footed mice liver samples were less than 0.28 ppm (25).
Another study (13) was conducted in 1992 at the Area 9 landfill site. That investigation was of PCB and lead uptake in biota and of resulting biological effects. The study reported measurable PCB levels in adult beetles, caged house crickets, and white-footed mice. The findings suggest that PCBs were mobilized from the soil into the terrestrial food chain. The animals studied did not contain elevated lead levels.
Tissue samples were collected from Canada geese harvested at the Refuge during the 1993 hunting season (24) and analyzed for PCB contamination. No detectable levels of PCBs were found in breast meat samples. Fat tissue samples from geese harvested near the Job Corps landfill had a mean PCB concentration of 0.0013 ppm, and geese harvested near the Area 9 landfill had a mean PCB concentration of 0.0004 ppm (24).
Several studies and sampling efforts have been conducted on fish in Crab Orchard Lake. Because of the PCBs found in fish tissue, IDPH issued a sport fish health advisory in 1988. Carp, a common bottom-feeding fish, samples collected in 1996 contained PCBs at levels well below the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) action level, 2.0 ppm. Table 9 shows fish data collected during the monitoring program, an interagency program involving IDPH, IEPA, and the Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR).
A study conducted in 1986 by individuals with the Fisheries Research Laboratory at SIU-C identified elevated PCB concentrations in fish samples collected from Crab Orchard Lake, particularly east of Route 148 (22). An extension of the study (23) identified seasonal PCB concentrations in fish. The highest levels are found in fish in the fall, while intermediate levels are found in fish in the spring. The lowest levels are found in fish in the summer.
Fish were also sampled as part of the RI (1). The fish samples were analyzed for pesticides, PCBs, cadmium, mercury, and lead. Figure 7 shows the sampling locations and PCB results. Most contaminants were below the detection levels; however, PCB concentrations ranged from <0.4 to 6.4 ppm wet weight. Two carp samples collected from Crab Orchard Lake east of Route 148 near the Area 9 landfill contained 6.4 and 3.0 ppm PCBs. Tissue analyses of one bass sample identified 1.05 ppm mercury, which is slightly above the 1.0 ppm FDA action level for mercury.
Initial sampling efforts and investigations concerning the contamination associated with the Refuge were conducted within Refuge property. Although sampling was conducted "off-site" of the contaminated areas, the sampling efforts were still within Refuge boundaries. The "off-site" sampling efforts were conducted to establish background levels and delineate the contaminated areas. In April 1995, off-site air locations were established for monitoring the ambient air before and during the incineration operations. The stations were at the Refuge's perimeter, and one station (F) was within the Marion city limits (Figure 8).
Air monitoring was conducted at six Refuge perimeter locations (Figure 8). The sampling events began in April 1995, before on-site incineration began, and continued throughout incineration operations. The parameters measured included lead, cadmium, PCBs, dioxins/furans, and particulate matter (PM10), which is a measure of respirable dust. Sampling for all of the previously mentioned parameters was conducted through November 1995; however, PCB, dioxin, and furan analysis was discontinued at that time. When the incinerator began operating in July 1996, only lead, cadmium, and PM10 were monitored with wind direction, average wind speed, average temperature, average barometric pressure and rainfall. Table 8 shows the range of contaminant concentrations detected at the Refuge's perimeter.
In preparing this public health assessment, IDPH relied on the information provided in the referenced documents and assumes that adequate quality assurance and quality control measures were followed regarding chain-of-custody, laboratory procedures, and data reporting. The validity of the conclusions in the public health assessment is dependent on the quality of the data provided.
Information reviewed suggests physical hazards associated with the sites on the Refuge and those observed during the site visit are those typically found with uncovered landfill debris, although many of these areas have been remediated. Many older buildings on the Refuge contain asbestos siding. Unexploded ordnance was found at one site; however, that material was collected and destroyed by an explosive ordnance disposal team. Many shallow, uncovered, abandoned wells, which pose a serious physical hazard to small children, are found throughout the Refuge. Refuge personnel are sealing these wells as they are discovered.
To determine whether nearby residents are exposed to contaminants migrating from the site, the environmental and human components that lead to human exposure are evaluated. An exposure pathway consists of five elements: a source of contamination, transport through an environmental medium, a point of exposure, a route of human exposure, and an exposed population (8).
