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PUBLIC HEALTH ASSESSMENT

ALLIED CHEMICAL AND IRONTON COKE
IRONTON, LAWRENCE COUNTY, OHIO


SUMMARY

The Allied Chemical/Ironton Coke site is in the City of Ironton, Lawrence County Ohio. The areas of concern for this public health assessment are the former Coke Plant and Lagoon Area and the Tar Plant. From 1920 to the 1960's, waste was discharged into the lagoon area. Soil samples showed the on-site surface soil to be contaminated with cyanide, phenolics, benzene, naphthalene, and benzo (a) pyrene (a polynuclear aromatic hydrocarbon). Groundwater analysis detected a number of volatile and semi-volatile organic compounds plus cyanide. Sediment samples from Ice Creek, a stream bordering the lagoon area contained low levels of cyanide, phenolics, and naphthalene.

The site poses a public health hazard because of the potential for long-term exposure to cyanide, benzo (a) pyrene, and naphthalene in on-site soils. The Allied Chemical Ironton Coke site also poses an indeterminate public health hazard because of the potential impact on a public water supply. The residents who obtain their drinking water from the Coal Grove well field are potentially at risk of exposure to chemicals originating from the site.

Members of the community are concerned about local rates of cancer and birth defects. A review of available data showed that the city of Ironton does not have a higher rate of cancer mortality compared to other Ohio River cities in Ohio. There is not a significantly higher rate of children born with birth defects in Ironton when compared to Lawrence County or the state of Ohio.

Recommendations made in this public health assessment include protective clothing for site workers and sampling of monitoring wells located in the Coal Grove well field. The data and information developed in the Allied Chemical and Ironton Coke-Coke Plant Lagoon Area Public Health Assessment have been evaluated for appropriate follow-up health activities. Because of citizen concern about higher rates of cancer in Ironton and a review of health outcome data indicated that cancer mortality rates for cities along the Ohio River are higher when compared to cities not along the river, a review of the Ohio Cancer Incidence Surveillance System data is indicated. These data are not currently available and a review of cancer incidence will be completed when the data are available. A general community-wide education program outlining risks associated with the development of cancer may also be needed for the local community, including physicians and local health authorities. It is likely that former coke plant workers were exposed to a variety of site-related chemicals during the 65 years that the plant was operating. Other workers on site may have also been exposed to site-related chemicals in dirt and dust. Quantifying possible occupational exposure is extremely difficult because of the absence of health records for former workers and a lack of environmental monitoring data collected before the 1970s.


BACKGROUND

A. Site Description and Site History

Allied Chemical and Ironton Coke is in Ironton, Lawrence County Ohio (Figure 1, Appendix A). The site lies along a pooled section of the Ohio River between the Greenup lock and dam and the Gallipolis lock and dam. The Allied Chemical/Ironton Coke site includes two operable units, the former Coke Plant and Lagoon Area (CPLA) and the Goldcamp Disposal Area. The Tar Plant is in the industrial complex across from the CPLA (Figure 2, Appendix A). The Goldcamp Disposal Area, is not addressed as part of this public health assessment, but will be addressed in an addendum when the data are received. The CPLA is bounded on the west by Third Street and the east and south by Ice Creek. The Tar Plant and Goldcamp Disposal Area are on the west side of Third Street across from the CPLA (Figure 2, Appendix A). Access to the CPLA and Tar Plant is restricted by a fence, gates, and guard station at the entrances. The general public does not have access to the site. Ice Creek is freely accessible to the public. This area is swamp-like and would be attractive to young people in the area.

The CPLA contains the remains of the Coke Plant and five former lagoons. The lagoons are along the southeastern edge of the Coke Plant property bordering Ice Creek (Figure 2, Appendix A). The Coke Plant has been salvaged of recoverable materials, leaving a cement shell. The remainder of the Coke Plant property is covered by coke and coke fine materials and is largely unpaved. The Coke Plant is located above the 100-year flood level of the Ohio River. A flood-wall separates the CPLA from Ice Creek and the lagoons. In the 1937 flood, Ice Creek and the lagoons were covered with water (Department of the Army, Corps of Engineers, 1973). A floodwall also separates the Coal Grove well field from Ice Creek and the Ohio River.

The lagoon area lies in a flat alluvial terrace with an elevation lower than the Coke Plant and is below the 100 year flood level of the Ohio River. Lagoons 3 and 4 currently contain standing water and are densely vegetated, with aquatic and wetland plants, small trees, and shrubs. Lagoon 5 is covered with fill. The lagoon area is separated from Ice Creek by a dike made-up of 25 feet of fill material. The upper 6-8 feet are silty clay with the underlying 17-19 feet consisting of fine and coarse cinders (coal and coke). The total volume of waste is estimated at 579,000 cubic yards. Approximately two-thirds of the lagoon materials are above the water table, with the remaining one-third below the water table.

Allied Chemical and Ironton Coke has had a long and diverse history. The Coke Plant began operations in 1917 and was incorporated into Allied Chemical and Dye in 1920. The Tar Plant was added in 1945. In 1977, the site and manufacturing facilities were sold to McClouth Steel Corporation. McClouth filed for bankruptcy in 1980. The Coke Plant and lagoons were shut down in 1982. The property and facilities were purchased by Iron City Fuels. The site was placed on the National Priorities List in 1983. In March of 1984, Allied-Signal, Inc. purchased the Coke Plant property. In 1984 and 1985, Iron City Fuels salvaged the materials from the remaining surface facilities.

Coke Plant products included furnace coke, coke oven gas, aqua-ammonia, crude tar acid (phenol), crude light oil, coal tars, blended tars, and pyridine. From 1920 to the 1960's wastewater and solid waste were discharged into Ice Creek. These wastes included processed wastewater, coke and coal fines, tar decanter sludge , boiler ash, quench water, and storm water run-off. The lagoons were built in the early 1970's (Figure 2, Appendix A). Lagoons 1-4 held processed and storm water discharge, lagoon 5 stored tar decanter sludge and other solid waste.

The Tar Plant began operations in 1945 and manufactured products from the crude tar produced at the Coke Plant. Waste products included phthalic anhydride, creosote, pitches, naphthalene, and anthracene. Most of the wastes were disposed in the Goldcamp Disposal Area.

Concerns over groundwater contamination prompted hydrogeologic and water quality studies in 1978 and 1983. It was determined at that time that the potential existed for groundwater contaminants to enter the Coal Grove municipal well field and Ironton's water intakes in the Ohio River. Battelle-Columbus Laboratories analyzed Ohio River water samples for cyanide and phenol to determine the impact on the Ohio River from the site. Geraghty and Miller, Inc. installed monitoring wells at the Tar Plant to determine groundwater levels and contamination. Additional groundwater data were collected in 1980 at the Tar Plant and at the Coke Plant in 1981. Additional work at the Coke Plant in 1981 included the analysis of soil and groundwater quality. In 1982 and 1983, more groundwater data were collected consisting of water level measurements at the Coke Plant. In 1983 International Technology Corporation performed an assessment of the site. The Remedial Investigation/Feasibility Study (RI/FS) was initiated as a result of early work at the site. Phase I of the RI/FS began in October 1983 and was transferred to the Allied-Signal Corporation for completion in 1984. Phase II was completed in 1985 and finalized in 1986.

B. Site Visit

A site visit was made by Ohio Department of Health (ODH) staff on April 17, 1990. Ohio Environmental Protection Agency staff and Allied-Signal, Inc. representatives were present during the site visit. The site is fenced with on-site security, however, there is easy access to Ice Creek. Subsequent site visits were made on April 20, 1993 and July 12, 1993.

C. Demographics, Land Use, and Natural Resource Use

Demographics

According to the 1990 Census, Ironton has 12,751 people. Nearly seventy-five percent of the population is above the age of eighteen. The city of Coal Grove, population 2,840, is southwest of the site. There are residential areas northwest and along the southern edge of the site. Detailed information about the residents within 0.5 to 2-miles of the site were not readily available.

