PUBLIC HEALTH ASSESSMENT
McCORMICK & BAXTER CREOSOTING COMPANY (PORTLAND)
PORTLAND, MULTNOMAH COUNTY, OREGON
APPENDIX A--SITE MAPS
LIST OF FIGURES
APPENDIX B--CONTAMINANT AND PATHWAY TABLES
LIST OF TABLES
Table 1Contaminants--On-Site Surface Soils
(toxic equivalents *)
Table 2Contaminants--On-Site Subsurface Soils
|PCDD/PCDF (toxic equiv-alents)||0.037||1992||0.0007||CREG|
Table 3Contaminants--On-Site Groundwater
|PCDD/PCDF (toxic equivalents)||0.20||1991||0.00001||CREG|
Table 4Contaminants--On-Site NAPL Below Ground
Table 5Contaminants--On-Site Storm Water (Unfiltered)
|PCDD/PCDF (toxic equivalents)||0.024||1991||0.00001||CREG|
Table 6Contaminants--Off-Site Surface Soils
|PCDD/PCDF (toxic equivalents)||A-
|Table 6. Contaminants-Off-Site Surface Soils, notes|
|A- Samples from residential area beyond
top of bluff |
B- Samples from access road
C- Samples from adjacent industrial property to the north and from slope of bluff
D- Single sample taken on site beside south property line that might represent conditions off-site in that area.
E- Background sample taken near university
Table 7Contaminants--Off-Site River Sediment
|PCDD/PCDF (toxic equiv-alents)||0.0027||1990||0.00005||EMEG|
Table 8Contaminants--Off-Site: Crayfish, Large Scale Sucker
(via wet weight)
|Sample date not reported|
Table 9Summary--Completed Pathways and Associated Health-Related Information
|PATHWAY NAME:||Air (on site)
|Air (off site)
(on site) during operations
|Soils (off site)|
|Source:||McCormick & Baxter||McCormick & Baxter||McCormick & Baxter||McCormick & Baxter||McCormick & Baxter|
|Surface soils||Surface soils|
|Exposure Point:||On site||Off site||On site||On site||Off site|
|Exposure Route:||Inhalation||Inhalation||Skin contact, ingestion||Skin contact,
|Receptor Population:||Workers, visitors,
|Nearby residents, nearby workers||Workers||Trespassers||Nearby residents,
|Exposure Period:||Past||Past||Past||Present, future||Past, present, future|
|Number Exposed:||Workers--about 50 employed at any one time||Unknown||About 50 employed at any one time||Unknown||Unknown|
|Contaminants at Levels of Public Health Concern:||Unknown||Unknown||Arsenic, pentachlorophenol, dioxins/furans, creosote||None||None|
|Exposure Duration:||Maximum of 47 years (operating time of site)||Maximum of 47 years (operating time of site)||Maximum of 47 years (operating time of site)|
|Potential Health Effects:||cannot determine, see Toxicologic Evaluation section discussion||cannot determine, see Community Health Concerns Evaluation section discussion||various organs: cancer or other disorders, see Toxicologic Evaluation section discussion|
|Source:||McCormick & Baxter, possibly others upstream||McCormick & Baxter, possibly others along river||McCormick & Baxter, possibly others upstream||McCormick & Baxter or others|
|Medium:||Sediment||Aquatic biota||Surface water||Air|
|Exposure Point:||On and off site||Off site||Off site||Off site|
|Exposure Route:||Skin contact||Ingestion||Skin contact, ingestion||Inhalation|
|Receptor Population:||Trespassers, children, former workers||Area fishermen||Shoreline users, fishermen, water skiers, swimmers||Nearby residents, on-site and nearby workers|
|Exposure Period:||Past, present, future
for trespassers, children
Past for former workers
|Past, present, future||Past, present, future||Past, present, future|
|Number Exposed:||Workers--about 50 employed at any one time||Unknown||Unknown||Unknown|
|Contaminants at Levels of Public Health Concern:||Unknown||None||Unknown||Unknown|
|Potential Health Effects:||Unknown||Unknown, none likely||Unknown|
Table 10Summary--Potential Pathways and Associated Health-Related Information
|PATHWAY NAME:||Soils (on site)||Air (on site)||Sediment (on site and off site)|
|Source:||McCormick & Baxter||McCormick & Baxter||McCormick & Baxter|
|Exposure Point:||On site||On site||On site, off site|
|Exposure Route:||Ingestion, skin contact, inhalation||Inhalation||Skin contact|
|Receptor Population:||Remedial workers,
future site users
|Site users||Shoreline users|
|Exposure Period:||Present, future||Future||Future|
|Contaminants at Levels of Public Health Concern:||Unknown||Unknown||Unknown|
|Potential Health Effects:||Cannot determine||Cannot determine||Cannot determine|
The McCormick and Baxter public health assessment was available for public review and comment in the local library and local neighborhood association office for a 60-day period ending April 10, 1995. The public comment period was announced in local newspapers. In addition, the public health assessment was sent to one individual. Several sets of commments were received. Specific comments and responses are summarized below. When duplicate comments on specific and particular issues were received, we responded only once.