IDPH categorizes an exposure pathway as completed or potential if the exposure pathway cannot be eliminated. In a completed exposure pathway, all five elements exist. Exposure to a contaminant has occurred in the past, is occurring, or will occur in the future. In potential exposure pathways, information for at least one of the five elements is missing or is inconclusive. Exposure to a contaminant could have occurred in the past, could be occurring, or could occur in the future. An exposure pathway can be eliminated if at least one of the five elements is missing and will never be present (8). Table 10 shows the completed exposure pathway. The discussion that follows addresses only those pathways that are relevant to the sites on the Refuge.
Fish Consumption Pathway
People who eat contaminated fish from Crab Orchard Lake are exposed to PCBs that are in the fish. More people were likely exposed to contaminated fish before the sport fish advisory was issued in 1988. Samples of fish collected from the eastern portion of Crab Orchard Lake contained PCB levels that exceeded the 2.00 ppm FDA action level. Because of their bottom feeding habits, catfish and carp generally contained the highest levels of PCBs. Elevated levels of PCBs were found in the sediment of the Area 9 bay region of Crab Orchard Lake. This area of the lake is east of Route 148.
Carp caught west of Route 148 and channel catfish and carp less than 15 inches in length caught east of Route 148 were categorized as having "Moderate Contamination." Children, pregnant women, women who may become pregnant, and nursing mothers were advised not to eat these fish; all other individuals were advised to limit their consumption of these fish to one meal per week. Carp more than 15 inches in length caught east of Route 148 were categorized as having "High Contamination." No one should eat highly contaminated fish.
Since 1988, PCB levels in fish tissue samples from Crab Orchard Lake have decreased, and IDPH amended the fish advisory in 1992. No fish were included in the highly contaminated group, and only carp longer than 15 inches east of Wolf Creek Road were included in the moderately contaminated group. Therefore, anyone eating fish from Crab Orchard Lake at this time are exposed to much lower levels of PCBs than in the past.
Industrial workers and Refuge employees may be exposed to contaminated surface soils at the Crab Orchard Refuge. The contaminated areas are in the remote, eastern, industrialized portion of the Refuge that is generally closed to the public, so visitors to the Refuge are unlikely to enter contaminated areas. Elevated levels of PCBs, lead, and explosives (including TNT, TNB, HMX, and RDX) were found in soils at several of those locations on the Refuge. Industrial and Refuge workers may inhale contaminated dusts generated by wind erosion or foot traffic and volatilized residues. Employees may also contact contaminated soils through the skin and may incidentally ingest soil that enters the mouth and nose through inhalation or hand to mouth activities such as smoking and eating. No people live near the contaminated areas, so no one, other than workers, is expected to come into contact with surface soil contaminants often, if at all. Additionally, workers at the Refuge and industrial area are not likely to be at contaminated areas for extended periods.
Remediation of the sites in the Metals Areas Operable Unit and the PCB Areas Operable Unit have been completed. Activities during the remediation may have resulted in exposure to on-site workers. Some dust may have been transported to other areas of the Refuge where visitors are allowed, but the dust would have been dispersed. Therefore, any exposure to the contaminated dust carried to other areas of the Refuge would likely have been small and of short duration. The site safety plan addressed those issues with on-site monitoring, personal protection equipment for the workers when necessary, and proper removal methods to prevent dust migration, thereby, further reducing the likelihood that visitors or residents were exposed to contaminants at the time of remediation.
Surface Water/Sediment Pathway
Before 1993, personnel at the Refuge and its industries and people at the nearby Marion Federal Penitentiary used Crab Orchard Lake as a source for their drinking water. Before 1981, the city of Marion also used Crab Orchard Lake to supplement its water supply during dry seasons. The primary contaminants found in Crab Orchard Lake water and sediment were not detected at levels above drinking water standards in finished water samples nor in samples taken from the raw water intake to the Refuge water treatment plant. Total trihalomethanes, however, were detected at levels above drinking water standards.
Trihalomethanes are a family of halogenated hydrocarbons. The presence of those compounds in the finished water was likely the result of chemical interaction between chlorine disinfectant and commonly present humic substances found in raw lake or river water. In response to an inquiry concerning the quality of the potable water supply at the Marion Federal Penitentiary, ATSDR presented a complete discussion of the public health concerns associated with the trihalomethanes in a technical assistance report to the Subcommittee on Courts, Intellectual Property, and the Administration of Justice Committee on the Judiciary House of Representatives on September 28, 1990 (26).