Age distribution in Ironton:

Under 18 3,014 (23.6%)
18-64 7,167 (56.2%)
65+ 2,570 (20.2%)

Land Use

The land around the site is used for housing, small businesses, and industries. Industries in Ironton include coal loading and processing, oil terminals, chemical manufacturing and storage, and steel manufacturing. Industries along the Ohio River include steel mills, paper mills, coal processing facilities, manufacturers of coke and coal products, chemicals, pottery, and tools. There are 51 National Pollution Discharge Elimination System permits for this section of the Ohio River above the Greenup locks and dam.

There are businesses, homes, one elementary school, and baseball diamonds along the northern boundary of the site and seven schools within 2 miles of the site. A county home is within 0.25 of a mile from the site. A cemetery lies northeast of the site. There is also one resident who operates a small automobile junk yard just south of the CPLA, bordering Ice Creek.

Natural Resource Use

Ice Creek is a sluggish, swamp-like creek. The construction of Greenup Dam raised the water level of the Ohio River 20 feet inundating Ice Creek, creating a freshwater estuarine type of environment. Ice Creek is considered part of the CPLA operable unit because it may have received waste throughout the nearly sixty years of plant operation.

The Ohio Environmental Protection Agency administrative code, 3745-1-32 stream use designation for the Ohio River (outside of the mixing zone) must meet a number of water quality criteria. Mixing zones are those areas of a set size where wastewater and the river water mix. Waters of the Ohio River outside mixing zones must be free of objects or substances that will settle to the bottom or create colors or odors that cause unsightly conditions or a nuisance. Waters must also be free of substances in concentrations that are harmful/toxic to humans or animals or aquatic life.

Locks and dam pools along most of the Ohio River are popular with fishermen. The Greenup dam pool, downstream from the site, would be no exception. The Ohio River has environmental problems, such as contaminated fish, which are not strictly associated with this lock and dam pool. The Ohio Department of Health has a fish consumption advisory in place for the Ohio River. The advisory recommends that people not eat catfish and carp caught in the river because they are contaminated with polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs). PCBs are not related to the CPLA.

The city of Ironton drinking water is taken from the Ohio River. The water intakes are 2 miles downstream from the Allied Chemical Coke Plant site. The Coal Grove well field lies 1,500 feet directly south of the site which serves the city of Coal Grove.

Groundwater movement in the Ohio River Aquifer at the site is from the north, southward under the site, then out into Ice Creek to the east, or the Ohio River to the west. There is a weak flow towards the Coal Grove well field. Groundwater discharge to the Coal Grove wells includes groundwater flow from: 1) leakage from Ice Creek (27%); 2) leakage from the Ohio River (29%); 3) groundwater flow through the sand and gravel aquifer under the site (3%); and 4) groundwater flow from the same sand and gravel aquifer in the area southeast of the well field (41%).

D. Health Outcome Data

Health outcome data, such as cancer mortality and birth defects statistics for Ironton were evaluated because of community concern. Birth certificate information on congenital malformations for 1989 and 1990 were also reviewed. These data provide some information on the rate of children born with birth defects in Ironton compared to other areas.

Cancer mortality is the number of people who have died from cancer. This type of data (epidemiological data) can sometimes show an excess of disease or illness, if present. However, high rates of a particular disease are not always associated with hazardous substances in the environment. People may be at risk because of their lifestyle, such as smoking and not eating the right foods.

ODH depends on previously gathered data as well as original data to perform a public health assessment. Pre-existing health data are usually reported for counties or cities. Groups of people likely to have been affected by the contaminants associated with a particular site are usually much smaller, such as a neighborhood or those people who live within one-half mile of the site. Any evidence of excess illness or disease in the smaller group may be hidden within the larger group. Also, when the number of people in a group is small, the number of people who have a particular illness is also small. Examining the number of deaths over a longer period of time, especially for areas as small as a city or for relatively rare occurrences, is oftentimes necessary in order to have statistically comparable numbers.

Cancer mortality data for the State, County, and some larger cities are the only data readily available to determine excess rates of deaths from cancer. Interpretation of County data are limited when looking at potential health effects within a small population surrounding a site. There are also some limitations to using cancer mortality rates for the city of Ironton. The Ohio Department of Health evaluated the cancer mortality rates comparing Ironton with other randomly selected cities on the Ohio River and with randomly selected nonriver cities in Ohio. We chose to compare Ironton to other cities along the Ohio River because of similarities in the people that live in these other areas to the people in Ironton. The results are discussed in the Public Health Implications, Health Outcome Data Evaluation section of this document.


COMMUNITY HEALTH CONCERNS

Community concerns brought up at a City Council meeting in January 1990 included concerns over perceived increased rates of cancer, general health conditions, and birth defects. Concerns were also raised over the chosen remedial action plan, however, these concerns should be addressed to the United States Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) or the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency (OEPA). In addition, ODH staff attended an USEPA Public Availability Session on July 12, 1993. Citizens voiced concerns about the clean-up plans and the safety of drinking water in Ashland, Kentucky. There have been other concerns which dealt specifically with the Coal Grove well field and the safety of the water supply.


ENVIRONMENTAL CONTAMINATION AND OTHER HAZARDS

The tables in this section list the contaminants of concern. We evaluate these contaminants in the subsequent sections of this public health assessment and determine whether exposure to them has public health significance. ODH and ATSDR select and discuss these contaminants based upon the following factors:

  1. Concentrations of contaminants on and off the site.

  2. Field data quality, laboratory data quality, and sample design.

  3. Comparison of on-site and off-site concentrations with public health assessment comparison values for (1) non-carcinogenic endpoints and (2) carcinogenic endpoints.

  4. Community health concerns

In the data tables that follow under the On-site and the Off-site Contamination subsections, the listed contaminant does not mean that it will cause adverse health effects from exposures. Instead, the list indicates which contaminants will be evaluated further in the public health assessment.

Comparison values for public health assessments are contaminant concentrations in specific media that are used to select contaminants for further evaluation. If a chemical's concentration exceeds the comparison value and is in a human exposure pathway (such as drinking water), it may be picked as a chemical of concern. Comparison values for the chemicals that do not cause cancer are either ATSDR's environmental media evaluation guides (EMEGs) or are calculated by ODH using the USEPA standard Reference Dose (RfD), adult and child body weights and ingestion rates (Appendix B). The RfD is an estimate of the daily exposure to a contaminant that is unlikely to cause adverse health effects. The comparison values for drinking water are either the USEPA Maximum Contaminant Level (MCL) or ATSDR's EMEG, whichever is the lowest number. MCLs represent contaminant concentration that the USEPA deems protective of public health (considering the availability and economics of water treatment technology) over a lifetime (70 years) at an exposure rate of 2 liters of water per day. The USEPA's MCLG is a drinking water health goal. The USEPA believes that the MCLG represents a level at which "no known or anticipated adverse health effect on human health occurs which allows an adequate margin of safety." PMCLGs are MCLGs that are being proposed. While MCLs are regulatory concentrations, PMCLGs and MCLGs are not. The USEPA chronic reference concentrations were used for those chemicals in air or in the soil gas. Cancer risk guides are used to assist in the evaluation of the cancer potential for a chemical. Cancer risk guides are estimated contaminant concentrations based on a one excess cancer in a million persons exposed over a lifetime. They are calculated using the USEPA cancer slope factors, adult body weights and ingestion rates.

A. On-Site Contamination

On-site information includes data collected from the bounded area shown in Figure 2 (Appendix A). Ice Creek was also included because it is close to the lagoons on site. Data were collected from soil at CPLA and Tar Plant, lagoon waste samples, groundwater, and Ice Creek sediment.

Surface Soil

Surface soil samples taken at the CPLA and the Tar Plant in 1984 and in 1989 contained site-related chemicals, including polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), benzene, cyanide, and phenolics (Table 1, Appendix C). The concentration of naphthalene and benzo(a) pyrene exceeded levels of concern. Investigators encountered a black oily liquid during surface and near surface soil sampling, which had an odor of naphthalene and creosote. There were also visible signs of contamination during deep soil borings (to bedrock). The discovery of these substances is consistent with the past coal processing operations. Sample locations for 1984 samples are shown in Figure 3 and those for 1989 in Figure 4 (Appendix A).

Chemical concentrations from one sample period to the next varied, with some chemicals increasing in concentration while others decreased. Naphthalene concentrations varied depending on where samples were taken. In general, concentrations tended to decrease with depth except benzene, which was rarely present (Table 1, Appendix C). Benzo (a) pyrene was not specifically analyzed for in the 1984 sample analysis.

