Oak Ridge Reservation: Public Health Assessment Work Group
Public Health Assessment Work Group
January 21, 2003 - Meeting Minutes
ORRHES Members attending:
Bob Craig (Work Group Chair), Kowetha Davidson (Subgroup Chair), W. Don Box, George Gartseff, David Johnson, James Lewis, and LC Manley
Public Members attending:
Gordon Blaylock, Linda Gass (phone), Tim Joseph, Roger Macklin, John Merkle, and Bob Peelle
ATSDR Staff attending:
Jack Hanley, Bill Murray, and Lorine Spencer
Liz Munsen (phone)
Bob Craig called the PHAWG meeting to order and attendance was noted for the record. Dr. Craig reminded the PHAWG that all comments on the Y-12 Uranium Releases Public Health Assessment (PHA) were due to Tony Malinauskas as of this date. He stated that hard document copies could be handed to Bill Murray at this meeting and that electronic copies should have been sent directly to Dr. Malinauskas.
The purpose of the meeting was to (1) discuss the minutes from the January 21, 2003, PHAWG meeting, (2) review and discuss the Y-12 Uranium Releases PHA, and (3) receive an update on the ATSDR project plan for current and future PHAs.
Minutes from the January 21, 2003, Meeting
Bob Craig asked the PHAWG for comments on the minutes. Roger Macklin noted two corrections. First, in the second paragraph on page 13, the term “leafy tomatoes” needed to be removed. Second, in the first paragraph on page 16, “radium 238” needed to be changed to uranium 238. There was a motion to approve the minutes as corrected and the motion was seconded. The January 21, 2003, minutes were unanimously approved.
PHAWG Review and Discussion of the Y-12 Uranium Releases PHA
Facilitator: Bob Craig, ORRHES
Bob Craig asked the PHAWG for their comments and general feelings on the PHA. He wanted to know if anyone thought that the PHA contained errors in fact, should take a different angle, needed information that was not included, or had any other issues.
Bob Peelle was concerned that two letters written by Owen Hoffman were not considered. Dr. Peelle stated that it did not appear that these comments were addressed to Tony Malinauskas, which he said would be a “bureaucratic error.” Jack Hanley asked Dr. Peelle if he was referring to Dr. Hoffman’s comments that were sent to ATSDR via electronic mail (e-mail). Dr. Peelle explained that he had received two e-mails that were both related to the PHA. Dr. Peelle added that he thought that many of Dr. Hoffman’s comments were “quite pertinent.” Mr. Hanley said that he knew that one e-mail was forwarded to Dr. Malinauskas, but that he would confirm that both e-mails were sent. Mr. Hanley explained that Dr. Hoffman sent his comments to Kowetha Davidson, and that those comments were forwarded to Dr. Malinauskas because they were directly related to the PHA.
Also, according to Mr. Hanley, Owen Hoffman sent e-mails to Bob Spengler, who is a chief scientist at ATSDR and a friend of Dr. Hoffman’s. The correspondence requested information on ATSDR’s minimal risk level (MRL) and on the development of the MRL, which as Dr. Peelle noted, relates indirectly to the PHA. Mr. Hanley explained that ATSDR’s Division of Toxicology will handle the comments related to the development of the MRL because they developed it. Paul Charp, however, will handle the use of the MRL in the PHA.
Bob Peelle made a suggestion regarding the PHA. He explained that in the scientific community, there will be a division in opinions on how certain things should be handled. He suggested that the PHA acknowledge these divisions of opinions and state that ... “we are taking route a, there is also route b, but we are not taking that one.” Dr. Peelle said that by acknowledging these divisions, ATSDR would absolve itself of any disagreements or problems related to this issue. Dr. Peelle added that there are some other points in the document where there are little factual errors, but that these do not affect the answer.
Jack Hanley restated Bob Peelle’s comment to make sure that he understood it clearly. He said that if Owen Hoffman’s comments identify a philosophical difference in the scientific approach, then the difference needs to be acknowledged and explained. Dr. Peelle agreed and said that there needs to be a way to indicate that everyone is not “of the same mind.” Mr. Hanley believed this was a good way to handle the situation. He added that Dr. Peelle’s suggestion will be added into the minutes and that he will have Paul Charp and others in ATSDR review this when they respond to the comments.
Kowetha Davidson told the PHAWG about something she had mentioned in her response to Owen Hoffman. She said that the PHAWG’s comments on this document are given to ORRHES and then to ATSDR. She stated that this is not a public draft; only the comments that the PHAWG decides to send to ORRHES will be forwarded. ORRHES will then approve the comments and send these to ATSDR. ATSDR will address these comments and put out another version of the PHA that is for the public to read and comment on.
