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CERCLIS NO. HI0000768382

November 6, 1998

Prepared by:

Exposure Investigation and Consultation Branch
Division of Health Assessment and Consultation
Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry









An individual from Honolulu, Hawaii asked the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) to evaluate the results of environmental samples (i.e, sand, sediment, air) contaminated with arsenic and lead and to provide a public health opinion regarding these results. The Hawaii Department of Health (HDOH) collected a limited number of samples from a shoreline at a beach and a residential area near the former Honolulu Skeet Club Site.

The Honolulu Skeet Club operated as a shooting range on 10.7 acres in Honolulu from 1933 to 1956. Four skeet shooting ranges with a 40-yard radius each stretched about 320 yards along the beach. In 1974, the site was developed into 60 residential lots. Fifty-seven residences currently occupy these lots, and about 7,800 persons live within a 1/4-mile radius of the site. This residential area is paved with asphalt and filled with graded topsoil material. There are no known drinking water wells within 4 miles of the site, and no drinking water intakes are within 15 miles of the site [1]. The site is bordered by a Marine base to the north, a residential area to the west, a bay to the south, and the Pacific Ocean to the east.

On April 15, 1998, ATSDR received site-related pictures and a site description from the HDOH which described the area as solidified black lava that resembles a field of broken glass. This is the area where most of the lead pellets are found. The letter accompanied the picture indicated that lead pellets were in beach sand at less than 1%[2].

HDOH collected a soil sample from the residential area to the west of the site (street curb at Kaimalino Place) on August 10, 1994, and analyzed it for lead [1]. The results revealed the presence of lead at 7.1 milligrams per kilogram (mg/kg). The HDOH collected seven sediment samples from the ocean floor of the beach on June 20, 1995. These samples contained arsenic at concentrations ranging from 2.5 mg/kg to 2,840 mg/kg and lead from 8.9 mg/kg to 218,000 mg/kg. There was no information provided for review to indicate whether lead shot was present in the samples. The HDOH indicated that the shot pellets are encapsulated in a mineral coating acquired from the ocean, and would not pose a health hazard if ingested [1].

In 1995, Battelle Laboratory analyzed three sand samples for arsenic and lead. The lead shot was removed before sample analysis. The results indicate that lead was present at 26 mg/kg, 143 mg/kg, and a maximum level of 228 mg/kg. In addition, arsenic was detected at 3.3 mg/kg, 5.1 mg/kg and a maximum level of 8.4 mg/kg [1].

Environmental Resources Incorporated collected air samples on August 20, 1996, from the backyards of six oceanfront homes that are on property of the former skeet club. The results of the samples indicated that concentrations of arsenic and lead were below the detection limits [1].


Two public rights of way to the beach areas have been posted with warning signs to inform people using the beaches of the presence of lead and arsenic [1]. The maximum levels of arsenic and lead detected in beach sand at this site were 8.4 mg/kg and 228 mg/kg, respectively. The shot pellets were removed from the sand samples before they were analyzed. Lead pellets are reportedly scattered throughout the beach sand, however, some areas of the contaminated beach are not sandy, but are a solidified flow of black lava which resembles a field of broken glass [2,3]. Most of the lead and arsenic containing shotgun pellets are found in pits and depressions among the jagged edges of the solidfied black lava[2,3]. It is unlikely that children would come in contact with pellets in the lava flow area due to the rough topography.

Lead and arsenic were detected at elevated levels in the beach sediments. However, it is unlikely that frequent human contact to the contaminated beach sediment would occur from beach activities (i.e., swimming), therefore, the beach sediment is not of health concern.

A number of references in the literature indicate that ingestion of lead pellets can raise the blood lead levels [4,5,6]. The HDOH has indicated that the shot pellets are encapsulated in a mineral coating as a result of being in the ocean, and will not pose a health threat if they are ingested [1]. However, ATSDR does not believe that all of the pellets are encapsulated in this mineral coating, and the lead may be bioavailable if ingested. Therefore, although it is possible that exposure to lead pellets from the beach may pose a health threat to those children with pica behavior who ingest the pellets, it is unlikely to occur, because the soil is probably inpalatable.



Based on the information reviewed, ATSDR concludes the following:

1. Lead pellets in the beach sand may pose a health threat to young children who ingest the pellets. However, in another area of the beach where lead is found in pits and depressions among the jagged edges of the solidified lava, it is unlikely that children would ingest the lead pellets, because the pellets are difficult to get to. Therefore, lead pellets from this area do not pose a health threat.

2. Lead and arsenic concentrations detected in beach sand samples (after removal of the pellets) are not at levels of health concern.

3. Lead detected in a residential soil sample is not at a level of health concern.

4. Frequent human contact with contaminated beach sediment is unlikely; therefore, no health hazard exists from contaminated beach sediment.

5. The air sampling results indicate that lead and arsenic were at concentrations below the detection limits; therefore, ambient air concentrations of these chemicals are not at levels of health concern.



1. Prevent children with pica behavior from ingesting lead pellets.

2. Continue to post the warning signs to inform the public of the arsenic and lead contamination from the shot pellets, to avoid acidental ingestion of the pellets.

Robert L. Williams, Ph.D.

Concurrence: Susan Moore
Section Chief



1. Au LKL. Memorandum to Laura Young transmitting data package for the Honolulu Skeet Club Site. Submitted to Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry. 1997 May 2.

2. Letter from Leslie Au (HDOH) to Robert L. Williams (ATSDR),regarding the Honolulu Skeet Club Site, April 6 1998.

3. Conference telephone call regarding Honolulu Skeet Club Site, between Bill Nelson (Regional Rep. ATSDR), Leslie Au, and Laura Young (Hawaii Department of Health), Ken Orloff and Robert L. Williams (ATSDR), March 12, 1998.

4. Smith LF, Rea E. Low blood lead levels in Northern Ontario--what now? Canadian Journal of Public Health 1995 Nov- Dec;86(6):373-6.

5. Madsen HH, Skjodt T, Jorgensen PJ, Grandjean P. Blood lead levels in patients with lead shot retained in the appendix. Acta Radiologica 1988 Nov-Dec;29(6):745-6.

6. Greensher J, Mofenson HC, Balakrishnan C, Aleem A. Lead poisoning from ingestion of lead shot. Pediatrics 1974 Nov;54(5):641-3.

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