PETITIONED PUBLIC HEALTH ASSESSMENT
KIRBY TIRE RECYCLERS SITE
(a/k/a KIRBY TIRE COMPANY)
SYCAMORE, WYANDOT COUNTY, OHIO
The Kirby Tire Recycling Site is located at 3137 State Route 231, approximately 2-3 miles east of Sycamore, in Sycamore Township, Ohio. Since the 1950s, the 130-acre site has accumulated an estimated 20 million tires, making it the largest accumulation of scrap tires in Ohio and one of the largest in the United States [OEPA Fact Sheet, 1999].
Since 1993, the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency (OEPA) and the Wyandot County Health Department have worked to bring the owners and operators of the site into compliance with the State of Ohio's solid waste rules and scrap tire facility regulations [OEPA Fact Sheet, 1999]. On several occasions Kirby Tire Recycling, Inc. was ordered to increase the rate of removal of scrap tires from the site. On September 16, 1998, an order from the Wyandot County Common Pleas Court mandated that the facility cease accepting scrap tires [OEPA Fact Sheet, 1999].
At approximately 2:00 a.m. on August 21, 1999, security guards at the facility discovered a fire at the southwestern property line of the site. The fire consumed an estimated seven million of the existing 20 million on-site tires and produced a large plume of black smoke that could be seen as far as 60 miles from the site. As a result of the fire, there were releases of pyrolitic oils into the neighboring Sycamore Creek. A number of residents have expressed concerns about contamination during and after the fire and petitioned ATSDR. To address these concerns, the Health Assessment Section (HAS) of the Ohio Department of Health completed this public health assessment for the site under its cooperative agreement with the U.S. Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry.
The burning of the tires caused a release of pyrolitic oils. These oils contain a variety of organic compounds and heavy metals. These typically include volatile organic compounds (VOCs) like benzene, toluene, ethylbenzene, xylenes, and styrene; polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) like anthracene, naphthalene, and benzo(a) pyrene; and heavy metals including manganese, lead, and zinc [Horrigan, 1999]. These chemicals, especially VOCs and PAHs, were initially detected at high levels in the surface water as a result of a release of oil into the Sycamore Creek. The chemicals have also been detected at lower levels in creek sediments. Some of these chemicals have also been detected at low levels sporadically in perched groundwater beneath the site. Based on the elevated levels of VOCs and metals in the surface water, HAS recommended that the Wyandot County Health Department issue a "precautionary contact advisory" for the portion of Sycamore Creek from State Route 231 to the Sandusky River. The contamination in the surface water has since been removed by both mechanical aeration and natural attenuation. The levels of contaminants in the sediments are present at concentrations that are below what would be expected to cause adverse health effects. Due to inconsistent detections from the previous sampling events, it is not yet clear whether or not the quality of the perched groundwater is being impacted by the tire fire. However, the contamination in the perched groundwater does not pose a health threat to residents in the area due to the fact that no one is currently using this source of groundwater for domestic purposes. It is unlikely that any contamination could migrate to the deeper groundwater that is being used by residents due to a thick clay layer between the two water sources. Additional monitoring data from subsequent events is necessary to assess any potential adverse impact on the deeper aquifer. Any additional oil discovered at the site is being intercepted and disposed. Several VOCs and particulates were detected in the air as a result of the smoke plume generated during the tire fire. The levels of VOCs and particulates detected on and off-site were below levels that would be expected to cause chronic adverse health effects based upon the brief exposure period of only a few days. Subsurface on-site soils do not currently pose a health threat at the site because exposure of residents to on-site subsurface soils is highly unlikely due to the burial of soils beneath the clay cover and increased security measures at the site.
After reviewing all available site data and information to date, HAS has determined that the Kirby Tire site and Sycamore Creek currently pose "no public health hazard" to residents and visitors to the area due to a lack of a completed exposure pathway with on-site oils as well as a lack of contact with on-site physical hazards. HAS recommends that groundwater monitoring continue at the site to determine if contaminants are making their way into the underlying groundwater at the site. The collection and treatment of any remaining oil left on-site should continue to prevent any further releases of oil to Sycamore Creek. Continued removal of scrap tires at the site should help to minimize the possibility of future tire fires at the site. HAS will continue to evaluate the health implications from future environmental monitoring data collected by the Ohio EPA.
At the request of the Wyandot County Health Department and the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency (OEPA), the Health Assessment Section (HAS), of the Ohio Department of Health has been providing health-related information with regard to the Kirby's Tire Recycling Site since a tire fire occurred on August 21, 1999. HAS, along with the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR), received a petition from several concerned citizens to conduct a public health assessment at the site. To address this petition, HAS completed this public health assessment for the site under its cooperative agreement with ATSDR.
