PUBLIC HEALTH ASSESSMENT
LITCHFIELD AIRPORT AREA
(a/k/a PHOENIX GOODYEAR AIRPORT)
GOODYEAR, MARICOPA COUNTY, ARIZONA
The Arizona Department of Health Services (ADHS) concludes that no apparent public health hazard exists as a result of ingestion, dermal, or inhalation exposures by residents to the contaminated groundwater at the Phoenix Goodyear Airport (PGA) North site given the current data. However, potential future exposure to the groundwater contamination could present an indeterminate health hazard if the levels of trichloroethylene (TCE) and/or perchlorate in the small irrigation canals on the north end of the plume, or in the irrigation well at Park Shadows Apartments rises above their respective screening levels. Because of safety concerns, the Globe Wells and the irrigation canals that are connected present a public safety hazard to children who might play in the area. Historic occupational exposure to chemicals at the Unidynamics plant presented an indeterminate health hazard to workers due to insufficient exposure data.
This public health assessment concludes the following:
- Public drinking water supply wells in the Goodyear, Litchfield, and Pebble Creek areas present no public health hazard.
- Globe Wells # 1 and #2, and the Park Shadows Apartments irrigation well have been found to contain levels of TCE above the United States Environmental Protection Agency's (USEPA) maximum contaminant level (MCL) of 5 micrograms per liter (µg/L). However, quantitative analysis shows the level of TCE is one that not would be expected to cause adverse health effects for residents through inhalation, ingestion, or dermal exposures. Globe Well #2 has also been found to have traces of perchlorate. The level of perchlorate is not above ADHS's health-based guidance level (HBGL) and would not be expected to cause adverse health effects if children play or drink the water or if farmworkers use it to rinse off or drink during the day. The water from these wells poses no apparent public health hazard
- The physical hazards posed by the Globe wells and canals present a public safety hazard to children who may play in the area. There are many physical hazards along the smaller irrigation canals connected to the Globe Wells and the holding pond area. These include rusty broken metal pipes, large broken ragged cement pipes that children can crawl into, a large unprotected open well which a child could fall into, rusty piping around the Globe wells, rusted metal laying on the ground, dangerous electrical outlets, and other physical hazards that could hurt children playing in the area. When the water is not flowing through the canals, the underlying tunnels are left open and leave an area where children could fall into and get hurt.
- The water from the SunCor Well #33A, which is connected to a carbon filter treatment system, is being used for irrigation of the golf courses and ornamental lakes in the Pebble Creek housing development and for the new SunCor housing development. The treated level of TCE poses no apparent public health hazard.
- No TCE has been detected in the drinking water well at Park Shadows Apartments. The level of TCE in the irrigation well is below the MCL. These wells pose no apparent public health hazard.
- Many Goodyear residents are concerned about living near the Unidynamics facility (part of the PGA North site). The on-site soil contamination presents no public health hazard. The on-site thermal oxidizer has been turned off eliminating any potential exposures to emissions. There are not enough data and information to determine if, or how much, dioxin was in the thermal oxidizer emissions when it was operating. However, TCE testing was conducted in the past air emissions. Using the maximum TCE concentrations detected in these past air emissions, modeling data indicate that the TCE concentrations in ambient air posed no public health hazard.
- Historic occupational exposure to chemicals at the Unidynamics plant presented an indeterminate health hazard to workers. Former Unidynamics workers have voiced concerns about health problems that have developed subsequent to their employment at the plant. Some of the health problems expressed by former workers, such as respiratory, heart, nerve, and eye problems, are consistent with long term exposure to working with high levels of TCE. However, the cause for these health problems cannot be directly linked to their past exposures to chemicals at the plant since there are many confounding factors.
- The most common health complaints expressed by both the community residents and former workers are respiratory problems including asthma. Respiratory problems of community residents are consistent with living in a very active agricultural and farming area such as Goodyear. As in any farming community, this type of activity causes dust, particulate matter, and pesticides to get into the air which can cause breathing problems for community residents who live nearby.
- Many community residents are concerned about the emissions from the IMSAMET facility, the aluminum recycling plant on the southwest corner of the Goodyear Airport. This facility is not part of the PGA Superfund Site. However, ADHS investigated these complaints in response to community concerns during the PGA North site survey. The type of industrial process conducted at IMSAMET releases smoke, odor, and particulates into the air. Even if the levels of particulates are within permitted limits, the inhalation of particulates may cause respiratory irritation, aggravate mucous membranes, and create discomfort in those people already prone to respiratory disease.
