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PUBLIC HEALTH ASSESSMENT

NORFOLK NAVAL SHIPYARD
PORTSMOUTH, VIRGINIA


III. COMMUNITY HEALTH CONCERNS

A community relations plan for NNSY provides guidance for keeping the community informed about site-related activities and involving the community and other interested parties in the decision-making process for selecting remedial alternatives. As part of its effort to update this plan, the Navy interviewed selected local officials, businesses, and residents, as well as representatives of community groups and media outlets, to identify their information needs. Public meetings are held to inform citizens of ongoing remedial activities and to solicit their input. Navy officials have also given community presentations and are available to discuss any concerns that community members have. The public may review site-related documents, including reports and correspondence relating to cleanup activities, at a repository located at the Portsmouth Public Library, 601 Court Street, Portsmouth, VA 23704 (telephone: 757-393-8501).

Through meetings, contact with officials and the public, and our review of site documents, ATSDR identified the following community health concerns:

  • Is it safe to eat seafood from the Elizabeth River?
  • Since the 1920s, VDH has prohibited harvesting shellfish other than crabs from the Elizabeth River and its tributaries. Although this prohibition was originally based on elevated levels of bacteriologic contamination, concern exists about the potential for bivalve mollusks (including mussels, clams, and oysters)–the type of shellfish to which the prohibition applies–to uptake chemical contaminants (such as metals) that have reached the river from any number of sources (ATSDR 1994; R. Barker, VDH Division of Shellfish Sanitation, personal communication, 2002; Elizabeth River Project n.d.b.). In general, bivalve mollusks would be expected to bioaccumulate some contaminants at higher levels than other types of seafood would because they are filter feeders (i.e., they have a tendency to accumulate pollutants as they pump water and suspended particles through their gills for respiration and feeding) (EPA 1998).

    Many sources contribute to contamination in the Elizabeth River and Hampton Roads, including nearby government and private industrial sites as well as other regional and local point and nonpoint sources. Limited fish and crab sampling data have been collected by various institutions. However water, fish, and contaminants tend to migrate throughout a river system, and concentrations of contaminants may change over time. As a result it is difficult to assess the potential health effects for a particular area. As noted previously, several groups are studying the Elizabeth River, and they are expected to issue reports that assess the areas they have studied.

    No fishing advisory has been issued for the Elizabeth River and its tributaries; as a prudent measure, people should follow VDH shellfishing prohibitions. VDH and EPA offer general fishing advisories that provide recommendations to inform people about how to select and prepare fish they catch in a manner that reduces potential exposures to some types of contaminants. To better understand prudent measures they can take, people should review these advisories, which can be found on the EPA and VDH Web sites or obtained by contacting the agencies directly. VDH recommendations are available on the Internet at www.vdh.state.va.us/HHControl/fishing_advisories.htm . EPA recommendations are available on the Internet at www.epa.gov/waterscience/fish , which includes a link to A Guide to Healthy Eating of the Fish You Catch, a brochure developed in collaboration with ATSDR.

    In December 2000, the Chesapeake Executive Council, consisting of representatives of the government agencies involved with the Chesapeake Bay Program, adopted a "Toxics 2000 Strategy" for reducing, preventing, and assessing chemical contamination in the Chesapeake Bay watershed. According to the Toxics 2000 Strategy, one of the commitments made by CBP partners is to evaluate seafood tissue monitoring and outreach programs. In particular, the partners indicated that by 2002 they planned to evaluate the technical and public outreach components of these programs and recommend any appropriate improvements to ensure that advisories are accurate, understandable, and easily available to the public. By 2004, the partners plan to institute appropriate improvements to the programs, assess major fishing and shellfishing areas, complete risk screenings, identify any specific subpopulations at potential risk, and issue any additional consumption advisories, as appropriate (Chesapeake Executive Council 2000).

    In short, a number of agencies and organizations are studying seafood and seafood exposures in the Elizabeth River watershed. As a prudent measure, people should follow all seafood consumption advisories and shellfishing prohibitions issued by federal and state agencies and other collaborative groups. ATSDR notes that in some parts of the Elizabeth River, fish with lesions, tumors, and other abnormalities have been found. These effects may be linked to sediment contamination, particularly from PAHs, which are widespread throughout the river (Army Chesapeake Bay Program 2000; Elizabeth River Project n.d.a.; McCord 2001). Abnormalities, such as these in fish, can result from other causes, however, such as infections or injuries.

  • Is it safe to eat seafood from Paradise Creek?
  • At this time, we are not certain whether it is safe to eat seafood harvested from Paradise Creek. The Navy is addressing potential sources of Paradise Creek contamination coming from NNSY and collected seafood samples from the creek in 1997. ATSDR contacted EPA, VDEQ, and the Virginia Institute of Marine Science to inquire about the availability of any additional seafood samples collected from Paradise Creek, but none were identified. Navy sampling was conducted near Sites 2 and 3, in support of investigations at these sites. Five mussel samples and three clam samples were analyzed, including one sample of each species collected from upstream of the sites (to provide perspective on "background" levels of contaminants). Originally, the Navy proposed collecting crab samples, but no crabs larger than approximately 1 centimeter were found in the area.

    ATSDR evaluated the sampling results and concurs with the Navy's assessment that contaminant levels were not consistently higher in samples collected downstream of the IRP sites than in upstream samples. However, too few samples were collected for ATSDR to draw conclusions about the representativeness of the clam and mussel samples. More importantly, in light of the VDH shellfishing prohibition, people would not be expected to collect or consume bivalve mollusks from Paradise Creek. Because clams and mollusks bioaccumulate contaminants at different rates than other types of seafood, these data do not reveal contaminant levels to which people might be exposed during consumption of crab, fish and other seafood.

    During site visits, ATSDR observed crab pots near the mouth of Paradise Creek and signs that people might fish in this area. We were also told that sometimes people fish from the Victory Boulevard bridge, although a posted sign said not to. Thus, ATSDR believes that people sometimes catch fish and crabs in Lower Paradise Creek, particularly near its mouth, that are of sufficient size to be eaten. No information about the extent to which this occurs is currently available.

    Fish and crabs are relatively mobile, and substantial tidal flushing occurs in this area. Crabs and fish in Lower Paradise Creek, as well as the water and sediment in which they live, would also be affected by contamination originating outside of NNSY. Any assessments performed by local or regional agencies or organizations of potential exposures to seafood collected from the part of the Southern Branch of the Elizabeth River near the site would also apply to seafood collected in Lower Paradise Creek. People should, to be prudent, follow all seafood consumption advisories and shellfishing prohibitions issued by federal and state agencies (described in the previous section of this document).

  • What possible health hazards might be posed by redevelopment of the Paradise Creek Disposal Area as a recreational area?
  • The Paradise Creek Disposal Area (OU 2, including Sites 3-7 and SWMU 22) is on approximately 70 acres of NNSY property southeast of Victory Boulevard and north of Paradise Creek. It is not contiguous with the main Shipyard. Portions of the area were used for various disposal activities between the 1960s and 1980s (CH2M HILL 2002a). Site 3, the Sanitary Landfill, contains two areas divided by a utility right-of-way; these two areas are sometimes called the Eastern Landfill and the Western Landfill. Landfilled waste accounts for approximately 31 acres. The Navy is conducting investigations to assess possible ways to remediate associated contamination (CH2M HILL 2002a). Community members and organizations have offered several suggestions for land reuse after remediation, including a green space, golf course, park, wildlife refuge, and jogging and bike trail (CH2M HILL n.d.d., n.d.e.).

    In 2003, the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation completed a feasibility study of the potential development of a park, recreation area, or wildlife area along Paradise Creek. The feasibility study describes land use along different parts of Paradise Creek and provides recommendations to agencies who might cooperate in the development of a park or other public space. It notes that the Navy has no plans to sell or lease any of its property along Paradise Creek after remediation is completed, corroborating what ATSDR was told by the Navy during our 2002 site visit. It also notes that after remediation is completed, liability issues, environmental constraints, and maintenance costs are expected to result in the attachment of extensive land use controls to the Navy property along Paradise Creek (Virginia Legislative Information System 2003).