Other contaminated areas of surface water bodies and sediment are confined to the areas that are restricted to the public. Refuge and industrial workers may occasionally contact contaminated surface water and sediment, but contact would be of short duration and at low levels.
Private Well Pathway
Although limited contamination of the groundwater exists in the Refuge area, this contamination does not appear to represent a risk to human health. Rural water districts service much of the developed area outside the Refuge boundaries. No site-related, off-site groundwater contamination has been found. The private wells within the boundaries of the Refuge are old, abandoned wells currently not in use. The abandoned wells could pose a health and safety hazard if they are improperly sealed or not sealed at all. Children or even adults could fall into the uncovered wells resulting in injury or death. The abandoned wells could also serve as a direct route for contamination to enter the groundwater.
Ambient Air Pathway
On-site incineration of soils and sediment primarily contaminated with PCBs, cadmium, and lead began in July 1996 and continued until October 1997. The incinerator operated in the eastern portion of the Refuge near the Area 9 landfill. USEPA conducted perimeter and on-site ambient air monitoring before and during the incineration. Although PCB and dioxin concentrations were only monitored before incineration, lead and cadmium levels did not increase during incineration. The incinerator appears to have worked as designed. Therefore, people who lived downwind at the time the incinerator operated were not likely exposed to contaminants emitted from the incinerator.
As discussed in the Surface Soil Pathway section, some contaminated dust may have been generated during remediation or may be occasionally generated at unremediated areas. However, any exposure would be expected only for short durations and at low levels.
In this section of the public health assessment, IDPH evaluates the toxicological implications of exposure to contaminants, evaluates applicable state and local health databases, and addresses specific community health concerns.
Child Health Initiative
IDPH and ATSDR recognize that children are especially sensitive to some contaminants. For that reason, all evaluations have considered children when developing exposure scenarios.
To evaluate health effects, ATSDR develops Minimal Risk Levels (MRLs) as screening values for contaminants commonly found at hazardous waste sites. The MRL is an estimate of daily human exposure to a contaminant below which non-cancer, adverse health effects are unlikely to occur. MRLs are developed for each route of exposure, such as ingestion and inhalation, and for the length of exposure: acute (less than 14 days); intermediate (15 to 365 days); and chronic (greater than 365 days). ATSDR's MRLs are discussed in Toxicological Profiles. Those chemical-specific profiles provide information on health effects, environmental transport, human exposure, and regulatory status (8). IDPH used Toxicological Profiles to evaluate exposure to PCBs and to provide information on dioxins, lead, and cadmium because of the concern about possible exposure to those contaminants during incineration of contaminated soil.
Polychlorinated Biphenyls (PCBs)
People who eat PCB-contaminated fish caught from Crab Orchard Lake are exposed to PCBs. The number of people exposed to contaminated fish likely decreased after the fish advisory was issued in 1988. Since then, PCB levels in fish have decreased substantially, thereby further reducing exposure levels. In general, PCBs are very persistent environmental contaminants consisting of a family of man-made, chlorinated chemicals that contain 209 individual compounds (30). The environmental persistence of PCBs generally increases with an increase in chlorination. The higher the chlorination of a compound, the more resistant the compound is to biodegradation. PCB mixtures are commonly found in electrical capacitors, fluorescent light ballasts, and transformers made before 1978.
Although IDPH does not have information on the typical amount of contaminated fish people may have eaten before the 1988 fish advisory, we can provide some general information about how PCBs act in the body. In humans, PCBs tend to accumulate in adipose tissue, blood, and breast milk. Heavily chlorinated types of PCBs redistribute to adipose tissue to a greater extent than the less chlorinated ones (30). Because PCBs bioaccumulate, people who ate contaminated fish every day or several times a week are expected to have more PCBs in their bodies than those who ate fish less often.
Nursing infants who may be exposed to high PCB concentrations in the breast milk of lactating mothers, especially if the women consume large amounts of contaminated fish, are at greater risk from exposure than are adults or older children. Several studies suggest that PCBs can cross the placenta. Therefore, embryos, fetuses, and infants are also more susceptible because they generally lack the enzyme systems that facilitate detoxification and excretion of PCBs (30). Because PCBs can concentrate in breast milk and may cross the placenta, pregnant women or women who may become pregnant should avoid eating PCB-contaminated fish.
