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PETITIONED PUBLIC HEALTH ASSESSMENT

MAYFAIR/NEW HAVEN SUBDIVISION
NATCHEZ, ADAMS COUNTY, MISSISSIPPI


SUMMARY

The Mayfair/New Haven Subdivision is a residential neighborhood that was allegedly developed on top of a closed municipal landfill in the 1970s in Natchez, Mississippi. Community members are concerned the wastes dumped in this former landfill are causing increased cancer incidence and skin rashes in the neighborhood. This public health assessment is an evaluation of existing on and offsite environmental data, health outcome data, and addresses community health concerns related to the site.

A review of onsite surface and subsurface soil, subsurface soil gas, and sediment sampling data showed chemical contamination in the neighborhood. However, the concentrations of the chemicals detected throughout the subdivision in the soil, subsurface soil gas, and sediment are not at levels that cause adverse health effects. Past and present sampling results from the municipal well located in the Mayfair/New Haven Subdivision showed no groundwater contamination at levels of health concern.

Health outcome data from 1996 and 1997 show no unusual increases of colorectal, skin, lung, prostate, or female breast cancer in Adams County, Mississippi. No link between contamination detected in the Mayfair/New Haven Subdivision and these types of cancer was identified.

The Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) has classified the Mayfair/New Haven Subdivision as a No Public Health Hazard. The levels of chemicals detected in the onsite soil, subsurface soil gas, sediment, and municipal groundwater are not high enough to cause adverse health effects in the past and present.


PURPOSE AND HEALTH ISSUES

The Mayfair/New Haven Subdivision Site is a residential community in Natchez, Mississippi. Many homes in this subdivision were allegedly built directly over a closed landfill in the 1970s. The Natchez-Gasquet Dump was operated by the city of Natchez from the 1950s until it was closed in 1966. Congressman Mike Parker and several local citizens petitioned the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) to evaluate the association among residents living in homes that are suspected to have been built on top of the landfill and cancer incidence and skins rashes [1]. ATSDR staff members visited the site and met with a group of community residents, the Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality (MSDEQ), and the Mississippi Department of Health (MSDOH) to collect environmental data and identify community concerns for a public health assessment. The purpose of this public health assessment is to assess the potential public health implications related to the site by evaluating existing environmental data, health outcome data, and community health concerns.

Site Background

The Mayfair/New Haven Subdivision is an 80 acre residential area that began being developed in 1972. There are 25 homes in the Mayfair, Hampton Court, and George F. West Boulevard areas of the subdivision that are suspected to have been built on a closed and covered landfill called the Natchez-Gasquet Dump. The city of Natchez used the Natchez-Gasquet Dump to dispose municipal and industrial wastes in the 1950s until its closure in 1966 [2]. During this time, there were no state or federal regulations governing municipal or industrial waste disposal. The exact boundaries and materials disposed are unknown. It is likely that wastes were dumped into ridges or ravines rather than actually landfilled [3]. The landfill was used for the disposal of both solid municipal and industrial waste from several local industries [2].

Local residents were not aware that the subdivision may have been built on a closed landfill until 1988 when many properties suffered damage from foundation settling potentially from biodegradation of buried wastes [3]. The residents formed an activist group called HYMNAL, Help Your Minority Neighbors Afford Life, and pursued a lawsuit against the city of Natchez and the developer of the subdivision for property and personal damages. During this time, HYMNAL also contacted state and federal environmental and health agencies to evaluate the Mayfair/New Haven Subdivision for chemical contamination.

MSDEQ and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) initiated several site evaluations between 1988 and 1990 to investigate the Mayfair/New Haven Subdivision for potential environmental contamination. MSDEQ and EPA collected surface and subsurface soil samples throughout Mayfair, Hampton Court, and George F. West Boulevard. Sediment samples were collected from an onsite ravine. These soil and sediment samples were analyzed for metals, polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), pesticides, volatile organic compounds (VOCs), and semi-volatile organic compounds (SVOCs). Results of these samples are located in Appendix B of this document. Subsurface soil gas samples were also collected onsite. Groundwater samples from the public drinking water supply were evaluated. There were no contaminants detected in any of these environmental samples at levels of health concern. The sampling results are discussed further in the Extent of Contamination and Public Health Implications section of this document.


