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PUBLIC HEALTH ASSESSMENT

NEASE CHEMICAL
SALEM, COLUMBIANA COUNTY, OHIO


ENVIRONMENTAL CONTAMINATION AND OTHER HAZARDS

The Superfund Implementation Group of the Centers For Disease Control initially performed a health assessment for this site in 1984. It characterized the pathways and risks associated with the site. At that time, very little environmental monitoring data were available to evaluate the potential for exposure to site-related chemicals that had migrated off-site.

This section is not a complete listing of all of the chemicals found at the site. Many chemicals presented in this section will be discussed in further detail in other sections of the public health assessment. The chemicals listed in these Data Tables are not necessarily a threat to human health and may be eliminated in other sections of the public health assessment. The chemicals listed in the tables were selected because they are present at concentrations above screening levels and were consistently found at the site.

Screening levels are used as guides to aid in the determination of the chemicals of concern. A chemical is not automatically included as a chemical of concern if it exceeds the screening level, because people must also be exposed to the chemical or have the potential to be exposed. Screening levels for the chemicals that do not cause cancer either are ATSDR's Environmental Media Evaluation Guides (EMEGs) or calculated by ODH when no EMEGs exist for a chemical. The calculated values used the U.S. EPA standard Reference Doses (RfD), adult and/or child body weights, and ingestion rates. If exposure to a child is not likely to occur, as in the workplace, the comparison value will be given only for adults. Cancer Guides are used to assist in the evaluation of the cancer potential for a chemical. They are calculated using the U.S. EPA cancer slope factors, adult body weights and ingestion rates. The formulas used for these calculations are included in Appendix E. The comparison values for drinking water are either the U.S. EPA Maximum Contaminant Level (MCL), ATSDR EMEGs, or calculated by ODH, whichever is the lowest number.

    ON-SITE

A health consultation evaluating on-site data will be completed because the environmental samples for the on-site data had not been analyzed at the time this public health assessment was completed.

    OFF-SITE

This Public Health Assessment will focus on the off-site monitoring data, primarily data associated with the Middle Fork of Little Beaver Creek (fish, sediment, and flood plain soil), wildlife, and dairy cattle. In addition, data collected from the ODH pilot exposure assessment will be used for this assessment.

Middle Fork of Little Beaver Creek

Sediment was sampled from 54 stations in MFLBC, from a pond just north of the site, from a creek that flows into MFLBC from the wetlands behind the site, and from several tributaries to MFLBC (Figure 3, Appendix A). Samples collected from tributaries are considered background as they are not likely to be impacted by the site or the contamination in MFLBC. Sediment sample analysis included VOCs, semivolatile organic compounds, mirex, and photomirex. Photomirex is an environmental degradation product of mirex. There are no health standards available for potential exposures to these chemicals in the sediment.

Mirex was detected in most of the samples above the Lisbon Dam (station 39, Figure 3, Appendix A) and in only three samples below the dam. It was also detected in the samples from the small, private farm pond just north of the site (Figure 2, Appendix A). The concentrations of mirex, photomirex, and bis (2-ethylhexyl) phthalate were highest above the Lisbon Dam (Table 2). Semivolatile organic compounds, primarily polynuclear aromatic hydrocarbons, were detected in most of the samples, including the background samples. The highest concentrations of mirex occurred between Allen Road and the Route 62 bridge. Mirex was also detected in the pond north of the site. Generally, there was very little difference in concentration of the other chemicals above and below the dam.

Table 2
1991 Sediment Sampling Results from MFLBC
Nease Chemical

Chemical (µg/kg) Above Dam Below
Dam
Mirex ND-2,820J ND-10.9
Photomirex ND-7.4 ND
4-methylphenol ND-2,800 ND-2,100
Phenanthrene ND-170 71-1,800
Fluoranthene ND-230 ND-1,100
bis(2-ethylhexyl
phthalate
ND-1,800 ND
1,2-dichloropropane 18 NS
Diphenyl Sulfone ND-170 ND
        ND = Not Detected           NS = Not Sampled
        µg/kg = micrograms per kilogram = Parts Per Billion
        J = Estimated

Sediment samples taken in 1987 also contained mirex, with concentrations ranging from ND-1,500 µg/kg. The concentration of mirex in sediment was greatest in samples from the stations north of New Albany (Figure 3, Appendix A). Because of this contamination, the Ohio Department of Health issued a direct contact advisory for MFLBC from the site to State Route 11.

Twenty-five unfiltered surface water samples were collected from MFLBC and its tributaries. Samples were also collected from the nearby pond and Feeder Creek. Chloromethane, bis (2-ethylhexyl) phthalate, and diphenyl sulfone were detected at estimated levels below the detection limit in several samples. Chloromethane and bis(2-ethylhexyl) phthalate are common environmental contaminants. Surface water samples did not contain mirex or photomirex, two site-specific chemicals. While sediments are contaminated with site-related chemicals, surface water does not appear to be currently impacted by the site. Mirex is extremely hydrophobic, meaning does not like water, and is unlikely to be present in the water column.

Surface Soil-Floodplain

Floodplain soils have been sampled several times since 1987. Samples have been collected as part of the remedial investigation for the site and as part of special investigations. Surface soil samples were collected from the floodplain or overbank area around MFLBC. Sampling was initiated as part of the RI and part of initial environmental investigations in 1987. Samples were also collected in response to a situation where a citizen sold dredged sediment/soil from the creek, in response to concerns about soil in a trailer park near the creek, and after creek flooding in 1990.

During the RI, surface soil samples were collected from seven stations along the floodplain of MFLBC from north of Route 165 to West Point Bridge just south of Elkton. Sample analysis included mirex, photomirex, methoxychlor, diphenyl sulfone, and kepone (Table 3). These last three chemicals were not detected in the floodplain samples. Mirex was detected at all seven sample stations with the highest values at the first two stations. The highest concentrations were detected in floodplain areas in Mahoning County, just north of the site. Very low, estimated levels of mirex were detected in floodplain soils below the Lisbon Dam. Photomirex was less frequently detected, with the highest concentration closest to the Nease Chemical site. Samples taken at stations 1,2, and 4 in 1987 also contained mirex, with concentrations ranging from 220-1,500 µg/kg. It is not known whether these samples were taken in the same areas as those in 1991.

In the spring of 1989, the Ohio EPA was informed that topsoil being sold at a local business was taken from a dredge pile next to MFLBC. Sediment was dredged from the creek five years prior to it being sold as topsoil. Samples were taken from the pile and from six residential areas where the topsoil was placed. Mirex levels ranged from 21-198 µg/kg and were well below the mirex screening level.

Soil samples were also taken in early 1991 from a trailer park along MFLBC about 1.5 miles downstream from the Nease Chemical site. Mirex levels in these three samples ranged from 52-642 µg/kg. The sample with the highest level of mirex was taken from an area bordering MFLBC.

The concentration of mirex in every floodplain soil sample was below the noncancer screening level, but was above the cancer risk guide in one sample. Although direct contact with and ingestion of contaminated floodplain soil is not likely to result in significant exposure, chemicals like mirex can bioaccumulate in the environment. They can accumulate in animals that graze in these areas.

Table 3
Flood Plain Soil Samples
Nease Chemical Site

Sample Area Mirex (µg/kg) Photomirex
(µg/kg)
Station 1 10.1J-4,540 4-132
Station 2 321-3,040 4-29.8
Station 3 16.4-1,570 ND-22.3
Station 4 32.6-715 ND-20.8
Station 19A,B 23.9-52 ND
Station 43 10.1 ND
Noncancer Comparison
Value (µg/kg)
15,000-140,000 NA
Cancer Risk Guide 4,000 NA
        NA = None Available
        ND = Not Detected
        µg/kg = Parts Per Billion
        J=estimated concentration

Biota

A total of 57 fish tissue samples were collected from 28 of the 52 sample stations in MFLBC. Fillet and whole body samples were analyzed for mirex, photomirex, kepone, PCBs, pesticides, and semivolatiles (Figure 3, Appendix A). Samples were taken along the entire length of MFLBC, from the site to the mouth (stations 1 through 52). Samples from five sampling stations nearest the Nease site were sampled for volatile organic compounds (VOCs). Samples included whole body samples of lower trophic level fish (carp, bullheads, and suckers) and fillet samples from upper trophic level fish (sunfish, largemouth and smallmouth bass, and rock bass) (Table 4). Generally lower trophic fish are scavengers and bottom feeders which tend to accumulate chemicals present in stream sediment. Whole body samples typically contain higher levels of chemicals like mirex, because the entire fish is analyzed rather than the fillets. Fillet samples are more representative of what people eat.