Studies have shown that birth weight, head circumference, and gestational age were slightly decreased in newborns of mothers who were consumers of PCB-contaminated fish (30). Other studies found that consumption of PCB-contaminated fish by mothers and serum cord levels of PCBs were predictors of impaired development and abnormal reflexes in infants. Those studies were not conclusive, however, because no specific doses of PCBs consumed by the mothers were determined (30). We do not know if anyone ate enough PCB-contaminated fish from Crab Orchard Lake to cause problems. Currently, the levels of PCBs in fish in Crab Orchard Lake should not pose a problem for unborn children if women follow advice given in the fish advisory. To further reduce the risk of exposure from eating contaminated fish, the fat-soluble PCB contamination can be reduced by removing the skin and any fatty tissue beneath the skin near the ventral or dorsal area of a large fish. Additionally, fish can be broiled or baked on an elevated rack to allow the fat to drip away from the finished meal.
People who worked in industries at the Refuge that used PCBs may have come into contact with the PCBs. We do not have any reports of adverse health effects from people who worked at those industries. People exposed to PCBs in the workplace at other facilities have reported adverse health effects including chloracne (acne-like lesions or rashes) and impairment of liver function. Workers generally experience PCB exposures that are much higher than those received by the general public. In the U.S., acute adverse health effects such as those previously described have not been observed in people with nonoccupational exposure (30).
Feeding studies in laboratory animals demonstrated the carcinogenicity of several PCB mixtures, although it is not clear which components of the mixture or metabolites are carcinogenic. In the studies, the liver was the primary target of PCB carcinogenicity. Although data regarding the carcinogenicity of PCBs in humans are inadequate, PCBs are considered probable human carcinogens based on the animal data (30).
IDPH does not know of anyone who has been exposed to dioxins at the site. Dioxins were identified at low levels in on-site soil, sediment and groundwater samples. The dioxin concentrations were not at levels exceeding comparison values and were in remote areas of the Refuge where risk of exposure to them is slight. Therefore, no one is expected to have adverse health effects as a result of the dioxins found at the site or from the incineration of contaminated soil at the site. However, people in the community expressed concern about dioxins and wanted information about the toxicity of dioxins. As a result of that interest, IDPH offers the following general information about dioxins.
Chlorinated dibenzo-p-dioxins are a class of compounds called "dioxins." The most toxic compound of this group is 2,3,7,8-tetrachlorodibenzo-d-dioxin (TCDD). Many studies have been performed on TCDD; however, little is known about most other dioxins and furans. To conservatively estimate the potential human health effects from exposure to the complex mixtures of dioxins and furans, toxicity equivalency factors, TEFs, were developed based on the compound's toxicity compared with TCDD. A TEF of "1" is the most toxic or equivalent to TCDD, and a TEF of "0" is relatively nontoxic (16). The total TEFs for all the dioxin and furan isomers are then compared with the TCDD value.
Dioxins are a group of chemicals formed when household and industrial wastes are burned. They also are formed when some herbicides and germicides are made and when paper pulp is bleached. Dioxins also can be found as contaminants in PCB mixtures. Dioxins were unwanted by-products of the manufacture of PCBs. Burning PCBs can produce dioxins.
No studies are available on the inhalation toxicity of dioxins. Little is known about how exposure to low levels of dioxins over a long period can affect human health. Dioxins can cause chloracne in humans. Dioxins may also cause short-term changes in the activity of the liver, but without any visible symptoms. Adverse reproductive effects and immune disorders have been recorded in test animals exposed to dioxins orally or through skin contact, but no evidence of these responses exists for humans. Large amounts of some dioxins, particularly TCDD, given over a short period can cause cancer in certain animals. There is no evidence, however, that dioxins cause cancer at the low levels normally found in the environment. The data suggesting dioxins as human carcinogens are inconclusive. Dioxins are classified as probable human carcinogens based on animal data and limited human evidence of carcinogenicity (31).
Lead was found at several areas of the site and was in soils that were incinerated. IDPH did not find situations where anyone has been exposed to lead at the site, although Refuge and industrial workers may have come in contact with limited amounts of lead. Because lead was one of the contaminants in soil that was incinerated, IDPH offers some general information about lead. No one is expected to have adverse health effects as a result of possible, short-term exposure to lead at the site.