Bob Peelle restated his opinion. He said that he would like to enter Owen Hoffman’s comment as a “point for discussion” from this PHAWG meeting. Dr. Peelle added that he understands most of Dr. Hoffman’s comments and that they seem to be accurate. Bob Craig stated that these comments have been passed on and will be considered.
James Lewis asked to return to Bob Peelle’s statement. Mr. Lewis wanted to make sure that the copies of Owen Hoffman’s comments were moved into the records to avoid any confusion. Dr. Peelle stated that he has hard copies of these comments. Kowetha Davidson mentioned that these comments are going to Tony Malinauskas and that he is supposed to synthesize all of the comments. Bob Craig explained that Dr. Peelle was trying to make sure that the e-mails they were talking about were the same because they have talked about two different e-mails.
Bob Peelle commented on the state health study that is referenced in the PHA. He stated the PHA properly points out that the state health study conducted a screening, not a dose reconstruction. Dr. Peelle explained that this “screening effort” took a lot of time because it involved finding crucial data that were not publicly available. He added that ChemRisk worked diligently to obtain information on air releases of uranium at Y-12. He noted that when ChemRisk was completed, since it was a screening, it was concluded that there was not ... “enough health effect maximum level to warrant priority for a much bigger study at the time” from the Department of Energy (DOE) or the state health department. Dr. Peelle stated that his reading of the work is that it is not inconsistent with ATSDR’s results. He believes that the results are justified in that there is no big effect on humans at the present time.
Bob Peelle referred to the PHA’s summary on page 4 of the document that refers to conservatism. He said that this should be handled very carefully and that it is ... “barely needed to make the point that ATSDR needs to make.” Dr. Peelle said that when conservatism is noted, it needs to be extremely specific so that anyone can understand it. He read the third item under the summary: “The Task 6 report noted that information received late in the project indicates that the Task 6 air concentration estimates for Scarboro were overestimated.” He told the PHAWG that this statement could be true, but that he does not know what information it refers to. Dr. Peelle stated that these comments need to be specific enough so that people know what is being referenced. Jack Hanley agreed with Dr. Peelle’s comments on the executive summary. Mr. Hanley added that ATSDR tried to simplify the statements in the executive summary, but that they go into further discussion within the document. Mr. Hanley added that it could be beneficial to clarify more on the “front-end” of the document.
Bob Peelle referred the PHAWG to the fourth item in the executive summary on page 4: “According to ATSDR’s regression analysis, the method that the Task 6 team used to estimate historical uranium concentrations overestimated uranium 234/235 air concentrations in Scarboro. Consequently, airborne uranium 234/235 doses based on this method most likely overestimated actual doses to Scarboro residents.” Dr. Peelle stated that he found an error in the Task 6 report while reviewing the PHA. He explained that there were mistakes found during the final internal review of the document that were supposed to have been changed, but apparently were not. Dr. Peelle apologized and stated that he thought he had checked every page of the document. He added that the mistakes confused the writer of the PHA, but did not necessarily change “the answer.”
Bob Peelle explained the two errors that he found in Task 6. The first error was the use of chi over Q values (χ/Q), where the report took a certain number of standard deviations of the mean for distribution. Dr. Peelle stated that the idea was proposed, but that it was ruled out because it does not make sense. He added that this may not change the answer numerically. The second error was a table of air concentrations in Scarboro that was used for the final table. Dr. Peelle noted that part of this table was reproduced in the PHA. The table shows a number of values that were estimated for Scarboro from 1989 to 1995. Dr. Peelle stated that these numbers should not have been in the Task 6 table because they did not recalculate areas with major values of air concentrations based on a “crazy theory.” Dr. Peelle added that when you know what the numbers are, they illustrate that there were problems with the data patterns. These items in the table were supposed to have been blanked out. He said this was an error in the report and that it must have confused the PHA writers, but it did not necessarily affect the answer.
Jack Hanley asked Bob Peelle if he had written down all of these comments and if so, then he can follow up on the comments. Dr. Peelle said that he knows it is doubtful, but that ATSDR may want to change the text slightly because the report discusses numbers that were not supposed to be there at all. Dr. Peelle suggested that Mr. Hanley talk to Paul Barka about this issue because he may have notes that could help. Mr. Hanley stated that he spent time with Jack Goodenbaum, but Dr. Peelle said that Dr. Barka has a better understanding of the material.