Lisbon Dam, station 39, was used as a point of reference because the Ohio Department of Health fish consumption advisory ends just downstream of the dam (at State Route 11). A variety of fish contained elevated levels of mirex including suckers, largemouth bass, carp, green sunfish, and rock bass. The screening values are the Federal Food and Drug Association tolerance levels for the consumption of fish. Kepone, methoxychlor, and diphenylsulfone, all site-related chemicals, were not detected in the fish samples. The concentration of mirex and photomirex were much greater above Lisbon Dam than below the dam. Mirex was detected in all but two of the 28 samples collected. Concentrations of mirex in samples above the dam were above the Federal Food and Drug Administration standard of 100 parts per billion. There are no health standards for photomirex. The level of chlordane and PCBs were below any health standards and concentrations did not differ significantly when collected above verses below the Lisbon Dam.

Table 4
1991 Fish Samples from MFLBC
Concentration Ranges (µg/kg)


Above
Lisbon Dam
Below
Lisbon Dam
Comparison
Value (µg/kg)
Mirex 5.2-6,150 ND-67 100
Photomirex ND-390J ND-4.5J NA
Nitrosodiphenylamine ND-760 ND-460 NA
Chlordane ND-14 ND 300
PCBs ND-800 ND-1,100 50
      ND = Not detected
      NA = None Available
      µg/kg = microgram per kilogram = parts per billion
      PCBs = Polychlorinated Biphenyls

Earlier fish samples (1986) also confirmed the presence of site-related chemicals. Mirex concentrations ranged from not detected to 5,400 µg/kg and photomirex from not detected to 280µg/kg. The 1986 fish samples also contained diphenyl sulfone (ND- 340). Mirex concentrations in fish tissue collected in 1991 did not differ from those collected in 1986. This was expected as mirex is very persistent in the environment. The Ohio Department of Health fish consumption advisory for MFLBC issued in 1987, was based on these data. The advisory extends from the site to State Route 11, downstream of Lisbon. Nationwide mirex levels in fish are normally less than 4 µg/kg (ATSDR, 1995).

The Ohio Department of Health, with assistance from the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, took samples of blood and fat from raccoons and opossums along MFLBC. The samples were analyzed only for the presence of mirex. Animals were live trapped from stations close to the Nease Chemical site and along MFLBC to the Beaver Creek State Park (Figure 4, Appendix A). Samples from both raccoons and opossums contained mirex (Table 5). Animals taken from stations closest to the site contained the highest levels. In general, the fat samples had higher mirex levels than the blood samples.

Table 5
Wildlife Sample Analysis
Nease Chemical Site

Sample Type Raccoon Opossum
Mirex Concentration (ppb)
Blood 0.6-5.9 ND-8.9
Fat ND-39.9 ND-52.7
        ND = Not Detected
        ppb = Parts Per Billion (µg/kg)

The Ohio Department of Health, in conjunction with the Ohio Department of Agriculture collected raw milk samples from dairy cows at local farms. Samples were taken from 1987 to 1991. No mirex was detected in the latest round of samples (Table 6). The milk samples were analyzed only for the presence of mirex. Cow access to the creek and contaminated floodplain soils on the three farms was restricted with fencing in 1989.

Table 6
Milk Analysis
Nease Chemical

Sample
Date
Farm 1 Farm 2 Farm 3
1987 0.011 ppm 0.076 ppm NS
1987 Trace Trace NS
1989 Trace Trace Trace

Trace Trace Trace

ND ND NS

NS NS ND
991 ND ND ND
          ND = Not Detected
          NS = Not Sampled

Humans

In 1989, the Ohio Department of Health, with assistance from the Centers for Disease Control Laboratories, sampled blood from 42 area residents for the presence of mirex. Individuals were chosen through a questionnaire process. A complete report of the ODH study is in Appendix C. Mirex was detected in 14 of the 42 individuals tested, with concentrations ranging from 0.25 ppb to 2.2 ppb.

Eighteen of the 42 area residents also participated in a second study to measure the amount of caffeine metabolism as a factor of metabolism and enzyme induction. The caffeine breath test (CBT) was administered by a researcher at Loyola University. Information concerning this study can be found in Appendix F.

An expanded exposure assessment is currently being conducted. Results of this investigation will be presented in a health consultation.

Quality Assurance and Quality Control

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

Data Gaps

At the time of this health assessment update the new on-site data being collected for the Remedial Investigation were not available for review. These data gaps will be addressed in a health consultation.

Physical Hazards

There are no specific physical hazards associated with the site.

PATHWAY ANALYSIS

The Pathways Analysis Section contains discussions of how chemicals move in the environment (environmental pathways) and how people can be exposed to the chemicals (human exposure pathways).

Site-related chemicals, primarily mirex, have entered MFLBC through surface water runoff from the site into tributaries of the creek. Fish, sediment, wildlife, and floodplain soils are known to be contaminated with mirex and photomirex. Contaminated sediments have been transported downstream as far as Lisbon. The upper portion of the creek has a fairly extensive flood plain (Figure 5, Appendix A). Flood plain soil samples along the upper portion of the MFLBC contained relatively high concentrations of mirex (Table 3).

Mirex is a persistent, hydrophobic compound. It can have a long half-life in the environment, some estimate greater than 10 years. This means that it will take that many years for half of the chemical to degrade. Mirex has been shown to degrade to photomirex, kepone, and dihydromirex in the environment (Francis and Metcalf, 1984, as seen in ATSDR, 1995). Photomirex is formed by a reaction between mirex and ultraviolet light. Mirex typically binds tightly to soil and sediment and because of its hydrophobic nature, is infrequently found in water. Sampling of surface water in MFLBC and private wells along the creek did not detect any mirex nor photomirex. Sediment and floodplain soils along the creek are contaminated with mirex. Mirex contaminated sediments and soil can be transported to uncontaminated areas away from the site by physical means such as flooding, surface water runoff, and wind-blown dirt. A history of flooding in MFLBC has transported mirex contaminated downstream of the site and contributed to the contamination of flood plain soils.

Once in stream sediments and soil, mirex can accumulate in aquatic and terrestrial animals. Researchers have found that lipophilic compounds such as mirex, can readily accumulate in the foodchain (ATSDR, 1995). Monitoring data has shown that fish caught in MFLBC have been consistently contaminated with mirex since first sampled in 1986. Mirex levels have remained fairly constant throughout the years. Raccoons, opossums, and cattle that live along the creek have also accumulated mirex in their tissues. Wildlife feeds on other animals, such as fish, crayfish or insects, that either live in or around the creek, and mirex concentrations get higher as it moves up the foodchain. For example, insects and crayfish living in the creek could accumulate mirex, and animals such as raccoons eat these insects and crayfish and accumulate even higher levels of the chemical. As long as the sediments remain contaminated with mirex, the fish and wildlife that depend on the creek will continue to be exposed to mirex. Cattle watering in the creek or grazing in areas with contaminated soils have also accumulated mirex. Access to contaminated portions of the creek and flood plain soil at three of the commercial farms has been restricted and the animals are no longer able to graze and water in these areas.

Completed Pathways

People can be exposed to chemicals by either eating, drinking, breathing, or coming in contact with contaminated water, food, dirt, or air. For example, if we know the fish in the creek are contaminated and area residents catch and eat fish, they can be exposed. This is considered a completed exposure pathway. For a pathway to be complete, there must be a source of the chemical (MFLBC), contaminated media at the site (fish), some way people can be exposed (people fish in the creek), and people eating the fish that they catch. People could have been exposed in the past, could have exposure occurring now, or be exposed in the future. This means that they could have eaten fish from the creek twenty years ago, are still eating fish from the creek, or eat fish from the creek five years from now.