Because of past industrial and disposal practices, lead was widely dispersed throughout the Refuge. Lead is ubiquitous in nature and can be detected in all parts of the environment. Since the 1920s, the single largest source of lead found in the atmosphere has been from the combustion of leaded gasoline. The primary exposure routes to lead are inhalation and ingestion. Lead is not readily absorbed through the skin.
Children, especially those who are preschool age, are at particular health risk if exposed to lead because they ingest more lead through normal hand-to-mouth activity, absorb more of the lead that they ingest, and are more sensitive to its effects. Lead exposure may decrease the intelligence quotient (IQ) score and reduce the growth of young children. Exposure to lead is also particularly dangerous for the fetus because of its sensitivity during development. Exposure of a mother to lead results in the transfer of lead to the fetus. This may cause pre-term birth, reduced birth weight, and decreased IQ in the infant. Lead exposure in middle-aged men may increase blood pressure. At high levels of exposure, lead can severely damage the brain and kidneys in adults and children. High levels of exposure to lead may also cause spontaneous abortion and damage the male reproductive system (32).
Rats and mice developed kidney tumors from ingesting large doses of lead administered during laboratory tests. Although using animal data to estimate the risk of cancer to humans is difficult, those findings suggest lead may cause cancer in humans. Occupational studies, however, did not clearly show an increased risk of cancer in workers exposed to lead (32).
As with lead, cadmium was found at several areas, primarily at the Old Refuge Shop, and was in soils that were incinerated. IDPH did not find situations where anyone has been exposed to cadmium at the site, although Refuge and industrial workers may have come in contact with limited amounts of cadmium. Because cadmium was one of the contaminants in soil that was incinerated, IDPH offers some general information about cadmium. No one is expected to have adverse health effects as a result of possible, short-term exposure to cadmium at the site.
Cadmium is an element that occurs naturally in the earth's crust. It can produce a broad range of systemic effects, particularly to the respiratory, renal, and reproductive systems. Cadmium compounds are poorly absorbed from the intestinal tract but are relatively well absorbed through inhalation. Skin absorption appears negligible (33). Once absorbed, cadmium is retained in the kidneys and liver. Studies of workers have suggested that occupational exposure to cadmium increases the risk of prostate, renal, and respiratory tract cancer (33).
In 1990, in response to community concerns about cancer, the IDPH Division of Epidemiologic Studies initiated an assessment of the cancer incidence for the communities surrounding the site. IDPH defined the study area as zip codes 62901, 62915, 62918, 62921, 62933, 62948, and 62959 in Jackson and Williamson counties. All cases of cancer diagnosed among residents of the study area from 1985 to 1987 were identified. The source for these data was the Illinois State Cancer Registry.
For all cancer sites combined, the observed number of cancers for males was much less than the expected number. In females, the observed number was slightly elevated above the expected. In males, a statistically significant excess of oral cavity cancers was observed, while observed numbers of cancers of the nervous system, prostate, and testis were all statistically lower than expected. In females, a statistically significant excess of bone cancer and myelomas was found (28).
In general, ninety percent of oral cavity cancers occur over the age of 45, and the incidence is highest among white males (28). The risk factors for that type of cancer include tobacco use, alcohol use, and nutritional deficiencies. Little is known about the cause of bone cancer. Its incidence is most prevalent in late adolescence and again in people over the age of 65. Ionizing radiation is the only environmental agent associated with bone cancer. No chemically-induced bone tumors have been identified in humans. Myeloma is a cancer of the plasma cells in bone marrow. Little is known about myeloma except that it occurs most often among the aged. Factors reportedly associated with myelomas include ionizing radiation, genetic susceptibility, and immunosuppressive diseases. Occupations such as farmers, wood workers, leather workers, workers exposed to arsenic, asbestos, or lead, and employees of rubber and petrochemical products have been shown to have an increased risk for myeloma (28). None of the myeloma cases for this study reported having an occupation with the potential for exposure to substances associated with myelomas. The cases were also not clustered geographically (28). At the time this study was completed, no association between cancer incidence and the site was identified.
Children ages 6 months to 6 years are screened for lead as mandated by the Illinois Lead Poisoning Prevention Act. Currently, no children residing near or reporting any association with the Refuge were identified with elevated levels of lead in their blood.