    During a 1999 RAB meeting, one community member asked about hazards posed from methane gas (CH2M HILL n.d.d.). Methane gas is produced by bacterial decomposition of organic waste (e.g., garden wastes, wood products, organic compounds). The methane is an explosion hazard when present at concentrations between 5% and 15% of the air by volume in a confined space (such as a basement, storage shed, or even a baseball dugout). Methane in landfills can reach concentrations of 40% to 60%, or more, of air by volume (ATSDR 2001). The amount produced depends on individual landfill characteristics, such as waste composition and landfill age. Landfills containing more organic wastes for bacteria to break down will produce more methane than landfills containing construction debris or sandblasting grit, which contain little or no organic material. Landfills with organic waste disposed of recently produce more methane than do landfills with older waste (ATSDR 2001). Because Site 3 accepted organic waste until the 1980s, this landfill would be expected to be producing methane gas.

    As part of assessing possible remedial actions at the Paradise Creek Disposal Area, the Navy conducted limited landfill gas sampling in 1998 at Site 3. Methane sampling found concentrations ranging from 0% to 81.2% methane within Site 3 of the Paradise Creek Disposal Area and from 0% to 56.9% methane at the perimeter of the Site 3 landfill (CH2M HILL 2002a). The study results indicated that the landfill was still actively producing methane gas in its interior and that migration of methane beyond the landfill boundaries was possible (CH2M HILL 2002a). Methane gas, therefore, is present in the disposal area at concentrations that could fall between the explosive limits of 5% and 15% of air by volume.

    As part of the regulatory requirements for remediating the Paradise Creek Disposal Area, the Navy must consider possible human health impacts of selected reuse activities and ensure that proposed remedial actions mitigate these impacts. Because contamination is present at the disposal area and methane is being produced in the landfill, ATSDR supports the completion of a detailed feasibility study before determining the future use of the disposal area. ATSDR recommends that this feasibility study consider not only potential migration of and exposure to contaminants, but also the potential for methane to pose an explosion hazard, particularly in buildings or other structures. These issues should receive careful attention if proposals are being considered that would allow future public access, even limited access, to the disposal area. The Navy will include evaluation of methane gas as part of its landfill feasibility study (J. Nielsen, personal communication, July 10, 2003).

During our review of site-related data, ATSDR identified the following additional potential health concerns:

  • What is known about the former Shipyard foundry and whether its air emissions might have resulted in exposures to contaminant levels of potential health concern?
  • To answer this question, ATSDR first researched the history of foundry operations at NNSY. Foundries are industrial operations in which processed metals are melted and shaped into molds to create various products. In these processes, fumes, particulate matter, and other pollutants can be released to the air. The amount of emissions depends upon the process parameters (e.g., the temperature of the furnaces or ovens), the raw materials used, production levels, and the types of air pollution control equipment.

    NNSY's foundry operations were used to produce parts needed for making, repairing, and overhauling ships. These parts included anchors, chain, gears, and turret castings. NNSY's foundry operations date back to 1859. From World War I until the late 1980s, the foundry operations all took place in Building 172 at the Shipyard. This building housed multiple foundry unit operations, including furnaces of different sizes, drying ovens, and melting pots. According to the Navy, the foundry's emissions were not vented through a stack; rather, emissions from within the foundry were passively released through upper level windows for ventilation. The foundry's production level varied significantly over NNSY's history, with the greatest production demand reportedly occurring during World War II, when NNSY constructed 101 new vessels. Since World War II, production demands decreased considerably. Foundry operations stopped altogether in the late 1980s.

    Limited information is available on the magnitude of air emissions from NNSY's foundry operations, primarily because the source operated largely before many of the current air pollution control regulations were promulgated. However, we can make reasonable judgments on the foundry's emissions based on other observations, such as typical production rates. We know, for instance, that the foundry likely emitted greater amounts of air pollutants when production demands were highest, and lower amounts in years with reduced production levels. Based on this and other knowledge, ATSDR separated its evaluation of the foundry's air emissions into three time frames:

    • Evaluation of emissions prior to the end of World War II. As stated previously, NNSY's foundry is believed to have experienced its greatest production levels during World War II (1939-1945), when NNSY constructed 101 new vessels. Due to the peak production levels, air emissions from the foundry were likely greatest during this time. However, the magnitude and composition of the air emissions is impossible to determine, because air sampling results are not available for this time period. Therefore, ATSDR cannot reach any conclusion regarding potential exposures to the foundry's air emissions prior to the end of World War II.

    • Evaluation of emissions from World War II through the late 1980s. Following World War II, production levels at NNSY's foundry decreased considerably. Though extensive production data are not available for this entire time frame, the reports ATSDR has been provided suggest that a typical raw material usage rate at the foundry during this time was 368 tons of different metal alloys per year (White, Hughes, and Stephens 1976). Of this amount, 125 tons of the raw materials were lead ingots, with the remaining amounts being primarily steel, cast iron, brass, bronze, and copper-nickel alloys. ATSDR has not received additional estimates of raw material usage for other years after World War II. ATSDR notes that this annual usage rate of raw materials is orders of magnitude lower than usage rates at other metals processing facilities we have evaluated.
    • The most representative data for estimating air emissions is documented in a 1973 air pollution control study conducted at NNSY (NNSY 1973). The study reports that the largest furnaces in the foundry emitted 15 pounds of particulate matter (size fraction not specified) for every ton of metal produced. Combining this emission factor with the reported production levels, a reasonable estimate of the foundry's particulate matter emissions following World War II is 5,520 pounds per year, or 2.8 tons per year. This value is calculated assuming that all metal was processed through the larger furnaces, without any amounts processed in the ovens or melt pots. To a first approximation, our estimated emission rate is believed to be representative of actual foundry emissions.

      ATSDR notes that particulate matter emissions of 2.8 tons per year would not constitute a major emissions source under current environmental regulations. Moreover, this emission rate ranks low when compared to other industrial sources in the state of Virginia. For reference, more than 200 industrial facilities in Virginia currently emit more than 10 tons of particulate matter to the air per year (EPA 2003), which suggests that the estimated emission rates for the foundry are relatively low.

      Regardless of the comparison to emission rates from other facilities, ATSDR notes that a particulate matter air emission rate of 2.8 tons per year from NNSY's former foundry is not expected to cause notable air quality impacts at off-site locations. More importantly, it is highly unlikely that such emissions would cause air concentrations to exceed EPA's National Ambient Air Quality Standards for particulate matter or lead. Therefore, the available information suggests that residents' exposures to the foundry's air emissions between World War II and the late 1980s did not reach levels associated with adverse health effects.

    • Evaluation of emissions from the late 1980s until the present. According to site documents, NNSY's foundry was still operating as recently as 1987, but at a greatly reduced rate. It is ATSDR's understanding that the foundry is now completely closed. With such limited production, or no production at all, air emissions from the foundry since the late 1980s were extremely limited. Consequently, exposures to these emissions were either immeasurably low or non-existent. Therefore, air emissions from the foundry since the 1980s are not of public health concern.


    In summary, the available information suggests that residents' exposures to the foundry's air emissions between World War II and the late 1980s did not reach levels associated with adverse health effects. This finding is based on engineering judgment and limited stack test results, and therefore involves some uncertainty. ATSDR would prefer to base this conclusion on more extensive environmental data (e.g., stack test results, more production data, ambient air monitoring records), but we often have to make these judgments for air pollution sources that operated during times when environmental regulations addressed only a small number of pollutants and emissions sources. There are no actions we can take now to reduce the uncertainty in our conclusion because NNSY's foundry is no longer operating. ATSDR cannot make any conclusions about exposures to foundry air emissions that might have occurred during and before World War II, because there is no information available upon which we can assess past exposures.