Fish, sediment, flood plain soils, diary milk, and wildlife, have been shown to contain certain site-related chemicals. The consumption of milk, meat, fish, and wildlife are all completed exposure pathways (Table 7). Monitoring data has shown that they all contain or contained mirex and area residents have been or could be exposed to the chemical. The ingestion of wildlife contaminated with mirex is possible. ODH has no information on the number of people in the area (Columbiana and Mahoning Counties) who hunt and eat game. Eating contaminated game hunted from areas bordering the creek is a considered to be a realistic exposure pathway. Although the consumption of wildlife (raccoons and opossums) may present a risk of exposure, the risk would not be significant because the levels in these samples were very low. The consumption of fish caught in the advisory area is also a completed exposure pathway now, in the past, and in the future, because of the history of mirex contamination. Although ODH recommends that fish caught in the creek not be eaten, it is not a legally enforceable ban, and it is possible that some area residents still eat the fish. As long as the sediments remain contaminated with mirex, the fish will likely be contaminated and eating fish caught in MFLBC remains a valid exposure pathway.

The contamination of creek sediments was first discovered in 1987. ODH subsequently recommended that people should not swim or wade in the creek to limit contact with contaminated sediments. It is possible that people wading in the creek and coming in contact with contaminated sediments could be exposed to mirex.

Flood plain soils collected from areas along MFLBC were also contaminated with mirex. It is likely that flooding of the creek has transported contaminated sediments onto floodplain areas. Some of these contaminated soils are located in residential areas. People living along the creek could be exposed to mirex by coming in contact with contaminated soils or eating dirt contaminated with mirex.

There is little information available to ascertain the likelihood of people accumulating mirex through contact with the skin. There are laboratory studies using animals that indicate that adverse effects can occur from contact with mirex, therefore, sediment and flood plain soil contaminated with mirex are considered completed exposure pathways.

Table 7
Completed Exposure Pathways
Nease Chemical

Middle Fork of Little Beaver Creek Exposure Pathways
Source Pathway Point of
Exposure
Route of
Exposure
Population Time
MFLBC-
Nease
Chemical
Cows Milk/Meat Ingestion 50* Past
Present
Future
MFLBC-
Nease
Chemical
Fish Fish Ingestion Fisherman* Past
Present
Future
MFLBC-
Nease
Chemical
Wildlife Raccoons Ingestion Hunters* Past
Present
Future
MFLBC-
Nease
Chemical
Sediment Creek
Sediment
Skin-Contact
with Sediment
Residents
Along
MFLBC
Past
Present
Future
MFLBC-
Nease
Chemical
Flood Plain
Soil
Flood Plain
Soil
Ingestion of Dirt
Skin-Contact
with Sediment
Residents
Along
MFLBC
Past
Present
Future

*These categories also include all household members who eat/drink the milk/meat, fish, or the wildlife. ODH has no available information on the number of people that hunt or fish along the creek.

The 1990 ODH Pilot Exposure Assessment concluded that one of the most likely routes of exposure was the consumption of contaminated animal products (milk and meat) (ODH Study, 1990, Appendix C). The dairy cows accumulated mirex either directly from the creek or from grazing in pastures contaminated through creek flooding. The exposure on three of the farms has ceased. Sampling of dairy milk from farms along MFLBC has not detected mirex since 1989. Although the cattle on three of the farms, known to have problems with mirex detections in milk and meat, have been restricted from the creek and contaminated floodplain areas, we have no information on the prevalence of small (family) noncommercial farms along the creek.

Potential Pathways

The second type of exposure pathway is a potential exposure pathway. This means that we do not have all the information we need to determine whether or not exposure is possible. For example, it is possible that additional farms could have problems similar to the three farms previously identified. We have not yet identified cattle on other farms that have accumulated mirex or found to have mirex in their milk and meat, but it is possible if cattle have access to the creek or contaminated flood plain soil.

The 1990 ODH Pilot Exposure Assessment concluded that one of the most likely routes of exposure was the consumption of contaminated animal products (milk and meat) (ODH Study, 1990, Appendix C). Data currently available does not indicate that people who are on at least three commercial farms or using these products are being exposed to mirex through the consumption of milk and meat. It is possible for more pasture land to become contaminated with site-related chemicals. We also have no information on the prevalence of small (family) noncommercial farms along the creek. Therefore, the drinking milk or eating meat, from animals raised along the creek could also be considered a potential exposure pathway.

Contaminated creek sediments were first discovered in 1987. ODH subsequently recommended that people should not swim or wade in the creek to limit contact with contaminated sediments. Because past flooding of the creek has transported contaminated sediments downstream of the site, future flooding could contribute to the contamination of additional floodplain soils. There is little information available to ascertain the likelihood of people accumulating mirex through contact with the skin. There are laboratory studies using animals that indicate that adverse effects can occur from contact with mirex, therefore, floodplain soil contaminated with mirex could be considered a potential exposure pathway.

Table 8
Potential Exposure Pathways - Nease Chemical

Source Pathway Point of
Exposure
Route of
Exposure
Population Time
MFLBC Soil Yards Ingestion
Skin
Residents
Along
MFLBC
Past
Present
Future
Cows Milk/Meat Ingestion Residents*
Along MFLBC
Present
Future
* This category also includes all household members who eat/drink the milk and the meat.

An exposure pathway can also be eliminated as a pathway of concern if people are not likely to be in contact with the chemical. For example, although there has been some concern by residents that their private wells could become contaminated by the presence of mirex in the creek, the hydrophobic or "water hating" nature of mirex makes it very unlikely that the wells on property along the creek will be impacted by contamination in the creek. A study done by the Mahoning County Health Department in 1989 identified 12 wells within the MFLBC flood plain that due to poor construction, capping, and maintenance may be at risk of flood waters from the creek entering the well. Although contaminated sediment may be washed into these wells, this pathway has been eliminated because sampling by the Ohio EPA has shown that none of these vulnerable wells has been affected by the contamination in the creek. If flooding of the creek does inundate these wells, it's insoluble nature makes it unlikely that it will be found in the water of the well. Even though creek sediments are heavily contaminated with mirex, it has not been found in the water of the creek.

PUBLIC HEALTH IMPLICATIONS

Toxicological Evaluation

This section discusses the available information about the chemicals that are in completed or potential human exposure pathways at the Nease Chemical site. There is often little information about the health effects caused by low level environmental exposures. Most human exposure studies use information from industrial exposures, where the doses usually are much higher than environmental exposures. Animals do not necessarily show the responses that humans do when exposed to contaminants. However, researchers frequently observe health effects in animals that they believe are indicative of responses shown by humans to the same toxic substances. In addition, animal experiments can be conducted under carefully controlled dosages and time periods. Accordingly, when human information is unavailable, pertinent animal data will be incorporated into this section.

Mirex is a synthetic insecticide that was used for the control of fire ants chiefly in the southeastern United States. It has also been used as a flame retardant additive under the trade name Dechlorane. It has not been produced since 1976 and all registered products containing it were canceled in the United States between 1977 and 1978. In the environment, mirex can degrade into chlordecone (Kepone), photomirex, and/or into dehydromirex. Both photomirex and chlordecone may be more harmful than the parent compound. While it was being manufactured, mirex contaminated water and soil. It can enter surface water through runoff of contaminated soil from facilities that manufactured it and by seepage from contaminated waste disposal sites. It binds to soil and to soil particles suspended in water or sediment. Mirex decomposes very slowly and it and its breakdown products can stay in the soil, water, and sediment for years. Chlordecone is broken down even more slowly than mirex. Mirex and its breakdown products accumulate in the bodies of fish or animals that live in waters that contain it, or eat other contaminated animals. This process is termed bioaccumulation, or biomagnification. The amount of mirex in the bodies of predators may be many times greater than the amount in their prey, or in the surrounding water. It can be biomagnified in both aquatic and terrestrial food chains.

The most likely way for people to be exposed to mirex is by eating food, especially fish from contaminated areas. Since mirex binds to soil, people in contaminated areas can also be exposed by touching or eating contaminated soil on unwashed hands and contaminated food. Mirex can also be absorbed through skin. It passes from the digestive system into the bloodstream and is carried to many parts of the body. In exposed people, it has been found in the blood serum, breast milk, and fat, where it is chiefly stored. It also readily crosses the placenta and accumulates in fetal tissues. Animal experiments indicate that tissue concentrations do not necessarily reach a steady state, but may continue to increase throughout the exposure period. It is excreted very slowly and, thus, will bioaccumulate. That which is not stored, leaves the body mainly in the feces.