To properly assess the public health implications posed by contamination at a site, it is necessary to evaluate site data and information on the site's history, the types and levels of contamination at the site, site-specific exposure pathways, community health concerns, and available toxicologic implications of the site's contaminants.
The public health assessment process is designed to complement EPA activities at the site, but should not be confused with the EPA risk assessment which is used in determining remedial actions at a site.
Every health assessment includes these basic steps for acquiring the data and information necessary to evaluate the site's health hazards:
1) Evaluating information on the site's physical, geographical, historical, and operational setting;
2) Identifying health concerns of the affected community;
3) Determining contaminants of concern associated with the site;
4) Identifying and evaluating completed and potential exposure pathways - To have a completed exposure pathway you must have the following: a) source of contamination; b) environmental media and transport mechanisms such as soil, air, and groundwater; c) point of exposure; d) route of exposure; and, e) a receptor population; and,
5) Determining conclusions and recommendations concerning the health threat posed by the site.
The Kirby Tire Recycling site is located at 3137 State Highway 231 in Sycamore, Wyandot County, Ohio (see Figure 1). The site began operations in the 1950s when the landowner began accepting scrap tires for the purpose of recycling. The site is located on a 130-acre parcel of land and houses approximately 20 million tires, making it the largest accumulation of scrap tires in Ohio and one of the largest in the United States [OEPA Fact Sheet, 1999]. The site is bordered by State Highway 231 to the west, State Route 103 to the north, a wooded area to the east, and Sycamore Creek to the south. Currently the Kirby family residence and several buildings and barns are the only permanent on-site structures other than piles of tires. The surrounding area is made up of rural agricultural farmland.
The Kirby Tire Recycling site has operated outside of Ohio solid waste and scrap tire regulations for several years. Ohio EPA and the Wyandot County Health Department have worked to bring the owners and operators of the site into compliance since 1993, when scrap tire regulations were implemented in Ohio. On July 2, 1997, the Wyandot County Common Pleas Court granted an order that required Kirby Tire Recycling, Inc. to remove approximately 5000 scrap tires per business day; shred and remove all incoming tires within 72 hours of acceptance; and comply with Ohio's scrap tire storage requirements. On July 15, 1998, the State of Ohio filed a motion for contempt due to Kirby Tire Recycling's failure to comply with the order. These actions led to a September 16, 1998, order by the Wyandot County Common Pleas Court to Kirby's Tire Recycling to cease accepting scrap tires [OEPA Fact Sheet, 1999]. On September 22, 1998, Ohio EPA issued Scrap Tire Abatement Orders to Kirby's Tire Recycling, Inc. as the accumulation of scrap tires constituted a danger to public health, safety, and the environment due to the possibility of fires and mosquito infestation [OEPA Fact Sheet, 1999].
At 2:00 a.m. on the morning of August 21, 1999, security guards at the tire recycling facility discovered tires burning along the southwestern property line of the site between State Highway 231 and the north bank of the Sycamore Creek. Sycamore Creek is a northwest flowing tributary that flows through the northern edge of the Village of Sycamore which is located 2-3 miles west of the Kirby Tire Fire site. Sycamore Creek is a tributary of the Sandusky River which, in turn, flows into Lake Erie. Twenty-two local fire departments and more than 22 pieces of heavy equipment responded to the fire. United States Environmental Protection Agency (US EPA) Emergency Response Section staff assumed control of the site at 11:00 a.m. the same day and mobilized additional people and equipment. Between August 21 and August 25, US EPA and local fire department crews worked around the clock to initially contain the fire, and then eventually extinguish it by smothering it with earthen fill. The fire was completely covered by 6:00 p.m. on Wednesday, August 25. Additional clay was brought on-site, and the former burn area was encapsulated in a 1 - 2 foot layer of on-site clay to prevent oxygen from feeding the fire and ensure that it remains extinguished. It is estimated that at least seven million tires were consumed by the fire.
Two significant releases of pyrolitic oil (residuals of melted tires) impacted portions of Sycamore Creek on August 22 and 23, 1999, during the tire fire [US EPA, 1999]. The oil reached Sycamore Creek via drainage tiles connected to the tire fire area. A fish kill was documented along portions of Sycamore Creek downstream of the fire site. The fish kill resulted from a decrease in dissolved oxygen in the creek's surface waters due to the presence of chemicals in the oil entering the creek. The tile systems were quickly blocked by Ohio EPA, and all remaining oil run-off was contained in an on-site retention pond until it could be treated or disposed. Ohio EPA also set up aeration systems in various portions of the creek in an attempt to increase the dissolved oxygen in the stream.