Phenol and its homologs (primarily cresol and xylene) are by-products of the coking process and are found in tar acids. Phenol is the name given for a group of phenolic compounds, defined as hydroxy derivatives of benzene and its condensed nuclei. Phenol is the most water soluble in the group (Menzel et al, 1986).

Waste Materials

There were five lagoons at the Allied Chemical/Ironton Coke site, located in the CPLA. Lagoon waste is comprised of tar, lime sludge, residual coarse coal and coke, dredged river sediments and soil, and general debris. Samples were taken from the surface (grab samples) to a depth of 41 feet (boring sampling). International Technology sampled lagoon waste samples from lagoons 1 and 5 as part of the 1989 Feasibility Study. Samples were analyzed only for cyanide, benzene, naphthalene, benzo (a) pyrene, ammonia, and arsenic, and not the complete list of priority pollutants. The compounds detected, and concentrations in the waste, tended to vary with location in the lagoon. Chemicals discovered in surface waste, including a number of different PAHs and inorganic compounds, are shown in Table 2, Appendix C. Comparisons between 1984 and 1989 are difficult because only two of the five lagoons were sampled in 1989 for the above mentioned chemicals. Samples from as early as 1970 indicated the presence of cyanide and phenol in lagoon effluent.

Groundwater - Monitoring Wells

Groundwater was sampled from 1984 to 1989 at the CPLA and the Tar Plant. A number of volatile organic compounds (VOCs), semi-volatile organic compounds (SVOCs), and metals were detected in groundwater samples (Table 3, Appendix C). The concentration of most of the VOCs and inorganic compounds and a few of the SVOCs exceeded levels of concern. Coke Plant/Lagoon Area wells were C-1 to C-10, CPPW 3,-6, MW-4, MW-15 and MW-16 and those in the Tar Plant were T-6 to T-13, TPPW-1,2, MW-3, MW-17, and MW-18 (Figure 5, Appendix A). The concentration of some chemicals decreased from 1983 to 1989 (benzene) while others (naphthalene) increased from year to year. In general, the concentrations of VOCs tended to decrease while SVOCs, when detected, tended to increase in concentration.

Sediment - Ice Creek

Sediment samples taken from borings in Ice Creek next to the lagoon area (on site), detected low levels of site-related chemicals, including naphthalene and cyanide (Table 4, Appendix C). Tar-like material was encountered at one of these sampling stations. Those samples analyzed for the complete list of priority pollutants did not detect any other chemicals. The remaining samples were only analyzed for cyanide, phenolics, benzene, naphthalene, chlorine, ammonia, and sulfate.

B. Off-Site Contamination

Off-site samples include groundwater from the Coal Grove well field (public water supply), monitoring wells, surface water and sediment from Ice Creek (north of the site and in the area of Coal Grove well field), and the Ohio River (Figure 2, Appendix A).

Groundwater

Off-site groundwater samples were taken from the Goal Grove wells 3 and 4 (public water supply), and at monitoring wells (C-11, C-12, C-13, MW-5, MW-6 to MW-10, MW-13) (Figure 5, Appendix A). Coal Grove wells 3 and 4 were sampled on a monthly basis between April and September 1984. A complete set of data are available for the Coal Grove wells and the off-site monitoring wells sampled in 1984. The 1989 data are limited, with only samples from two monitoring wells and two Coal Grove wells. In addition, the off-site monitoring wells sampled in 1989 were not analyzed for the complete list of chemicals, but were only analyzed for benzene, naphthalene, total phenolics, sulfate, ammonia, chloride, and total cyanide. Data for the monitoring wells and Coal Grove wells (public water supply) from 1984 are in Table 5, Appendix C. Lead was detected in one well at 980 parts per billion (ppb) in the Coal Grove well field; however, it was not detected in subsequent sampling or the other well sampled. Cyanide and benzene were detected in the monitoring wells above levels of concern.

The concentration of chemicals were greater in monitoring wells on site than in the off-site wells (C-11, C-12, MW-6 to MW-11, and MW-13, Figure 5, Appendix A) and in the Coal Grove wells (CG wells, C-13 and MW-5, Figure 5, Appendix A) (Tables 3 and 5, Appendix C).

Monitoring in the Coal Grove wells since the RI has detected dichloroethene (DCE) and trichloroethene (TCE) at concentrations below health-related standards (Table 6). The highest concentrations occurred in the early rounds of sampling (1988). These two chemicals are probably not related to the contamination at the site since these chemicals were not detected in any media on site nor reported on the Toxic Chemical Release Inventory for the Allied-Signal facility across from the CPLA.

Surface Water and Sediment

Samples of surface water and sediment were taken from Ice Creek north of the site (upstream) and at the confluence with the Ohio River (downstream) (Tables 7 and 8, Appendix C). The eight Ohio River water samples were taken upstream and downstream of the confluence with Ice Creek (Table 7, Appendix C). Samples contained ammonia, cyanide, arsenic, naphthalene and benzene. The chemical concentrations in Ice Creek surface water were generally greater downstream of the lagoons. Chemical concentrations in upstream Ohio River samples did not differ from those downstream of the site.

Sediment sample results are presented in Table 8, Appendix C. Data were not available for cyanide in Ohio River sediment samples. The greatest concentrations of PAHs and inorganic compounds occurred where Ice Creek joins the Ohio River. Samples taken in 1989 detected very few chemicals. The samples taken in 1984 were primarily surface sediment samples (grab) while those in 1989 were core samples which may account for the differences between sample years.

Biota

Twenty-seven fish samples were taken from Ice Creek upstream and downstream of the CPLA. The samples contained a variety of fish species. One site-related chemical (phenol) was detected (Table 9, Appendix C). The phthalate esters are common environmental contaminants and may not be related to the Allied Chemical/Ironton Coke site.

Air

Air samples taken around the perimeter of lagoon 5 did not detect appreciable levels of VOCs. Samples were taken after the sludge material in the lagoon was disturbed for 20 minutes to increase volatilization of materials from the lagoon. Additional air monitoring during the Phase II RI with an organic vapor analyzer did not detect any chemicals above 10 parts per million.

C. Toxic Chemical Release Inventory (TRI)

The Ohio Department of Health staff received TRI data from the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency, Air Pollution Control, for the Allied-Signal, Inc. TRI is developed by the U.S.EPA from the chemical release (air, soil, water) information provided by certain industries. The Allied facility is located directly across from the CPLA of the Allied Chemical and Ironton Coke site. There are a number of chemicals released from this facility which were detected on site. Naphthalene, phenol, benzene, toluene, xylene, and styrene are present in either on-site or off-site media and are also released by the Allied-Signal facility.

D. Quality Assurance and Quality Control

There have been a number of studies at the Allied Chemical/Ironton Coke site from which a great deal of data were generated. Most of the information used in this public health assessment are from 1984 and 1989. There are also data from 1983. During the data evaluation for this public health assessment, we found some inconsistencies in these data, more specifically, large differences in chemical concentrations for a particular medium. For example, sediment samples from Ice Creek taken at two different times, showed extensive contamination with PAHs in the first round, but not in the second round. PAHs are fairly persistent and should have been detected in the second round. In addition, samples were not always analyzed for the complete list of priority pollutants. This makes comparisons between sampling periods difficult.

The most comprehensive data are used when differences in data were noted. There is another problem that has implications for toxicological evaluations. Data collected from earlier studies had detection limits which were much higher than present day analysis and often above current health-related standards. If detection limits are too high, some chemicals may be overlooked at a site. For example, the detection limit for benzene in the 1984 studies was 10 ppb, above health-related standards, although it was not detected in 1989.

In preparing this public health assessment, the Ohio Department of Health and ATSDR relied on the information provided in the referenced documents and assumes that adequate quality control and quality assurance measures were followed with regard to chain-of-custody, laboratory procedures, and data reporting. The validity of the analysis and conclusions drawn for this Public Health Assessment was determined by the completeness and reliability of the referenced information.

E. Physical and Other Hazards

The only possible physical hazards may be associated with the Tar Plant, however, it is fenced and has on-site security. The CPLA is non-operating with only a partial structure remaining of the Coke Plant. This area is also fenced and has on-site security.