Mirex has been found in fish tissue in the MFLBC at levels up to 6,150 micrograms per kilogram of body weight, (µg/kg or ppb). Eating fish caught in the creek, even as little as once a month, could result in an estimated dose greater than the U.S. EPA reference dose. Sampling of the site area has shown concentrations in sediment ranging up to 2,820 µg/kg (ppb), in soil up to 4,540 µg/kg (ppb), in the fat of wildlife up to 52.7 µg/kg (ppb), and in milk up to 11 ppb. Exposure to mirex contaminated soil or sediment is not likely to result in a dose greater than the reference dose, however, these estimates do not take into account people exposed through more than one pathway.

No information is available on the effects of human exposure to mirex in the pathways associated with MFLBC. Animal studies have shown that eating mirex can cause harmful effects on the liver, kidneys, thyroid gland, eyes, nervous system, and reproductive system. These effects depend upon the amount of mirex the animal has been exposed to. The level of a substance that represents a safe level, is the U.S. EPA RfD. This recently developed value (Integrated Risk Information System or IRIS, 1994) for mirex represents an estimate of the level of daily exposure to mirex that is likely to be safe for a lifetime of exposure. The RfD for mirex is 0.0002 milligrams of mirex per kilogram body weight per day (mg/kg/day). It is based on a study showing that as little as 0.007 mg/kg/day (100 ppb) given to rats for 104 weeks resulted in health effects. These effects included liver changes (enlarged cells, fat depositions, and enlargement of blood vessels) and thyroid gland changes (enlarged follicles). An uncertainty factor of 300 was used in this RfD to adjust for variation between species, interspecies extrapolation, and an incomplete database. At a higher dose (0.25 mg/kg/day or 5,000 ppb), mirex exposure in rats has resulted in reproductive effects such as decreased liter size in and in developmental effects such as cataracts in pups.

No studies were located regarding the effects of skin exposure to mirex in people. In animals exposure to 3.6 mg/kg/day resulted in skin tumor promotion in mice.

It is unknown whether mirex causes cancer in people. The Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) has determined that mirex may reasonably be expected to be a carcinogen (cancer-causing agent). The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) has determined that mirex is a possible human carcinogen and the U.S. EPA has not classified mirex as to carcinogenicity. In rodents, mirex causes liver, adrenal, and blood cancer.

Mirex can interact with other substances because it causes the induction of a type of enzyme (microsomal). Thus, it enhances the body's breakdown of compounds that are processed by this system (oxidized or reduced by the mixed function oxygenase system). For example for chemicals whose breakdown products are less active than the parent chemical, a decrease in effectiveness would be likely in a mirex-exposed person. But for chemicals that the body transforms into more active or toxic breakdown-products, enhanced activity/toxicity would be expected. For example, mirex enhances acetaminophen toxicity (acetaminophen acts through a reactive intermediate, thus, when mirex increases the activity of the microsomal cytochrome P-450-system, the toxicity of the acetaminophen is increased). People who may have an increased susceptibility to mirex include the young, because of their developing organ systems, and some people being treated with some antidepressants such as Prozac. This ability to interact with other compounds may necessitate the reevaluation of the required dosages in people having high or prolonged exposure to mirex. The possibility exists that newborn children might also develop cataracts if exposed to mirex shortly after birth. Mirex administered soon after birth can cause increased incidence of cataracts and other harmful effects on the eye lens in animals (ATSDR, 1995).

Photomirex is produced when mirex decomposes during exposure to light. In the MFLBC area, photomirex was found in the sediment at levels ranging up to 7.4 µg/kg (ppb), in the soil at up to 132 µg/kg (ppb), and in fish at up to 390 µg/kg (ppb). No information was found about the effects of photomirex exposure in humans. In rats, it accumulates in the body fat and the ovaries and in lower levels in other major organs including the brain and testes. The lowest level that has been shown to result in health effects is 50 ppb. Rats fed this level for 28 days showed thyroid gland changes such as changes in the principal follicular cells (Chu et al., 1981) and changes in the shapes of thyroid cells (Singh et al., 1982). At higher levels, the compound appears to be more toxic to male than to female rats. Its chief target organs appear to be the liver, the kidneys, and the ovaries (Hallet, 1978).

Health Outcome Data Evaluation

Throughout our involvement at the site, residents have repeatedly raised concerns about a lot of people with cancer. The only health outcome data that were readily accessible are cancer mortality data for the City of Salem, Columbiana and Mahoning Counties (Table 8). Because the most readily available cancer statistics are for the city and counties, there is no way to link county rates with one particular site or exposure. A high rate of a specific type of cancer should not automatically be linked with the Nease Chemical site or MFLBC. We chose to look at county rates regardless of the limitations of the data, in order to respond to concerns of the community. Detailed questions and answers of area citizens are presented in the Community Concerns Section of this document.

The data used in these calculations were obtained from the Ohio Death Certificates Vital Statistics and the census population figures for each city with each year, 1979-1990. These rates are a review of the number of people who died of cancer and do not represent an epidemiologic study of cancer incidence. The 1980 U.S. population has been used as the standard population. These rates were adjusted for the age of the population. This corrects for increases in cancer deaths as the population ages.

The overall cancer mortality rate in the city of Salem is significantly higher when compared to the rest of Columbiana County, all of Mahoning County or the State of Ohio (Table 8). Breast cancer is also significantly higher in Salem than the other three comparison groups. Liver cancer and "all other cancer" are significantly higher in Salem when compared to the rest of Columbiana County and the State of Ohio. Brain and lung cancers are significantly higher in Salem than the rest of Columbiana County. In all other comparisons, the difference between Salem and the other comparison groups were small enough to be within the normal range of variation in rates.

TABLE 8
LOCAL COMPARISONS OF CANCER DEATHS FOR 1979-1990
ANNUAL AGE ADJUSTED RATES PER 100,000 PEOPLE

TYPE OF
CANCER:
SALEM,
OHIO
REST OF
COLUMBIANA1
MAHONING
COUNTY
STATE
OF OHIO2
BLADDER 4.6 5.4 4.9 4.4
BRAIN 8.6 3.9 5.0 5.1
BREAST,
FEMALES

55.8

28.2

39.6

32.8
COLORECTAL 31.8 25.9 32.6 25.5
KIDNEY 6.0 3.9 4.6 4.0
LEUKEMIA 11.9 7.4 9.4 7.6
LIVER 7.3 2.7 3.7 3.3
LUNG 67.6 50.7 61.6 57.9
LYMPHOMA 13.9 9.2 12.1 11.4
ALL OTHERS3 88.7 61.2 85.0 69.4
ALL CANCERS 270.2 186.2 239.8 207.5
1 For comparison purposes, "rest of Columbiana County" does not include the city of Salem.
2 The State of Ohio includes the years 1986-1988.
3 All Others include cancers which are not listed separately in this table, such as oral, cervical, skin, bone, stomach, prostate, etc. 

Community Health Concerns Evaluation

Citizens have expressed a wide variety of concerns about the site. We have no evidence indicating whether releases from Nease Chemical might have caused these problems, however, ODH feels that is necessary to answer all of the concerns raised at our meeting whether or not they dealt specifically with the objectives of this public health assessment. Additional questions and concerns from earlier work at the site are presented in Appendix D.

The Health Activities Review Panel (HARP) determined that follow-up health activities are indicated. ATSDR and ODH concluded that area residents may need information about the nature and possible consequences of exposure to contaminants associated with the Nease Chemical Superfund site. An environmental health education program is recommended to advise the local medical community and local citizens about chemical exposure. A thorough epidemiological investigation of the exposed population may include a community health investigation, disease and symptom prevalence study, and site specific surveillance study.

1) Some people have come to meetings in wheelchairs and have not been in wheelchairs before.

Response: There are many health problems such as strokes or neuro-muscular problems for which wheelchairs are used for greater mobility. We have no way of linking wheelchair use to the site or contamination in the creek.

2) Six men that lived around the plant and worked outside have died, some of the wives as well.

Response: Throughout the history of the Nease Chemical Plant, there were reported problems with air emissions. These emissions were a result of the manufacturing process or accidents and not from burning. There were reports from citizens as early as 1962 about odors emanating from the plant. However, odors do not necessarily indicate significant exposures to a person. It is difficult to know now whether health effects could/could not result from any exposures that could have occurred in the past.

3) The fish advisory signs are down.

Response: ODH is pursuing the purchase of other types of signs that may be less likely to be stolen. ODH and the Ohio EPA have placed approximately 47 fish consumption and swimming advisory signs along the MFLBC. Attempts were made by the Ohio EPA to prevent the signs from being stolen, however, a number of them are missing.