- Is on-site incineration of PCBs safe? Won't the incineration of PCB contaminated waste create emissions of contaminants including dioxins, furans, and metals into the ambient atmosphere resulting in adverse health effects to the surrounding population?
We believe that the incineration that was done on the site was safe for people who live in the area. USEPA established emissions standards for particulates, hydrogen chloride, PCBs, and dioxins. Hazardous waste incinerators must have extensive pollution control systems to reduce the levels of pollutants released into the air. The air monitoring done at the time of the incineration indicates that the incinerator worked as designed.
You are correct about what could possibly be emitted by a malfunctioning incinerator that is burning the kind of waste present at the site. Hazardous materials containing carbon and hydrogen are converted into mainly carbon dioxide and water vapor. The burning conditions must be controlled to ensure the proper mixture of air, temperature, waste, and time for the waste to be destroyed. A problem with any of those conditions could cause harmful air emissions. Harmful air emissions released from an incinerator could be a potential public health problem for persons living nearby. To prevent exposure, hazardous waste incinerators have several safety features to reduce harmful emissions. An incinerator must be designed and operated properly to protect public health and the environment. USEPA has established operating and performance standards designed to limit emissions of certain pollutants to acceptable levels. The incinerator used at the site appeared to perform as designed.
- Are PCBs stable?
PCBs are very stable, highly resistant to extreme conditions of temperature and pressure, and have a high dielectric constant. Because of those properties, PCBs were widely used in a variety of industrial applications and consumer goods. Although PCBs were banned from use in the 1970s, low levels of PCBs are ubiquitous in the environment because of their widespread use, persistence, and improper disposal.
- Are there any dangers with using Crab Orchard Lake for recreational purposes?
Recreational use of the Lake including boating, swimming, and fishing should not pose a public health concern at this time. The contamination is concentrated in the eastern, industrialized portion of the Refuge, and much of this area drains into the easternmost portion of Crab Orchard Lake, primarily east of Wolf Creek Road. This area of the Lake is generally shallow and not attractive for recreational use. The remaining portions of the Lake do not have elevated levels of contaminants in surface water and sediment samples.
- Can fish caught from Crab Orchard Lake be consumed safely?
Some fish collected east of Wolf Creek Road had PCB levels above the FDA action level of 2.0 ppm. The highest concentrations were measured in carp. The current fish consumption advisory for Crab Orchard Lake advises that people can eat any fish caught west of Wolf Creek Road. Consumption of fish from this area of the lake poses little or no health risks. For fish caught east of Wolf Creek Road, all fish except carp 15 inches or larger are safe to eat. Limited consumption is advised for carp 15 inches or larger.
Limited consumption indicates the fish contain moderate levels of contaminants. Nursing mothers, pregnant women, women who anticipate bearing children, female children of any age, and male children age 15 or under should not eat these fish. All other individuals should limit their consumption of these fish to no more than one meal per week. To further reduce potential exposure to fat-soluble contaminants, fish should be handled in the following manner: Fillets should be skinned. All fat belly tissue should be removed, as well as dark tissue along the lateral line. Cooking methods that allow fats and juices to drip away, such as broiling, barbecuing, or baking on an elevated rack may reduce contaminant levels in cooked fish.
- How are people fishing notified of the fish advisory for Crab Orchard Lake?
IDNR publishes an annual Illinois Fishing Information publication. The booklet is provided to individuals at the time of purchasing a sport fishing license. Copies of the booklet are available from a vendor or IDNR offices where licenses are sold. The booklet contains a variety of information concerning fishing in Illinois, including an up-to-date summary of fishing regulations and sport fish health advisories.
- Are there any increased cancers or health problems in the population surrounding the Refuge?
As previously discussed in the health outcome data evaluation section, a cancer incidence data review was conducted in 1990 for communities surrounding the site. IDPH reviewed all cases of cancer diagnosed among residents of the study area for the years 1985 to 1987. Although there were limitations to the cancer incidence data review, no association between cancer incidence and the site was identified at the time the study was completed.
- Is there an increased incidence of cancers to inmates of the Marion Federal Penitentiary?
The 1990 cancer incidence data review included all cases of cancer diagnosed among residents of the study area, including the Marion zip code. If inmates were diagnosed and they listed the Penitentiary as their home address, they should be included in the data reviewed. If inmates diagnosed with cancer listed a home address outside the area, they would not have been included in the cancer incidence data review.