PATHWAY ANALYSES

The Pathways Analysis Section contains discussions of how chemicals move in the environment and how people can be exposed to the chemicals. For example, chemicals in a landfill can move through the landfill into the groundwater or seep out of the landfill at the surface (leachate). Chemicals in soil can be blown off site by the wind or can be carried away from the site in rain water runoff. A chemical may be in groundwater or soil, but people may not come in contact with the contaminated dirt or water. For example, groundwater at a site or near a site is contaminated, but everyone within a 10 mile radius of the site uses public water from a reservoir upgradient from the site. If people are not in contact with the contaminated water or dirt, they will not be exposed to the chemicals.

There are two types of human exposure pathways, completed and potential. A completed exposure pathway means that there is a source of the chemical (the site), contaminated media at the site (such as groundwater or soil), a point of exposure (private wells), there is a way people can be exposed (ingestion of groundwater as a water supply), and people that are exposed to the contamination (using the contaminated groundwater).

A potential exposure pathway means that we are uncertain about one of the elements mentioned above. For example, groundwater is contaminated, but there are no people using the water. It is considered a potential because someone may have used the water in the past or may use it in the future.

A. Environmental Pathways

The material underlying the Coke Plant is comprised of aquifer sand and gravel. Tar and other waste materials were discovered in the surface fill material during sampling. Sand and gravel materials are also present at the Tar Plant with a silty clay layer. The silty clay layer also makes-up the banks of the Ohio River.

Those chemicals present in soil samples from the Coke Plant and Tar Plant are detailed in Table 1, Appendix C. Of these chemicals, cyanide is mobile in soils and would leach through the soil into the groundwater. Cyanide can also volatilize from surface soils. Cyanide would not be expected to be transported adsorbed to soil particles. Naphthalene could also leach into the groundwater, although to a lesser extent, and will also volatilize into the air. Benzo (a) pyrene was also present in site soils from both areas sampled, but would remain adsorbed to soil particles. PAHs adsorbed to soil particles can be transported via dust.

Contaminants from the lagoons may leach into the groundwater beneath the CPLA, infiltrate the underlying sand and gravel aquifer, and discharge into Ice Creek. Data detailing groundwater and lagoon waste samples were discussed in the Tables 3, 5, and 6, Appendix C). Chemicals in groundwater included VOCs, cyanide, metals, and SVOCs. There appears to be a pathway for the off-site migration of chemicals. Those chemicals most likely to be transported in the groundwater include VOCs, such as benzene, and other chemicals such as phenol, cyanide, and to some extent naphthalene.

Two aquifers are present at the site: an upper alluvial sand and gravel Ohio River Aquifer, and a lower bedrock aquifer system. The major source of groundwater in the area is the upper alluvial aquifer. The Ohio River Aquifer is recharged via direct infiltration of precipitation, infiltration and run-off from tributary streams, and groundwater migrating downgradient from upland areas. An additional source might be leakage from both Ice Creek and the Ohio River, at least in the vicinity of the Coal Grove well field. Aquifer studies and computer modeling (IT Corporation, 1986) indicate groundwater flow primarily from the north, then south under the site, and out towards Ice Creek to the east, and the Ohio River to the west, with a slight southward flow towards the Coal Grove well field.

The wells at Coal Grove well field have the potential to be impacted by site-related contaminants. To date, the Coal Grove wells do not appear to have been affected by site-related chemicals. Lead was detected at very high levels in one of the wells, however, was only detected in one of 3 subsequent samplings and was not present in the other Coal Grove well sampled. A percentage of Ice Creek surface waters, possibly containing site-related contaminants, may infiltrate back into the sand and gravel aquifer. These waters may be captured by the cone-of-depression created by groundwater pumping at the Coal Grove well field. Hydrologic studies done by IT Corporation indicated that the Coal Grove municipal water wells are potential receptors of site-related contaminants. Groundwater monitoring during the RI detected site-related chemicals in off-site monitoring wells located within 800 feet of the Coal Grove well field.

Computer modeling studies (IT Corporation, 1986) indicated that 92.4% of a groundwater contaminant load generated at the Coke Plant Lagoon Area would end up discharging into Ice Creek with a much smaller amount of contaminant (6.8%) ending up at the Coal Grove well field to the south. A contaminant plume generated at the undefined source in the southwest corner of the CPLA site is predicted to disperse in such a way that 66% of the contaminant load discharges into the Ohio River, 15% discharges into Ice Creek, and 18% is captured by the Coal Grove well field. Leakage from Ice Creek would be captured almost entirely by the groundwater pumping at the Coal Grove well field (99.9%). The same model predicts that 99.9% of the contaminant load generated at the Anthracene unit and 100% of the contaminant plume in the vicinity of Well TCCP-1 would discharge into the Ohio River.

Construction of dams resulted in an increase in the water level of the Ohio River and a subsequent increase in the water table by 25 feet. This may have allowed leachate to be transported directly from the lagoon floors into the groundwater system. This may have resulted in increased contamination concentrations in the ground-water in the early 1960's. The water table lies approximately 37 feet below the surface at the Coke Plant, 0-15 feet below the floors of the various lagoons, and at the surface at Ice Creek. At the Tar Plant, the water table varies from 42 feet below the surface in the vicinity of the Anthracene unit to as shallow as 19 feet below the surface at MW-18 along the banks of the Ohio River.

B. Human Exposure Pathways

Soils on site contain naphthalene and benzo (a) pyrene at levels of health concern. Remedial workers or other workers on site may be exposed to these chemicals in soils through ingestion of soil, inhalation of dust, and skin contact (Table 10). Although people on site may be exposed to soil-related chemicals, no evidence exists that people have been exposed, therefore it is a potential pathway. Proper protective equipment would limit exposure to on-site workers. Site access is controlled, thereby limiting the potential for exposure to area residents.

Groundwater on site and off site (monitoring wells) contained a number of chemicals above health-related standards. Because of the possibility of chemicals reaching the Coal Grove well field (public water supply) the residents of this community may be exposed in the future to these chemicals (Table 10). There are no data which indicate that site-related chemicals are currently present in Coal Grove wells.

Table 10. Human Exposure Pathways
Allied Chemical and Ironton Coke Site

POTENTIAL ROUTES OF EXPOSURE
  Ingestion Inhalation Skin Receptor Population*
Benzo(a)pyrene X X X Unknown
Naphthalene X X X Unknown
FUTURE ROUTES OF EXPOSURE
Benzene X X X 4,550
Fluorene X --- X 4,550
Fluoranthene X --- X 4,550
Phenanthrene X --- X 4,550
Pyrene X --- X 4,550
Acenaphthene X --- X 4,550
Naphthalene X --- X 4,550
2-methylnaphthalene X --- X 4,550
Lead X --- --- 4,550
Arsenic X --- --- 4,550
Cyanide X --- --- 4,550

* The receptor population is an estimation of the number of people who may be exposed to the chemicals listed in Table 10.


PUBLIC HEALTH IMPLICATIONS

A. Toxicological Evaluation

The following section discusses the available data about the chemicals that are in potential and future exposure pathways at the Allied Chemical/Ironton Coke site. There is often little information about the health effects caused by exposures to low levels of the chemicals. Most human exposure studies use information from industrial exposures, where the doses are much higher than environmental exposures. Industrial exposure data normally do not include precise information about the exact dose, the purity of the chemicals, their interactions with other substances, and the duration of the exposure. With these limitations, pertinent human data will be used in the following section. Although animals do not necessarily have the responses that humans do when exposed to toxic substances, animal experiments can be conducted under carefully controlled doses and time periods. Accordingly, when human information is unavailable, pertinent animal data will be incorporated into this section. Unless otherwise mentioned, the information in this section will be taken from the ATSDR toxicological profiles. The calculations used to estimate doses are given in Appendix B.

Cyanide

There is a potential for residents supplied with drinking water from wells in the Coal Grove well field to be exposed to cyanide through ingestion and skin contact. Several cyanide compounds exist and it is not known which specific form of cyanide is present. Cyanides are readily absorbed through all exposure routes. Inhalation of hydrogen cyanide is the most rapid route of entry. Hydrogen cyanide and its simple soluble salts, which have the effect of inhibiting the tissue use of oxygen, are among the most rapidly acting of poisons (Hartung, 1981). If a person were to drink groundwater containing cyanide at levels found in on-site groundwater, the estimated dose would be slightly higher than the levels of concern. The data do not indicate that people are currently being exposed to cyanide from the site.

