PUBLIC HEALTH ASSESSMENT
GULFPORT, HARRISON COUNTY, MISSISSIPPI
- Based on information reviewed, the Chemfax Inc. site poses a public health hazard. This
conclusion is based on the evidence that exposures to substances at concentrations that might
cause adverse health effects have occurred, are occurring, or are likely to occur in the future.
Workers likely were exposed, are being exposed, and might be exposed in the future to several
PAHs in surface soil and sediments and to benzene, methylene chloride, and styrene in air at
levels of public health concern. It is possible that those workers may experience mild headaches,
nausea, minor skin irritations because of exposure to high levels of PAHs in surface soil and
sediments; mild immunological problems because of exposure to benzene in ambient air; and
decrease in verbal learning skills because of exposure to styrene in air. Moreover, workers
exposed to the highest concentrations of PAHs in soils and sediments and to benzene and
methylene chloride in air might have a low increased risk of developing additional cancer in a
lifetime because of their exposure to high levels of contaminants.
- The very small number of any soil-pica children who might be exposed to PAHs in soils
within the vicinity of Chemfax have no apparent increased risk of developing additional cancer
in a lifetime.
- Potential routes for human exposure include surface water and edible fish from the Industrial Seaway, groundwater, and private wells.
- Additional sampling is needed to provide further data about the character and extent of
contamination of the following environmental media:
- Ambient air on site;
- Ambient air in the area potentially affected by multiple industries;
- Public water supply wells (organic chemicals);
- Private wells;
- Seaway water and sediment, and possibly fish and shellfish; and
- Off-site soils.
Site/Area Characterization Recommendations
- Conduct additional ambient air sampling on site in the process area during operations and
meteorologic conditions that would tend to maximize concentrations.
- Conduct ambient air sampling on the immediate surrounding properties and in the remainder
of the area potentially affected by other industries. Consider doing a "nose survey" to help
identify appropriate sample locations. Consider modeling airborne releases for "major emitters."
- Analyze public well water for organic chemicals.
- Survey properties not presently connected to the public water system to identify businesses and
residences in the vicinity that are using private wells. Sample any such well located within 1/2
mile of the site, review results, and decide whether to sample other wells at greater distances.
Sample the on-site well formerly used for potable water supply and/or research files for
information about its former water quality.
- Sample Seaway water and sediment; if results warrant, analyze edible fish and shellfish.
- Conduct additional surface soil sampling on immediate surrounding properties to learn whether any contain substantive levels of contaminants. If substantive levels are present, expand the study area and conduct additional sampling.
Cease/Reduce Exposure Recommendations
- Implement institutional controls to ensure that no drinking water wells are placed in a
- Ensure that on-site maintenance workers and any construction or remedial workers are provided with adequate protective equipment and training in accordance with 29 CFR 1910.120. Ensure that appropriate National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) and Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) guidelines are followed.
Health Activities Recommendation Panel (HARP) Recommendations
In accordance with the Comprehensive Environmental Response Compensation, and Liability Act of 1980 as amended, ATSDR has evaluated the Chemfax Inc. site for appropriate health follow-up activities. The data and information developed in the Chemfax Inc. site public health assessment have been evaluated by the HARP for appropriate followup with respect to health actions. Because workers at the site were exposed to hazardous substances at levels of public health concern, HARP determined that the Chemfax site should be referred to (NIOSH) for education or evaluation of the on-site workers and to the Mississippi State Department of Health for the Department's information. Because off-site contamination is not well characterized, HARP determined that additional sampling is necessary to determine whether a health study or other public health actions are necessary in the community. When additional data and information become available, ATSDR will reevaluate this site for any indicated followup.
Public Health Actions
The Public Health Action Plan (PHAP) for the Chemfax Inc. site contains a description of actions to be taken by ATSDR and/or local, state, and federal agencies. The purpose of the PHAP is to ensure that this public health assessment not only identifies public health hazards but also provides a plan of action designed to mitigate and prevent adverse human health effects resulting from exposure to hazardous substances in the environment.
Because workers at the site were exposed to contaminants at levels of public health concern, ATSDR has referred the Chemfax site to (NIOSH) for education or evaluation of on-site workers.
Because off-site areas are not well characterized, and because additional sampling is necessary to determine whether a health study or other public health actions are necessary in the community, no further public health actions are planned at this time for that population.
When pertinent environmental data are available, ATSDR will reevaluate the community concerns, including the concerns about fish consumption.
In addition, ATSDR will collaborate with appropriate federal, state, and local agencies to pursue the implementation of the recommendations outlined in this public health assessment.
The PHAP will be evaluated annually unless additional information warrants more frequent
Environmental Health Engineer
Environmental Science Section
Remedial Programs Branch
Division of Health Assessment and Consultation
Moses Kapu, Ph.D.
Environmental Health Scientist
Health Science Section
Remedial Programs Branch
Division of Health Assessment and Consultation
ATSDR Regional Representative:
Public Health Advisor
Office of Associate Administrator/Office of Regional Operations
- NUS Corporation. Final report, expanded site inspection, Chemfax, Inc. Volumes I and II. September 25, 1991.
- NUS Corporation. Final site screening investigation report, Chemfax, Inc. site. April 17, 1989.
- US. Environmental Protection Agency. Toxic Chemical Release Inventory data base. 1991.
- Mississippi Department of Health. Public well location diagram. Undated.
- Mississippi Department of Health. Several public well water quality data sheets. 1975 to 1992.
- Hill RN. Current EPA perspectives on animal selection and extrapolation. In Roloff MV, et al, eds. Human Risk Assessment. The Role of Animal Selection and Extrapolation. London: Taylor and Francis. 1987:11-14.
- Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry. Toxicological Profile for Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons. Atlanta: ATSDR, October 1993.
- Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry. Toxicological Profile for Benzene. Atlanta, Ga: ATSDR, April 1993.
- Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry. Toxicological Profile for Carbon Tetrachloride. Atlanta, GA: ATSDR, February 1993.
- National Institutes of Health. Hazardous Substances Data Bank: Dibenzofuran and Di-n-octylphthalate. National Library of Medicine, August 1991.
- Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry. Toxicological Profile for 4,4-DDT, 4,4-DDE & 4,4-DDD. Atlanta, Ga: ATSDR, October 1992.
- Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry. Toxicological Profile for Endrin & Endrin Aldehyde. Atlanta, Ga: ATSDR, October 1990.
- Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry. Toxicological Profile for 2-Hexanone or Methyl n-Butyl Ketone. Atlanta, GA: ATSDR, September 1992.
- Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry. Toxicological Profile for Methylene Chloride. Atlanta, Ga: ATSDR, April 1993.
- Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry. Toxicological Profile for Styrene. Atlanta, Ga: ATSDR, September 1992.
- Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry. Toxicological Profile for Cobalt. Atlanta, Ga: ATSDR, September 1992.
- Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry. Toxicological Profile for Lead. Atlanta, Ga: ATSDR, April 1993.