Pyrolitic oils generated by the fire contain a variety of organic compounds and heavy metals. These typically include volatile organic compounds (VOCs) like benzene, toluene, ethylbenzene, xylenes, and styrene; polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH's) like anthracene, naphthalene, and benzo(a) pyrene; and heavy metals including lead, manganese, and zinc [Varley-Campbell & Associates, 1998; Horrigan, 1999]. The release of pyrolitic oil during tire fires can contaminate on-site soils and adjacent surface water, and pose a threat to area groundwater under the right geological conditions. As a result of the confirmed releases to the creek and the detection of high levels of VOCs and heavy metals, HAS recommended that the Wyandot County Health Department issue a "precautionary contact advisory" for the portion of Sycamore Creek from the tire fire site to the Sandusky River [HAS, 1999].
Crews from the Ohio EPA, US EPA, and the United States Coast Guard were initially on-site to conduct environmental sampling during the fire. Samples were collected from the surface waters of Sycamore Creek at several locations between the fire and the Sandusky River. Air monitoring was also conducted during the fire to ensure that residents in the area, along with on-site workers, were not exposed to levels of hazardous chemicals in the smoke plume that may result in adverse health effects.
US EPA activities at the site were completed as of September 17, 1999. Ohio EPA regained control of the site at this time and has continued operation and maintenance of the site. Ohio EPA continued to monitor surface water conditions for several months after the fire. Samples were also collected from sediments within the creek bed and from subsurface soil and groundwater around the perimeter of the site. Ohio EPA also monitored intermittent venting in the former burn zone due to smoldering of the burnt tires that continued for several months after the clay cover was placed over the burning tires. In addition, Ohio EPA installed 11 groundwater monitoring wells around the perimeter of the site. Eight of the wells were in the shallow perched groundwater aquifer which is not currently being utilized for domestic purposes. The remaining three wells were installed in the deeper bedrock aquifer that supplies drinking water to the majority of residents in the area. Ohio EPA also collected samples from several residential wells and one municipal well in the vicinity of the tire fire site to determine if the residential drinking water source has been adversely impacted [HAS, 2000].
Ohio EPA continues to collect and dispose of any remaining oil that leaches from beneath the site. A storm water retention pond has been constructed to collect any surface runoff of rain or oil from the site.
Sycamore Township, including the Kirby Tire Fire site, occurs in the glaciated Till Plains region of western Ohio and consists of level to slightly rolling land underlain by up to 100+ feet of unconsolidated glacial clays, sands, and gravels that, in turn, overlie limestone or dolomite bedrock. The water-bearing bedrock is the main source of drinking water supplies in the immediate vicinity of the Kirby Tire Fire site with 35 of the 37 well logs obtained for area wells drawing water from the bedrock aquifer. Twenty-seven of these bedrock drinking water wells were drilled to depths greater than 50 feet below the ground surface [Ohio Dept. of Natural Resources, well logs].
The Kirby's Tire Recycling site sits upon a hill at an elevation 40 to 50 feet above the level of the water in Sycamore Creek. Sycamore Creek is located 600 feet to 1,200 feet south of the burn site. Geoprobe® sampling and soil borings for monitoring wells [Ohio EPA, 2000] indicate that the ground surface at the burn site is separated from the regional bedrock aquifer by roughly 39-51 feet of unconsolidated glacial material. This material consists of an upper layer of brown sandy and silty clay 10-15 feet thick, followed in some places a thin layer of sand and gravel less than five feet thick, underlain by 15-30 feet of blue-grey clay resting on a thin zone (< 10 feet thick) of highly weathered clay and fractured weathered limestone that marks the top of the regional bedrock aquifer (See Figure 2). Studies of the groundwater levels in the on-site monitoring wells indicate that groundwater flow in the bedrock aquifer on-site is to the northwest. Limited amounts of groundwater also occur in "perched" sand and gravel layers within and between the clay till units. Based on groundwater level measurements to date, it appears that flow within the perched groundwater zone is toward the northwest in the northern portion of the facility, and generally toward the south toward Sycamore Creek in the southern portion of the facility. [Ohio EPA, 2000].
The closest residential well is the property owner's well located roughly ¼ mile north of the burn area and separated from the burn area by a ravine incised by a tributary stream that flows due west to Sycamore Creek. Other nearby residential wells include one well ¼ mile west of the burn site and several wells ½ mile north of the site along State Rt. 103. Another well is located ¼ mile south of the site along State Rt. 231, separated from the site by the valley of Sycamore Creek [ODNR well logs]. All of these wells obtain their water from the regional bedrock aquifer. (All of these wells have been sampled at least once since the tire fire and have had no detections of chemical contaminants - HAS, 2000).