- Are municipal water supplies routinely tested for PCBs? Who sampled the water at the Refuge water treatment plant?
Public water supplies are currently required to sample for PCBs. Beginning in 1983, both raw water samples from Crab Orchard Lake and finished water samples from the Refuge water treatment plant were collected quarterly and analyzed for several contaminants including PCBs. The water samples were collected by certified water plant operators employed by the Refuge and the Federal Penitentiary. The IEPA laboratory then analyzed the water samples. No PCBs were ever detected in any of the samples. In June 1993, the Refuge discontinued using Crab Orchard Lake as a drinking water supply.
- Was food for the penitentiary grown on the Refuge?
No available records indicate that any agricultural products, including produce or livestock grown on the Refuge, were used by the Marion Federal Penitentiary.
- Was there any testing conducted for radioactivity at the site?
Refuge personnel say that no testing has been done for radioactive material.
- Is constructing an on-site landfill safe given that this area is in an earthquake prone area?
IDPH has no reason to believe that the on-site landfill would be a problem, even if an earthquake hit the area. The on-site landfill was constructed according to IEPA and USEPA regulations governing hazardous waste landfills. It was constructed in three layers with the foundation consisting of a 3-foot compacted clay liner. The second layer is a thick plastic liner installed to prevent migration of contamination. The top layer is a drainage system consisting of another plastic membrane and 3 feet of vegetative cover. Before being landfilled, heavily contaminated soil was mixed with fly ash to harden the soil to a material similar to concrete. This stabilized and reduced the mobility of the contamination. Groundwater monitoring wells were also installed around the perimeter of the landfill to monitor for any potential contaminant migration. In the unlikely event that contamination breaks free during a catastrophe like an earthquake, contaminants would be found before they could reach anyone living in the area.
- Current conditions at the Crab Orchard Refuge present no apparent public health hazard to the general population. Consumption of PCB-contaminated fish harvested from the eastern portion of Crab Orchard Lake prior to the IDPH fish advisory may have posed a public health hazard for anyone who ate contaminated fish daily from the lake. Few persons, if anyone, likely ate fish from that part of the lake daily. The sport fish consumption advisory issued in 1988 warned people about the PCB-contaminated fish and should have resulted in fewer people eating the fish. When PCB concentrations decreased in the fish, the advisory was reduced in 1992. Although the fish advisory remains in place, samples collected in 1996 contained PCB levels (0.64 ppm) below the FDA action level.
- Many contaminated sites have been remediated. Most of the other contaminated sites are in remote, heavily vegetated areas of the Refuge that are closed to the public. The areas primarily contaminated with metals have been remediated. Much of the contaminated material from those sites was solidified and landfilled on the site. The areas contaminated with PCBs have undergone remediation by on-site incineration. The areas identified with explosive and munitions contamination have not been remediated; those sites are in areas of the Refuge closed to the public.
- Limited groundwater contamination exists in the Refuge area; however, the wells within the boundaries of the Refuge are old, abandoned wells currently not in use. The open wells pose a physical hazard, especially to any child who accidentally entered an area closed to the public; the wells also act as a direct conduit for contaminants to enter the groundwater. Since 1995, refuge personnel have been sealing the abandoned wells as they discover them. According to the current Refuge Manager, approximately 25 of these wells have been identified and sealed as of the date of this report. Municipal water districts service the drinking water supply for the Refuge and the surrounding area.
- The primary concern from the surrounding community was the potential release of contaminants into the ambient air from the on-site incineration of the PCB contaminated soil and sediment. On-site and perimeter air monitoring for lead, cadmium, PCBs, dioxins, and particulates was conducted before the start-up of the incinerator to establish background levels for the contaminants. Air monitoring for lead, cadmium, and particulates continued throughout the operation of the incinerator. Results of the air sampling showed no significant increase of lead or cadmium following the start-up of the on-site incinerator. Therefore, the incinerator appeared to work properly. No air monitoring data are available for PCBs and dioxins during the operation of the incinerator. USEPA said that a trial burn test initially conducted on the incinerator demonstrated that regulatory requirements for PCB destruction and removal efficiency were met.
- Continue to sample fish from Crab Orchard Lake to monitor PCB concentrations in the fish population. Besides sampling east of Wolf Creek Road, fish samples should also be periodically collected in other portions of the lake to monitor PCB levels in those fish populations. A variety of fish should be sampled including not only bottom feeders such as catfish and carp, but also the traditional sport fish including bass, bluegill, and crappie.