The consumption of cassava, a vegetable containing cyanide, has been associated with thyroid gland and nerve disorders. Cyanide can also produce symptoms in the heart. Carbon monoxide and hydrogen cyanide act in an additive manner. This means that the adverse health effects of exposure to one of these chemicals may enhance those of the other chemical (ATSDR 1988).

Naphthalene

Remedial workers and other people on site may be exposed to naphthalene through ingestion, inhalation, and skin contact with soils on site. There is also a potential for residents supplied with drinking water from wells in the Coal Grove well field to be exposed to naphthalene and 2-methylnaphthalene through ingestion, inhalation, and skin contact. Naphthalene can volatilize from water during household uses. Multiple routes of exposure, inhalation, ingestion, and skin exposure, are possible through both pathways, soils on site and groundwater off site. If a person were to drink groundwater containing naphthalene at levels found in on-site groundwater, the estimated dose would exceed the levels of concern. Exposure could also occur through the ingestion of soils on site. If a person were exposed to naphthalene through water and soil, the estimated dose would be higher. The human system absorbs naphthalene most rapidly by the inhalation route; slower absorption occurs through skin contact and ingestion (ATSDR 1990).

In humans, the effects of chronic oral exposure to naphthalene include digestive problems, headaches, profuse perspiration, listlessness, confusion, and urinary system problems. Similar effects have been noted following exposure to 2-methylnaphthalene. Very little data are available for 2-methylnaphthalene. Individuals affected with a hereditary blood condition (known as red cell Glucose-6-Phosphate Dehydrogenase Deficiency or G-6-PD) who are exposed to naphthalene are particularly susceptible to jaundice, severe anemia, acute breakup of hemoglobin (red blood cells), decreases in red cell number, and increases in white blood cells (ATSDR 1990).

Little information is available on the effects of inhalation or skin exposure to naphthalene in either humans or animals. In the studies that exist, either the dosages are unknown or very high. Effects that have been observed in human infants exposed by inhalation to mothball-treated blankets include anemia, jaundice, and blood changes. These effects have also occurred in adults exposed to naphthalene though ingestion. Effects seen in infants whose skin is exposed to naphthalene-treated diapers include anemia and jaundice (ATSDR 1990).

Populations which may be particularly susceptible to effects from exposure to naphthalene are the young and those with G-6-PD deficiency. Those most likely to have G-6-PD are individuals of darker skinned races, for example, American and some African Blacks, Arabs and other Semites, Mediterranean peoples, Caucasians of Latin descent, and Asians. The inadequate detoxification mechanisms of newborns may explain their sensitivity to naphthalene (ATSDR 1990).

Polynuclear Aromatic Hydrocarbons (PAHs)

Remedial workers and other people on site may be exposed to benzo (a) pyrene through ingestion, inhalation of dust, and skin contact with soils on site. There is also a potential for residents supplied with drinking water from wells in the Coal Grove well field to be exposed to PAHs through ingestion and skin contact. The PAHs in groundwater are acenaphthalene, fluorene, fluoranthene, phenanthrene, pyrene, and 2-methylnaphthalene. If a person were to drink groundwater containing these PAHs at levels found in on-site groundwater, the estimated dose would exceed the levels of concern. Exposure could also occur through the ingestion of soils on site. The data do not indicate that people are currently being exposed to these PAHs from the site.

Naphthalene is discussed separately because more information is available for this PAH. PAHs are a group of different compounds with similar properties. In general, the PAHs enter the body easily through all routes of exposure. They are absorbed more rapidly when they are present in oily mixtures. They go to the body tissues that contain fat. They are stored mostly in the kidneys, liver, and fat, with smaller amounts in the spleen, adrenal glands, and ovaries. They do not, however, remain in the body for a long time. Animal studies have also shown that PAHs chiefly affect rapidly growing tissues such as the bone marrow, lymph organs, ovaries, testis, and intestinal surfaces. Thus researchers expect that the blood system and skin are the chief target organs of PAH exposure in humans. Although there is no evidence in humans, animal studies suggest that low-level PAH exposure might also adversely affect reproduction and fetal development (ATSDR 1990).

Based upon their molecular structure, PAHs can be classified into two groups. Carcinogens are considered capable of causing cancer; those not known to be associated with cancer are noncarcinogenic. The PAH compounds of concern, other than benzo (a) pyrene, are considered noncarcinogenic. Because the noncarcinogenic PAHs are less studied than the others, there is little information about the specific PAH compounds in groundwater at the CPLA. The few studies that have been made examined higher levels than would be expected in future exposure pathways (ATSDR 1990).

In oral exposure measurements of PAH effects upon the liver, phenanthrene had properties similar to other noncarcinogenic PAHs in the ability to induce enzymes. Diets of (51.4 mg/kg/day) acenaphthene or (437 mg/kg/day) pyrene produced no change in rat liver-to-body weight ratio, another measure of possible carcinogenicity. Although the effects occurred with acenaphthene and fluorene in rats that had part of their livers removed. Measurements of kidney effects during oral exposure showed that phenanthrene (100 mg/kg/day) had no effect upon the induction of a kidney enzyme (ATSDR 1990). These experimental levels exceed the estimated doses (future exposure) of exposure to the maximum levels in groundwater at the Allied Chemical/Ironton Coke site.

Skin exposure studies have shown that fluorene and pyrene (200 µg/mouse) did not produce effects. Other studies have shown that fluorene, phenanthrene, and pyrene do not act as complete carcinogens (that is, the substances by themselves are not associated with cancer) (ATSDR 1990).

The effect of chronic benzo(a)pyrene (or b(a)p) inhalation in humans is suspected to be cancer of the bronchial tubes. Contributing factors may be smoking habits and environmental conditions. Epidemiological (the study of the distribution of disease) data have shown a relationship between lung cancer, soot-borne b(a)p, soot per se, and the U.S. per capita cigarette consumption, versus death rates (Sandmeyer, 1981). Information from studies of aluminum smelter workers exposed to substances produced when coal tar pitch has been vaporized or burned, has been used to develop exposure-response relationships for b(a)p. The results showed a relationship existed between the cumulative exposure and relative risk and that a minimum latency period of ten years was compatible with the data (Armstrong, et. al., 1986).

B(a)p causes cancer in laboratory animals by all exposure routes. A series of steps occurs between exposure and tumor development. These involve metabolic activation and genotoxicity (DNA damage). The tissues that are chiefly involved for carcinogenesis have the ability to convert b(a)p to its metabolites (other reactive forms) (ATSDR 1990).

Populations that might be particularly susceptible to PAH effects include those who: are young, are unborn, are eating diets that are deficient in certain substances such as vitamins A and C, iron, and riboflavin, are exposed to PAHs in smoke, have depressed immune systems, are of child-bearing age, have liver and skin diseases, are heavily exposed to sunlight, or lack the genetic ability to rapidly detoxify PAHs. Interactions may also occur between different PAHs. For example, some individual noncarcinogenic PAHs can increase the cancer-causing effects of the carcinogenic PAHs, whereas others can decrease it (ATSDR 1990).

In summary, repeated chronic administration of several PAH compounds has resulted in tumors, cancer, or toxic effects in embryos. Recent studies have shown that compounds with linear ring structures do not cause tumors; whereas, benzo (a) pyrene and some of its derivatives appear to be active (Sandmeyer, 1981). As reviewed in the benzo (a) pyrene section of this report, interactive effects are highly important in the carcinogenicity and toxic effects of the PAHs.

Another organ system that is frequently affected is the skin; skin irritation ranges from simple irritation to malignant tumors. Other adverse health effects include: blood system dysfunctions which have been reported to be associated with exposures to benzo (a) pyrene, benzene, and naphthalene; liver, kidney, and/or lung disorders which have occurred after exposure to benzene, benzo (a) pyrene, naphthalene, and phenol. Many of these effects may be synergistic or additive. For example, benzo (a) pyrene, benzene, and naphthalene are all involved in actions which may depress hemoglobin or hematocrit values or decrease the number, or the efficiency of, the red blood cells. Benzo (a) pyrene, and benzene also affect the blood formation system. Similar effects might also occur with the PAHs, which have been less studied (ATSDR 1990).