The Village of Sycamore obtains its drinking water from a well field located on the eastern edge of the village, two miles west of the Kirby Tire Fire site. The village water supply provides drinking water to roughly 1,000 residents [Village of Sycamore, pers. comm., 9/29/99]. The well field is not within the floodplain of Sycamore Creek. The water system obtains its water entirely from groundwater sources with two production wells penetrating to depths of 175 feet below the ground surface, tapping the dolomitic bedrock aquifer. In the vicinity of Sycamore, the bedrock surface occurs at least 100 feet below the ground surface due to the presence of a southeast-northwest trending bedrock valley running through the area. The well field does not receive direct recharge from Sycamore Creek which is located about ½ mile northeast and downgradient from the well field. (Village of Sycamore production wells have been sampled at least once since the tire fire and had no detections of chemical contaminants - HAS, 2000).
Since the tire fire at the Kirby Tire Recycling site occurred, HAS has provided information to Ohio EPA and the Wyandot County Health Department on questions about human health hazards. HAS staff reviewed all available environmental data, performed site visits, and responded to community health concerns at the site.
- On August 27, 1999, HAS reviewed surface water data collected during the tire fire and provided recommendations that the Wyandot County Health Department issue a temporary "precautionary contact advisory" for the portion of Sycamore Creek from the tire fire site to the Sandusky River [HAS, 2000].
- In October 1999, HAS was asked by Ohio EPA to evaluate the results of residential well sampling and provide comments concerning potential human health implications from using the water for domestic purposes [HAS, 2000].
- In January 2000, HAS conducted a site visit with Ohio EPA to examine site conditions and gain a better understanding of the possible exposure scenarios at the site.
- In January 2000, HAS issued a response to a letter received from several residents of the Village of Deunquat, Ohio expressing concerns about air pollution during the fire and potential groundwater contamination as a result of the fire. The Village of Deunquat is located approximately one mile south of the site.
- In May 2000, HAS reviewed sampling results from the first round of groundwater sampling conducted from newly installed monitoring wells at the site.
- In August 2000, HAS conducted a site visit with the Wyandot County Health Department to examine the condition of Sycamore Creek. During the site visit, it was observed that substantial amounts of oil leached from beneath the burnt tire piles during periods of high rainfall. Ohio EPA's environmental consultant has constructed a second storm water retention pond to collect any excess storm water and prevent it from combining with oil in the first retention pond. It was also observed that aquatic life had returned to impacted portions of Sycamore Creek. The return of aquatic wildlife indicates a substantial improvement in water quality in the stream since the tire fire.
- HAS has reviewed all available environmental sampling data from the site to assess site conditions as indicated by the integrated site assessment conducted by Ohio EPA from August 1999 through May 2000 [OEPA, Integrated Assessment, 2000].
In preparing this document, HAS relied on the information provided in the referenced documents and contacts. Only data collected using appropriate sampling and laboratory methods were considered in this analysis. All data used was taken directly from laboratory data sheets. Data with demonstrated QA/QC problems were excluded from tables and calculations.
Sycamore is a small rural village in northwestern Ohio located approximately 2-3 miles west of the Kirby Tire Fire site and downstream along Sycamore Creek. According to 1990 United States Census data, the population of Sycamore was 919. Sixty-six percent of the population reported living in the same home for more than five years. The majority of the homes were constructed prior to 1939, and are currently served by a public water supply. Homes outside of the village limits are served by private wells, most obtaining water from the regional bedrock aquifer [ODNR well logs]. Children under the age of five years and adults over the age of sixty-five made up 22 percent of the population. The Kirby Tire Recycling site is approximately two miles east of the Village of Sycamore. The Village of Deunquat is located approximately one mile south of the tire fire site. There are approximately 25-30 homes within Deunquat. The total number of persons living within one mile of the site is approximately 60 according to U.S. Census data of 2.51 persons per household [U.S. Census 1990].
When performing a public health assessment, HAS listens to health concerns from residents living in the vicinity of the site. The list of concerns expressed by the community is then used to direct the focus of the public health assessment so that specific questions about the site are answered. HAS received a letter from area residents expressing concerns about threats to their health as a result of the tire fire. HAS responded to these concerns by issuing a letter to each of the residents whom signed the original letter sent to the Ohio Department of Health (see Appendix 1 & 2). HAS also included fact sheets on such topics as exposure pathways, exposure to toxic chemicals, and a benzene fact sheet in its individual responses to the community's concern (see Appendix 3, 4, & 5).