4) The people that worked at the Nease plant from 1961 to 1963 are not as concerned about mirex as they are about other chemicals. They are more interested in personal health.

Response: We are aware of the conditions at the plant during its operation. Blood samples taken from the workers screened for mirex in the ODH study, all contained mirex. The problems associated with workers will be considered in the assessment of on-site contamination. Information about other on-site chemicals was not available when this document was completed.

5) There are three cases of Crohn's disease, three children born with club feet and children with leukemia, all in Elkton.

Response: We have no evidence indicating whether releases from Nease Chemical might have caused these problems, but none of the chemicals reported in off-site sampling are known to cause these diseases. Following is some information about these diseases for residents who may not have information about them.

Crohn's disease is an inflammation of the GI tract. It is most prevalent in adults aged 20 to 40 and two to three times more common in persons of Jewish ancestry and least common in blacks. Although the exact cause of Crohn's disease is unknown, possible causes include allergies and other immune disorders, obstruction of the lymph vessels, and infection. No infecting organism has been isolated. Since some patients with Crohn's disease have one or more affected relatives, a genetic cause is implicated.

Clubfoot is the most common congenital disorder of the lower extremities. The incidence of clubfoot nationally is approximately 1 per 1,000 live births. It is twice as common in boys as in girls. Clubfoot may be associated with other birth defects, but is correctable with prompt treatment. A combination of genetic and environmental factors in utero appears to cause clubfoot. Heredity is a definite factor in some cases. This disorder can occur with greater frequency in families with the disorder. In children without a family history of clubfoot, this anomaly seems linked to arrested development during the ninth and tenth week of embryonic life.

Acute leukemia is more common in males than in females, in whites (especially people of Jewish descent), in children, and in persons who live in urban and industrialized areas. Although the exact causes of most leukemia remain, unknown, increasing evidence suggests a combination of contributing factors, such as genetics, radiation, exposure to benzene, and viruses. Acute leukemia ranks 20th in causes of cancer-related deaths among people of all age-groups. Among children, however, it is the most common form of cancer. In the United States, an estimated 11,000 persons develop acute leukemia annually. The age-adjusted mortality rate for leukemia in Ohio from 1979-1990 was 7.6 deaths per 100,000 people; for Salem, 11.9 per 100,000 people; for the rest of Columbiana County, the rate was 7.4 deaths per 100,000 people (Table 8). ODH will obtain data on the incidence of leukemia in the area.

Although animal data collected from laboratory studies has shown an association with exposures to high levels of mirex and the development of leukemia, it is unlikely that residents that far downstream from the highest levels of mirex would have had significant exposures. The highest concentration of mirex in the stream sediments was upstream of Lisbon Dam, mostly close to the site.

6) A woman new to the area suggested that the next time there is a meeting, we use a panel presentation so everyone can hear all the comments.

Response: There have been a number of public meetings since our involvement with the community concerned about the Nease Site and MFLBC. The majority of these meetings used panel presentations. The purpose of the public involvement meetings is to talk with people individually. There may be people who would not ask questions or give us information if there was a large audience or possibly television cameras present at the meeting. In addition, all those who provided us with an address will get a complete listing of community concerns.

7) Citizens are very concerned about contamination of drinking water in the city system. Should everyone be using a filter of some sort?

Response: There is no indication that Salem water is unsafe to drink and filters are not necessary. The city's water supply is not affected by the contamination at the Nease site, 8 miles northwest of the reservoir. The city of Salem gets its drinking water from a surface water reservoir located 5.5 miles south of the city. This reservoir gets its water from several small streams that drain areas from 3-5 miles south of the city. Public water supplies are required to test for the presence of chemicals on a regular basis. These data should be available from the Ohio EPA or the city of Salem.

8) Should do more testing in areas with flood contamination One resident of Leetonia said his soil was probably more contaminated than the soil another man was prevented by EPA from selling.

Response: The Ohio and U.S.EPA have sampled flood plain soils from the site to the area bordering MFLBC near Leetonia and have detected mirex in some of these samples. These data are given in Table 3 of the Environmental Contamination Section of this Public Health Assessment.

9) Several women indicated a concern about contamination of the aquifer under the stream. Their concerns included mirex and other chemicals including the VOCs reported at the site earlier.

Response: Past groundwater sampling at the Nease site (1982-1987) indicates contamination of at least three groundwater aquifers (water-bearing layers) beneath the site with a number of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) occurring in the groundwater. Private water well sampling in 1983-1984 in the adjacent residential areas, indicated low levels of VOCs in several residences along Rt. 14A, adjacent to and southeast of the site. Much higher levels of VOCs were recorded for an industrial well east of Allen Road and 800 feet east of the site. Mirex has not been detected in private wells near the site. Groundwater monitoring data are available in the RI Report. Risks associated with on-site contamination and groundwater contamination will be evaluated in a health consultation.

10) Some citizens wanted us to test all the children at Colonial Village Trailer Park, Mahoning County, not the adults, just children. Soil in the area was tested and found to be contaminated with mirex. Some of the children still play in the creek. Shouldn't there be a long term cancer follow-up of kids who live along the creek with a control group for comparison?

Response: We are in the process of planning an expanded exposure assessment. We will sample 200 people selected though a questionnaire process similar to our pilot exposure assessment. Residents will be provided the results of this study. The ODH Pilot Exposure Assessment included in Appendix C, outlined the most likely routes of exposure to mirex, primarily employment and consumption of farm products. Living next to, or near the creek does not necessarily mean that one is automatically exposed. In addition, there has been a swimming and wading advisory for parts of MFLBC, including this area since 1988. The ODH cannot enforce this advisory. However, working with the schools, as was done in 1988, we may be able to remind children and their parents to stay out of the creek.

11) Several men who had worked at Nease reported horrifying tales of injury with chlorine and bromine gas, and severe exposures to other chemicals at the plant. They reported several men who worked there died of terrible cancers. Many had lung problems. Can we follow this group to see what happened to them? Who had what health problems and who had died of what causes?

Response: We are aware of the conditions at the plant during its operation. Reportedly, employees at the plant including office workers, had evidence of chloracne. "It is apparent that many of the operators are exposed to the air contamination." The report from the Ohio Division of Occupational Health stated that all the workers were affected with the chloracne. This investigation was documented in an article in the Archives of Dermatology, Volume 113, May 1977. Some workers reported that spouses and children also had chloracne type lesions. In addition, the workers that were screened for mirex in the ODH study all had been exposed to mirex. The problems associated with workers will be considered in the assessment of on-site contamination.

12) There was a question about whether part of the chemicals used in Agent Orange had ever been produced at the Salem plant and if dioxin was released with other contaminants.

Response: There is no information that we have reviewed for this health assessment which indicates that Agent Orange was produced at the Nease facility in Salem. Unfortunately, this rumor has been circulating for a number of years. An old newspaper article from 1969 stated that a disinfectant used on kitchen utensils in Vietnam was manufactured by Nease Chemical. To date, dioxin has not been identified in the environmental monitoring at the site or in MFLBC.

13) Several people reported plumes escaping from the plant and killing everything in the creek, plants and animals as well as cows living near the creek. Kids who played in the water years ago developed skin rashes and sore spots on exposed skin.

Response: The earliest report of a fish kill in MFLBC was in 1962 and there was at least one other fish kill reported. There are also numerous newspaper articles and past court cases that document chemical releases from the Nease Chemical Plant. We are not aware of cows dying, because of the creek, although some milk from cows along the creek contained mirex indicating possible uptake from the creek.

14) A former worker exposed to mirex wanted to hear again about the risk of cancer and other disease due to mirex.

Response: The only known epidemiological study of cancer incidence in relation to mirex exposure was of people living in the Love Canal area in New York. There was no evidence of a higher cancer rate, however, the value of this study was limited because of an uncertain latency period and a small study population. Mirex is considered a probable human carcinogen by the U.S. EPA and a possible carcinogen by IARC because it causes cancer in animals. No information was available on the effects of mirex in humans at the concentrations found in the Nease site.

15) A former technical supervisor at Nease has sued the company regarding exposure to tetrachloroazoxybenzene resulting in chloracne. This substance is a suspected carcinogen and some studies in England linked the substance with chloracne.

Response: There is very little toxicological information on this chemical. It was the chemical which caused chloracne in workers at the Nease plant in 1973. This investigation was documented in an article in the Archives of Dermatology, Volume 113, May 1977. There is no information concerning the carcinogenicity of this chemical.