COMMUNITY HEALTH CONCERNS

Specific health concerns expressed by Mayfair/New Haven Subdivision residents were about the possible exposure to toxic chemicals in soil and drinking water in their subdivision contributing to increased cancer incidence and skin rashes. Occasional chemical-like odors were reported in the past. Other community concerns were decreasing property values as a direct result of having homes constructed on top of the landfill and property damage from differential settling and cracks. However, it is not within ATSDR purview to address non-health related issues such as property damage.


DEMOGRAPHICS

There are 7,934 people living within a one mile radius of Mayfair/New Haven Subdivision (Appendix A) [4]. The population is 91% black, and 9% white. Of the total population, 12% are under age 6 years old and 17% are age 65 years and older. In 1990, there were 1,786 females of reproductive age (15-44 years) in this area.


DISCUSSION

Methods

The following sections contain an evaluation of the available environmental data pertaining to the Mayfair/New Haven Subdivision. In preparing this evaluation, ATSDR staff members used established methodologies for determining how people may be exposed to potential contamination related to the site and what harmful effects, if any, may result from such exposure. For a further discussion of these methodologies, refer to Appendix C.

Extent of Contamination and Public Health Implications

Soil and Sediment

MSDEQ and EPA initiated several site evaluations between 1988 and 1989 to investigate the Mayfair/New Haven Subdivision for potential environmental contamination. MSDEQ and EPA collected 44 surface and subsurface (0 to 16 feet) soil samples throughout Mayfair, Hampton Court, and George F. West Boulevard [8]. Four sediment samples were taken from an onsite ravine. Two nearby background soil samples were also collected. These soil and sediment samples were analyzed for metals, polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), pesticides, volatile organic compounds (VOCs), and semi-volatile organic compounds (SVOCs) [2]. Results of the soil and sediment analyses are located in Tables 1 and 2 of Appendix B. Although several metals, VOCs, SVOCs, PCBs, and pesticides were detected in the soil and sediment, there were no contaminants detected at levels of health concern. ATSDR concludes that human contact with soil or sediment in the Mayfair/New Haven Subdivision is not expected to cause adverse health effects.

Soil Gas

Subsurface soil gas samples were collected by probes driven four to six feet deep at eight locations throughout the site (on Hampton Court and George F. West Boulevard). Several VOCs were detected below levels of health concern. Hydrogen sulfide was detected at a concentration of 107 mg/L (milligrams per liter) in one location where a natural gas pipeline leak had been previously repaired [8]. The concentration of hydrogen sulfide could be from the previous natural gas leak since hydrogen sulfide was not detected at the other locations. Human contact to these levels of hydrogen sulfide is not likely. There have been no odors reported to MSDOH in the last five years, however, residents should notify MSDOH if any odors are detected inside or outside homes in the Mayfair/New Haven Subdivision [5]. ATSDR concludes that human contact with the VOCs and hydrogen sulfide detected in subsurface soil gas is not likely and will not cause adverse health effects.

Groundwater

Groundwater flow in Natchez is generally in a westerly or southwesterly direction towards the Mississippi River [6]. A private well survey was conducted by the United States Geological Survey (USGS) in 1999. There were no private wells located within a one mile radius of the Mayfair/New Haven Subdivision [7]. Residents in the Mayfair/New Haven Subdivision are supplied municipal water from the Natchez Water System which relies on groundwater 400 to 600 feet deep in the Miocene aquifer [8]. The nearest municipal well is located within the Mayfair/New Haven Subdivision (well #10) [8]. Drinking water from this municipal well is tested every other year for metals, pesticides, VOCs, and SVOCs. ATSDR reviewed chemical analysis reports from 1988 to 1996 for this municipal well to determine if chemical contaminants were getting into the public drinking water supply. ATSDR also reviewed chemical analysis reports from 1988 for all municipal wells throughout Natchez. There were no chemical contaminants detected in municipal wells throughout Natchez at levels of health concern. ATSDR concludes that the municipal groundwater has not been impacted by the Mayfair/New Haven Subdivision. Adverse health effects are not expected to occur from the ingestion of municipal groundwater.