Residents in general have expressed concerns concerning breathing hazardous chemicals, specifically benzene, carbon black, and dioxin. Residents expressed concern over showing symptoms such as, fatigue, irritability, bloody noses, itchy skin, and hair loss that they felt was attributable to the tire fire.
Residents also expressed concern that benzene might be contaminating their drinking water. It was pointed out that Ohio EPA planned the installation of approximately twelve groundwater monitoring wells in January 2000. A total of eleven monitoring wells was installed. Eight monitoring wells were installed in the shallow perched groundwater aquifer. It does not appear that any residents in the vicinity of the site are using this water bearing zone as a source of drinking water. Three wells were installed in the deeper bedrock aquifer that is utilized by residents for drinking water. Three sampling rounds of residential wells in the vicinity of the site along with initial results from samples collected from on-site monitoring wells indicate that there were no chemicals of concern detected in deep bedrock aquifer, in which residential wells near the site are located. Most of the homes in the area are located over ¼ mile from the site. It is expected that any potential contamination migrating through the bedrock aquifer or perched groundwater beneath the facility would be detected within the groundwater monitoring network wells long before reaching any private wells near the facility.
Several residents also stated that they would like to see an environmental physician to evaluate symptoms that they believed were caused by exposure to chemicals as a result of the tire fire. HAS informed residents that the best place to start would be to visit their family physician since they would be most familiar with their health history. If necessary, the family physician could contact an environmental physician to discuss whether the symptoms are likely to be from an environmental cause. Residents were given a contact name and telephone number at ATSDR to aid in obtaining the services of an environmental physician.
In preparing a public health assessment, it is essential to review all data on environmental contamination at the site. In the following sections, HAS will evaluate and summarize the analytical data from each of the individual media at the Kirby's Tire Recycling site (e.g., surface water, air, sediments, groundwater, etc.).
When reviewing data, concentrations of chemicals in each of the media have been compared to media-specific screening values to decide whether any of the detected compounds need further evaluation. Screening values are derived using information on the toxicity of the chemical and assuming frequent exposure to the chemical over a specified period of time. For non-cancer toxicity, HAS uses ATSDR's minimum risk levels or the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's (US EPA) reference dose, which are estimates of daily human exposure to a contaminant that is unlikely to cause adverse non-cancer health effects over a lifetime. Cancer risk screening values are based on EPA's chemical-specific cancer slope factors and an estimated excess lifetime cancer risk of one in one million. Therefore, if the concentration of a chemical is less than its screening value, it is unlikely that exposure would result in adverse health effects, and further evaluation of exposures to that chemical is not warranted. However, if the concentration of a chemical exceeds a screening value, it does not necessarily mean that adverse health effects will occur. If a screening level is exceeded, it then may need to further evaluate the chemical and possible exposure scenarios. As a result, the following summary of environmental data highlights the chemicals that have been found on and near the site and any completed exposure pathways.
Off-site surface waters in adjacent portions of Sycamore Creek were contaminated by releases of pyrolitic oils via below ground drainage tiles. Surface water contamination was at its peak during the fire and for a several weeks after the fire. Surface water samples were collected during the fire and analyzed for volatile organic compounds (VOCs), semi-volatile organic compounds (SVOCs), including polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), and metals on August 23, 24, 25, and 27, 1999 (see Figure 3 for sampling locations). These sample results indicated elevated levels of VOCs, SVOCs, and metals at various locations along Sycamore Creek (Table 1). The levels detected were above Ohio EPA surface water standards designed to be protective of human health for long term exposure. Based on the elevated levels of VOCs and metals in the surface water, HAS recommended to the Wyandot County Health Department that they issue a "precautionary contact advisory" for the portion of Sycamore Creek from State Route 231 to the Sandusky River [HAS, 2000].
Occasional surface water discharges of treated wastewater continue to occur as a result of the treatment of oil that is leaching from under the burnt tire piles. By the November 3, 1999-sampling event conducted by Ohio EPA, surface water contamination was diluted to below levels that would be expected to cause adverse health effects. A site visit conducted in July 2000 revealed that aquatic life had returned to the impacted portions of the creek, suggesting an improvement in water quality in the creek in the year since the tire fire.
As a result of pyrolitic oils entering Sycamore Creek during the tire fire, it appears that the creek sediments may have been adversely impacted as indicated by the presence of an oily sheen on the water's surface when the sediments are disturbed. Sediments samples were collected on November 3, 1999, and analyzed for VOCs, SVOCs, metals, pesticides, and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) [see Figure 3 for sampling locations]. All chemicals detected were below health based screening levels that would be expected to cause adverse health effects. The chemical caprolactum was detected at a maximum of 29.0 parts per million (ppm); however, this level is far below the ATSDR health screening level of 30,000 ppm that is expected to be protective of the health of children (see Table 2).