  • What data are available about exposures to lead in soil at NNSY family housing units within the main Shipyard and at Stanley Court?
  • As part of our evaluation of lead exposures potentially associated with NNSY, ATSDR reviewed not only data associated with the New Gosport area, but also available information about potential lead exposures to people living at other NNSY family housing units within the main Shipyard and off site (at Stanley Court). The only NNSY family housing area that is currently even partially occupied is Quarters A-O Housing. As of spring 2002, five families were living in the Quarters A-O Housing area. No one was living at Stanley Court because it was being renovated, and Quarters P-Z had been demolished (NNSY-IRP 2002a). Exposures associated with the New Gosport Housing complex are described in the Evaluation of Environmental Contamination and Potential Exposure Pathways section of this PHA. Available data about potential exposures to lead at the other three NNSY housing areas are described below.

    In 1995, the Navy published lead management plans (LMPs) for the three NNSY family housing areas described in this section. These LMPs serve as the primary data sources ATSDR has been able to review on potential exposures, particularly past exposures, to lead in paint, dust, and soil. The 2002 NNSY background investigation presented the concentrations of lead detected in approximately 10 soil samples collected near family housing units within the main Shipyard. The findings of investigations associated with producing the LMPs, as well as samples collected near the family housing areas during the background investigation, are presented below.

    Stanley Court. This community is comprised of 125 enlisted housing units built in 1953. It is off Deep Creek Boulevard, near its intersection with Victory Boulevard. In 1994, soil samples were collected outside of seven residences at Stanley Court. Most samples contained less than 400 ppm lead. However, four samples collected at two residences contained concentrations of lead between approximately 700 ppm and 1,100 ppm (Navy Public Works Center 1995c). In November 1997, the Navy informed families living in NNSY family housing areas, including Stanley Court, about the findings of the LMP and ways to reduce their exposures to lead. The Navy also offered free blood lead testing to Navy families. Measures taken by the Navy are described more fully below, in a section titled "Actions Taken by the Navy." By spring 2002, all families had moved out of Stanley Court so that it could be renovated. As of fall 2003, it was still unoccupied. In March 2003, Stanley Court was inspected. Only one housing unit was found to contain interior lead paint, but lead paint was found on the exterior of all units. Currently, renovation projects are underway to cover all exposed wooden trim with vinyl siding, with the exception of the exterior porch railings.

    Quarters A-O Housing. In 1995, the Navy released a Lead Management Plan for NNSY Quarters A-O Housing, which addresses Quarters with sequential designations from A to O (except Quarters F and J, which are no longer used for housing), as well as units called Quarters 210A and 210B. These 15 residences were built in 1942. They are located in the northeastern part of the main Shipyard, approximately 1,000 feet or more from the Southern Branch of the Elizabeth River. Approximately half of the housing units are north of Slip 1 (adjacent to Livingston Street, near Edwards Street outside of NNSY). Most of the other units are east of Slip 2 (near the intersection of Portsmouth Boulevard and Portcentre Parkway). Hereafter, the term Quarters A-O is used to refer to the 15 units that were addressed in the LMP for Quarters A-O Housing, that is, excluding Quarters F and J and including Quarters 210A and 210B (Navy Family Housing Office n.d.; Navy Public Works Center 1995a).

    As part of the LMP, the Navy analyzed soil samples collected outside of 14 of the Quarters A-O residences. Detected concentrations of lead in soil exceeded 400 ppm in samples collected adjacent to each of the residences. Of the 35 samples analyzed, 21 contained concentrations of lead exceeding 1,200 ppm and 29 contained concentrations of lead exceeding the 400 ppm action level. The maximum detected concentration of lead outside three residences was 5,794 ppm, 10,812 ppm, and 25,700 ppm, respectively. The LMP indicates that selected remedial actions should be undertaken immediately and states that a study to better delineate soil contamination would occur. The following provides commentary about its findings:

    "Rarely in Navy Family Housing does a large number of soil sample findings yield positive results, especially away from the perimeter of the house (foundation areas typically are representative of all positive results). NNSY Quarters A-O Housing soil results yielded lead in soil everywhere. Only seven of the thirty-five collected soil samples did not contain lead. Lead [concentrations] above the 400 ppm action level were found in the background samples taken at distances thirty feet from the house[s]. Typically, background samples are utilized as the baseline for the background lead throughout the community. In this case, background levels are above the action limit, therefore all exposed soil is considered a hazard. This hazard is moderate to high depending on the location, exposure, and amount of lead present" (Navy Public Works Center 1995a).

    Most units at Quarters A-O Housing have been left vacant as residents retired or received new duty assignments. In November 1998, Quarter O, 210A and 210B were vacated and demolished. Quarters L and N have also been vacated, and they will be demolished. Quarters D, E, G, and H are unoccupied, but will not be demolished due to their historic significance. Quarters M-1 is unoccupied, but may be of historic significance, so planned actions for it have not been determined. Quarters A, B, C, I and K remain occupied. Personnel moving into these homes are notified of the conditions and any restrictions and receive a brochure discussing lead hazards and homeowner control measures produced by EPA and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).

    Quarters P-Z (known collectively as the Horseshoe area). Quarters P-Z are located off Lee Street, on the western side of the main Shipyard, near George Washington Highway and Effingham Street. They were constructed between 1950 and 1969. In support of the LMP for this 11-residence community, the Navy collected soil samples outside each residence. Approximately one-third of the samples contained levels of lead greater than 400 ppm. For the most part, the samples with the highest lead levels were collected from foundations. The maximum concentration of lead in a foundation sample was 5,692 ppm; the maximum concentration in other locations was 2,097 ppm (at a location intended to represent background conditions). None of the soil samples collected from pedestrian paths and sidewalks contained lead levels above 400 ppm (Navy Public Works Center 1995b). In November 1997, residents of Quarters P-Z, along with residents of the other NNSY family housing areas, were briefed about the findings of the LMP, informed of ways to reduce their exposures, and offered free blood lead testing. More information about the actions taken by the Navy is presented below.

    In December 1997, while these units (P-Z) remained occupied, their exteriors were covered with vinyl siding, interior areas of damaged paint were repainted, and bare spots on the lawns were covered with mulch. Starting in June 2001, as residents transferred out of the units, the units were left vacant and subsequently demolished. The 11 units in this area have now been demolished and converted to parking areas. In the LMP for these housing units, the Navy attributes the elevated lead levels mainly to flaking lead-based paint. The LMP also notes that industrial processes conducted at the Shipyard may have contributed to the detected lead levels (Navy Public Works Center 1995b).

    Lead in paint and dust samples at all three family housing areas. The three LMPs present not only the results of soil sampling, but also analyses of lead in paint and lead in dust. Lead was detected in paint at all or almost all of the residences within the main Shipyard, and damaged paint was observed at most of them. At Stanley Court, some of the paint samples contained lead, but the paint at units inspected was overall in better condition than the paint at Quarters A-O and P-Z. In addition, a substantial number of dust samples from Quarters A-O and Quarters P-Z contained lead, perhaps largely because of the damaged paint. Lead in dust was found also at one of the units in Stanley Court (Navy Public Works Center 1995a, b, c).

    Soil data from the 2002 background investigation report. Some of the soil samples analyzed as part of the 2002 background investigation report for NNSY were collected near family housing communities within the main Shipyard. Background locations were selected by the Navy after a careful review of historical records, including aerial photographs, to identify areas that had not been used for industrial activities in the past. Other criteria for selection included soil type and current land use. Soil samples were collected from a depth of 0-12 inches. Six sampling locations were north of Slip 1, near Quarters A, B, C, L, and N. Several others were to the west of Slip 2, near Quarters D, E, G, H, I, and K (CH2M HILL 2002b; Navy Family Housing Office n.d.).

    Soil samples collected west of Slip 2 did not contain concentrations of lead exceeding 400 ppm. However, five of the six samples collected north of Slip 1 contained concentrations of lead exceeding 400 ppm. The maximum detected concentration was 1,180 ppm, collected approximately 400 feet east of Quarters A, near Trophy Park. The background investigation indicates that no industrial activities associated with NNSY were conducted north of Slip 1. Therefore, elevated lead levels in soil in that area are probably attributable to human activities and may not be from specific source of lead in this area (CH2M HILL 2002b). ATSDR notes that the highest concentrations of lead detected in soil samples presented in the background investigation are an order of magnitude lower than the highest concentrations detected outside some of the Quarters A-O residences.