Bob Peelle made an additional comment referring to item 5 of the executive summary: “Using the International Commission on Radiological Protection’s dose conversion factors tends to overestimate the actual radiological doses due to the built-in conservative assumptions (i.e., selecting variables that typically overestimate the true but uncertain physical and biological interactions associated with radiation exposure).” Dr. Peelle stated that there should be a reference in the text that shows that the dose conversion factor tends to overestimate the actual radiological dose. He added that Owen Hoffman often studies internal dose, and that Dr. Hoffman does not believe that the factors overestimate the dose. A meeting participant mentioned that there was an appendix on this topic. Dr. Peelle said that he had glanced at the appendices, but did not see anything on this issue.
Jack Hanley thanked the PHAWG for taking the time and effort to review the document and provide feedback. He stated that their input will help ATSDR produce the best possible PHA.
Roger Macklin requested feedback from Bob Peelle in regards to Table 8 - Uranium Concentrations in East Fork Poplar Creek (1944-1995), on page 48. Mr. Macklin stated that the numbers for uranium concentrations for 1952 are much lower than for all of the other years. Mr. Macklin asked if the data were correct, and if so, then a footnote should be provided to explain the vast difference. Dr. Peelle replied that the data “look crazy,” and that he would look into it.
John Merkle stated that he had e-mailed his comments to Tony Malinauskas and had copied Bill Murray as well. He wanted to mention two of his comments to the PHAWG. First, he reminded the PHAWG of his suggestion to compile a chronological list of significant events related to the health effects studies. Mr. Merkle said that he had started to develop this list. Second, he said that there needs to be a better explanation of the relationship between rads and rems, or their other unit equivalents. He told the PHAWG that there needs to be an explanation of the “so-called quality factor” and how it evolved. He added that if both units are going to be used in the PHA, then the relationship needs to be explained and that it should not be assumed that the quality factor only has a single numerical value. Mr. Merkle added that the numerical value would depend on both the type of radiation and the medium receiving it. Bill Murray stated that the quality factor would only apply to people. Mr. Merkle replied that they are dealing with alpha, beta, and gamma, and would not necessarily have the same number. Mr. Murray responded that for internal alpha particles, the value will always be 20. Mr. Merkle commented that the statement in the definition attributes a value of 1 to the quality factor. Bob Peelle stated that the definition can be simplified.
James Lewis asked if there was an action item. Bob Craig stated that it was part of the comments that were logged and that Bill Murray will deliver the comments to Tony Malinauskas.
Don Box stated that he had two comments. His first comment referred to a map on page 15 of the document. He stated that the text references Figure 2, but that there is a blank map without text. Mr. Murray said that the figure is there; Mr. Box replied that the figure in the text needs a title. In addition, Mr. Box stated that page 136 mentions various types of uranium compounds that were used and produced at the Y-12 facility. He said that the text says “uranium hexafluoride and uranium tetrachloride.” He asked if uranium tetrachloride was supposed to be uranium tetrafluoride. He added that the terms are listed correctly in Table B2, but are incorrect in Table B1 and on line 17 on page 136. Bob Peelle replied that the facility could have used tetrachloride. Bob Craig stated that he would like this checked to see if tetrachloride is the accurate term.
A meeting participant stated that he is still concerned about the 5,000 millirem (mrem) over 70 years screening level and would like clarification on this issue. Bob Craig replied that Paul Charp put an explanation on one page that listed the 100, 71, and 14 millirem per year (mrem/year) levels. Dr. Craig stated that Dr. Charp is considering including this page in the text as the annual life dose for the 5,000 mrem/year.
Gordon Blaylock asked about the current effective whole body dose and the uranium dose to bone. He stated that the uranium dose to the bone would be much greater than to the whole body. He wanted to know if they were looking at the effective whole body dose or at an individual organ. Don Box said that this needed to be explained more clearly in the document. Jack Hanley asked Mr. Box if he had read the appendix section where Paul Charp wrote a narrative about the screening value used. Mr. Hanley told the PHAWG that there was an explanation of ATSDR’s committed effective dose equivalent on page 247 in the PHA. Mr. Hanley would like Mr. Box to provide comments on Dr. Charp’s write-up. If he is still concerned, Mr. Hanley recommended that Mr. Box send his comments to Tony Malinauskas this week, so that they will be included in the discussion at the next PHAWG meeting on February 10, 2003.
Bob Peelle made a statement regarding Gordon Blaylock’s previous comment. Dr. Peelle explained that Owen Hoffman had tried to bring up this problem in one of his letters to the PHAWG. Dr. Peelle added that it is very difficult to deal with internal dose using a whole body type of thought; readers may be lead astray. He added that this is the reason why experts usually say, “Worried about damage to the kidney? Look at that.”