Physical Hazards

There were no physical hazards noted by ATSDR staff members during the site visit to the Mayfair/New Haven Subdivision or in the site file at MSDEQ.

ATSDR Child Health Initiative

ATSDR considers infants and children in the evaluation of all potential exposures to hazardous substances. Infants and children are at greater risk than adults from certain kinds of exposure to hazardous substances emitted from waste sites and emergency events. They are more likely to be exposed for several reasons: 1) children play outside more often than adults, increasing their likelihood to come more in contact with chemicals in the environment; 2) children are shorter than adults, causing them to breathe more dust, soil, and heavy vapors close to the ground; 3) children are smaller, resulting in higher doses of chemical exposure per body weight; and 4) children's developing body systems can sustain damage if toxic exposures occur during certain growth stages.

Many children live in the Mayfair/New Haven Subdivision and attend an elementary school next to the subdivision. ATSDR closely reviewed possible exposure situations to children while evaluating environmental data pertaining to the site; however, ATSDR did not identify any exposures to children that are likely to result in adverse health effects.

Health Outcome Data

Residents of the Mayfair/New Haven Subdivision expressed concern that exposure to chemicals in soil from the closed landfill would result in an increased incidence of cancer and skin rashes. ATSDR reviewed available cancer data from the Natchez area that were provided by MSDOH which were obtained from the Mississippi Cancer Registry [9]. Mississippi does not track skin rash or irritation incidence rates in a data base or registry. However, the concentrations of the contaminants detected in the soil, soil gas, sediment, and municipal groundwater throughout the Mayfair/New Haven Subdivision were not at levels that would cause skin rashes or irritations.

Cancer Data

Many state and local health agencies collect data on the number of people who have been diagnosed with cancer each year and classify these cancer cases into different categories such as lung, skin, liver, breast, prostate, colon, and so forth, defined by the type of cell in the body that is affected. Depending on the type of data available, the rate of specific cancers can be determined for certain populations within a state, an entire state population, or the entire United States population. The Mississippi Cancer Registry has collected information on all reported new cancer cases diagnosed in the state since 1996. Cancer "incidence" is the number of newly diagnosed cases of cancer during a particular time period, usually in years. This number is compared to the number of cases that occur in a larger, more stable population (in the case of Mississippi, the statewide population) designated as "normal" or average. ATSDR reviewed health statistics from a summarization of cancer incidence in Adams County. Based on the data reviewed, ATSDR provides the following summary:

Age adjusted cancer incidence rates were calculated for colorectal (colon), melanoma of the skin (skin), lung, prostate, and female breast cancer by sex in Adams County. In other words, the observed number of new cases of a particular type of cancer that was reported to have occurred in Adams County residents from 1996 to 1997 was compared to the statewide average age-adjusted incidence rate for the same time period [9]. There were no increases in colon, skin, lung, prostate, or female breast cancer rates in Adams County. Therefore, ATSDR cannot identify a link between colon, skin, lung, prostate, or female breast cancer and the chemical contamination detected in the Mayfair/New Haven Subdivision.

Cancer is a complex disease that often involves multiple "risk" factors, such as environment, lifestyle (smoking, drinking alcohol, diet, etc.), prevention screening (health check-ups), and family medical history. The limitations and biases are that most cancer registry evaluations do not account for any of these "risk" factors. Furthermore, apparent increases or decreases in cancer incidence over time may reflect changes in diagnostic methods or case reporting rather than true changes in cancer incidence. Likewise, analyzing cancer patterns by city or census tract may be arbitrary and an inexact way of assessing the relationship between geographical location and cancer. For example, the city or town shown on a death certificate, or even in the Mississippi State Cancer Registry, may not be where the person resided most of his or her life. But the analysis of cancer patterns in certain towns or cities may help define areas to target for further health care strategies.


CONCLUSIONS

  1. The onsite soil and sediment contain several metals, VOCs, SVOCs, PCBs, and pesticides. The concentrations of these chemicals are below levels that cause adverse health effects.

  2. Groundwater samples from the municipal water supply show no evidence of chemical contamination at levels of health concern.