    Actions Taken by the Navy

    Each of the LMPs recommends measures for the Navy to take to minimize the potential for people, especially children, to come into contact with lead. These include efforts to educate families about potential lead exposures and how to reduce the likelihood that children will be exposed.

    As noted previously, in November 1997, the Navy briefed families living in NNSY family housing areas about the findings of the investigations associated with the LMPs, informed them of ways to reduce their exposures, and offered them free blood lead testing. These actions are described below and detailed in Table 6.

    • All residents living in those homes were invited to a town meeting held to discuss the findings. The meeting was held at NNSY Building 1500.
    • Residents were informed of the conditions found in both housing units and soils, advised of simple housekeeping measures to control exposure, and directed not to plant gardens.
    • A naval medical doctor attended the meeting to respond to residents' medical questions. All residents were offered voluntary free blood lead testing, but no one in attendance requested testing.
    • To reduce the potential for further exposures to lead, the Navy subsequently covered areas with exterior lead-based paint with siding, repainted areas with damaged interior lead-based paint, covered bare soil with mulch, and left many units vacant after residents moved out or transferred.


    Blood Lead Screening

    As described in the discussion of the New Gosport area, in the Evaluation of Environmental Contamination and Potential Exposure Pathways section of this PHA, physicians can find out how much lead is circulating in a person's bloodstream from a simple blood test. Correlations between blood-lead levels and health effects have been studied extensively to evaluate the potential for lead exposure to cause adverse health effects. Since the 1980s, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the American Academy of Pediatrics have recommended that physicians evaluate the potential for lead exposure to children (9 months to 6 years of age) and when appropriate perform blood-lead screening (ATSDR 1999, AAP 1998). CDC recommends follow-up, treatment, or both for children with blood-lead levels equal to or greater than 10 µg/dL (ATSDR 1999b).

    Two applicable blood-lead screening programs serve Navy families who live on or off of the Norfolk Naval Shipyard.

    • The Navy's Pediatric Lead Poisoning Prevention (PLPP) program. As noted previously, a PLPP program operated by the Navy since approximately 1992 calls for physicians to administer annual questionnaires to guardians of children 6 years of age and younger, starting at their first year (age 1) check-up. It also calls for blood-lead testing of all children at age 1, and of older children categorized as high risk on the basis of the questionnaire responses (NAVOSH n.d., Nielsen 2002b). However, not all families use Navy Medical Treatment Facilities (MTFs); some choose to use private physicians and health care providers. Blood-lead levels equal to or greater than 10 µg/dL are reported to the local office of the Lead-Safe Virginia program for follow up. In addition, Navy physicians work with families to determine the cause of the elevated blood lead levels and continue to screen for elevated blood-lead levels, following CDC recommendations until elevated blood-lead levels are lowered. Additional follow-up and treatment on a patient by patient basis is provided.

    • The Lead-Safe Virginia program. VDH's childhood lead-poisoning prevention program is known as Lead-Safe Virginia. Currently, the program recommends that physicians evaluate the risk for exposure to lead in all children at 1 year of age and again at 2 years of age, as well as any children 3 to 5 years of age who have not previously been evaluated. As noted previously, a blood-lead screening test is recommended for all at-risk children (defined as such because of known sources of lead in their environment, among other factors) and children living in selected "high-risk" ZIP codes (VDH 1999), identified on Figure 13. The Lead-Safe Virginia program has the potential to serve non-Navy families living in Portsmouth, but does not necessarily reach all potentially affected families. For families and children, the services of the Lead-Safe Virginia program–including blood-lead screening–is voluntary. Some families, for personal or religious reasons, have chosen not to have their children screened.


    Data about NNSY families served by the Navy's PLPP program and the Lead-Safe Virginia program (including the percentage of children screened and the time period over which the screening occurred) and the results of any blood-lead screening of children who lived in naval housing would allow ATSDR to provide greater perspective about the potential for adverse health effects to have occurred as a result of exposure to lead. Without these data, we can only estimate likely exposure based on factors that influence contact with contaminated soil and a child's vulnerability to lead.

    At ATSDR's request, the Navy Environmental Health Center compiled information about blood lead levels measured at Portsmouth Naval Hospital. The data are sorted based on whether children lived in Navy on-site or off-site housing areas. The data sets do not contain information about where each child lived, i.e. at which Navy facility in the Portsmouth area. This data set does not include children of Navy personnel stationed at nearby installations that have their own MTFs, such as Naval Station Norfolk. Table 7 shows available data collected from the fourth quarter of 1993 through the end of the second quarter 2000. Compiled data do not identify which Navy facility a parent is affiliated with, do not identify specific housing areas where children live, and do not allow for evaluation of increases or decreases in blood lead levels of children with elevated blood lead levels. They also do not indicate to what extent children with elevated blood lead levels have been counted more than once because of the follow-up testing they undergo. The data are sorted on the basis of how families responded to the PLPP questionnaires described above. If any of the questions are answered affirmatively, indicating that children may be exposed to lead in their environments, they are designated as "high risk." When none of the questions are answered affirmatively, children are placed in the "low risk" group. Table 6 lists steps taken by the Navy to reduce exposure to lead in NNSY housing areas. These types of measures would help prevent or eliminate elevated blood-lead levels in the children living in on- and off-site Navy quarters and housing areas.

    • On-site Housing. During this time period, 158 samples were collected from children living on site at Navy bases in the region served by the Portsmouth Naval Hospital. Results indicate that 144 samples revealed blood lead levels below 10 µg/dL. Twelve (12) samples contained blood lead levels between 10-19 µg/dL, and two (2) contained blood lead levels between 20-44 µg/dL (NEHC 2003). All the children with blood lead levels above 10 µg/dL were in the group designated by the Navy as "high risk." Please see Table 7 for more detailed information.

    • Off-site Housing. During this time period, 1,542 samples from children who live in off-site housing in the region and use the Portsmouth Naval Hospital as their MTF were screened. Of these, 1,515 samples revealed blood lead levels below 10 µg/dL. Twenty-one (21) samples contained blood leads between 10-19 µg/dL, five (5) samples contained blood lead levels were between 20-44 µg/dL, and one (1) child had a blood lead level between 45-69 µg/dL (NEHC 2003). All but two of the samples containing blood lead levels above 10 µg/dL came from children who were in the Navy's "high risk" group. Please see Table 7 for further information.


    Blood lead data from the Navy's Pediatric Lead Poisoning Prevention program: Blood lead data were collected at the Portsmouth Naval Hospital, which serves Navy families from multiple installations in the Hampton Roads area. The data show whether families lived on site or off site at Navy facilities, but do not indicate the specific locations where tested children lived. Therefore, it is unknown which samples in the Navy database were collected from children living in on-site or off-site NNSY housing. Data provided to ATSDR for the years 1993 to 2000 revealed the following (for more information, see Table 7): - From 1993 to 1995, during the six quarters for which data was available, none of the tested children living on-site at one of the Navy facilities in the Portsmouth area had elevated blood lead levels greater than 10 µg/dL. Among children living in off-site housing, 12 of 428 samples from the same time period showed elevated blood lead levels. -- In 1996, 12 out of 59 samples from children living on site had elevated blood lead levels greater than 10 µg/dL (10 with 10–19 µg/dL and 2 with 20–24 µg/dL). Multiple samples might be from the same children, if they were retested at the hospital after their first test showed an elevated blood lead level. By comparison, of children tested in 1996 who lived off site, only 1 of 520 had an elevated blood lead level. -- The percentage of elevated samples from children living on site decreased substantially after 1996. From 1997 through mid-2000 (the most recent period for which data are available), the number of samples showing elevated blood lead levels for children living in both on-site and off-site housing was approximately 5 percent or less. Also, none of the on-site blood lead samples collected between 1998 and mid-2000 (the most recent period for which data were available) have been elevated.

