PUBLIC HEALTH ASSESSMENT
SALIDA, CHAFFEE COUNTY, COLORADO
1. The site poses a public health hazard because of the past, present, and future exposure to heavy metals in on-site surface soils, and because of past exposure to metals in off-site surface soil. High levels of lead and arsenic in the surface soil pose a special threat to children, especially those who play in the smelter stack area. Exposure to groundwater poses a past public health hazard for residents living southwest of CoZinco.
2. On-site concentrations of creosote remain a source of contamination for the on-site soil, and a potential source of contamination for groundwater and surface water. On-site concentrations of heavy metals remain a source of contamination for the on-site soils, and a potential source of contamination for groundwater and off-site soils.
3. Health effects reported in September 1992 by residents living in the immediate vicinity of the site (respiratory aggravation such as sinus irritation, sore throat, and coughing; eye irritation, vomiting) are consistent with symptoms associated with air pollution episodes involving atmospheric inversions combined with emissions of hydrogen sulfide and acid mists. Major sources of emissions from CoZinCo, such as the canal dissolver and outdoor uncovered stockpiles of sludge materials, have since been discontinued. CoZinCo is working with the Colorado Air Pollution Control Division to resolve all air emission issues at the facility.
4. Processes currently operating at the CoZinCo subsite continue to be a source of airborne metals emissions. Further analyses of these emissions is recommended (Recommendations #2 and #4).
5. There are some metal concentrations in post-removal soil that are at levels of concern if residents are growing vegetables with only six inches of clean fill.
6. Additional environmental characterization information will warrant further evaluation of public health effects of exposure to site-related contaminants.
A. Recommendations and HARP Statement
1. Continue to provide an alternate water source to residents with contaminated drinking water.
2. Establish a wind rose for the site area, and collect seasonal information on atmospheric inversions to assist in determining the aerial extent of airborne contamination. Specifically, use this information to determine if there are additional off-site areas which need soil characterization due to air-borne deposition of contaminants.
3. Continue efforts to establish the levels of arsenic, lead, zinc, cadmium, copper and PAHs in all the affected areas, including yards and play areas located nearby. This includes off-site areas subject to potential deposition of air contaminants from historical smelter activities at the Smeltertown site.
4. Colorado DPHE efforts to address the air emission issues at the CoZinCo subsite should be continued. Colorado DPHE, Air Pollution Control Division, should evaluate fugitive (non-stack) as well as stack emissions and evaluate metals emissions for long-term chronic effects. ATSDR recommends that a risk assessment for metals emissions be completed. The Colorado DPHE should determine whether a monitoring program should be implemented to monitor air at the breathing zone in residential areas near the site.
5. Determine the potential adverse impacts to adjacent residential areas and the Arkansas River from site surface runoff.
6. Supply 18 inches of clean fill for vegetable garden areas, if any, of previously contaminated residential yards.
7. Permanently prevent exposure to soil where contamination levels are sufficient to cause health effects after one or several exposures (i.e. near the old Smelter at E&R trucking).
8. Determine the location and extent of the subsurface creosote located in the Koppers tie-treatment area in both soil and groundwater.
9. Practice dust suppression methods during remediation activities.
10. The Remedial Investigation for this site should better define the possibility for site contaminants to reach public water supplies.
11. As more environmental data become available, consider evaluating the data for potential adverse health effects to the exposed population.
In accordance with the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act of 1980, as amended, the data and information developed in the Public Health Assessment for the Smeltertown site in Salida, Chaffee County, Colorado, have been evaluated for appropriate follow-up with respect to health activities. Available information indicates that exposure of individuals to contaminants at levels of public health concern is occurring or has occurred. In addition, the community has expressed numerous health concerns. For these reasons, ATSDR has concluded that the following four follow-up actions are indicated at this time:
- 1) indicators of exposure study, to measure markers of exposure to lead in children potentially
affected by the site. As further information becomes available regarding elevated contaminant
levels, markers of exposure to other contaminants found at a level of public health concern may
also be measured;
2) community health investigation, to investigate health effects related to inhalation of air-borne and gaseous contaminants;
3) community health education, to assist the community in understanding their potential for exposure, in mitigating effects of exposure, and in assessing adverse health effects; and
4) health professions education, to improve knowledge, skill and behavior of health professionals in their interaction with community members potentially exposed to site-related contaminants, particularly arsenic, lead and PAHs.
As discussed below, ATSDR has received information indicating that the recommendation that children be monitored for indicators of exposure is considered completed. If more information becomes available in the future indicating that human exposure to hazardous substances is occurring or has occurred in the past at levels of public health concern, ATSDR will reevaluate this site for any additional indicated follow-up.