  3. No plausible link was identified between colon, skin, lung, prostate, or female breast cancer and the chemical contamination detected in the Mayfair/New Haven Subdivision.

ATSDR used one of five conclusion categories to summarize our findings of the site. These categories are: 1) Urgent Public Health Hazard, 2) Public Health Hazard, 3) Indeterminate Health Hazard, 4) No Apparent Public Health Hazard, and 5) No Public Health Hazard. A category is selected from site specific conditions such as the degree of public health hazard based on the presence and duration of human exposure, contaminant concentration, the nature of toxic effects associated with site related contaminants, presence of physical hazards, and community health concerns. Based on these criteria, ATSDR determined that the Mayfair/New Haven Subdivision is a No Public Health Hazard in the past and present based on the levels of chemicals detected in onsite soil, soil gas, sediment, and municipal water. These chemicals were not at levels known to cause adverse health effects.


RECOMMENDATIONS

  1. The Mississippi Department of Health should continue testing the water quality at the Natchez municipal water system according to state requirements.

  2. Residents should notify MSDOH if odors are detected inside homes of the Mayfair/New Haven Subdivision.

PUBLIC HEALTH ACTION PLAN

The actions described in this section are designed to ensure that this public health assessment identifies public health hazards and provides a plan of action to mitigate and prevent adverse health effects resulting from exposure to hazardous substances in the environment.

Actions Completed:

  1. Cancer incidence rates were collected by MSDOH and provided to ATSDR to analyze the occurrence of cancer in Adams County. No plausible link was identified between colon, skin, lung, prostate, or female breast cancer and the chemical contamination detected in the Mayfair/New Haven Subdivision.

  2. ATSDR met with community members to record their concerns regarding Mayfair/New Haven Subdivision being built on a closed landfill.

  3. ATSDR evaluated all existing environmental data pertaining to the Mayfair/New Haven Subdivision site as a basis for this public health assessment.

Action Ongoing:

  1. MSDEQ continues to sample the municipal wells in Natchez according to state requirements to check the potable water quality.

Action Planned:

  1. ATSDR will review additional environmental data if site conditions change.

PREPARER OF REPORT

Kimberly K. Chapman, MSEH
Environmental Health Scientist
ATSDR/DHAC/EICB/PRS


Reviewers of Report:

Don Joe, PE
Section Chief
ATSDR/DHAC/EICB/PRS

John E. Abraham, PhD
Branch Chief
ATSDR/DHAC/EICB


Review and Approval of This Public Health Assessment for Mayfair/New Haven Subdivision Site

Concurrence:

Kim Chapman
Environmental Health Scientist, DHAC, EICB, PRS

Donald Joe
Section Chief, DHAC, EICB, PRS

John Abraham
Branch Chief, DHAC, EICB


REFERENCES

  1. Petition letter from Mike Parker to ATSDR Assistant Administrator. November 6, 1989.

  2. Mississippi Bureau of Pollution Control, Hazardous Waste Division. June 14, 1989. Preliminary Assessment for Hampton Court, Natchez, Mississippi. Jackson, MS.

  3. Eastern Research Group for ATSDR. July 14, 1997. Report on the Mayfair/New Haven Subdivision Site, Natchez, Adams County, Mississippi. Lexington, MA.

  4. United States Bureau of the Census. 1990. Census of Population and Housing: Summary Tape File 1B. U.S. Department of Commerce.

  5. ATSDR Record of Official Activity. February 11, 1999. Bruce Brackin from MSDOH regarding mortality incidence in Adams County and odor complaints in the Mayfair/New Haven Subdivision Site.

  6. United States Geological Survey. 1985. Groundwater Resources of the Natchez Area Mississippi. Water Resources Investigations Report 84-4341.

  7. United States Geological Survey. February 25, 1999. Water Wells within a One Mile Radius of Subdivision Site Natchez, MS. Water Resources Division, Pearl, MS 39208.

  8. Screening Site Inspection Report. January 2, 1991. Hampton Court/George F. West Boulevard Site. Natchez, Adams County, MS 39120. MSD985966456.