- ADHS conducted three epidemiological studies that reviewed mortality and incidence data in Maricopa County including the Goodyear area. The data in these studies indicated that there have not been elevated mortality or incidence rates of total cancers or leukemia in the Goodyear area from 1965 through 1990.
The Arizona Department of Health Services (ADHS) makes the following recommendations based on its investigation of the Phoenix Goodyear Airport (PGA) North site:
- Sample and monitor the water from the Globe wells and the Park Shadows Apartments irrigation well on a regular basis to ensure that the levels of trichloroethylene (TCE) do not exceed 87 micrograms per liter (µg/L) and the levels of perchlorate do not exceed 14 µg/L. If the levels do exceed these health-based screening levels, then actions should be taken to prevent children and adults from coming in contact with the water.
- Repair and post a warning sign on the Globe well #2.
- Post additional signs along the irrigation canals warning children not to drink the contaminated water or play in or near the canals. These signs should be written in both English and Spanish and posted in an area where children will be able to see them.
- Restrict access (e.g., fencing) to the Globe wells to prevent children from playing near them.
- Cover the openings (e.g., fencing) to the tunnels of the irrigation canals to prevent children from crawling into them when the canals are dry.
- Post signs, in both English and Spanish, near the holding pond that indicate that physical hazards exist to children who may play is this area and that the water in the holding pond is potentially contaminated with TCE and perchlorate.
- Sample the water in the holding pond for TCE and perchlorate to determine the levels of contaminants present.
- Restrict access (e.g., fencing) to the pumps on both ends of the holding pond to prevent children from gaining access to the physical hazards (e.g., rusted broken metal and cement pipes and dangerous electrical outlets) present in these areas.
- Remove the canisters of liquid that are on the pumps to prevent any children from playing with or drinking the liquid.
- Inform all prospective home buyers (e.g., Pebble Creek and SunCor housing developments) with full disclosure that the water in the irrigation canals is contaminated and that the canals present a physical hazard to children who might play in and around them. Residents should be informed that the contaminated water being used for irrigating the nearby golf courses and the ornamental lakes area is coming from a treated well and does not pose a current health hazard.
- Sample and monitor the effluent water from the SunCor Well 33-A for TCE and perchlorate on a regular basis to ensure the carbon filter treatment system is working properly and consistently.
- Sample and monitor the private wells (one drinking well and one irrigation well) at the Park Shadows Apartments for TCE and perchlorate on a regular basis to ensure that the levels remain safe. Letters should be sent to residents of the apartments on a yearly basis showing the sampling results. Results of the sampling should also be posted on the bulletin board at the Park Shadows Apartments. ADHS strongly suggests that the irrigation well not be converted into a drinking well.
- Conduct health education activities for new residents who will be moving into the new housing developments (e.g., Pebble Creek and SunCor) near the PGA North site. Activities would include a summary of the public health assessment and it's recommendations, current and future activities by environmental agencies like USEPA and ADEQ, and updates on the remediation activities at the site.
- Conduct a more in-depth investigation of the contamination at the White Tanks dumping area to assure that all contamination has been identified and appropriately remediated if necessary. ADHS will review new data to determine if a health consultation is needed for this site.
- Former Unidynamics workers who are concerned about any chemical exposures in their current work environment are encouraged to call the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. All information is kept confidential.
- Encourage former Unidynamics workers who have concerns about their past exposures to the chemicals used at the Unidynamics to discuss these concerns with a doctor who is educated in occupational exposures.
The Public Health Action Plan (PHAP) for the Phoenix Goodyear Airport (PGA) North site contains a description of actions taken, to be taken, or under consideration by the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) and the Arizona Department of Health Services (ADHS) at and near the site. 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. ADHS and ATSDR will follow-up on this plan to ensure that actions are carried out.
- In February 1999, ADHS attended a public meeting held by United States Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) to announce the public health assessment. Questionnaires were handed out to people who attended the meeting to identify what their concerns were.
- In May 1999, ADHS and ATSDR staff met with the Crane Company (Crane Co.) to discuss the scope of the public health assessment and to address their concerns and questions.
- In July 1999, ADHS staff met with regulatory agencies such as USEPA, and Arizona Department of Environmental Quality (ADEQ) to review and determine the status of the current data on the contaminants at the PGA North site.
- During the summer of 1999, ADHS met with consulting companies Malcolm Pirnie and ASL Hydrologic on various occasions to review additional data, and discuss plans for further remediation activities at the PGA North site.
- USEPA, ADEQ, Malcolm Pirnie, and the Crane Co. have been involved in the remedial actions over the past 10 years to address contaminants in soil and groundwater at the PGA North site. These activities are ongoing and include groundwater treatment and soil remediation.