Initial groundwater monitoring well samples were collected on February 22, 2000, and analyzed for VOCs, SVOCs, metals, pesticides, and PCBs (see Figure 4 & 5 for sampling locations). Several chemicals were detected above EPA maximum contaminant levels (MCLs). Lindane (0.42 ug/l) and heptachlor (0.43 ug/l), which are common agricultural pesticides, were detected in the monitoring wells above the respective MCLs. Levels of arsenic (110 ug/l), chromium (169 ug/l), and nickel (281 ug/l) also exceeded MCLs. It is unknown whether these levels are a result of site contamination or are naturally occurring metals. However, these chemicals are present in the shallow perched groundwater aquifer that is not used for domestic consumption. Groundwater monitoring wells were sampled again on May 8, 2000, and analyzed for VOCs, SVOCs, and metals. Arsenic (55-130 ug/l), chromium (100-200 ug/l), and nickel (150-330 ug/l) again were detected above associated drinking water MCLs (see Table 3). These samples were collected from monitoring wells located in the shallow groundwater aquifer that is not being used for domestic purposes. Lead was also detected above its screening level of 15 ug/l in the shallow till zone where concentrations ranged from 6.1-120 ug/L. It is unknown whether this contamination was caused by the tire fire, by past site use practices, or if the contaminants are naturally occurring. There were no detections of chemicals above levels of concern in the deep groundwater aquifer that is used as the area drinking water source. Laboratory results indicate that all other chemicals were below health based screening levels that are designed to be protective of human health.
Air samples were collected during the tire fire by Ohio EPA and the U.S. Coast Guard. Ohio EPA collected canister samples from one downwind location on-site, two downwind locations off-site, and from the property lines of three downwind residents. A map of the exact locations was not available. Real time monitoring of volatile organic compounds and carbon dioxide was conducted during the fire at the perimeter of the site using hand-held instruments to determine the level of personal protection equipment needed by on-site workers and to evaluate whether contaminants were traveling off-site. Although exceedences of the action levels were noted directly above smoke vents, none of the action levels were exceeded in the breathing zone at any time during the project in areas where workers were not wearing respirators (USEPA memo, 9/3/99). Breathing zone measurements collected at the perimeter of the site did not indicate that contaminants were leaving the site at levels that would be expected to cause adverse health effects. Real time monitoring for VOCs was also conducted in various downwind off-site locations, including the village of Deunquat, during the fire. No VOCs were detected outside of the immediate vicinity of the site (EPA data sheets).
A one-minute canister sample collected on August 23, 1999, at the edge of a cornfield located just off the western edge of the site by Ohio EPA detected benzene at 357.35 ug/m3 which is above the ATSDR Acute Environmental Media Evaluation Guide (EMEG) of 50 parts per billion or 159.7 ug/m3 (see Table 4). The acute EMEG is a value that would not be expected to cause adverse health effects over an exposure period of one to fourteen days. There are several inherent problems with using this EMEG value to estimate the possibility of residents in the area experiencing adverse health effects. The EMEG value was derived from a study in which mice were exposed to various concentrations of benzene in the air for six hours/day for six consecutive days. The lowest concentration documented to cause adverse effects on the mice was 10,000 parts per billion (31,900 ug/m3). This value then underwent several changes to extrapolate from intermittent to continuous exposure and to calculate the human equivalent concentration. Once this value was derived, it was divided by a safety factor of three hundred to account for: 1) the use of a lowest effect level in place of a no effect level; 2) the extrapolation from animals to humans; and, 3) human variability (ATSDR, 1997). Residents in the area of the Kirby Tire Recycling site are not expected to have suffered adverse health effects from exposure to benzene as a result of the August 1999 tire fire due to the safety factors incorporated into the EMEG value and the fact that the samples collected near downwind residences during the fire did not show any detections of benzene or other contaminants. Based upon changing wind conditions at the site, it is unlikely that off-site exposure would have occurred for more than three days in any direction from the tire fire.
As a result of community concerns about fallout of particulates from the tire fire smoke plume, the Ohio Department of Agriculture collected a sample of the fallout material that had deposited on a neighboring corn field and analyzed it for lead, PAHs, VOCs, and zinc. Levels of lead and zinc were detected below levels of concern. Levels of PAHs and VOCs were all below laboratory detection limits. The U.S. Coast Guard conducted total particulate monitoring off-site during the fire to determine the total number of particulates present in the air. Results indicated that the level of particulates in the breathing zone never exceeded the 8-hour average of 5 mg/m3 that require the use of personal protection equipment as regulated by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).
