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PRELIMINARY PUBLIC HEALTH ASSESSMENT

U.S. SMELTER AND LEAD REFINERY, INC.
(a/k/a USS LEAD REFINERY INC.)
EAST CHICAGO, LAKE COUNTY, INDIANA


CONCLUSIONS

The US Smelter and Lead Refinery, Inc. site is a public health hazard because chronic exposure to contaminated soils, wastes, and airborne dusts could cause adverse health effects. The contaminants are lead, arsenic, cadmium, chromium, and antimony. Soils and air at the E.C. DuPont facility near USS Lead have been heavily contaminated with lead. Soils and air in residential areas have also become contaminated by lead to a lesser extent. Adverse health effects could include impaired learning and behavioral tasks, altered motor activity, and mild changes in blood heme synthesis. Additional effects are kidney and skin cancer.

Although a blood lead study was conducted on children in East Chicago, no conclusions can be drawn regarding the impact of the site on children in the area from the limited information currently available about this study.

RECOMMENDATIONS

  1. Practice dust-control methods during all remedial activities at USS Lead.
  2. Educate workers at E.C. DuPont and nearby residents about the health effects from lead exposure, and methods to lessen potential exposure.
  3. Characterize off-site surface soils in residential areas to determine the extent of the contamination in terms of the size of the contaminated area and the types of contaminants.
  4. Obtain more information concerning the blood lead study conducted on children in East Chicago to enhance the evaluation of existing health outcome data.

Health Activities Recommendation Panel (HARP) Statement

The Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA) of 1980, as amended, requires ATSDR to perform public health actions needed at hazardous waste sites. To determine if public health actions are needed, ATSDR's Health Activities Recommendation Panel (HARP) has evaluated the data and information in the USS Lead Preliminary Public Health Assessment. The information available indicates that humans have been and are being exposed to levels of contamination that may cause illness.

HARP determined that community residents, E.C. DuPont workers, and health professionals in the area should be provided with information about lead exposure, and that a study of indicators for lead exposure in workers at E.C. DuPont is needed.

In addition, it was determined that further clarification of off-site contamination is needed in order to determine if there are other groups who are likely to be exposed at levels that could cause adverse health effects.

Public Health Action Plan

The Public Health Action Plan (PHAP) for USS Lead contains a description of actions to be taken by ATSDR and/or the Indiana State Department of Health (ISDH) at and in the vicinity of the site subsequent to the completion of this preliminary public health assessment. The purpose of the PHAP is to ensure that this public health assessment not only identifies public health hazards, but provides a plan of action designed to mitigate and prevent adverse human health effects resulting from exposure to hazardous substances in the environment. Included is a commitment on the part of ATSDR/ISDH to follow up on this plan to ensure that it is implemented. The public health actions to be implemented by ATSDR/ISDH are listed below.

Actions Planned:

  1. ATSDR/ISDH will attempt to acquire additional information regarding the blood lead study which was conducted in 1985 to enhance the evaluation of existing health outcome data.
  2. ATSDR has a continuing role to play as an advisor and source of information for the community surrounding USS Lead. In this capacity, ATSDR will continue its dialogue with the community, working to provide needed health information and other site issues, and to seek feedback from residents about concerns and information needs.
  3. An environmental health education program is recommended to advise the public health professional and the local medical community of the nature and possible consequences of exposure to contaminants at the USS Lead site. The value of obtaining a complete and accurate exposure history will be stressed as part of this program. In addition, information that is provided on the contaminants of concern may include, but not be limited to, the physical nature of the contaminant, potential health effects, symptoms of exposure and testing and treatment, if known. This activity will be conducted by the ATSDR Division of Health Education in conjunction with the local medical community.
  4. ISDH, in cooperation with ATSDR, will conduct a health education program to advise the community of the possible consequences of exposure to contaminants at USS Lead. Actions which can lessen exposures will be stressed.
  5. ATSDR/ISDH will notify E.C. DuPont regarding the concerns about exposure to DuPont workers, and will coordinate efforts with DuPont to determine the extent of that exposure. DuPont workers will be targeted for health education.
  6. ATSDR/ISDH will cooperate with the US EPA and the Indiana Department of Environmental Management as necessary to implement other site characterization actions.

ATSDR will reevaluate and expand the PHAP when needed. New environmental, toxicological, or health outcome data, or the results of implementing the above proposed actions may determine the need for additional actions at USS Lead.