B. Public Health Actions
The purpose of the Public Health Action Plan (PHAP) is to ensure that this public health assessment not only identifies public health hazards but also provides a plan of action designed to mitigate and prevent adverse human health effects resulting from exposure to hazardous substances in the environment. ATSDR in cooperation with appropriate public health agencies will evaluate the feasibility and resources to pursue implementing the health actions determined to be needed by the HARP (i.e., indicators of exposure study, community health investigation, community health education, and health professions education).
- 1) The Colorado Department of Public Health and the Environment, Air Pollution Control
Division has issued a Compliance Order on Consent (Consent Order) to CoZinCo to address the
problems described in the October 30, 1992 Notice of Violation and Cease & Desist order,
regarding odors and emissions. The effective date of the Consent Order was April 4, 1994.
CoZinCo has permanently discontinued use of their canal dissolver, which was a significant source
of acid mists, as of November 1992. They have added scrubbers to reduce air pollution from
emissions. Further alterations of their emissions devices are planned. The Division is currently
reviewing the CoZinCo air pollution emissions permit.
2) Extensive soil removal activities have occurred at the site in many of the original source areas identified in the HRS Package. These activities have been conducted by CoZinCo, Beazer East, and US EPA Region VIII.
3) Heavily contaminated soil in the area of the smelter stack has been covered with pea gravel.
4) US EPA has issued an emergency order to CoZinCo requiring the company to supply drinking water to residents southwest of their facility.
5) US EPA has remediated the East and West Ponds on the site.
6) US EPA has removed contaminated soils from residential properties adjacent to the site and provided 6-8 inches of clean fill. Creosote was removed from several residential driveways.
7) US EPA contractors cleaned homes southwest of CoZinCo with high dust lead concentrations.
8) The Colorado DPHE has taken the lead in health professions education through a Cooperative Agreement with ATSDR for health education. Colorado DPHE has provided information to health care providers in the Salida area and has offered a medical education session at a Salida area Medical Center. Additional activities are planned.
9) In October 1993, the CDPHE performed blood lead surveillance of Colorado children. No children from Chaffee county, including communities near the SMT site, have been reported with a blood lead level at or above 10 ug/dl. The HARP recommendation that children be monitored for indicators of exposure is considered completed.
ATSDR concurs with these actions undertaken, and considers them consistent with actions recommended in the Recommendations section above.
- 1) The regional EPA will determine permanent remedial actions in the area of the smelter stack.
2) ATSDR will follow-up on the air emission issues by maintaining contact with Colorado DPHE.
3) ATSDR will collaborate with appropriate federal, state and local agencies to pursue the implementation of the recommendations outlined in this public health assessment.
- Harvey W. Rogers, M.S.
Remedial Programs Branch
Laura H. Barr, M.S.
Remedial Programs Branch
Stephanie Prausnitz, M.S.
Environmental Health Scientist
Remedial Programs Branch
ATSDR Regional Representative:
- Susan Muza
ATSDR, EPA Region VIII
- Water, Waste and Land, Inc. Draft site characterization study for Salida homeowners group. July 1, 1987.
- U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Region VIII, Denver, Colorado. Hazard ranking system documentation record, Smeltertown, 1991.
- Dixon D. 1987. Smokestack-the story of the Salida smelter. Salida, CO: Gold Belt Publishing Company.
- Roy F. Weston, Inc. Smeltertown Site Investigation. January 1993.
- Environmental Engineering and Services Corporation. Letter to Harlen Ainscough from Michael Shaffron Reporting results from the soil sampling investigation for the Remedial Action Plan at the Northwest Pile. November 9, 1992.
- Environmental Engineering and Services Corporation. Limed sludge material pile area closure certification for Cozinco, Inc. November 9, 1992.
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- The Emission Measurement People, Inc. Summary of process and emission measurement results for scrubbers, September, 1993.
- EPA Environmental News. May 2, 1994. Order to CoZinco to supply drinking water to residents near their facility in Salida, Colorado.
- Personal phone communication between ATSDR and EPA on June 22, 1994.
- Colorado Department of Health. Letter to Larry Reed (EPA) from Frederick Dowsett concerning Smeltertown-CoZinCo. April 21, 1993.
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- Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry. Toxicological profile for selected PCBs. Atlanta: ATSDR, April, 1993.
- Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry. Toxicological profile for polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons. Atlanta: ATSDR, December, 1990.
- Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry. Toxicological profile for zinc, draft. Atlanta: ATSDR, October, 1992.
- National Cancer Institute, National Institutes of Health. Cancer rates and risks, 3rd ed. April, 1985.