    The fact that the blood lead data does not specify where children lived prevents ATSDR from drawing conclusions about families who lived in NNSY housing. While there is an apparent downward trend in elevated blood lead levels for the children who were tested from these multiple installations in the Portsmouth area, ATSDR cannot determine from the data provided whether a similar trend exists for NNSY. Nonetheless, the overall downward trend in blood lead levels is encouraging. Naval MTFs, which include hospitals and clinics, follow Navy PLPP guidance consistent with Centers of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommendations–for evaluation, follow-up, and treatment of children with elevated blood-lead levels. Naval MTFs inform local health departments when they identify elevated blood lead levels. Navy physicians, local health departments, and the Virginia Department of Health's Lead-Safe Virginia Program coordinate their efforts to provide further evaluation and follow up.

    Past exposure to lead in Navy housing and quarters has occurred. Steps taken for housing and quarters listed above, including efforts to cover damaged lead-based paint should reduce the potential for exposure to lead. Blood lead screening, follow up, and treatment efforts, will identify, reduce, or eliminate exposures to lead for individuals and families. ATSDR recommends families take advantage of the Navy or Virginia lead poisoning prevention programs, which will increase the likelihood that lead poisoning will be averted or treated. Individuals may reduce the likelihood of exposure to lead in their homes by obtaining and following recommendations listed in the EPA/HUD brochure discussing lead hazards and homeowner control measures. Other good materials about how to reduce exposures to lead are provided by the Lead-Safe Virginia program, CDC, US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), National Safety Council's Environmental Health Center, and the National Lead Information Clearinghouse (which can be reached at 1-800-424-5323, a free call).

  • Is there a problem with lead and copper from the water distribution system leaching into drinking water at NNSY?
  • ATSDR reviewed the results of the lead and copper sampling at NNSY conducted from 1992 to 1998. In general, we did not find a problem at NNSY with regard to lead and copper leaching into drinking water. As noted previously, drinking water at NNSY is provided by the city of Portsmouth from its Lake Kilby Water Treatment Plant (City of Portsmouth n.d.). Water is treated at the plant and sampled before being distributed. After water leaves any water treatment plant, lead or copper present in the pipes or solder of water pipelines (e.g., plumbing within buildings) has the potential to leach into drinking water as a result of pipe corrosion in the water distribution system. The amount of lead or copper in a given water sample from a particular tap will vary on the basis of many factors, including how long water has been sitting in various parts of the water distribution system before it is run (sometimes described as the extent to which pipes have been flushed) (EPA 2002a). To reduce the potential for metals from pipes to leach into water, the city of Portsmouth adds hexametaphosphate to the water it distributes. This compound creates a protective film along the walls of pipes, reducing the potential for corrosion (which allows metals to leach into water) (T. Dongarra, City of Portsmouth Department of Public Utilities, personal communication, 2002).

    Adults can also be adversely impacted by lead exposure: Chronic lead exposure in adults can damage the cardiovascular, central nervous, renal, reproductive, and hematologic systems (ATSDR, 1999). In fact, CDC's Adult Blood Lead Epidemiology and Surveillance (ABLES) program monitors laboratory-reported elevated blood lead levels (BLLs) among adults in the United States. The elderly are more at risk than younger adults of being affected by lead exposure, because the health of their bodies has begun to decline.

    In accordance with EPA regulations, the Navy sampled water from selected buildings at NNSY for lead and copper beginning in the early 1990s. Around this time, the Navy began replacing water service lines and fountains at locations at NNSY where high levels of lead and/or copper were detected (NNSY and LANTDIV 2002). Sixty locations, including residences, the Scott Center child care facility, food service facilities, recreational facilities, administration buildings, and workshops were first sampled in December 1992 and resampled with more sensitive methods in early 1993. Thirty of the original 60 locations were sampled again in Summer 1994, Summer 1995, and Summer 1998 (NNSY n.d.). In this type of sampling program, all samples are typically drawn from taps (i.e., faucets), not water coolers or drinking fountains. Many faucets are not regular, frequent sources of drinking water. Without specific information about the locations sampled, however, ATSDR cannot assess the likelihood of particular taps being used regularly for drinking water or cooking.

    In our review of the sampling data collected from 1992 to 1998, ATSDR found that in most locations, lead or copper were not detected at all or were detected only at very low levels. In some isolated instances, detected concentrations exceeded the EPA treatment technique action level (TTAL) of 15 parts per billion (ppb) for lead and 1,300 ppb for copper. In most locations where lead or copper were detected at a concentration exceeding the TTAL, subsequent samples from the same location contained concentrations below the TTALs. The detections of lead and/or copper in these locations would not be expected to result in adverse health effects because the duration of any exposures to these metals would have been limited.

    The only sampling location that ATSDR observed might merit further assessment was the Scott Center bowling alley (Building 1487). A sample from this building collected in December 1992 contained 10 ppb lead, but a sample collected less than 3 months later contained 350 ppb lead. Because the number of locations sampled for lead and copper across NNSY was reduced in 1994, as noted previously, no further sampling was planned at the Scott Center bowling alley. Without additional data about this sampling location, ATSDR could not determine which (if either) of the two available samples were representative of lead levels found at the tap in the bowling alley over time and at the present time. As a precautionary measure, ATSDR recommended the Navy verify whether the tap sampled at the Scott Center bowling alley is commonly used for drinking water or cooking and, if so, resample it to ensure that people are not exposed to levels of lead of potential health concern.

    In response to ATSDR's inquiry about whether any additional samples from this building were available, the Navy located another sample collected from the bowling alley in 1993, during the month of August. This sample contained less than 3 ppb lead. The sampling by the Navy was consistent with its policy to follow up when contaminant levels are elevated. To confirm that this tap is currently not a source of lead levels above the treatment technique action level (TTAL), the Navy resampled this location in September 2002, at which time the detected level of lead was 1 ppb (NNSY and LANTDIV 2002). Because samples from December 1992 and August 1993 contained concentrations of lead below the TTAL, any exposures to elevated levels of lead at the bowling alley would have been of sufficiently short duration that no adverse health effects would be expected.

CDC works to prevent lead poisoning through a variety of efforts: CDC provides funding to states, cities, and counties for primary prevention, and provides additional funding to several states for surveillance. These programs ensure that screening, lead-hazard abatement, new legislation, and other prevention mechanisms occur throughout the country. -- In November 1997, CDC issued new guidance for the prevention of childhood lead poisoning. This guidance calls for public health leadership at the state and local levels. CDC will continue to work with states and local areas to improve capacity and direct science. -- CDC has established a national surveillance system for children with elevated blood lead levels. -- CDC helped to initiate federal activities to reduce lead in gasoline, which brought about declines in average blood lead levels in the U.S. population. Data from the most recent National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) show that the percentage of U.S. children with elevated blood lead levels has dropped from 88.2% in the late 1970s to 4.4% in the early 1990s. -- Source: CDC 2003 http://www.cdc.gov/nceh/lead/factsheets/leadfcts.htm


IV. CHILD HEALTH CONSIDERATIONS

ATSDR recognizes that the unique vulnerabilities of infants and children demand special emphasis in communities faced with contamination of their water, soil, air, or food. Children are at greater risk than are adults from certain kinds of exposures to hazardous substances emitted from waste sites and emergency events. In general, children are more likely to be exposed because they play outdoors and they often bring food into contaminated areas. They are shorter than adults, which means they breathe dust, soil, and heavy vapors close to the ground. Children are also smaller, so they receive higher doses of chemical exposure in proportion to their body weight. The developing body systems of children can sustain permanent damage if toxic exposures occur during critical growth stages. Most importantly, children depend completely on adults for risk identification and management decisions, housing decisions, and access to medical care.

ATSDR has attempted to identify populations of children near NNSY and any completed exposure pathways to these children. The community surrounding NNSY contains residential neighborhoods with children and schools. Data from the 2000 census show approximately 2,637 children under age 6 living within 1 mile of the Shipyard boundary.