PREPARERS OF REPORT

Preparers of Report:

    Dana Abouelnasr, PhD
    Environmental Engineer
    Remedial Programs Branch
    Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry

    Dollis Wright
    Toxicologist
    Environmental Epidemiology Section
    Indiana State Department of Health

    Garry Mills
    Environmental Scientist
    Environmental Epidemiology Section
    Indiana State Department of Health

ATSDR Regional Representative:

    Louise Fabinski
    Regional Representative, Region V
    Office of Regional Operations

ATSDR Technical Project Officer:

    William J. Greim
    Division of Health Assessment and Consultation
    Remedial Programs Branch

CERTIFICATION

This U.S. Lead Smelter and Refinery Inc, Public Health Assessment was prepared by the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) and the Indiana State Department of Health under a cooperative agreement. It is in accordance with approved methodology and procedures existing at the time the public health assessment was begun.


William Greim
Technical Project Officer
Division of Health Assessment and Consultation (DHAC)
ATSDR


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

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



REFERENCES

  1. Personal communication, Fred Micke, Environmental Protection Agency.

  2. Environmental Protection Agency. National Priorities Listing. Chicago, August 1991.

  3. Correspondence from Kathy Weaver and Naomi Johnson, Indiana State Board of Health, to T.S. Danielson, Division of Maternal and Child Health, Indiana State Board of Health.

  4. Memorandum from C.F. Bieze, Ecology and Environment, Inc., June 13, 1985.

  5. Resource Consultants, Inc. Site Assessment Plan, U.S.S. Lead Refinery, Inc. August 3, 1990.

  6. Memorandum from John McGuire, Environmental Protection Agency to Michael Mikulka, Environmental Protection Agency, April 30, 1991.

  7. Ecology and Environment, Inc. Field Investigations of Uncontrolled Hazardous Waste Sites. Sampling Results for USS Lead Refining Co., Inc., May, 1982.

  8. Environmental Protection Agency. Compliance Sampling Inspection Report, USS Lead Refinery, Inc., March 5, 1985.

  9. Environmental Protection Agency. Permit Inspection Report. January 10, 1984.

  10. Indiana State Board of Health, Air Pollution Control Board. Fugitive Dust Test Report in the Vicinity of USS Lead Refinery, Inc., September 16, 1985.

  11. Correspondence from Harry Williams, Indiana State Board of Health, Air Pollution Control Board. July 2, 1985.

  12. Environmental Protection Agency. Hammond Lead and USS Lead Refining Soil Survey, Hammond and East Chicago, Indiana, October 15, 1985.

  13. Environmental Protection Agency. Aerometric Information Retrieval System, November 9, 1992.

  14. Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry. "Public Health Assessment Guidance Manual." Atlanta: ATSDR, March, 1992.

  15. Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry. Toxicological Profile for Antimony. Atlanta: ATSDR, July, 1992.

  16. Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry. Toxicological Profile for Arsenic. Atlanta: ATSDR, February, 1992.

  17. Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry. Toxicological Profile for Cadmium. Atlanta: ATSDR, October, 1991.

  18. Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry. Toxicological Profile for Chromium. Atlanta: ATSDR, October, 1991.

  19. Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry. Toxicological Profile for Lead. Atlanta: ATSDR, June, 1990.

  20. Bushnell, P.J. and R.J. Jaeger. "Hazards to Health from Environmental Lead Exposure: A Review of Recent Literature." Veterinary and Human Toxicology 1986; 28(3): 255-261.

  21. Moore, M.R.; McIntosh, M.J.; and Ian W.R. Bushnell. "The Neurotoxicology of Lead." Neurotoxicology 1986; 7(2): 541-556.

  22. Mushak, P.; Davis, J.M.; Crocetti, A.F.; and L.D. Grant. "Prenatal and Postnatal Effects of Low-Level Lead Exposure: Integrated Summary of a Report to the U.S. Congress on Childhood Lead Poisoning." Environmental Research 1989; 50: 11-36.

  23. Clarkson, Thomas. "Metal Toxicity in the Central Nervous System." Environmental Health Perspectives 1987; 75:59-64.

  24. Petit, Ted. "Developmental Effects of Lead: Its Mechanism in Intellectual Functioning and Neural Plasticity." Neurotoxicology 1986; 7(2): 483-496.

  25. Needleman, Herbert et al. "The Long-Term Effects of Exposure to Low Doses of Lead in Childhood: An 11-Year Follow-up Report." New England Journal of Medicine 1990; 322: 83-88.

  26. Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry. The Nature and Extent of Lead Poisoning in Children in the United States: A Report to Congress. Atlanta: ATSDR, July, 1988.

  27. Centers for Disease Control. Preventing Lead Poisoning in Young Children. Position Statement: October 1991.

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