16) Citizens were concerned about those who live along the creek because kids wade in the creek and have gotten scabs on their legs. Felt there were a lot of children with bladder infections. Also, half-formed and malformed turtles are found in the creek.

Response: We are not aware of any toxicological information associating mirex exposure with bladder infections. The ODH pilot exposure assessment included in Appendix D, outlined the most likely routes of exposure to mirex, primarily employment and consumption of farm products. Living next to, or near the creek does not necessarily mean that one is automatically exposed. In addition, there has been a swimming and wading advisory for parts of MFLBC, including this area since 1988. The ODH cannot enforce this advisory. Because fish in the creek and wildlife in the area have been shown to contain mirex, turtles may also contain mirex. Working with the schools, as was done in 1988, we may be able to remind children and their parents to stay out of the creek. Please refer to Recommendations Section for further information about health activities follow-up at the site.

17) There were chemicals shipped in from New Jersey and all over to dump stuff in the ponds because Ohio laws are less strict.

Response: There are no reports which indicate that any hazardous waste was shipped to the Nease Chemical site from New Jersey.

18) Some chemicals were burned and released just 50 feet in the air and became airborne.

Response: Throughout the history of the Nease Chemical Plant, there were reported problems with air emissions. These emissions were a result of the manufacturing process or accidents. However, we have not seen any reports of burning at the site. There were reports from citizens as early as 1962 about odors emanating from the plant. However, odors do not necessarily indicate significant exposures to a person. It is difficult to know now what health effects may result from any exposures.

19) A member of the Citizen Advisory Panel wants to know if mirex can be transported through plants such as pumpkins, and contaminate people who eat them?

Response: Yes, mirex has been shown to be absorbed by plants, under laboratory conditions. For example, plants grown in soils containing low levels of mirex showed traces of mirex. People can consume very small amounts of mirex through this route. The consumption of mirex through fish and milk presents a greater hazard because of the tendency of mirex to be stored in fat.

20) A member of the Citizen Advisory Panel wanted to know if the fish below route 11 have been tested by the EPA, and if mirex levels are found to be high, will more signs be posted downstream. And if so, how long will it take?

Response: Fish were collected from the entire length of MFLBC, including the area downstream of State Route 11. Mirex and photomirex (site-related chemicals) were detected at very low estimated levels in fish samples from this area (Table 4). A fish advisory was not issued because only two samples contained mirex at very low levels. The mirex levels in these two samples were below the Federal Food and Drug Administration tolerance level for mirex. If the fish advisory issued in 1987 is extended downstream, additional signs will be posted. We would not be able to state how long this would take, however, any changes in the current advisory will be well publicized.

21) State Park workers are asked about water contamination and the effects of local fishing, canoeing and falling in the creek. How should they respond to these questions?

Response: One should first emphasize that there is a fish consumption and contact advisory for MFLBC from Salem to Lisbon. Mirex and photomirex (site-related chemicals) were detected at very low, estimated levels in samples of fish in this area (Table 4). A fish advisory was not issued in other areas because only two samples contained very low levels of mirex. The mirex levels in these two samples were below the Federal Food and Drug Administration tolerance level for mirex. At this time, there would be very little risk of exposure to site-related chemicals in the State Park area of MFLBC. The decision whether to fish or swim in MFLBC should be made by the individual. Three sediment samples out of 13, contained low, estimated levels of mirex.

22) There are 430 folks living along the creek. She would like us to ask each family for their medical records and check with local physicians.

Response: A specific disease outcome or condition would be needed in order to evaluate medical records. At present, there are not specific medical conditions associated with mirex or the Nease site. If these data become available, this concern will be reevaluated.

23) Her husband has 67% of his lung capacity and he doesn't smoke. The lower half of his lungs are calcified. They have lived along the creek since 1977. He did not work at Nease. No mirex was found in her or her husband's blood at the time of testing. However, a caffeine breath test was high. In addition, both her daughter and daughter-in-law, who live with them, had miscarriages. The oldest daughter had a hysterectomy at age 23; the informant also had a hysterectomy and has high blood pressure. Her son had infected kidneys. Although he was taken to the Youngstown Southside hospital, no known cause was found. No one else in the family has been tested for mirex. The family had lived in East Liverpool (Glendale) before moving to this area.

Response: Since there was no mirex in the blood sample it is unlikely that the person was exposed to mirex and adverse health effects could not be attributed to exposure. A person would have to be exposed to the chemical before any type of adverse health effects could result. The caffeine breath test is not specific for mirex, but could mean other types of chemical exposure independent of the contamination of MFLBC. Following is some educational information in response to this question.

Lung calcification is found as a shadow in an X-ray indicating something more dense than fluid or air in the lungs, but not necessarily calcium. There are specific causes of this symptom which are not related to the Nease Site or the MFLBC. We are not aware of any toxicological information associating mirex exposure with this type of lung problem.

Up to 15% of all pregnancies and approximately 30% of first pregnancies end in spontaneous abortion (miscarriage). At least 75% of miscarriages occur during the first trimester. Miscarriages may result from fetal, placental, or maternal factors. Since there are many different types of hysterectomies and numerous reasons for performing a hysterectomy, there is insufficient information to address this particular concern.

We are not aware of any toxicological information associating mirex exposure with urinary tract infections. Urinary tract infections (UTI) are nearly 10 times more common in women than in men and affect approximately 10% to 20% of all women at least once. Lower UTI is also a prevalent bacterial disease in children, with girls also most commonly affected.

Risk factors for hypertension includes family history, race (most common in blacks), stress, obesity, a high dietary intake of saturated fats or sodium, uses of tobacco or oral contraceptives, sedentary lifestyle, and aging. We are not aware of any toxicological information associating mirex exposure with hypertension.

24) One citizen expressed concern with the health assessment process and how it might impact those living in the area. Cancer is also high, especially lupus, skin cancer, and young people with cancer.

Response: A health assessment is the evaluation of data and information on the release of hazardous substances in the environment in order to assess any current or future impact on public health. If warranted, a through epidemiological investigation of the exposed population could include a community health investigation, a disease and symptom prevalence study, and site specific surveillance study. Following is some educational information in response to this question.

Lupus is a chronic inflammatory disorder of the connective tissues. The annual incidence of lupus averages 75 cases per one million people. It strikes women eight times as often as men, increasing to 15 times as often during childbearing years. Lupus occurs worldwide but is most prevalent among Asians and blacks. The exact cause of lupus is unknown. Evidence points to interrelated immunologic, environmental, hormonal, and genetic factors.

Skin cancers occur most often in fair-skinned, blonde, white males. Outdoor employment and residence in a sunny, warm climate greatly increase the risk. Predisposing factors include overexposure to the sun's ultraviolet rays, the presence of premalignant lesions, X-ray therapy, radiation exposure, burns, ingestion of herbicides containing arsenic, chronic skin irritation and inflammation, exposure to local carcinogens (such as tar and oil), and hereditary diseases (such as albinism). Mortality rates for Columbiana County are lower than for the rest of Ohio. The age adjusted rate for skin cancer in Ohio from 1986-1988 was 3.32 persons per 100,000; for Columbiana County, the rate was 3.04 (Cancer Mortality Rates in Ohio, 1986-1988, ODH).

25) There is also concern about Beaver Creek running through Camp McKinley (North of Lisbon) where boy scouts come from all over to fish, swim, etc. in the creek. Although access to the creek is now limited and signs are still posted, kids still go in. Also felt that the ODH signs should have icons, such as a red circle with a line through the swimmer so it could be understood by non-readers and non-English speakers.

Response: The Boy Scout Camp is aware of the fish/contact advisory for MFLBC. You are correct in stating that the signs should be changed so that those unable to read can be kept informed. We will investigate the possibility of obtaining this type of sign. We will also send out reminders to area residents and the camp about the MFLBC advisories.

26) A citizen reported that eight out of 40 people out of Lincoln Machine have died of cancer.

Response: On average, one out of three people will get cancer and one out of five will die of it. Without the appropriate demographics (e.g., age, race, sex), it is not possible to determine if these deaths exceed the national or local levels. The overall cancer mortality rate in the city of Salem is significantly higher when compared to the rest of Columbiana County, all of Mahoning County or the State of Ohio (Table 8). Breast cancer is also significantly higher in Salem than the other three comparison groups. Liver cancer and "all other cancer" are significantly higher in Salem when compared to the rest of Columbiana County and the State of Ohio. Brain and lung cancers are significantly higher in Salem than the rest of Columbiana County. In all other comparisons, the difference between Salem and the other comparison groups were small enough to be within the normal range of variation in rates.