- Comment: Many comments seem to address, in part, elements of the methods that are inherent
in our health assessment process (which was described in the Forward of the health assessment
document). Thus, as a preliminary to answering specific questions, it seems appropriate to
briefly summarize the assessment process.
ATSDR is required by law to conduct a public health assessment at each site that is proposed for the EPA's National Priority List (NPL). An initial release of the document must be made within 1 year of the proposal date. The aim of the assessment evaluations is to:
- learn whether people are being exposed to hazardous substances, and,
- if so, decide whether that exposure is harmful and should be stopped, and,
- decide whether additional media or human exposure information are needed to adequately define important public health issues.
- ATSDR scientists review available environmental data (generally supplied by government
agencies, businesses, and the public) to identify concentrations of contaminants in pertinent
environmental media. If the environmental data base is incomplete (which it usually is), the
report will recommend sampling ATSDR believes is pertinent to clarifying substantive public
If review of data shows that people have or could come into contact with contaminants, ATSDR scientists then evaluate whether or not there may be harmful effects from those exposures. In those evaluations, our scientists generally make use of existing scientific (e.g., medical, toxicologic, epidemiologic, disease registry) information.
ATSDR scientists also need to learn what people in the area know about the site and what
concerns they may have about its impact on their health. Throughout the evaluation process, we
actively gather information and comments from people who live or work near a site. Initally,
community health concerns are usually collected at public availability sessions, which ATSDR
generally holds at the beginning of the site investigation. Community members have further
opportunity to voice their concerns during the public comment period. The community's health
concerns are then addressed in the public health assessment.
The report presents conclusions about the level of health threat, if any, posed by a site. Any indeterminate health issues, which usually result from an inadequate data base, are also described. For indeterminate issues that might have an associated substantive public health connotation, recommendations are made to obtain data that would aid in their future resolution.
Comment: It is imperative that, because of recreational uses of the Willamette River and
concentrations of pollutants due to multiple sources, the community should be able to assess the
full level of pollution as well as the residual and ongoing effects of the McCormick & Baxter
contaminants--thus, the assessment should be expanded to include river water quality data.
ATSDR reported in the assessment that there was no river water quality data for the site vicinity. We have no reason to expect that the low exposure doses associated with incidental ingestion during recreational activities would result in definable human health effects. Therefore, river sampling was not recommended, because we believe that the additional information would not substantively enhance our assessment of the site and community effects.
The document has not been changed.
Comment: People use the river to feed their families. No testing was done of fish other than
the large scale sucker and crayfish. It is imperative that, because of recreational uses of the
Willamette River and concentrations of pollutants due to multiple sources, the community should
be able to assess the full level of pollution as well as the residual and ongoing effects of the
McCormick & Baxter contaminants--thus, the assessment should be expanded to include more
thorough testing of other species of fish which recreational fishermen might encounter.
ATSDR reported the crayfish and fish data and associated subsistence consumption health consequences. We have no reason to expect that exposure doses associated with eating fish other than those already sampled would result in additional definable health effects. Therefore, we did not recommend sampling for other species because we believe that the additional information would not substantively enhance our assessment of the site and community effects.
The document has not been changed.
- Comment: The assessment states that not enough soil sample information is available to make
a representative judgement of the true contamination levels in the off site area. The community
and future users of the land surrounding the site should be apprised of the true contamination
levels. Further soil sampling must take place.