Residential wells in the immediate vicinity of the tire fire were sampled on August 26, September 13, and October 12, 1999, and sampled for VOCs, SVOCs, metals, and pesticides (see Figure 6 for sampling locations). Based upon review of residential well logs from the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, it appears that all residential wells sampled are set in the deep bedrock aquifer and not in the shallow perched water zone. All laboratory results indicated that there were no chemicals present above health based screening levels that are set to be protective of human health. The evaluation of these results is documented in a previous health consultation [HAS, 2000].
Small quantities of smoke were sporadically released from buried smoldering tires on-site prior to February 2000. Since that time no further smoke has been observed on-site. At this time there is still a small amount of oil being collected from beneath the burned portion of the tire site. During periods of heavy rain fall, larger amounts of oil have been discovered leaching out from under the burnt tire piles. The Ohio Environmental Protection Agency (OEPA) is currently collecting all oil that is generated and treating or disposing of it before it is able to travel off-site. OEPA has also installed eleven groundwater monitoring wells around the perimeter of the site to evaluate groundwater conditions at the site.
At the present time, no known completed human exposure pathways are identified at the Kirby Tire site. However, there is still a small amount of oil being collected in the on-site wastewater lagoon. The exact source of the oil is unknown, and it is unknown how much oil is remaining beneath the burnt tire piles. Ohio EPA plans to monitor groundwater conditions on a quarterly basis to determine whether oil has migrated into the underlying groundwater; however, it is unlikely that oil would migrate through the thick clay layer beneath the site into the deep bedrock aquifer that is being used for residential wells.
Contact with physical hazards and potential contaminants on-site have been restricted due to the presence of 24-hour security patrol and a security fence with cameras and lighting around the perimeter of the site. All other pathways of exposure have been eliminated due to the lack of contamination present above available health-based screening values and the lack of access to the perched groundwater aquifer.
ATSDR recognizes that children are at a greater risk for environmental exposure than adults. It is for this reason that all sample results are reviewed using health guidelines that are protective of children.
Due to the presence of on-site security and the installation of perimeter fencing, the physical hazards at the site have been confined to on-site personnel only and would not pose a health threat to children in the area of the site.
This Public Health Assessment was sent out for public comment for a 30-day period in March 2001. Copies of the draft were provided to Ohio EPA, US EPA, the Wyandot County Health Department, the local public library and to the 9 residents who signed the initial petition letter for the document. HAS conducted a public availability session on April 10, 2001 to provide the petitioners at the site to ask questions or provide comments on the Public Comment draft of the PHA. None of the original petitioners were present at the meeting, and no comments have been received from residents in the area of the site. A packet of comments was submitted by one individual. General comments were noted and the remainder of the comments were concerned with clean-up activities and were forwarded to Ohio EPA. Specific questions and comments regarding the PHA were not submitted. The petition letter, dated November 24, 1999 does request that additional air sampling and blood sampling occur. As discussed in the air evaluation portion of this document, residents in the area of the Kirby Tire Recycling site are not expected to have suffered adverse health effects from exposure to benzene as a result of the August 1999 tire fire due to the fact that the samples collected near downwind residences during the fire did not show any detections of benzene or other contaminants. Additional blood sampling is not warranted since it is unlikely that off-site exposure via the air would have occurred for more than three days in any direction from the tire fire. As always, if a citizen has a specific concern, he should consult his personal physician.
Based on the review of all available environmental data, the Kirby's Tire Recycling site and Sycamore Creek currently pose "no public health hazard" to visitors and residents in the area due to contaminant levels below levels of health concern and the lack of a completed exposure pathway to chemicals present in the perched groundwater aquifer beneath the tire fire site.
1) Continue to monitor on-site groundwater monitoring wells on a quarterly basis to determine if on-site oil has migrated into the underlying groundwater.
2) Continue to recover and dispose of all oil that is discovered on-site to prevent further releases of oil into Sycamore Creek.
3) Removal of scrap tires should continue to reduce the possibility of more fires in the future.
4) Upon publication of the final draft of this PHA, HAS will reevaluate the need for the precautionary contact advisory and may recommend that the Wyandot County Health Department remove the advisory.
The purpose of the Public Health Action Plan is to ensure that this Public Health Assessment not only identifies any current and potential exposure pathways and related health hazards, but also provides a plan of action to mitigate and prevent adverse human health effects resulting from exposures to hazardous substances in the environment. The first section of the Public Health Action Plan contains a description of completed and ongoing actions taken to mitigate environmental contamination. In the second section, there is a list of additional public health actions that are planned for the future.