No public access to NNSY is permitted. The main shipyard and Southgate Annex are both fully fenced. Scott Center Landfill (the only IRP Site in Scott Center Annex) and the Paradise Creek Disposal Area are fenced, except in some areas along Paradise Creek. If it occurs at all, any exposure that children might have with detected contaminants in the water or sediment in Paradise Creek would be sufficiently limited that no adverse effects would be expected.

In reviewing potential exposures associated with the Shipyard, ATSDR identified a potential risk to children from exposures to lead. Because children are especially vulnerable to the effects of lead, we researched available data about these exposures. We found that at NNSY, as at many other sites, information does not exist to confirm the extent of or effects of exposure to lead, particularly past exposure. Much of NNSY's housing was built before 1978 and is therefore likely to have been painted with lead-based paint. We present below available information about two populations potentially exposed to lead: families living in and near the New Gosport area and families living in other NNSY family housing areas.

Families living in and near the New Gosport area. In the past, the New Gosport area was not fenced in a manner that effectively prevented access by trespassers, particularly from adjacent neighborhoods, even though "No Trespassing" signs were posted. Historical records indicate that lead contamination in soil (from ABM, lead-based paint, and perhaps other sources) was exposed in areas that children might use, including behind Navy residences and one private residence. Cumulative exposures to the levels of lead measured in soil samples in the past and to lead from other sources have the potential to have caused adverse health effects, but critical data gaps prevent ATSDR from drawing a definitive conclusion about past exposure. A child care center and a youth center (originally part of a community center) have been operating in the New Gosport area for approximately 12 years, and reportedly there used to be ball fields nearby. The Navy covered exposed blasting grit on several occasions during the 1980s and 1990s, and Site 1 was fully fenced in 2000. This fencing was partially dismantled after the completion of a removal action in 2001.

What is lead?: Lead is a naturally occurring, bluish-gray metal found in small amounts of the earth's surface. It is often used in batteries, pipes, brass, solder, bullets, casings and paints. Lead can also be found in the environment from automotive exhaust near roads (when leaded gasoline was used) and from past industrial operations. People can be exposed to lead in soils by breathing dust or incidentally ingesting soils. The amount and wide-range use of lead has decreased over the last several years because of the harmful neurotoxic effects of lead in people. -- What are the possible health effects from lead exposure? Studies of lead's health effects on people are based on blood lead levels, a measure of the amount of lead absorbed by the body, not the amount of lead detected in soil or some other medium. Blood lead is measured in micrograms per deciliter (µg/dL). Children, infants, and the unborn are highly sensitive to the effects of lead. In infants and young children, lead exposure has been shown to decrease intelligence, slow growth, and cause hearing problems. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's (CDC's) action level for blood lead is 10 µg/dL. If action levels are exceeded, sources of the lead should be found and removed and followup blood lead sampling may be recommended.Recent Navy activities, including investigation and remediation of lead-contaminated soil, would be expected to result in relatively low lead levels (below 400 ppm) in soil in most parts of the New Gosport area. Incidental, infrequent exposure that might occur now or in the future to any lead remaining in soil in the New Gosport area would not, in and of itself, be of health concern. However, concurrent exposures to lead in other media are possible. Exposure to lead in soil in and near the New Gosport area is discussed in depth in the Evaluation of Environmental Contamination and Potential Exposure Pathways section of this PHA.

Families living in other NNSY family housing areas. In the mid-1990s, the Navy assessed the condition of paint in NNSY family housing areas and analyzed soil, paint, and dust samples collected outside of selected housing units in each housing area. At Stanley Court, lead concentrations in several soil samples exceeded 400 ppm, but were below 1,200 ppm. In the Horseshoe area, comprised of Quarters P-Z, lead levels in about one-third of soil samples adjacent to housing units exceeded 400 ppm. The maximum detected concentration of lead among these samples was 5,700 ppm. At Quarters A-O, the concentration of lead detected in most soil samples exceeded 400 ppm, and several samples contained levels of lead exceeding 5,000 ppm. The maximum detected concentration of lead in a soil sample collected in that area was 25,700 ppm. Regular exposures to such high concentrations of lead in soil have the potential to have caused adverse health effects. The only available data about blood lead levels in children of Navy personnel do not include information about what installation families were associated with, so blood lead data specific to NNSY family housing areas cannot be reviewed. NNSY families are served by the Portsmouth Naval Hospital, which also serves other area Navy installations that do not have on-site medical treatment facilities. In 1996, blood lead levels in 11 samples (which may have included more than one sample from a given child) collected at the naval hospital were between 10 and 19 µg/dL, and blood lead levels in 2 samples were between 20 and 24 µg/dL. Since 1997, the frequency and rate of elevated blood lead levels measured in children who live in Navy housing areas served by Portsmouth Naval Hospital has declined.

The Navy has been working to take measures to prevent potential exposure by children to elevated concentrations of lead in soil and to damaged (e.g., chipping) lead-based paint. Appropriate measures have been taken since the mid-1990s, when the lead hazards were first systematically evaluated, to substantially reduce the possibility of any current or future exposure to lead by children living in NNSY family housing.

What can be done to prevent childhood lead poisoning?: Keeping the home clean, eating a good diet, and washing hands can help prevent lead poisoning. Adults can check the home for potential danger areas, looking for flaking paint, crumbling plaster, indoor dust and outdoor dirt that may have lead in it. Any peeling paint should be removed and the paint chips swept away. Children should not be present when scraping or cleaning up paint chips. Dust should be kept to a minimum by damp mopping and using a wet cloth to clean walls, window sills, and other surfaces. Painted wood should not be burned for heating. More tips for preventing childhood lead poisoning are included in the pamphlet entitled Protect Your Family from Lead in Your Home, which can be obtained by calling 1-800-424-LEAD. Source: VDH, August 1997, http://www.vdh.state.va.us/epi/ leadf.htmIn summary, exposures to lead at and near NNSY housing areas have the potential to have caused adverse health effects to children. However, available data about these exposures are very limited. The Navy, Virginia Department of Health, CDC, and other interested agencies and organizations have undertaken aggressive childhood lead poisoning prevention programs. Nonetheless, the potential for current and future exposures to lead at levels that might cause adverse health effects still remains. Certain children may be at greater risk for lead-related effects than other children. Factors that influence exposures of individual children include a child's age, play habits, the presence and condition of lead-based paint in homes, and concurrent lead exposures from other sources.

In light of available data about the potential for lead exposure, it would be prudent for those who live or lived in and near NNSY housing areas to participate in the Navy's or VDH's blood lead screening programs for children. This advice is consistent with VDH and CDC guidance and ATSDR's recommendations for families in Portsmouth. Residents interested in learning more about VDH's program may call 1-877-668-7987 (a free call within Virginia) or 1-804-225-4463 (from outside of Virginia) or refer to www.vahealth.org/leadsafe/index.htm/ . Navy families who would like more information about pediatric lead poisoning prevention are encouraged to request and review information available through their Navy medical treatment facility, VDH, CDC, and/or EPA. Individuals interested in learning about lead poisoning in general can call the National Lead Information Clearinghouse (1-800-424-5323, a free call).

A careful evaluation of exposure pathways at NNSY reviewed in this document as they relate to children indicates that harmful exposures to most site-related contamination would not be expected to occur. Insufficient information is available to determine whether past exposure to lead in soil in the New Gosport area might have caused adverse health effects. Missing information includes blood lead data, information on concurrent exposures to lead, and site-specific information on the fate and transport of lead and its bioavailability.

At ATSDR's request, the Navy compiled information about further investigations associated with lead detected in family housing areas within the main Shipyard and at Stanley Court, measures taken after potential lead hazards were identified to reduce the potential for exposure, and any available health outcome data. A number of actions have been taken to reduce exposures to lead in Navy housing. These actions are described in Table 6. Navy medical treatment facilities will continue blood-lead screening and follow CDC guidance for screening, follow-up and treatment of children with elevated blood levels.