The Public Health Implications Section says that results from several residential soil samples show that contaminant levels are so low that it is unlikely that anyone will get sick from incidentally ingesting soil. Similarly low concentrations were found on the adjacent industrial properties, and, it is for just that area that the document indicates uncertainty about whether the number of samples reasonably represent the true concentrations. Therefore, the first recommendation presented in the document has been expanded to include sampling on more than one adjacent industrial property.
- Comment: How long will the riverbank be dangerous to the health of the public?
Many of the contaminants present in water front sediments will be potent for a long, undefinable time, and the assessment has been revised to reflect that feature for selected exposure pathways. The assessment reported that ODEQ has plans for remediation of those materials. ATSDR does not know the schedule.
- Comment: On Page 1 and 22, the document says: "Site should not be developed until
contamination levels have been reduced below levels of health concern". Are there standards for
each contaminant and, if so, how do the standards compare with what is on site and compare
with data in the report tables. Cleanup should be thorough and should go beyond the minimum
standard to allow for the possibility of more stringent standards occurring in the future.
We determined that it was important to revise the statement in question because site remediation is expected to be achieved in multiple ways, including contaminant reduction. The statement now reads: "The site should not be developed or otherwise accessed by the public until remediation measures are accomplished in a manner that effectively prevents human exposures from occurring at levels of public health concern."
ATSDR does not determine remediation criteria; those are the purview of the agency (ODEQ) overseeing the activity and typically could vary from site to site.
The comparison values shown in our tables have an public health foundation but are not remediation criteria. As stated in the Environmental Contamination and Other Hazards section of the document, comparison values are used, along with other criteria, to help decide which contaminants warrant further examination in the Public Health Implications (PHI) section. It is in the PHI section that concentrations are coupled with specific exposure scenarios and community concern information to evaluate health issues.
- Why wasn't a door-to-door survey conducted of people who live on the ridge above the site, as
well as a search for and survey of former residents? Residents have had concerns about the plant
and its odors for years.
ATSDR often conducts door-to-door surveys as part of a community health study, or investigation. For purposes of gathering community health concerns during the public health assessment process, ATSDR holds public availability sessions. We advertise these meetings through the media and rely on existing community groups to spread the word about the meetings.
- Anecdotal evidence of considerable community health erosion, including a rash of cancers in
the neighborhood, warrants further investigation.
- does exposure to a site-related contaminant cause adverse health effects in people,
- is there an association between exposure and disease in the site community, and
- do certain members of the community need medical management of an adverse health effect?
There are (at least) three reasons why community members may request a health investigation. We assume the request may be motivated by one or more of the following questions:
Exposure to site-related contaminants and adverse health effects in people
- A health study is designed to address the question, is there an association between the occurrence
of a specific disease (or constellation of related diseases) and exposure to a specific chemical (or
group of chemicals). At this site, a study would investigate the specific relationship between
exposure to wood treating chemicals and adverse health effects in people.
Many studies have been conducted with people occupationally exposed to wood preserving chemicals, as described in the Public Health Implications sections above, and adverse health effects resulting from exposure are known. A health study of this community may not show any additional general information.
Association between exposure and disease in the site community
- A health study of this community is not likely to show an association between exposure and
disease. The design of a health study of this community would try to show an association
between a particular disease (cancer in general would be inappropriate, for reasons discussed
below) and exposure to wood preserving chemicals.
With no way to determine who was exposed to those chemicals in the community, the only question a study could answer would be, is there a higher rate of a specific disease in the community relative to some standard. Such a study would in no way address the association between exposure and disease. Moreover, such a study would by design substantially underestimate any effect on those truly exposed to chemicals, since the study would be diluted by all the people who lived in the community but who were not exposed.
Exposure to specific chemicals causes specific diseases. Cancer is not a specific disease. Different cancers have different causes and different courses. Some cancers may be caused by exposure to carcinogens; exposure to a carcinogen does not cause many different cancers in different people. An anecdotal report of a rash of cancers does not imply that many people were exposed to carcinogens, although a report of an increase in certain specific cancers could be an indication of exposure.
In addition, a health study of this type simply answers whether there is a statistical association between exposure and disease. Therefore, the study requires a minimum number of exposed participants in order to be statistically valid.
Medical management of an adverse health effect
- As recommended in the Public Health Implications section, concerned individuals should discuss
potential chemical exposures when consulting their physicians. As recommended in the
Recommendations section, community health education efforts should help raise awareness in
potentially exposed people to seek medical help when indicated and to mention potential
exposures. Health professionals education should help raise health care practitioners' awareness
of signs and symptoms of chemical exposure.