- Contaminated sites should remain closed to the public. The areas should be posted to notify the occasional hunter or hiker that contamination is present in those areas. Refuge personnel and industrial workers should limit visits to these areas to avoid risk of potential exposure.
- Abandoned water wells throughout the Refuge should be identified and properly sealed according to the Illinois Water Well Construction Code, Section 920.120. The Code states that the owner of a water well will assure that such a well is sealed within 30 days after it is abandoned and no longer used for the purpose for which it was intended. IDPH staff have pursued action with Refuge officials to eliminate this hazard.
- If data become available suggesting that people are exposed to hazardous substances at levels of public health concern, IDPH will reevaluate the need for any follow-up at the site.
Public Health Actions
State and federal health agencies have undertaken public health actions to address issues and concerns with potential adverse human health effects associated with contaminants present at the site. The actions taken are described below.
- In June 1985, the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) conducted a health hazard evaluation at an Olin Corporation manufacturing facility on the Refuge in response to concerns of possible PCB exposure among Olin employees. A manufacturer of PCB-containing electrical components had occupied portions of the facility, and investigations showed that soil and surface PCB contamination was in and around some buildings. NIOSH determined that no hazard from PCB exposure existed for employees of Olin Corporation. Recommendations were made to further reduce any possibility of exposure to PCBs left in the area.
- In June 1986 and September 1990, ATSDR reviewed data and provided a written response to a request from Marion Federal Penitentiary about the quality of raw and finished water from Crab Orchard Lake. Total trihalomethanes were detected in finished water samples from the Refuge water treatment plant at levels above drinking water standards, but the trihalomethanes were from water treatment processes rather than from contamination at the Refuge.
- In May 1990, in response to community concerns about cancer, IDPH Division of Epidemiologic Studies initiated an assessment of the cancer incidence for the communities surrounding the site. At the time the health cancer data review was completed, no association between cancer incidence and the site was identified.
- In November 1992, community health education was provided through a public availability session offered by IDPH and ATSDR.
- In April 1996, IDPH in cooperation with the University of Illinois at Chicago, provided an environmental health education seminar to local health care providers. The seminar, which focused on health effects associated with exposures to PCBs, was given at Memorial Hospital of Carbondale.
- In August 1996, IDPH provided community health education through the distribution of dioxin and incineration fact sheets to approximately 350 residents in the surrounding communities.
Lynn M. Stone
Illinois Department of Public Health
Illinois Department of Public Health
ATSDR Regional Representative
Office of Regional Operations
Office of the Assistant Administrator
ATSDR Technical Project Officers
Division of Health Assessment and Consultation
Division of Health Studies
Grant Baldwin and Courtney Jones
Division of Health Education and Promotion
- O'Brien & Gere Engineers, Inc. Final Remedial Investigation Report for Crab Orchard National Refuge, Marion, Illinois. Syracuse, New York. July 1988.
- Arnett, G. Ray (U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service). Letter to Senator Alan Dixon. Presence of PCBs in Crab Orchard Lake Ecosystem. May 22, 1984.
- U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Air Quality Criteria Document for Lead. Office of Health Environmental Assessment. Washington D.C. 1986.
- Agency for Toxic Substance and Disease Registry. The Nature and Extent of Lead Poisoning in Children in the U.S.: A Report to Congress. 1988.
- U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Drinking Water Criteria Document for Polychlorinated Biphenyls (PCBs). Environmental Criteria and Assessment Office, Cincinnati, OH. May 1987.
- Fein, G.G., J.L. Jacobson, S.W. Jacbson, P.M. Schwartz and J.K. Dowler. Prenatal Exposure to Polychlorinated Biphenyl: Effects on Birth Size and Gestational Age. J. Pediatr. 102:314-320. 1984.
- Jacobson, J.W., S.W. Jacobson, P.M. Schwartz, G.G. Fein and J.K. Dowler. Prenatal Exposure to an Environmental Toxin: A Test of the Multiple Effects Model. Dev. Psychol. 20:523-532. 1984.
- Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry. Public Health Assessment Guidance Manual. Atlanta, GA. March 1992.
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This Crab Orchard National Wildlife Refuge 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
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