27) This citizen also felt that neurological diseases like Parkinson's, Alzheimers, etc. are on the rise in Columbiana County.

Response: We have no local information which would assist us in responding to this question. See the Recommendations Section for further information about health activities follow-up at the site.

Parkinson's disease characteristically produces progressive muscle rigidity and involuntary tremors. The cause of Parkinson's disease is unknown. It is one of the most common crippling diseases in the United States. Parkinson's affects men more often than women. It strikes one in every 100 people over age 60. Because of increased longevity, this amounts to roughly 60,000 new cases diagnosed annually in the U.S.

The cause of alzheimers is unknown. Factors which are implicated include: neurochemical factors, environmental factors (such as aluminum and manganese), viral factors (such as slow-growing central nervous system viruses), trauma, and genetic immunologic factors. An estimated 5% of persons over the age of 65 have a severe form of this disease, and 12% suffer from mild to moderate dementia.

28) A concerned citizen asked to receive cancer rates for Lisbon and East Liverpool when completed. She had heard they were the highest in state.

Response: When compared to national data (SEER-Surveillance, Epidemiology and End Results Program, National Cancer Institute), East Liverpool has higher mortality rates for seven of the nine cancer groupings examined. Residents in East Liverpool would not be impacted by the Nease Chemical Superfund site and this information was provided for reference. The rates for Lisbon were not calculated because of the small number of people with disease.

29) Since signs end at Route 11 bridge, does mirex stop there? Also felt that the sediment would spread south of the bridge. What are the effects of mirex on the food chain?

Response: Sampling of the creek indicates minimal contamination downstream of Lisbon Dam. The advisories for MFLBC were based on fish and sediment data collected in 1987. If additional downstream data indicates a risk to human health, the advisory will be extended. Mirex bioaccumulates in a food chain, which means that it can become more concentrated through the food chain. This food chain also includes humans.

30) The Columbiana Board of Health has a list of kids with leukemia. Citizens Opposed to Pollution (COP) has constructed their own list, but would like us to get the Columbiana Board's of Health list to send to COP and for our own use.

Response: The Columbiana Health Commissioner, was contacted about children with leukemia in Columbiana County. He stated that a list of children with leukemia has not been collected by the County.

The ODH, Bureau of Epidemiology and Toxicology reported an average annual age-adjusted leukemia mortality rate of 7.4 per 100,000 population for all men and women during the years 1979 through 1990 in Columbiana County and 11.9 per 100,000 population for Salem. Since Ohio's rate for the same period was 7.6 deaths per 100,000 population, leukemia is not unusually high for Columbiana County. In fact, Columbiana County's leukemia mortality rate was within the lowest 1/4 of all Ohio Counties. Further, the childhood leukemia rate for the time period 1979 through 1988 for an area including Lisbon found no reason to believe that pediatric leukemia mortality was occurring at a greater rate than other Ohio areas. ODH will attempt to gather the leukemia incidence data for these areas.

31) Concerned about containing the contaminants now in order to keep them from further contaminating the creek. The contaminants should be put in drums, otherwise runoff from rain will spread it out.

Response: At this time, the surface water management plan is still in the process of being completed. Sediments in the creek remain contaminated with mirex and photomirex. Unfortunately, there is no easy way to contain the contaminated sediment in the creek. The Feasibility Study will address the possible cleanup at the site and in MFLBC.

32) A local health professional stated that a study by the Mahoning County Health Department found a dozen wells which were unprotected and could be contaminated with flooding.

Response: Ten of the twelve wells recommended for testing by MCBH were sampled by Ohio EPA in December 1991. There were no site-related chemicals found in any of these wells.

33) A chief concern was having Nease pay for its actions. People thought that Nease should pay for sampling for mirex and other chemicals in people, the groundwater, and the sediment, which had been built up after the flooding in the Little Beaver Creek. Feel that either Nease or government should compensate them and/or their insurance companies for damages.

Response: The Ruetgers-Nease Company is paying for the remedial investigative work at the Nease Chemical Superfund site in Salem. Those costs incurred by the state and federal workers will be recovered from the responsible party. The analysis of the blood samples taken during the ODH exposure assessment was performed at the Centers for Disease Control Laboratory for no charge. The decision to seek compensation can only be made by the individual and their attorney.

34) People were worried about on-site disposal by aeration, because of the concern that the contaminants would be further dispersed through the air.

Response: It is not known what type of remediation will be chosen for the site, however, the U.S.EPA and the Ohio EPA carefully consider all options and environmental problems before a remedial plan is chosen. The Feasibility Study will address the possible cleanup at the site and in MFLBC.

35) People were concerned that during the time Nease was operating, it may have been releasing other contaminants besides mirex. They were concerned that they may have been exposed, or have accumulated these other compounds.

Response: There are other site-related chemicals associated with the Nease site. This public health assessment includes only the off-site information, primarily associated with the creek. We will address the possible exposure associated with the remainder of the site in a series of health consultations. We will have a complete picture of site contaminants when these data are evaluated. To date, the only site-related chemicals detected in creek samples were mirex, photomirex, and diphenylsulfone.

36) People want a list of all the chemicals that Nease used or manufactured, because they think that other contaminants may have been released either before sampling was conducted, or that may not have been measured when sampling was specific for mirex.

Response: A list of chemicals used at the plant and products used is in Appendix F of this document. The sample analysis during the Remedial Investigation included analyses for VOCs, semivolatile organic compounds, and pesticides.

37) A corrugated steel pipe used for water flow under a road, which was located below the Nease site, was dissolved by Nease effluent. This was reported in the Salem news.

Response: One of the past by-products at the Nease plant was very acidic and had to be treated with lime to decrease the acidity. If acid effluent from the plant went through this pipe, it may have this kind of effect.

38) Are people still in danger from contaminants in the sediment, which have been left after years of flooding?

Response: The contact advisory issued by ODH in 1988 is still in effect because of the potential for exposure to chemicals in the sediment. If flood plain soil is contaminated, there may also be some risk of exposure, primarily through eating soil or if farm animals graze in areas with contaminated soil.

39) A resident, who owns a farm in the flood plain, has a shallow well about one mile downstream from Nease. He has five acres of flood plain about one mile downstream from Nease. He wants samples to be taken from his well. He is getting water from elsewhere, which costs him much time and money. He thinks he should be reimbursed or helped.

Response: EPA sampling of stream sediment in the vicinity of this individual's property does indicate contamination with the pesticide mirex at levels up to 1,500 parts per billion. Flood events may deposit mirex-contaminated sediment onto the flood plain. His well should be safe from flood-derived contamination as long as it is a cased, sealed above the land surface, capped properly, and is otherwise watertight. He should contact the Ohio EPA site coordinator Joe Trocchio (216)425-9171 as to the feasibility of having his well tested.

40) A man is not allowed to pasture cows in the flood plain or sell the milk.

Response: The ODH has tested three dairy farms that lie along the creek. While milk from these farms was contaminated with mirex in the past, samples from 1991 did not contain mirex (Table 7). There are no ODH advisories against raising cattle in the flood plain. We are not aware of any restrictions currently in place limiting the sale of local milk because of the site. The Ohio Department of Agriculture should be contacted about sampling of Grade A and Grade B milk. In the event that flood plain soils are contaminated, restricting access to these areas is the only way to stop exposure to cattle.

41) A man was disturbed by inconsistencies in what the EPA told people about the extent of the contamination.

Response: Because the site investigation is ongoing, new data may contain information that is different from previously collected data. Apparent inconsistencies may also be the result of a lack of information and not an attempt to misinform the public.

42) A man fell off his motorcycle and landed in an on-site lagoon area (before the area was fenced). Sometime afterwards, he developed a severe skin irritation in the area that was in contact with the lagoon sludge. He still suffers from this dermatitis. He thought that the lagoon chemicals may have given him his skin disease. He also thought that Nease should investigate and compensate him if they were at fault.

Response: We recommend that with any ongoing health conditions, a person seek the advice of a physician. A decision to seek compensation can only be made by the individual and their attorney.

43) People want to know why anything isn't being done now. They think their tax money is going to finance prolonged studies that are not resulting in anything being done. They think the money spent on a study would be better spent on remedying their situation.