- Based on what investigations can and cannot do at this site, we have recommended community
and health professions education. If a population can be identified that has been exposed to
wood treatment process chemicals from the site, ATSDR will evaluate whether a health
investigation is appropriate.
- Why wasn't a health study conducted on former McCormick and Baxter employees and their
As a rule, ATSDR refers health issues of former workers to an appropriate federal or state occupational health agency. As discussed above, we know that adverse health effects often result in workers exposed to high levels of wood-preserving chemicals.
- The public health assessment recommends that individuals concerned about chronic bronchitis
and lung tissue damage should discuss potential chemical exposure with their physicians;
however, individuals may not know to mention McCormick and Baxter as a possible contributor
to health concerns.
Individuals and health care providers should be made aware of potential exposures related to the McCormick and Baxter site, as well as the signs and symptoms of exposure to site-specific chemicals, as part of the community and health professionals health education effort recommended in the Recommendations section.
- ATSDR would not have conducted the public health assessment if the health of the public
was not in danger.
ATSDR is required by law to conduct a public health assessment at each site that is proposed for the EPA's National Priority List (NPL). Proposal of a site to the NPL indicates the potential for that site to pose a public health threat and the need for ATSDR to evaluate the site's public health implications, as described in the response to comment #1.
- The public comment period was too short.
ATSDR usually provides a month-long public comment period. For special circumstances, we schedule a longer time period. The public comment period for this document was approximately two months long. Individuals who contacted the Agency within the public comment period and indicated that comments were forthcoming were assured their comments would be addressed.
- Since the report indicates that there are few problems due lack of data, only minor cleanup
will be conducted and the site will continue to pose a health hazard.
We determined public health hazards posed by the site. We concluded that the site posed a public health hazard for former plant workers, poses a public health hazard for people who might encounter hazardous chemicals along the shoreline, and poses an indeterminate public health hazard for nearby residents because of past, present and future inhalation exposure.
We asked for additional information. We recommended air monitoring, noting that the adverse lung symptoms reported by people who live near the site are consistent with exposure to site-related contaminants.
We recommended actions to protect the community's health. We recommended that the site not be developed or otherwise made accessable by the public until remediation measures are accomplished in a manner that effectively prevents human exposures from occurring at levels of public health concern.
As an advisory agency, we cannot require other agencies to follow our recommendations. However, other agencies often rely on our recommendations when taking actions to protect the public's health.
- The commentor's personal experience with wood preserving chemicals indicates that
exposure does not have to be intense and over many years to have serious detrimental effects.
ATSDR concurs, as stated in the Public Health Implications section.
- Signs and warning in a variety of languages should be provided to the resource agencies that
work with non-english speaking groups that fish the slough and rivers for food.
ATSDR will include non-english speaking groups that rely on fish and crayfish for food when conducting a needs assessment of the community.
- The report concludes that lung symptoms are consistent with exposure to site-related
contaminants, but did not collect information from residents about lung-related problems in an
orderly fashion. Depending upon insufficient data will result in a report that does not safeguard
Without information about exposure, a link between exposure and adverse health effect cannot be established. We did say that the adverse lung symptoms are non-specific symptoms known to be experienced by people with no known exposure to hazardous waste, but they are also consistent with exposure to site-related contaminants.
We recommended that the site be prevented from being developed or otherwise accessed by the public until remediation measures are accomplished in a manner that effectively prevents human exposures from occurring at levels of public health concern. We also have recommended gathering additional data on soil and air.
- The report indicates that, should additional information become available, conclusions will
be revised, but is unclear how additional data will be made available. ATSDR needs to require
additional study in order to have a meaningful response.
ATSDR has identified data gaps (including contaminant levels in soil on adjacent industrial property, air quality on site while air-release-related remediation activities are in progress, and ambient air quality where residents continue to express concern about odors) and has requested more information be gathered. As an advisory agency, we cannot require other agencies to follow our recommendations.
- How will health professionals and members of the community receive recommended
ATSDR staff plan to determine appropriate site-specific health education activities for health professionals and community members through a needs assessment. The Public Health Action Plan section of the public health assessment has been revised to reflect this information.
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- Page last reviewed: November 2, 2009
- Page last updated: November 2, 2009
- Content source: Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry