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A. Methods

The following sections contain an evaluation of the environmental data available for ASCIP. In preparing this evaluation, ATSDR uses established methodologies for determining how people may be exposed to potential contamination related to ASCIP and what harmful effects, if any, may result from such exposure. Chemical exposure pathways (or routes of physical contact with chemicals) that ATSDR evaluates are ingestion, inhalation, and skin contact. ATSDR uses comparison values (CVs), which are screening tools used to evaluate environmental data that are relevant to the exposure pathways. Comparison values are concentrations of contaminants that are considered safe levels of exposure. Chemicals detected below CVs are not likely to represent a health concern; chemicals detected above CVs require a more detailed evaluation of site specific exposure conditions. For a complete discussion of these criteria (quality assurance considerations, human exposure pathway analyses, ATSDR health comparison values, and the methods of selecting contaminants above comparison values), refer to Appendix B.

B. Extent of Contamination

The Total Human Environmental Exposure Study

There are extensive records on file at the NJDEP detailing wastewater releases, stack emissions, pollution control permits, and environmental sampling activities occurring at ASCIP. These records along with the 1985 air pollution study prompted NJDEP to conduct a joint study with the Robert Wood Johnson Medical School and Rutgers University from 1987-88. The study is called the Total Human Environmental Exposure Study (THEES) to evaluate health effects of nearby residents that may have been exposed to B[a]P in the particulate matter of indoor and outdoor air. B[a]P in indoor and outdoor air were measured in and around ten residences [5]. The residents also wore personal air monitors to determine their exposure to B[a]P.

In winter during periods of calm winds higher outdoor B[a]P concentrations ranging 0.13-3.26 nanograms per cubic meter (ng/m3) were observed compared to a summer and fall range of 0.03-0.47 ng/m3 [5]. The study results showed could not identify a particular source. Foundry operations were expected to make an important contribution to community exposures, because of the close proximity to homes analyzed during this study. However, the ambient concentrations measured at homes within 500 meters of the foundry stack were similar to concentrations measured at the farthest home (2000 meters away) [5].

The indoor air B[a]P concentrations measured inside the ten homes ranged from 0 to 8.1 ng/m3. During this study, cigarette or cigar smoke, burning food, and chipping paint directly affected the B[a]P concentrations. Homes with these sources had higher B[a]P levels compared to homes with no or fewer sources [6]. Human exposure to indoor B[a]P concentrations also varied depending on the amount of time spent indoors. The maximum concentration of B[a]P detected in homes near ASCIP was approximately four times higher than the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) Region III risk-based comparison value1 of 2.0 ng/m3 for chronic ambient air exposure. This value is an environmental screening value based on a lifetime exposure (chronic) and is over a million times lower than concentrations known to cause cancer in animals [7]. Since the B[a]P concentration range of indoor air was 0 to 8.1 ng/m3, actual exposure to the maximum concentration was likely to be occasional rather than chronic. Adverse health effects are not anticipated based on the B[a]P levels measured in the homes.


B[a]P is emitted into the air from fossil fuel combustion (i.e., burning wood, gasoline, or coal burning). In addition, cigarette smoking is another source of B[a]P emission. Phillipsburg had the highest 24-hour B[a]P concentration in 1985 of 7.9 ng/m3 and the second highest mean concentration of 0.8 ng/m3 [5]. Although ASCIP was not the only B[a]P source in Phillipsburg, the plant burns coke (a coal derivative) as its fuel source, thus making ASCIP the only point source. Notices of noncompliance were sent to ASCIP from the NJDEP in the 1980s because of improper maintenance of air pollution control equipment. ASCIP agreed to resolve these Notices of Noncompliance by:

  • Paying stipulated penalties
  • Installing a new scrubber, cupola, (a type of scrubber that sits on top of a building), and baghouse filter
  • Enclosing the cupola (to decrease odors)
  • On-site air sampling and stack emission testing

Another measure ASCIP has taken to minimize air pollutants emitted from the plant was using calcium carbide in an earlier stage of the manufacturing process in an enclosed area. All lots and driveways to the plant have also been paved to control fugitive emissions (dust). ASCIP has been in compliance with the air emission permit issued by NJDEP since the installation of air pollution control equipment. Also, complaints about ASCIP received by the Warren County Department of Health have decreased to an average of two per year [2]. The 1995 New Jersey Air Quality Report cited outdoor air concentrations of B[a]P in Phillipsburg to have a 24-hour maximum concentration of 1.09 ng/m3 and a mean concentration of 0.150 ng/m3[2]. These concentrations are six to seven times lower than the concentrations measured in 1985. B[a]P was not monitored in Phillipsburg prior to 1985, therefore ATSDR cannot evaluate potential health effects prior to this date. However, ATSDR evaluated the B[a]P levels in Phillipsburg from 1985 to 1995. There are no adverse health effects expected to occur from exposure to B[a]P levels detected in Phillipsburg ambient air during this time period.


In 1991, on- and off-site surface soil (1/4 inch deep) and on-site slag samples were collected and analyzed for B[a]P and metals. B[a]P and metals were detected below ATSDR comparison values. The maximum B[a]P concentration detected in the slag samples was 0.0641 parts per million (ppm); 0.467 ppm in on-site surface soil; and 0.51 ppm in off-site surface soil. These concentrations of B[a]P are below federal guidelines and would not constitute any human health hazard [8][9]. Based on the soil sampling results, ATSDR concluded that the B[a]P and metals detected in on- and off-site soils are not at levels of public health concern.

Public Water

Public water has been supplied to Phillipsburg residents by Consumer's Municipal Water Company since 1880. This municipality obtains water from four stratified aquifers with depths averaging 70 feet to service Phillipsburg [10]. Consumer's Municipal Water Company is regulated under the Safe Drinking Water Act which requires monitoring for organic, inorganic, synthetic organic, and radiological components in the drinking water at least annually and in some cases, monthly. In this way, potential contamination of municipal wells would be addressed by the municipality and NJDEP. B[a]P has not been detected in the municipal water and the water quality at Consumer's Municipal Water Company has always met federal drinking water guidelines. According to the Warren County Department of Health, there are no private wells being used as a potable water source in Phillipsburg.

C. ATSDR Child Health Initiative

Children are at greater risk than are adults from certain kinds of exposure to hazardous substances emitted from waste sites and emergency events. They are more likely to be exposed for several reasons; children play outside more often than do adults, increasing the likelihood that they will come into contact with chemicals in the environment. Because they are shorter than adults, they breathe more dust, soil, and heavy vapors close to the ground. Children are also smaller, resulting in higher doses of chemical exposure per body weight. The developing body systems of children can sustain damage if toxic exposures occur during certain growth stages.

Many children live in the city of Phillipsburg and in areas adjacent to ASCIP. While evaluating this site, ATSDR closely reviewed possible exposure situations for children. ATSDR also used the Environmental Media Evaluation Guidelines (EMEG) for children, who are considered the most sensitive segment of the population. ATSDR did not identify any chemical contaminants at levels of health concern to children.

E. Physical Hazards

ASCIP in Phillipsburg is an active industrial facility that is not accessible to trespassers. There were no physical hazards noted by ATSDR staff members during the site visit or in the site file at NJDEP.

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