Arsenic

There is also a potential for residents supplied with drinking water from wells in the Coal Grove well field to be exposed to arsenic through ingestion and skin contact. The possible exposure to arsenic through drinking water is a future risk. If a person were to drink groundwater containing arsenic at levels found in on-site groundwater, the estimated dose would exceed the levels of concern. The data do not indicate that people are currently being exposed to arsenic from the site.

Arsenic toxicity varies depending upon its form. The soluble inorganic forms are easily absorbed from the digestive tract and distributed throughout the body. Arsenic is cleared rapidly from the blood and does not strongly accumulate in the body during exposure to low levels. Arsenic accumulates in the liver, kidney, lung, spleen, aorta, and upper gastrointestinal tract, but is rapidly cleared from these tissues. Arsenic accumulates and remains longer in the skin and hair. Hair measurement is often used to detect chronic exposure (ATSDR 1989).

Although low levels of oral intake may be beneficial or even essential to animals, higher exposure levels may result in health effects. Some people can ingest up to 150 µg/kg/day without noticeable symptoms, however, in more sensitive individuals, doses as low as 20 to 60 µg/kg/day (~1 to 4 mg/day) may result in signs of arsenic toxicity. Future exposures to arsenic in drinking water could exceed these levels. These signs include disturbances of the blood and nervous systems, digestive tract irritation, skin and blood vessel injuries, and liver or kidney damage. In most cases of chronic exposure, many or all of the signs of arsenic toxicity are found together, indicating that the sensitivity for these various symptoms are similar. The most sensitive effects are the appearance of skin calluses and pigmentation. The lowest level at which these effects appear is above 10 µg/kg/day (~0.7 mg/day in an adult) (ATSDR 1989).

In one cancer study, people were classified into three exposure groups on the basis of arsenic levels in their drinking water: low = 0 to 0.29 mg/L, medium = 0.3 to 0.59 mg/L, and high = 0.6 mg/L or higher. Groundwater on site contained arsenic at levels above this highest exposure level. This study was consistent with other studies showing that an increased frequency of cancer was found in people exposed to water containing 0.3 mg/L of arsenic or higher. Further, the skin cancer rates increased with increased exposure to arsenic (ATSDR 1989).

People working in arsenical pesticide manufacture, the metal smelting, and the arsenic-treated wood industries, may be at additional risk because of possible occupational exposure. Persons having an above average sensitivity to arsenic include those on protein-poor diets, those with choline deficiency, and those with low levels of the liver enzymes needed for arsenic detoxification. Arsenic may interact with several substances. Arsenic and other toxic metals may increase the neurotoxic effects of lead, another substance of concern in groundwater at the CPLA (ATSDR 1989).

Lead

There is also a potential for residents supplied with drinking water from wells in the Coal Grove well field to be exposed to lead through ingestion and skin contact. The possible exposure to lead through drinking water is a future risk. The data do not indicate that people are currently being exposed to lead from the site.

Lead is most dangerous in young children and the unborn. It also may exert its effects even before conception. Unborn children can be harmed during pregnancy. The effects of lead exposure during pregnancy may include premature birth or low birth weight. Young children absorb lead more readily through the digestive tract than adults and are more sensitive to its effects. In young children, lead exposure can decrease intelligence (IQ) scores, slow growth, and cause hearing problems. These effects may continue as they grow older and interfere with their school performance (ATSDR 1990).

Exposure to lead levels that are higher than those that would be expected at Allied may be harmful to adults. Lead can damage the brain and kidneys of both children and adults, and it can increase the blood pressure of women (ATSDR 1990).

Numerous chemicals interact with lead and some nutritional deficiencies may increase the risk of lead effects. Iron deficiency increases lead absorption. Increased uptake of dietary fiber, iron, and thiamine results in lower blood lead levels in occupationally-exposed people. A higher calcium intake decreases the amount of lead in the body. Phosphorus and calcium inhibit the body's lead absorption. Children having elevated blood lead levels show lower concentrations of a vitamin D metabolite in their blood (ATSDR 1990).

Benzene

There is also a potential for residents supplied with drinking water from wells in the Coal Grove well field to be exposed to benzene through ingestion, inhalation, and skin contact. The possible exposure to benzene through drinking water is a future risk. If a person were to drink groundwater containing benzene at the levels found in on-site groundwater, the estimated dose may increase the risk of developing cancer. The exposure would have to occur throughout a person's lifetime. The data do not indicate that people are currently being exposed to benzene from the site.

Animal studies have shown that nearly all of an ingested dose of benzene is absorbed. The chief target systems for benzene are the blood and the immune systems. There is epidemiologic research suggesting that low level human inhalation exposure to benzene is associated with a type of leukemia, however, this information is too limited to substantiate a causal relationship at 1-10 parts per million (ppm) (Austin, 1988). Long-term exposure to benzene can affect blood production, possibly resulting in anemia and internal bleeding (ATSDR 1989).

Human and animal studies indicate that benzene is harmful to the immune system. It lowers the body's defense against tumors and increases the chance for infections. Benzene exposure has also been linked with genetic effects in both animals and humans. Animal studies show that benzene adversely affects the unborn. These effects include low birth weight, delayed bone formation, and bone marrow damage. Some of these effects can occur at levels as low as 10 parts of benzene per million parts of air. Information is too limited to permit an assessment of benzene's effects upon human reproduction (ATSDR 1989).

Occupational studies, where concentrations generally are higher than those that may occur through contaminated water supplies, have shown that benzene is a human carcinogen. Cancer of the tissues that form the white blood cells, leukemia, has occurred in workers who have been exposed to benzene for periods of approximately 5 to 30 years. Long-term exposure to benzene may also affect blood production, possibly resulting in anemia and internal bleeding (ATSDR 1989).

B. Health Outcome Data Evaluation

Local citizens expressed a concern over an increase in the number of children born with birth defects and in cancer. Tables 11 and 12 are based on information obtained from the Bureau of Vital Statistics, Ohio Department of Health.

The most significant factors which may influence the estimation of rates include consistency in reporting and numbers too small for statistical significance in comparisons. Human factors which may also influence rates include coding, data entry, and data retrieval. Some physicians or geographical areas may be more likely or less likely to properly complete certificates which can contribute to artificial differences in rates. In general, the state of Ohio appears to have a lower rate of birth defects than other parts of the nation; this is likely to be due to under-reporting of cases rather than an any true decrease in the occurrence.

The city of Ironton has an average annual percent of birth defects of 1.8%; Lawrence County has 1.2%. In 1990, the percent of birth defects in Ohio counties ranged from a high of 7.2% in Gallia County to a low of .58% in Geauga County. For the entire state of Ohio from 1989 to 1990, the average annual percent of birth defects is 2.4%. The difference in percent of birth defects between Ironton and Lawrence County is not statistically significant, nor is the difference between Ironton and the state of Ohio (that is, the difference is small enough to be within the normal range of variation). Based on these figures, Ironton does not appear to have an unusual rate of birth defects.

Table 11. Birth Defects for Ironton, Lawrence County and Ohio1

Comparison of Local, County and State 1989-1990
Number of Birth Defects3 Number of Births2 % of Births with Defects
Ironton 7 392 1.8%
Lawrence County 21 1713 1.2%
State of Ohio 7932 329902 2.4%

   1 = The data was obtained from the Bureau of Vital Statistics, Ohio Department of Health using the Statistical Analysis System (SAS) software program. The analysis was performed by the Ohio Department of Health, Bureau of Epidemiology and Toxicology in January, 1992.

   2 = Births include all birth certificates registered within the specified geographic area during 1989 and 1990. In 1989, the birth certificate was changed to include more specific information on pregnancy and birth abnormalities. Sufficient information is not available before this time.

   3 = Birth defects are those anomalies coded in the "International Classification of Diseases" (ICD) from 740 through 759, such as: Down's syndrome, club foot, cleft lip or palate, malformed genitalia, heart malformations, and spina bifida.