Jack Hanley requested that Gordon Blaylock repeat his previous question to ensure that it is represented in the minutes. Mr. Blaylock stated that he asked what the effective whole body dose would be to the bone or kidney from uranium versus the 5,000 mrem that they have for 70 years. He wanted to know what the bone dose for uranium would be because he believed that this would have a much higher dose. Mr. Blaylock said that it could be over 100 rem. Kowetha Davidson asked if anyone had conducted pharmacokinetic physiologically based modeling (PKPB) to determine organ distribution. Bill Murray asked for clarification on this type of modeling. Dr. Davidson stated that this modeling is used in toxicology to look at chemicals. Bob Craig reminded the PHAWG that the PHA is a screening document that looks at levels detected and attempts to answer previous questions.
Receive an Update on the ATSDR Project Plan for Current and Future PHAs
Presenter: Jack Hanley, ATSDR
Jack Hanley said that the uranium cover letter was sent to all PHAWG members. Mr. Hanley stated that it has taken a little bit longer to get those comments to ATSDR, but that they will get the comments when they go to the ORRHES meeting on March 3, 2003. Mr. Hanley said that he hopes to address the comments and release the PHA for public comment in early April. He added that this timeframe will rely on the number of comments that ATSDR receives.
Jack Hanley informed the PHAWG that ATSDR is currently working on two PHAs – White Oak Creek Releases and Mercury. He said that ATSDR is supposed to give a verbal presentation to the PHAWG in early April. They will try to stay on schedule with all three PHAs (uranium, White Oak Creek, and mercury), but if they start to slip on one or need to give one priority, they will let the PHAWG know.
Jack Hanley stated that the verbal presentation to the PHAWG will consist of the basic outline of the Mercury and White Oak Creek Releases PHAs. In addition to the outline, he will show how the health assessment is unfolding, the basic methodologies used, and the basic findings. He added that this future presentation will be similar to the one given to the PHAWG in December 2002.
Jack Hanley discussed another issue with the PHAWG. He stated that when ATSDR put out the first draft of the PHA, the agency found that when they printed the reports, some of the task lines were not as detailed as they had wanted. Mr. Hanley stated that ATSDR is making some of the tasks more accurate and precise for the second generation. The labels are being modified and ATSDR is trying to refine the report to make it more user-friendly.
Jack Hanley stated that ATSDR is making one change in the screening evaluations. He stated that Karl Markiewicz will continue to take the PHAWG through the whole current screening process. Once Dr. Markiewicz has finished, Mr. Hanley will write the past screening analysis and Dr. Markiewicz will write the current screening analysis. He stated that the past and current screening write-ups will be folded into the end of the PHA and will be documented in the final health assessment. Mr. Hanley said that they are tweaking the information so that it will look more presentable. After they are finished fixing the material, Mr. Hanley stated that they can run one of the programs previously mentioned (e.g., Microsoft Projects) to find out where, if at all, they are getting behind in the project plan.
Bob Craig asked if they are still on schedule with the Uranium PHA. Jack Hanley said that they are now, but that they will have to wait and see. He added that the timeframe depends on how extensive the comments are and how many changes they will have to make. Mr. Hanley stated that they are still hoping to have the public comment out at the beginning of April.
Bob Craig noted that the PHAWG does not really have a role with the
next draft. Jack Hanley agreed and said that the next draft is for the
public. Dr. Craig stated that the PHAWG has already had their major input
with this document, and should now look toward the next PHA.
Bob Craig stated that Jack Hanley did not mention the Iodine 131 PHA, but that he assumes this is still in progress. Mr. Hanley replied that this PHA is underway and that Paul Charp is in the process of determining how he is going to use the 1950s data. Mr. Hanley explained that Dr. Charp may bring in outside experts who can provide input. Mr. Hanley added that Dr. Charp has 60 to 90 days to make a determination if he is going to handle this himself or have an outside expert. Mr. Hanley stated that there is also an issue of possibly using Iodine 129, but that he is not sure of Dr. Charp’s status with this.
Bill Murray asked if Jack Hanley was referring to the air sampling data from the 1950s. Mr. Hanley stated that he was correct. Mr. Murray believed that these data were only for 2 ½ years. Mr. Hanley said that Paul Charp will have to come to a PHAWG meeting to discuss the iodine issue and the 1950s air monitoring data.
Bob Craig asked if the Mercury and White Oak Creek Releases PHAs were on similar paths. Jack Hanley answered that Dr. Craig was correct.