(A) Completed Activities
1) During the tire fire, oil produced by the fire was collected in a holding pond for treatment. An on-site remediation system was constructed to treat contaminated waste water prior do discharge to Sycamore Creek. Oil continues to be collected in the on-site holding pond as it leaches from underneath the burnt tire piles. The oil is collected and then shipped off-site for disposal. Ohio EPA has constructed a second holding pond to collect excess storm water run-off and prevent oil from overflowing into Sycamore Creek.
2) To help remediate contamination that reached Sycamore Creek via release to underground drainage tiles, dams were constructed at two locations along the creek to contain the toxic oils. Aeration units were brought in to try to treat the contaminated creek waters by increasing dissolved oxygen levels.
3) Surface water samples were collected each day during the tire fire. Based on high levels of VOCs and metals detected in the surface water, HAS recommended to the Wyandot County Health Department that a temporary contact advisory be placed on the portion of Sycamore Creek from the S.R. 231 bridge to the Sandusky River. Surface water samples were also collected in October, November, and December 1999 to confirm that contaminant levels had decreased to background levels.
4) Air samples were collected by Ohio EPA and the U.S. Coast Guard both on and off-site each day during the fire to determine what levels of personal protective equipment were needed for on-site workers and also to determine if air contamination migrating off-site posed a health threat to nearby residents.
5) Sediment samples were collected by Ohio EPA in November and December 1999, and did not detect any contamination at levels that would be expected to cause adverse effects in humans.
6) A protective clay cover was placed over the burning tires. The fire was completely covered within six days of its inception. Venting continued to occur for several months after the fire was covered. New vents were covered with clay as they were discovered.
7) Along with 24-hour security guards, a perimeter security fence with cameras and lighting was constructed to deter trespassing at the site.
8) Ohio EPA installed 11 on-site monitoring wells to determine if the underlying groundwater has been impacted by the oil release at the site. The monitoring wells are monitored on a quarterly basis.
9) The Ohio Department of Health sent this public health assessment out for public comment for a 30-day period in March 2001. Copies of the draft were provided to Ohio EPA, US EPA, the Wyandot County Health Department, the local public library and to the 9 residents who signed the initial petition letter for the document. HAS conducted a public availability session on April 10, 2001 to provide the petitioners at the site to ask questions or provide comments on the Public Comment draft of the PHA. General comments were noted. The remainder of the comments were concerned with clean-up activities and were forwarded to Ohio EPA.
(B) Planned Activities
1) Ohio EPA will continue to collect samples from on-site monitoring wells on a quarterly basis for one year, and on a semiannual basis after that unless sampling results indicate that a more frequent sampling interval is necessary.
2) Scrap tire removal will continue at the site to help ensure that another tire fire does not occur in the future.
3) HAS will review any future data as it becomes available.
Health Assessment Section
Eric R. Yates
Reviewed by: Ying Feng- Principal Investigator
Bureau of the Census [database online]. 1990 Census Population. Washington DC: US Department of Commerce. 1990.
Health Assessment Section. Health Consultation concerning Sycamore Creek Contact Advisory. Ohio Department of Health-Health Assessment Section; November 28, 1999.
Health Assessment Section. Health Consultation for Residential Well Sampling in the vicinity of the Kirby Tire Recyclers site. Ohio Department of Health-Health Assessment Section February 18, 2000 b.
Horrigan, L. Tire Fires: Toxic Exposure ("Big Wheels Keep on Burning"). Division of Environmental Toxicology, Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry. April 29, 1999. 19 p.
Ohio Department of Natural Resources. Online well logs for Sycamore Township, Ohio.
Ohio Environmental Protection Agency (Ohio EPA). Fact Sheet for Kirby Recycling, Inc: Sycamore, Ohio, Wyandot County, Ohio. February 2000.
Ohio Environmental Protection Agency (Ohio EPA). Integrated Assessment: Kirby Tire Recycling, Inc. Sycamore, Ohio, Wyandot County, Ohio. May 31, 2000.
United States Environmental Protection Agency. Memo from USEPA On-Scene Coordinator to the Chief of the Sycamore Local Fire Department concerning air monitoring activities at the site during the tire fire. September 3, 1999.
Varley-Campbell and Associates. Scrap and Shredded Tire Fires. Report 093 of the Major Fires Investigation Project, Federal Emergency Management Agency. December, 1998. 56 p + appendices.
This Kirby Tire Recycling Site 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.
Alan W. Yarbrough
Technical Project Officer, SPS, SSAB, DHAC, ATSDR
The Division of Health Assessment and Consultation, ATSDR, has reviewed this public health assessment and concurs with the findings.
Chief, State Program Section, SSAB, DHAC, ATSDR