- ADHS mailed press releases to area newspapers to announce the public health assessment activities and to advise residents using private wells in the area to call and talk with ADHS staff. Several callers from the area responded who were then referred to ADEQ to have their wells sampled.
- During the summer of 1999, ADHS conducted six PGA North site visits to identify any potential exposure pathways to contaminants in the groundwater, investigate some of the concerns expressed by residents in the area, and to take photographs.
- From May 1999 through August 1999, ADHS conducted a community survey over four months to identify and address concerns of the residents and former Unidynamics workers. This included several radio, newspaper, and television interviews which described the PGA North site and the public health assessment and asked people to express their concerns related to the site.
- In response to the community survey, ADHS sampled a private well. Other residents who wanted private wells sampled were referred to ADEQ.
- ADHS mailed more than 60 packets to community members that included environmental health information related to the site. These included original fact sheets that explained exposure pathways, public health assessments, and facts on TCE and perchlorate. USEPA fact sheets were also included in the mail out that provided background information on the site.
- ADHS mailed 20 packets to area doctors to inform them of the public health assessment activities. Included in these packets were original fact sheets on diagnosis and treatment of TCE and perchlorate exposures, ATSDR information on the TCE registry, and USEPA fact sheets that provided background information on the site.
- ADHS collaborated with the Arizona State University (ASU) to begin an environmental health internship program to train interested students. In June 1999, an intern was hired to assist with the PGA North site public health assessment. The intern was trained in the various aspects of conducting a public health assessment and given responsibility to prepare various sections in the public health assessment, respond to community concerns, research and summarize data, and identify and discuss exposure pathways at the site.
- ADHS staff conducted a survey with more than 60 community members on a one-to-one basis to identify concerns. The survey helped ADHS understand the concerns of the residents living near the site and the former Unidynamics workers. This made it possible for ADHS staff to write a public health assessment that would be beneficial and educational to community residents and former workers.
- ADHS prepared a public health assessment that was designed to address the concerns of the community residents and former Unidynamics workers. It was decided that the best way to clarify the any misunderstandings, confusion, and fears expressed by callers was to identify and answer the major questions posed by residents who called in. This would make the public health assessment an educational tool that would be available for future reference.
- ADHS plans to meet with the community residents and former Unidynamics workers at a public meeting to communicate the findings of the PGA North site public health assessment. The goals of the meeting are to increase the understanding of the technical aspects of the area contaminants and their fate and transport, and to educate the community on ways to minimize their exposures to site-related contaminants and physical hazards.
- USEPA, ADEQ, and the Crane Co. should continue to reduce the site-related contamination to levels that meet regulatory requirements.
- The City of Goodyear, Litchfield, and SunCor will continue to monitor municipal wells in the area to ensure that all drinking water remains safe.
- ADEQ will continue to monitor the private wells (one drinking well and one irrigation well) at Park Shadows Apartments on a regular basis to ensure they remain safe.
- ADHS will work with USEPA and ADEQ to see that the physical hazards posed by the area (irrigation canals and holding pond area) are made safe for children.
- To protect human health, the Crane Co. will continue to monitor the Globe wells, particularly Globe Well #2 to see that the levels of TCE and perchlorate do not increase above safe levels described in this public health assessment.
- ADHS will continue to address community concerns as residents or former workers request assistance.
Arizona Department of Health Services, Office of Environmental Health
Jan McCormick, M.P.H., Environmental Epidemiologist
Mary Shaw, B.S., Environmental Health Intern
Doug Gouzie, Ph.D., Environmental Program Specialist
Will Humble, M.P.H., Chief, Office of Environmental Health, Principal Investigator
ATSDR Technical Project Officer
Tammie McRae, M.S.
Environmental Health Scientist
Division of Health Assessment and Consultation
Superfund Site Assessment Branch
State Program Section
ATSDR Regional Representatives
Dan Strausbaugh and William Nelson
Regional Services, Region IX
Office of the Assistant Administrator
This Litchfield Airport Area (a/k/a Phoenix Goodyear Airport (North)) Public
Health Assessment was prepared by the Arizona Department of Health Services
under a cooperative agreement with the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease
Registry (ATSDR). It is in accordance with approved methodology and procedures
existing at the time the public health assessment was begun.
Technical Project Officer, SPS, SSAB, DHAC, ATSDR
The Division of Health Assessment and Consultation, ATSDR, has reviewed this public health consultation and concurs with the findings.
Chief, State Program Section, SSAB, DHAC, ATSDR
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