James Lewis asked if the two PHAs would be presented together. Jack Hanley replied that these PHAs are two separate evaluations. Bob Craig added that he does not expect the PHAWG to be briefed on both of these PHAs at the same meeting. Mr. Hanley stated that the PHAs would be presented in different meetings; Bill Murray added that the two are not related. Dr. Craig added that ATSDR will be using different groups within the agency to handle the PHAs. Mr. Hanley explained that two groups will be used because one PHA deals with a mercury issue and the other PHA deals with a radiological issue.
Bob Peelle inquired if mercury will be handled as three different toxic materials because there is metallic mercury, mercury chloride, and methylmercury. Dr. Peelle explained that all of these forms have different types of data and elicit different effects. Jack Hanley added that they also have different pathways and that it can become complicated, but that ATSDR will try to simplify the information.
Kowetha Davidson suggested that the PHAWG have a primer on the toxicology of mercury. She stated that mercury is confusing to deal with because there are three different types of chemicals and that these chemicals cause different effects. Bob Peelle added that there are different types of data to base conclusions on as well. Jack Hanley responded that these were good comments. He suggested that ATSDR prepare a write-up on mercury, possibly with a table, and present the information to the PHAWG before the health assessment is presented. Dr. Davidson stated that she would be willing to make a presentation on the toxicological effects of mercury. Dr. Peelle stated that the subject of mercury has been confusing to “Oak Ridgers” for many years. He added that he did not understand this issue for many years and believes that it should be emphasized. Mr. Hanley added that he would provide any needed assistance to Dr. Davidson.
Bob Craig requested that Jack Hanley print out the variance report from
the Microsoft Projects programs. Dr. Craig stated that this could be
used to show how far they have gone off schedule, and that it is a useful
tool to keep people up-to-date with milestones and with any slips in
the schedule. Mr. Hanley responded that he could do this for the PHAWG.
James Lewis suggested that the PHAWG’s project manager, Jerry Pereira,
handle the report. Kowetha Davidson suggested that ATSDR choose someone
to handle this.
Bob Craig stated that the PHAWG wants to feel confidant that the project plan is being updated and that they are moving along in the process. Dr. Craig added that ATSDR has already done the hard work and that updating a project plan is “not a big deal.” Jack Hanley responded that Lorine Spencer is working with the Communications and Outreach Work Group (COWG) to put out a calendar so that the PHAWG knows what they have to do and when.
New Business/Additional Comments
Bob Craig asked the PHAWG if there was any new business. There was no comment. Dr. Craig asked for confirmation that the next ORRHES meeting was on March 3, 2003. Kowetha Davidson stated that they had to tweak the schedule because of people’s availability and to ensure that a quorum could be reached. Bill Murray added that he had talked to La Freta Dalton and she stated that the best chance of reaching quorum was on March 3, 2003, and not on the previously discussed date of February 25, 2003.
Bob Craig stated that they had scheduled next week’s PHAWG meeting (February 10, 2003) to make sure that they could discuss their comments before the ORRHES met on February 25, 2003. Dr. Craig believes that the PHAWG is putting a lot of pressure on Tony Malinauskas to compile the comments in such a short time period, and suggested that the PHAWG return to their “normal” schedule. Jack Hanley stated that he had talked to Dr. Malinauskas; he told Mr. Hanley that he should be done by Wednesday, February 5, 2003. Dr. Craig wanted to ensure that Bob Peelle’s comments from this meeting were included in the comments that Dr. Malinauskas was compiling. Dr. Craig declared that the PHAWG will not change next week’s schedule.
Kowetha Davidson commented that keeping the meeting for February 10, 2003, would give Tony Malinauskas more time after the PHAWG’s next meeting to pull everything together. Jack Hanley suggested that Bob Craig call Dr. Malinauskas to verify that he will be completed by Wednesday, February 5, 2003.
Don Box stated that the first paragraph of Appendix F in the PHA explains how the 5,000 mrem over 70 years was developed. Mr. Box suggested putting a copy of this onto page 3, before line 21, as this is the first time that the 5,000 mrem over 70 years is discussed. He stated that this would clarify all of the other related portions in the document.
James Lewis was concerned that sometimes people do not read much further than the summary and that the summary does not identify the issues that will be addressed. His opinion is that if people know the issues in the beginning, then the document will hold the reader’s attention. Jack Hanley asked what Mr. Lewis was specifically referencing. Mr. Lewis replied that when they talk about the health concerns of the public, they are conducting these PHAs because of the issues that have been raised by the community over a number of years. He said that they should try to summarize these issues up front so that people can know what ATSDR is trying to address. John Merkle stated that James Lewis’ issues will be helped by the addition of a chronological listing of events.
Bob Craig stated that the next PHAWG meeting will be held on February 10, 2003, unless notified otherwise. The meeting was adjourned at 6:30 pm.