  9. ATSDR correspondence with MSDOH. February 17, 1999. Cancer data files: electronic mail and facsimile.

APPENDIX A: SITE MAP AND DEMOGRAPHICS

Demographic Statistics
Figure 1. Demographic Statistics


APPENDIX B: SOIL AND SEDIMENT SAMPLING RESULTS

Table 1 : Onsite Soil Sampling Results* in 1989-90

Contaminant Soil Concentration Range
ppm
Comparison Value
Value ppm Source
Aluminum 4,000-6,600 78,000 RBC
Arsenic ND-0.6 20 cEMEG
Barium ND-141 4,000 RMEG
Cadmium 1.5-4.74 40 cEMEG
Chromium ND-102 50,000 iEMEG
Copper 12.4-33.1 3,100 RBC
Lead ND-98.6 400 RBC
Manganese 480-950 1800 RBC
Mercury ND-0.9 23 RBC
Nickel 31.4-109 1,000 RMEG
Zinc 31.7-167 20,000 cEMEG
Anthracene ND-0.12 20,000 RMEG
Aroclor 1260 ND-0.29 0.32 RBC
Cyanide ND-32 3,000 iEMEG
Bis (2-ethylhexyl) phthalate ND-4.9 46 RBC
p,p' DDE ND-0.05 2.7 RBC
p,p' DDD ND-0.09 1.9 RBC
p,p' DDT ND-0.28 1.9 RBC
Diethyl phthalate ND-1.1 40,000 RMEG
2,4-Dinitrophenol 1.6 160 RBC
Naphthalene ND-8.5 1,000 iEMEG
3-Nitroaniline 1.6 230 RBC
4-Nitroaniline 1.6 230 RBC
4-Nitrophenol 1.6 4,800 RBC
Pentachlorophenol 1.6 5.3 RBC
Toluene ND-0.27 1,000 iEMEG
2,4,5-Trichlorophenol 1.6 7,800 RBC
iEMEG = Intermediate Environmental Media Evaluation Guides,
cEMEG =Chronic Environmental Media Evaluation Guides,
RMEG = Reference Dose Media Evaluation Guide,
RBC = Risk-Based Concentration,
ND = Not Detected, NA = No Comparison Value Available, ppm = parts per million

Source:

Preliminary Assessment Hampton Court. June 14, 1989. US Environmental Protection Agency
Screening Site Inspection Report. January 22, 1991. Mississippi Office of Pollution Control

* Chemicals that were not detected are excluded from Table 1


Table 2 : Onsite Sediment Sampling Results* in 1989-90

Contaminant Sediment Concentration Range
ppm
Comparison Value
Value ppm Source
Aluminum 3,900-5,400 78,000 RBC
Beryllium 0.4-0.5 300 RMEG
Chromium 8-10.6 50,000 iEMEG
Manganese 60-70 1800 RBC
Mercury 0.008-0.016 23 RBC
Nickel 1.7-4.0 1,000 RMEG
Silver 0.2-0.5 300 RMEG
Thallium 3-4 NA NA
Zinc 27-47 20,000 cEMEG
1,2-Dichloroethene ND-0.007 40,000 RMEG
iEMEG = Intermediate Environmental Media Evaluation Guides,
cEMEG =Chronic Environmental Media Evaluation Guides,
RMEG = Reference Dose Media Evaluation Guide,
RBC = Risk-Based Concentration,
ND = Not Detected, NA = No Comparison Value Available, ppm = parts per million

Source:

Preliminary Assessment Hampton Court. June 14, 1989. US Environmental Protection Agency
Screening Site Inspection Report. January 22, 1991. Mississippi Office of Pollution Control

* Chemicals that were not detected are excluded from Table 2


APPENDIX C: EVALUATION OF ENVIRONMENTAL CONTAMINATION AND POTENTIAL EXPOSURES PATHWAYS METHODOLOGY

Quality Assurance

In preparing this report, ATSDR relied on the information provided in the referenced documents and by contacts with the Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality (MSDEQ), Mississippi Department of Health (MSDOH), and the community members. ATSDR assumes that adequate quality assurance and control measures were taken during chain-of-custody, laboratory procedures, and data reporting. The validity of the analyses and conclusions drawn in this document are determined by the availability and reliability of the information.