Community concerns brought up at an Allied City Council meeting in January 1990 included concerns over an increased rate of cancer among area citizens. In response to these concerns, ODH evaluated cancer mortality statistics for Ironton. The ODH also evaluated the cancer mortality rates comparing Ironton with other randomly selected cities on the Ohio River and with randomly selected nonriver cities in Ohio (Table 12). We chose to compare Ironton to other cities along the Ohio River because of similarities in the people that live in these other areas to the people in Ironton.

When comparing the city of Ironton with other river cities combined, Ironton does not have any statistically significantly higher cancer death rates. In fact, lung cancer is significantly lower in Ironton than other river cities. However, when all river cities combined (including Ironton) are compared with cities which are not along the Ohio River, there are a variety of cancers which are significantly higher. Female breast, colorectal, kidney, liver, lung, prostate, other, and total cancers are each higher in the river cities than nonriver cities. This indicates there is an increased cancer risk for residents living along the Ohio River than those who do not live along the Ohio River. The city of Ironton does not appear to have any unusual cancer mortality categories when compared with other cities along the Ohio River.

When examining any cancer rates, it should be noted that cancer mortality figures can be affected by: the consistency of reporting cancer as a cause of death by the physician; the persistence of coding cancer by nosologists and data entry personnel; the capability of the program and programmer to adequately detect and count the coded cancer cases; and the ability to verify data and analyze calculations. There are also limitations associated with using mortality data. Death certificates only contain those who have died, for example, of cancer; this does not necessarily indicate the total number that have been diagnosed with cancer. Early discovery and adequacy of treatment influences whether those who have cancer will die from it.

Because of the variation in annual death rates for an individual city, ODH staff believed that reviewing data for a longer period provides a more valid comparison. By combining the number of cancer deaths over a 12 year period (1979-1990), a more "stable" rate can be used for comparison.

The Coke Plant started operations in 1917 and the Tar Plant in 1945. Throughout this long history of plant operations, there existed risks of exposure to site-related materials. There are no monitoring data available prior to the 1970's and determining past levels of exposure are difficult. This region of Ohio is highly industrialized and presents, and has presented, many opportunities for area residents to be exposed to hazardous materials in ambient air, in water, and in the work place.

Table 12. 1979-1990 Cancer Mortality1

CANCER TYPES LOCATIONS2 NUMBER OF DEATHS3 RATES PER 100,0004
Men Women Total Men Women Total
BLADDER RIVER CITIES
NON RIVER CITIES
TOTAL
IRONTON
220
423
643
12
141
198
339
3
361
621
982
15
8.4
9.1
8.9
14.4
2.8
2.4
2.5
NRC5
4.8
4.8
4.8
5.6
BRAIN RIVER CITIES
NON RIVER CITIES
TOTAL
IRONTON
127
279
406
7
123
220
343
6
250
499
749
13
5.0
5.2
5.2
8.1
3.3
3.1
3.2
5.0
4.0
4.0
4.0
6.2
BREAST, FEMALES RIVER CITIES
NON RIVER CITIES
TOTAL
IRONTON
0
0
0
0
1435
2410
3845
51
1435
2410
3845
51
NRC
NRC
NRC
NRC
36.5
32.7
33.9
37.1
36.5
32.7
33.9
37.1
COLORECTAL RIVER CITIES
NON RIVER CITIES
TOTAL
IRONTON
1000
1607
2607
37
1198
1769
2967
42
2198
3376
5574
79
39.1
33.5
35.4
42.5
25.8
21.8
23.2
25.9
30.7
26.3
27.8
32.5
KIDNEY RIVER CITIES
NON RIVER CITIES
TOTAL
IRONTON
170
293
463
3
134
196
330
4
304
489
793
7
6.7
5.9
6.1
NRC
3.1
2.6
2.8
NRC
4.6
3.9
4.1
2.7
LEUKEMIA RIVER CITIES
NON RIVER CITIES
TOTAL
IRONTON
245
474
719
11
247
456
703
3
492
930
1422
14
9.4
9.6
9.5
12.8
5.5
5.7
5.6
NRC
6.9
7.2
7.1
5.9
LIVER RIVER CITIES
NON RIVER CITIES
TOTAL
IRONTON
163
233
396
7
106
181
287
1
269
414
683
8
6.4
4.7
5.2
7.9
2.4
2.3
2.3
NRC
3.9
3.3
3.5
3.0
LUNG RIVER CITIES
NON RIVER CITIES
TOTAL
IRONTON
2960
5003
7963
73

1589
2509
4098
52

4549
7512
12061
125
116.5
101.0
106.0
82.7
40.8
35.0
37.0
36.9
69.9
61.0
64.0
53.6
LYMPHOMA RIVER CITIES
NON RIVER CITIES
TOTAL
IRONTON
341
690
1031
13
376
707
1083
6
717
1397
2114
19
13.3
13.8
13.6
14.1
8.4
9.1
8.9
4.2
10.3
11.0
10.7
8.0
ALL OTHERS6 RIVER CITIES
NON RIVER CITIES
TOTAL
IRONTON
2930
4909
7839
87
2598
4204
6802
83
5528
9113
14641
170
114.8
101.8
106.1
100.9
61.0
54.8
56.8
59.3
80.0
71.7
74.4
73.7
TOTALS RIVER CITIES
NON RIVER CITIES
TOTAL
IRONTON
8156
13911
22067
250
7947
12850
20797
251
16103
26761
42864
501
319.5
284.6
296.0
286.6
189.5
169.6
176.3
174.8
237.0
212.3
220.5
213.5

1 = Cancer death rates are reported per year, per 100,000 people.

The observation period includes the years 1979 through 1990.

2 = The cities represented were randomly selected (see Dzik, AJ, Ohio Medicine, Aug. 1990).

River cities are Cincinnati, East Liverpool, Ironton, Marietta, Portsmouth, and Steubenville. The River cities provide a comparable population base for the City of Ironton.

Non river cities are Akron, Cleveland Heights, Columbus, Greenville, Kent, Lorain, Marion, Norwalk, Piqua, Vandalia, Wilmington, and Xenia.

3 = The numerators (# of deaths) for these cancer rates were obtained from the Ohio Death Certificates Vital Statistics computer tape using the Statistical Analysis System (SAS) for deaths coded by the International Classification of Diseases from 140-208.

4 = The denominators (# in population) were obtained from the 1980 and 1990 Census Population figures for each city with each year, 1979-1990, interpolated.

The 1980 U.S. population has been used as the standard population.

5 = NRC = No Rate Calculated because the number of deaths was less than 5 and therefore unreliable as comparison rates.

6 = All Others include cancers which are not listed separately in this table, such as oral, cervical, skin, bone, stomach, prostate, etc.

The analysis was performed by the Ohio Department of Health, Bureau of Epidemiology and Toxicology in November, 1992.

C. Community Health Concerns Evaluation

1) Three of the community health concerns dealt with increased rates of cancer, general health conditions, and birth defects.

Response: The ODH evaluated cancer mortality statistics for Ironton and birth defects data. Overall, 213 Ironton residents out of each 100,000 residents will die of cancer annually compared to 237 per 100,000 in other River Cities and 212 per 100,000 in Nonriver Cities. When comparing the city of Ironton with other river cities combined, Ironton does not have any statistically significantly higher cancer death rates. In fact, lung cancer is significantly lower in Ironton than other river cities. However, when all river cities combined (including Ironton) are compared with cities which are not along the Ohio River, there are a variety of cancers which are significantly higher. The number of children born in Ironton with birth defects is similar to Ohio and Lawrence County.These concerns are discussed in greater detail in the Health Outcome Data Evaluation Section, on the preceding pages.

2) Citizens also expressed concerns about the safety of water from the Coal Grove well field.

Response: Data gathered during the Remedial Investigation and Feasibility Study from 1984 to 1989 indicated that the well field has not been impacted by site-related chemicals. Monitoring of water from Coal Grove wells has not detected any site-related chemicals, however, dichloroethene and trichloroethene have been detected in these wells at levels below health-related standards.

3) Request for health study of the population served by the Coal Grove well field.

Response: The data and information developed in the Allied Chemical and Ironton Coke-Coke Plant Lagoon Area public health assessment have been evaluated for appropriate follow-up health activities. ODH and the Health Activities Recommendation Panel (HARP) have determined that follow-up health activities are indicated. These follow-up activities include a community education program and a review of additional health statistics. It is likely that former coke plant workers were exposed to a variety of site-related chemicals during the 65 years that the plant was operating. Other workers on site may have also been exposed to site-related chemicals in dirt and dust. Quantifying possible occupational exposure is extremely difficult because of the absence of health records for former workers. In addition, environmental monitoring data were not collected prior to the 1970s.