Elevated blood lead levels are reported to the local health department and the Virginia Department of Health's Lead-Safe Virginia Program. Children are screened, evaluated and treated, as appropriate. Blood lead data reported by the naval hospital do not indicate which Navy facility families are associated with or where they live. The only information recorded has to do with whether parents identified any known lead exposures to their children, the age of children tested, and whether families lived in on site or off site housing at one of the nearby Navy installations. 1996 data revealed that approximately 20% of children living in on-site housing had elevated blood lead levels. In light of available data about the potential for past lead poisoning in some Navy housing areas, housing located near the New Gosport area, and in the nearby Cradock neighborhood (where the incidence of elevated blood lead levels is higher than expected), ATSDR encourages people who live or lived in or near these areas to participate in the Navy's or VDH's blood lead screening programs for children. In addition, ATSDR joins the Portsmouth Health Department, VHD, and the Lead-Safe Virginia Program in encouraging blood lead screening for families in areas identified on Figure 13 as being high risk areas for lead- based paint exposure.

ATSDR also encourages individuals and children that live in homes that may have lead-based paint, including homes painted prior to 1978, to have blood lead screening, especially if they are present during house restoration and paint removal. As mentioned previously, people can be exposed to lead-based paint, lead leaching into tap water, and lead from other sources. The Navy's lead management program provides new residents with information on the locations of lead paint in buildings and ways to manage those hazards, as well as information about how to flush tap water before using it and the frequency with which to do so.

Additional information regarding the major causes of lead poisoning and examples of means of preventing lead exposure: HOUSEKEEPING - Minimize house dust by damp-mopping and damp-wiping floors and other surfaces in your home. (Conventional home vacuum cleaners, and brooms may spread dust to other areas.) Use a general, all-purpose cleaning product. Change the cleaning solution frequently and keep out of the reach of children. -- HYGIENE - Wash your child's hands frequently, especially before meals, snacks, and bedtime. Wash toys and pacifiers frequently. -- NUTRITION - Children should eat foods rich in calcium and iron, frequent health snacks, and a diet that minimizes excess fat. Use cold (not hot) water from the tap for cooking, food preparations, and to prepare infant formula. If the tap has not been used for 6 to 8 hours and you are not sure whether there is lead in your plumbing, run the water for a couple of minutes. -- HOME RENOVATION - If lead is present, or suspected to be present, you should not start renovation projects without getting the proper training or hiring trained contractors. Contact your local Health Department to get information on lead-safe renovation. -- HOBBIES and WORK - If either involves exposure to lead, be especially careful to prevent exposure to your child. -- Source: New York City Department of Health Lead Poisoning Prevention Program Childhood Lead Poisoning http://www.ci.nyc.ny.us/html/doh/html/lead/lchild.html

Besides the risk to the adults and children living in the housing there is also a potential risk for frequent visitors. Families with children under 6 years old, women of childbearing age, and elderly people who visit the housing a few times a week should be reminded of the lead hazards.

Nutrition : A diet rich in calcium and iron may help minimize the gastrointestinal absorption of lead. -- SOME FOODS WITH CALCIUM: Milk, breast milk Cheese, yogurt, Greens (collard, kale, mustard, spinach, turnip), Bok choy, Broccoli, Tofu, Fortified orange juice -- SOME FOODS WITH IRON: Red meat, liver, poultry, Enriched cereal, bread, pasta, rice, Greens (collard, spinach), Beans, Nuts, Raisins, Molasses -- Source: New York City Department of Health Lead Poisoning Prevention Program Childhood Lead Poisoning http://www.ci.nyc.ny.us/html/doh/html/ lead/lchild.html


For more information on lead prevention programs contact your physician or health care provider.


V. CONCLUSIONS AND RECOMMENDATIONS

Conclusions about potential past, current, and future exposure situations at and near NNSY are based on an evaluation of site investigation data and on observations made during site visits. ATSDR's conclusions about exposures are described below. A description of ATSDR's public health hazard conclusion categories are included in the glossary (Appendix B). Our conclusions are as follows:

1. Surface Water and Sediment in Paradise Creek: Public access to Paradise Creek is limited, and efforts to restore and further evaluate creek quality are under way. Incidental exposures (via dermal contact or ingestion) during recreational use of the creek, such as boating or wading, are the only types of exposures that occur. It is not expected that people would be exposed to contaminants in Paradise Creek surface water and sediment often enough or at high enough levels for a health concern to exist. Thus, past, current, and future exposures pose no apparent public health hazard.

2. Calcium Hydroxide Contamination: Before removal of the calcium hydroxide (acute eye and skin hazard) in July of 2003, fencing did not fully surround all of the calcium hydroxide-contaminated soil; trespassers or workers might have come into contact with it. During site visits, ATSDR recommended that access restrictions be improved and that the Navy ensure that people who might have access to the area be advised of the potential health effects of contact with calcium hydroxide. These recommendations were adopted, and remediation of contaminated soil has since been completed. No specific cases of past exposure to calcium hydroxide have been reported, and measures were taken to advise potentially affected parties of the potential acute hazard posed by calcium hydroxide exposures. Incidental exposures to other contaminants present in the area soil are not expected to be of potential health concern. Thus, past, current, and future exposures pose no apparent public health hazard.

3. Lead in Soil in and near the New Gosport Area: ABM and soil samples collected on Navy property in the New Gosport area and on adjacent private property have contained elevated levels of lead. Detected concentrations are associated with the past disposal of ABM, but other sources can also contribute to lead in soil, including lead-based exterior paint on homes built before 1978. Navy-owned residences in the New Gosport Housing complex contained lead-based paint and were demolished in the mid-1990s. At least some of the nearby private residences were built during the time lead-based paint was used. Cumulative exposures to lead have the potential to cause adverse health effects, particularly to children. Because of the possibility of lead exposure from multiple sources and critical data gaps (including uncertainty associated with individual exposures to lead and the absence of blood lead data), a definitive conclusion about past exposure to lead cannot be drawn. Recent investigative and remedial actions in the New Gosport area, completed in 2001, have resulted in a reduction in the potential for exposure to lead in soil. Infrequent and incidental exposure to any lead remaining in soil would not, in and of itself, pose a public health concern. However, concurrent exposure to lead in other media or from other sources is possible. Thus, past exposure to lead in soil in and near the New Gosport area poses an indeterminate public health hazard. Current and future exposure to soil where ABM has been removed pose no apparent public health hazard.

4. Lead at Other NNSY Family Housing Areas: In the mid-1990s, the Navy identified damaged lead-based paint and substantially elevated levels of lead in soil at Quarters A-O, Quarters P-Z (the Horseshoe Area) and Stanley Court. Concentrations of lead in soil exceeded the 400 ppm action level in some locations at Stanley Court and in the Horseshoe Area. However, concentrations exceeded 400 ppm throughout Quarters A-O, where the maximum detected concentration of lead exceeded 25,000 ppm. In 1997, residents were informed of these findings, were offered free blood lead testing, and were advised of ways to reduce lead exposures. The Navy also took measures to reduce exposures, including covering areas where there was lead-based paint, covering bare soil with mulch, and leaving units vacant after residents moved out. Some units were demolished, including all quarters in the Horseshoe Area. All 125 units at Stanley Court are currently closed for renovations. Currently only Quarters A, B, C, I and K remain occupied. Residents of these units have been informed of the hazards and provided with brochures discussing lead hazards, home owner control measures, and information on childhood blood lead screening programs.

Because of the remediation efforts and the apparent decreases in numbers of children in the region with elevated blood levels, ATSDR believes that the potential for lead exposure in the remaining quarters has been eliminated or reduced. No information about whether all children with potential exposure to lead have been or are being tested is available. Some quarters and other areas continue to be affected by lead in paint or soil. Thus, further blood-lead screening and follow-up that is consistent with the Navy's the Navy's Pediatric Lead Poisoning Prevention (PLPP) program, VDH, and CDC guidance is required. Because of past exposure potential and elevated blood lead levels measured at the Portsmouth Naval Hospital, ATSDR places the past exposure in the category of a public health hazard. The Navy has taken measures to mitigate lead exposures, including repairing or removing buildings and educating residents. However, because of continuing potential for exposure, ATSDR categorizes current and future exposures as indeterminate.