Human Exposure Pathway Evaluation and the use of ATSDR Comparison Values

ATSDR assesses a site by evaluating the level of exposure in potential or completed exposure pathways. An exposure pathway is the way chemicals may enter a person's body to cause a health effect. It includes all the steps between the release of a chemical and the population exposed: (1) a chemical release source, (2) chemical movement, (3) a place where people can come into contact with the chemical, (4) a route of human exposure, and (5) a population that could be exposed. In this assessment, ATSDR evaluates chemicals that people living in nearby residences may consume or come into contact with.

Data evaluators use comparison values (CVs), which are screening tools used to evaluate environmental data that is relevant to the exposure pathways. Comparison values are concentrations of contaminants that are considered to be safe levels of exposure. Comparison values used in this document include ATSDR environmental media evaluation guide (EMEG) and cancer risk evaluation guide (CREG). Comparison values are derived from available health guidelines, such as ATSDR minimal risk levels and EPA's cancer slope factor.

The derivation of a comparison value uses conservative exposure assumptions, resulting in values that are much lower than exposure concentrations observed to cause adverse health effects; thus, insuring the comparison values are protective of public health in essentially all exposure situations. That is, if the concentrations in the exposure medium are less than the CV, the exposures are not of health concern and no further analysis of the pathway is required. However, while concentrations below the comparison value are not expected to lead to any observable health effect, it should not be inferred that a concentration greater than the comparison value will necessarily lead to adverse effects. Depending on site-specific environmental exposure factors (for example, duration of exposure) and activities of people that result in exposure (time spent in area of contamination), exposure to levels above the comparison value may or may not lead to a health effect. Therefore, ATSDR comparison values are not used to predict the occurrence of adverse health effects.

The comparison values used in this evaluation are defined as follows: The CREG is a concentration at which excess cancer risk is not likely to exceed one case of cancer in a million persons exposed over a lifetime. The CREG is a very conservative CV that is used to estimate cancer risk. Exposure to a concentration equal to or less than the CREG is defined as an insignificant risk and is an acceptable level of exposure over a lifetime. The risk from exposure is not considered as a significant risk unless the exposure concentration is approximately 10 times the CREG and exposure occurs over several years. The EMEG is a concentration at which daily exposure for a lifetime is unlikely to result in adverse noncancerous effects. When these comparison values are not available for specific chemicals, ATSDR uses risk-based comparison values (RBC) that were derived by the Environmental Protection Agency. RBC values are used to evaluate exposure situations, health risk, and to establish environmental cleanup goals.

Selecting Contaminants of Concern

Contaminants of concern (COCs) are the site-specific chemical substances that the health assessor selects for further evaluation of potential health effects. Identifying contaminants of concern is a process that requires the assessor to examine contaminant concentrations at the site, the quality of environmental sampling data, and the potential for human exposure. A thorough review of each of these issues is required to accurately select COCs in the site-specific human exposure pathway. The following text describes the selection process.

In the first step of the COC selection process, the maximum contaminant concentrations are compared directly to health comparison values. ATSDR considers site-specific exposure factors to ensure selection of appropriate health comparison values. If the maximum concentration reported for a chemical was less than the health comparison value, ATSDR concluded that exposure to that chemical was not of public health concern; therefore, no further data review was required for that chemical. However, if the maximum concentration was greater than the health comparison value, the chemical was selected for additional data review. In addition, any chemicals detected that did not have relevant health comparison values were also selected for additional data review.

Comparison values have not been developed for some contaminants, and, based on new scientific information other comparison values may be determined to be inappropriate for the specific type of exposure. In those cases, the contaminants are included as contaminants of concern if current scientific information indicates exposure to those contaminants may be of public health concern.

The next step of the process requires a more in-depth review of data for each of the contaminants selected. Factors used in the selection of the COCs included the number of samples with detections above the minimum detection limit, the number of samples with detections above an acute or chronic health comparison value, and the potential for exposure at the monitoring location.


APPENDIX D: PUBLIC COMMENTS

ATSDR held a public comment period March 12 to April 25, 1999 to address further questions and comments regarding the Mayfair/New Haven Subdivision Public Health Assessment. No public comments were received by ATSDR during this time period.


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