CONCLUSIONS

A review of the available information for Allied Chemical/Ironton Coke revealed that the site poses a public health hazard because of the potential for long-term exposure to benzo (a) pyrene and naphthalene in on-site soils. Exposure to naphthalene and benzo (a) pyrene may have occurred or may be occurring from ingestion and inhalation of on-site dust or dirt which is contaminated with these chemicals. Those at risk would be on-site workers. Exposure can be minimized through the use of proper protective equipment by site workers and proper work techniques.

The Allied Chemical/Ironton Coke site also poses an indeterminate public health hazard because of the potential impact on a public water supply. At this time, the Coal Grove water supply has not been impacted by the contamination at the site, but if remediation does not include limiting the off-site migration of groundwater, the water supply could become contaminated. The levels of some chemicals in on-site groundwater are at levels of concern if a person were exposed to the same chemicals. The residents who obtain their drinking water from the Coal Grove well field are potentially at risk of exposure to chemicals originating from the site.

Community concerns brought up at an Allied City Council meeting in January 1990 included concerns over an increased rate of cancer among area citizens and a large number of children born with birth defects. In response to these concerns, the ODH evaluated cancer mortality statistics for Ironton and birth defects data. Overall, 213 Ironton residents out of each 100,000 residents will die of cancer annually compared to 237 per 100,000 in other River Cities and 212 per 100,000 in Nonriver Cities. When comparing the city of Ironton with other river cities combined, Ironton does not have any statistically significantly higher cancer death rates. In fact, lung cancer is significantly lower in Ironton than other river cities. However, when all river cities combined (including Ironton) are compared with cities which are not along the Ohio River, there are a variety of cancers which are significantly higher. The number of children born in Ironton with birth defects is similar to Ohio and Lawrence County.


RECOMMENDATIONS

1. Remediation workers should wear proper protective clothing. Proper work techniques should limit off-site transport of contaminated dirt and dust.

2. Monitor wells in the Coal Grove well field.

3. The data and information developed in the Allied Chemical and Ironton Coke-Coke Plant Lagoon Area public health assessment have been evaluated for appropriate follow-up health activities. ODH and the Health Activities Recommendation Panel (HARP) have determined that follow-up health activities are indicated. These follow-up activities include a community education program and a review of additional health statistics. It is likely that former coke plant workers were exposed to a variety of site-related chemicals during the 65 years that the plant was operating. Other workers on site may have also been exposed to site-related chemicals in dirt and dust. Quantifying possible occupational exposure is extremely difficult because of the absence of health records for former workers. In addition, environmental monitoring data were not collected prior to the 1970s.

Because of citizen concern about higher rates of cancer in Ironton and a review of health outcome data indicated that cancer mortality rates for cities along the Ohio River are higher when compared to cities not along the river, a review the Ohio Cancer Incidence Surveillance System data is indicated. These data are not currently available and a review of cancer incidence will be completed when the data are available. A general community-wide education program outlining risks associated with the development of cancer may also be needed for the local community, including physicians and local health authorities.


PUBLIC HEALTH ACTIONS

The following Public Health Action plan for the Allied Chemical and Ironton Coke site contains a description of actions to be taken by ODH and/or ATSDR at and in the vicinity of this site. The purpose of the public health actions is to ensure that this public health assessment not only identifies public health hazards but also provides a plan of action designed to mitigate and prevent adverse human health effects resulting from exposure to hazardous substances in the environment. Included in this plan is a commitment on the part of ATSDR/ODH to follow up on this plan to ensure that it is implemented.

Actions Undertaken

1. ODH has contacted a local physician and the American Cancer Society about providing general community based education outlining the risks associated with developing cancer.

Actions Planned

1. ODH will review the cancer incidence data for the city of Ironton when it becomes available.


PREPARERS OF REPORT

Tracy Shelley, M.S.
Chief, Health Assessment Branch
Bureau of Epidemiology and Toxicology
Ohio Department of Health

Robert Frey, Ph.D.
Geologist, Health Assessment Branch
Bureau of Epidemiology and Toxicology
Ohio Department of Health

Irena Scott, Ph.D.
Researcher, Health Assessment Branch
Bureau of Epidemiology and Toxicology
Ohio Department of Health

Reviewed by B. Kim Mortensen, Ph.D.
Chief, Bureau of Epidemiology and Toxicology
Ohio Department of Health

ATSDR Regional Representative
Louise Fabinski
Regional Services
Office of the Assistant Administrator, ATSDR

ATSDR Technical Project Officer
Richard R. Kauffman, M.S.
Division of Health Assessment
and Consultation, Remedial Program Branch


CERTIFICATION

This Allied Chemical and Ironton Coke Public Health Assessment was prepared by the Ohio Department of 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.

Richard R. Kauffman, M.S.
Technical Project Officer
Remedial Programs Branch
Division of Health Assessment and Consultation (DHAC)
ATSDR


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

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


REFERENCES

Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry Toxicological Profile for Arsenic. ATSDR/TP-88/02. 1989.

Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry Toxicological Profile for Benzene. ATSDR/TP-88/03. 1989.

Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry Toxicological Profile for Benzo (a) pyrene. ATSDR/TP-88/05. 1990.

Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry Toxicological Profile for Cyanide. ATSDR/TP-88/12. 1988.

Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry Toxicological Profile for Lead. ATSDR/TP-88/17. 1990.

Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry Toxicological Profile for Naphthalene and 2-Methylnaphthalene. ATSDR/TP-90-18. 1990.

Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry Toxicological Profile for Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons. ATSDR/TP-90-20. 1990.

Armstrong, B.G., et.al., Scand. J. Work Environ. Health 12(5): 486-493. 1986.

Austin, H., E. Delzell, and P. Cole. A. J. Epidemiol. 127(3):419- 39. 1988.

Gosselin, R. E., R. P. Smith, and J. C. Hodge. Clinical Toxicology of Commercial Products. 5th ed. Baltimore: Williams and Wilkins 1984. p. II-166.

Hartung, R. Cyanides and Nitriles, Chapter 58. Patty's Industrial Hygiene and Toxicology. eds, Clayton and Clayton, 1981.

IT Corporation, 1986. Final Report, Remedial Investigation, Volumes I and II.

IT Corporation, 1990. Draft Feasibility Study, Coke Plant Lagoon Area, Volumes I, II and III.

Lindbohm, M., M. Sallmen, A. Anttila, H. Taskinen, and K. Hemminki. Paternal occupational lead exposure and spontaneous abortion. Scand. J. Work Environ. Health 17:95-103. 1991.

Sandmeyer, Ester. Aromatic Hydrocarbons, Chapter 47. Patty's Industrial Hygiene and Toxicology, eds. Clayton and Clayton, 1981.


GLOSSARY

Aquifer: A porous and permeable underground layer of sediment or rock that is saturated with water; generally capable of producing water for a well.

CAG: The Carcinogenic Assessment Group, Office of Health and Environmental Assessment in EPA's Research and Development Office.

Carcinogen: Any substance that produces cancer.

Chronic Exposure: An exposure that persists over a period of time.

Edema: An abnormal accumulation of fluid in cells, tissues, or cavities of the body, resulting in swelling.

Epidemiology: The study of the distribution and determinants of diseases in human populations.

Gastrointestinal: The stomach and the intestines.

Genotoxic: Damaging to the DNA.

Groundwater: Water stored beneath the surface in an aquifer.

Hydraulic Conductivity: A measure of the ease at which water will flow through soil or a rock layer. Dependent on the porosity and permeability of the material the water flows through.

Immune System: The system that protects the body against harmful disease agents.

Ingest: To take into the body, as by swallowing or absorbing.

IARC: The International Agency for Research on Cancer.

NIOSH: The National Institute of Occupation and Health.

Permeable: Able to transmit the flow of water.

Teratogen: An agent that produces physical defects in the embryo.

Vascular: A system of vessels, for conveying blood or lymph.

Water Table: The level below which underground soil and rocks are saturated with groundwater.


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