5. Emissions from the Former Shipyard Foundry: No information characterizing foundry emissions prior to World War II is available, and information about subsequent emissions is limited. No ambient air samples or stack test results were collected before the foundry closed in the late 1980s. However, ATSDR obtained historical documents that provide estimates of production levels at the foundry after World War II, as well as estimates of the quantity of particulate matter that might have been emitted by the largest furnace at the foundry. These two estimates enabled ATSDR to assess the magnitude of emissions that might have been released by the foundry since World War II. ATSDR's estimates indicate that foundry emissions after the end of World War II were sufficiently low (particularly relative to other sources) that they would not have caused adverse health effects to nearby residents. The foundry is closed and is not expected to reopen, so there are no current exposures and there will not be future exposures. Thus, residents' exposures prior to the end of World War II posed an indeterminate public health hazard, and subsequent exposures posed no apparent public health hazard.

ATSDR's recommendations are as follows:

  1. ATSDR concurs with the current Navy remediation efforts and the Navy's ongoing Pediatric Lead Poisoning Prevention (PLPP) program. ATSDR recommends review of the current status of housing conditions and results of blood lead screening of children to ensure that blood lead levels have remained below levels of concern and that all children potentially exposed in housing areas are tested.

  2. ATSDR recommends that families in Portsmouth participate in the Navy's or VDH's childhood lead poisoning prevention program (called Lead-Safe Virginia). This includes families of children in the Cradock area, near the New Gosport area, and in other neighborhoods identified by VDH as high risk areas. Participation in the Lead-Safe Virginia blood screening program or other health care provider lead screening programs that meet or exceed CDC guidance, combined with the suggested steps to clean, remove, renovate, or remediate lead in and around houses should be health protective and reduce lead exposure.

  3. Any future feasibility study to assess possible future reuse of the Paradise Creek Disposal Area should consider possible methane explosion hazards at the Site 3 landfill as well as potential exposures to chemical contamination, including VOCs.

  4. As a precautionary measure, people should follow all seafood consumption advisories issued by federal and state agencies, including the prohibition on eating shellfish (except crabs) from the Elizabeth River and its tributaries. Obtaining seafood from a wide variety of locations and watersheds is a prudent public health action.

VI. PUBLIC HEALTH ACTION PLAN

The public health action plan for NNSY contains a description of actions taken and those to be taken by the Navy, ATSDR, and other stakeholders at and near the Shipyard subsequent to the completion of this PHA. The purpose of the public health action plan is to ensure that this PHA not only identifies potential public health hazards, but also provides a plan of action designed to mitigate and prevent adverse human health effects resulting from exposure to harmful substances in the environment. Completed, ongoing, and planned, public health actions are listed below.

Completed Actions:

  1. In 1982, 1987, and 1999, the Navy regraded areas in the New Gosport area where there was exposed ABM, covered exposed ABM with clean soil, and planted new grass.

  2. In January 2000, the Navy erected a 6-foot chain-link fence around Site 1. Between October 2000 and June 2001, the Navy removed 55,000 tons of ABM, contaminated soil and associated debris from Site 1. The excavated area was filled with clean soil, grass seed, and marsh plants to create a 1.9-acre wetland. In the area where ABM was present on private property, the Navy removed the ABM and restored the property to its original condition.

  3. Between 1992 and 1995, the Navy demolished the 247-unit NGH complex in the New Gosport area, which had been constructed in 1942 and contained lead-based paint. Throughout this process, the Navy took measures to reduce the potential for further exposures to lead.

  4. In 2001, the Navy began renovating Navy family housing units at Stanley Court, which had formerly accommodated up to 125 Navy families.

  5. On the basis of ATSDR's recommendations, the Navy provided new signs, fact sheets, and training to warn people about the potential effects of contact with calcium hydroxide contamination at Southgate Annex and neighboring Atlantic Wood Industries, Inc., property.

  6. In late 2001, the Navy and Atlantic Wood jointly called for removing the calcium hydroxide from the Calcium Hydroxide Lagoon, creating a wetland along the Southern Branch of the Elizabeth River, and capping areas of soil affected by PAHs and ABM. In early July 2003 a calcium hydroxide removal was completed, and wetland restoration (including the planting of trees) was completed in fall 2003. In 1999 and 2000, before clean-up was underway, ATSDR provided recommendations for remedial actions. ATSDR recommended that remedial actions for calcium hydroxide contamination near the boundary between Southgate Annex and Atlantic Wood Industries be designed to prevent any future exposures to workers or trespassers that might cause adverse health effects. ATSDR believes that these public health recommendations were achieved. The Navy informed workers of the issue and posted signs. No exposures were reported to the Navy. Clean-up ended the potential for exposure to the acute chemical skin and eye hazard near the boundary between Southgate Annex and Atlantic Wood Industries.

  7. In May 2002, the Navy published the results of a background investigation designed to evaluate background concentrations of contaminants in groundwater and soil (to which concentrations of contaminants detected at IRP sites and other areas affected by historical operations could be compared).

  8. A January 2000 assessment of waste handling sites at NNSY recommended additional investigation in 17 areas, some of which may be grouped into AOCs or SSAs due to their proximity to one another.

  9. In response to ATSDR's recommendation, the Navy sampled the lead level in water from a tap at the Scott Center bowling alley. This location had previously been sampled in 1992 and 1993; the lead level detected in 2002 was only 1 ppb and not of health concern.

  10. In the summer and fall of 2003, calcium hydroxide near the boundary between Southgate Annex and Atlantic Wood Industries was removed. Vegetation in the affected area was restored, and trees were planted.

Ongoing and Planned Actions:

  1. The Elizabeth River Project (ERP) is leading an effort to restore wetlands and vegetation along the shoreline of Paradise Creek by 2007. ERP is encouraging interested agencies, industries, and community members to work together to clean up Paradise Creek. It is sponsoring water quality monitoring in the creek and it plans to share the monitoring results with the community.

  2. The Navy is studying the effectiveness of covering the former landfills at OUs 1 and 2. Updated feasibility studies are under way.

  3. In February 2001, a study of the NNSY wastewater treatment system, including its condition, capacity, and efficiency, was completed. The Navy decided to construct a new system to collect and treat bilge water and dry dock wastewater. The study's recommended improvements to the sanitary and industrial wastewater treatment systems are being considered by the Navy.

  4. The Navy will evaluate any active solid waste management units that become (or are scheduled to become) inactive. The Navy and EPA are negotiating an FFA to govern the investigation and remediation activities at NNSY.

  5. At ATSDR's request, the Navy compiled additional information associated with potential exposures to lead at Navy family housing areas within the main Shipyard and at Stanley Court. A number of actions have been taken and are ongoing to reduce the potential for exposure to lead. Navy medical treatment facilities will continue blood-lead screening and reporting elevated blood lead levels to the local health department and VDH's Lead-Safe Virginia Program. Both Navy physicians and the Lead-Safe Virginia Program promote screening, follow-up, and treatment of children with elevated blood lead levels, consistent with CDC recommendations.

  6. The Navy is planning to include an evaluation of methane gas in its feasibility study on possible reuse of landfills along Paradise Creek.

VII. PREPARERS OF REPORT

 

Report Prepared by:

Charles Grosse, MS.
Environmental Health Scientist
Federal Facilities Assessment Branch
Division of Health Assessment and Consultation
Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry

Diane Jackson
Defense Facilities Section B
Federal Facilities Assessment Branch
Division of Health Assessment and Consultation
Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry


Review of this report was provided by:

Gary Campbell, Ph.D.
Chief, Department of Defense Section
Federal Facilities Assessment Branch
Division of Health Assessment and Consultation
Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry

Sandra Isaacs
Chief, Federal Facilities Assessment Branch
Division of Health Assessment and Consultation
Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry

Aimee Treffiletti, M.P.H.
Environmental Health Officer, USPHS,
Federal Facilities Assessment Branch
Division of Health Assessment and Consultation


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