Response: Environmental problems of this magnitude are complex and must be completely understood in order to determine possible remediation. If every aspect of the problem is not fully understood, something could be overlooked and result in human exposure. Very little state money was used in the ODH exposure assessment and the Ruetgers-Nease Company has the financial responsibility for the Remedial Investigation and the environmental monitoring.

44) People think it is useless to do endless tests, but not to take any further action.

Response: In order to determine what action must be taken, the problem must be clearly defined. The remedial investigation and the earlier work done at the site serves to define the problem. If the problem is not clearly understood, the solutions may be inadequate. The goal is the protection of public health.

45) They want to know why there have not been studies of the effects of low levels of mirex. They want to know about how it is absorbed and accumulated in humans.

Response: People can be exposed to chemicals like mirex by either eating, drinking, breathing, or coming in contact with contaminated water, food, dirt, or air. If we know the fish in the creek are contaminated and area residents catch and eat fish, they can be exposed. This is considered a completed exposure pathway. The 1990 ODH Pilot Exposure Assessment concluded that one of the most likely routes of exposure to humans was the consumption of contaminated animal products (milk and meat) and working at the former Nease Chemical Company (ODH Study, 1990, Appendix C).

As discussed in the Toxicological Evaluation Section, in monkeys, a species that may react much like people, mirex is readily absorbed and retained. In humans, the absorbed mirex accumulates most readily in the fat, the blood serum, and in mother's milk.

46) People think there should be better ways to let people know about the MFLBC contamination. They suggest placing more signs along the river. Another suggestion was newspaper ads.

Response: We agree. The state could work harder to keep citizens informed. The ODH is working with the Ohio EPA to investigate the possibility of placing more signs along the contaminated portions of the creek. The U.S.EPA, Ohio EPA, and the ODH did work with local schools in providing fact sheets about the site to children and parents. The U.S. EPA also publishes periodic fact sheets updating site activities.

47) A resident mentioned that a bad flood occurred in the MFLBC in 1990. He was concerned about the possibility of similar floods in the future.

Response: Floods along stream systems are common natural events. There is historical evidence that the MFLBC has flooded a number of times over the past 10-15 years, since the closing of the Nease plant. Stream sediments in the MFLBC are contaminated with the pesticide mirex. Flood events can transport stream sediment out of the stream channel and deposit them on the flood plain. Levels of mirex in flood plain soils, are variable along the area. The amount of mirex present depends on the distance from the Nease site and the distance from the stream channel.

48) Residents thought that EPA did not provide enough information about its findings and plans.

Response: All the information that has been finalized is available for public review at the Salem Public Library. In addition, copies of the ODH exposure assessment are available upon request. The workplan for the Remedial Investigation was available February 1990.

49) Residents said that EPA assured them that the area was safe and not contaminated enough to worry about. However, they said that when EPA people themselves worked in the area they wore moon suits, as if the area were extremely contaminated.

Response: People that work at designated hazardous waste sites are required by law to wear some type of protective equipment. The type of equipment depends on what type of chemical is present.

50) They were concerned about informing new residents and strangers about the contamination. They felt that many people fishing in the creek didn't know about its contamination. They considered giving a flyer to new residents when they were connected to the public water supply. They wanted the information to be given out with hunting and fishing licenses.

Response: These are all good ideas. The local media and citizen group are good sources for information about the site. The U.S.EPA, Ohio EPA, and the ODH did work with local schools in providing fact sheets about the site to children and parents. The U.S.EPA also publishes periodic fact sheets updating site activities.

The ODH issued the fish consumption advisory in 1987. This is an advisory and not a ban. It is a person's choice whether or not to fish in the creek. People may also fish, but not eat the fish. Although many of the signs have been stolen, about 47 signs were placed along the creek. The advisory information is included in a pamphlet given to anyone who buys a fishing license. The level of mirex in the wildlife sampled was low and would not pose a significant risk to people.

51) People mentioned that many local and wider-ranging animals such as deer drink from the creek and are worried that they may be contaminated.

Response: In 1989 the ODH sampled raccoons and opossums trapped along nine areas along the creek. These data are detailed in Table 6 of the Environmental Contamination Section. It was concluded, based on studies of wildlife in the laboratory and in the south, that these two animals would be the best candidates to determine if contamination in MFLBC has affected the wildlife. Some animals are more likely to pick up mirex from the environment than others. In treated areas, mirex tends to show up in birds, invertebrates (insects), reptiles, and fish. Among mammals, mirex residues were highest in carnivores (meat eaters) and insectivores (insect eaters), and lower in omnivores (raccoons) and lowest in herbivores (plant eaters such as deer). Based on a review of the literature and the low levels found in the ODH sampling of wildlife, plant eaters such as deer would pose very little risk. In addition, because raccoons and opossums have a small range (less than two miles) they would possibly feed solely in areas that are contaminated. This increases the likelihood of accumulating mirex.

52) People thought the EPA handles samples poorly. They gave an example of samples being lost several times.

Response: Samples collected by the U.S.EPA, Ohio EPA, or Ruetgers-Nease must follow strict quality control/quality assurance directions. Anyone wishing further information should contact the Ohio EPA or the U.S.EPA.

53) People said that they believed that Nease had a history of putting up manufacturing plants, contaminating the area around the plants, and then moving somewhere else.

Response: We do not have any information about this topic and are unable to respond to this concern. One may choose to address this concern to the U.S.EPA or the Ruetgers-Nease Company.

54) One man bought land in the area and found out only after he had trapped, hunted, and fished in the area that it was contaminated.

Response: As was mentioned in previous responses, hunting or trapping game in the area of MFLBC should not pose a significant health risk. The ODH issued a fishing and swimming advisory because of a concern about elevated levels of mirex in fish and sediment in the creek. If a person were to consume a great amount of fish from the creek they may have been exposed to mirex. Mirex levels in raccoons and opossums was low and should pose minimal risk.

55) People wanted to know what they should do if they have been exposed to the river.

Response: Because one lives along the contaminated portion of the creek and has had frequent contact with the water and the sediment, there is a chance that one has been exposed to mirex. Exposure does not automatically mean that there will be health problems. However, if one is concerned they should speak to their physician.

56) People felt that they might have a better ability to deal with Nease in remedying the situation if they formed groups.

Response: There is an active citizens group in the area, Citizens Opposed to Pollution. One may want to contact members of this group to obtain additional information.

57) Another man believed that he had been exposed to chlorine while working for Nease. He was unable to bring a lawsuit against them because he didn't have enough money. He thought that other people were in this same situation.

Response: A decision to seek compensation can only be made by the individual and their attorney.

58) People suffer mental anguish, because they don't know what might happen as a result of the contamination.

Response: We are aware that individuals in the community have many concerns about possible exposure to site-related chemicals. One must keep in mind that exposure does not automatically mean that there will be health problems. See the Recommendations Section for further information about possible health activities follow-up at the site.

59) People wonder about the effects of weight loss in people who have mirex in their systems.

Response: In general, during weight loss the body fat is mobilized into the blood stream. During this process, substances stored in the fat such as mirex may also be released into the blood. The higher levels of mirex in the blood may allow the mirex to be removed from the body more readily. The health effects are unknown.

60) People also complained about the Ohio Dept. of Health, sampling. They said that the person who did the venipuncture didn't know how to take samples and hurt several people. They said that the people who did the work didn't know how to run the centrifuge. They thought the sample set around too long and said that some people had to be sampled twice. They were not positive about having the control samples taken from ODH personnel. They said that they thought that the samples were supposed to be measured at Atlanta, but instead they were sent to an independent laboratory and then the results were sent to Atlanta to be checked.

Response: The people who took samples during the mirex screening clinic were all trained phlebotomists, three of whom were physicians. The sample preparation procedures were established by the Centers for Disease Control Laboratory and were strictly followed. In addition, the person responsible for sample preparation was a Ph.D Toxicologist. The participants in the clinic did not have access to the sample preparation room for quality control reasons and had no way of knowing how the samples were handled. There were no quality control/quality assurance problems associated with any of the samples. We did decide to take a second sample after a number of people were sampled in case of laboratory problems. No laboratory problems were reported. The controls were chosen from ODH personnel because we wanted to sample people who have never been exposed to mirex. The serum samples were analyzed by the Centers for Disease Control laboratory and not any other laboratory.


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