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CERCLIS NO. CTD983870692

March 12, 1998

Prepared by:

Connecticut Department of Public Health
Under Cooperative Agreement with the
Agency For Toxic Substances and Disease Registry

The conclusions and recommendations in this Health Consultation are based on the data andinformation made available to the Connecticut Department of Public Health and the Agency for ToxicSubstances and Disease Registry. The Connecticut Department of Public Health and the Agency forToxic Substances and Disease Registry will incorporate additional information if and when received.The incorporation of additional data could change the conclusions and recommendations listed in this document.


On June 29, 1994, a Hartford, Connecticut based community organization petitioned the Agency forToxic Substances and Disease Registry to examine the impact of the Hartford Landfill on the health ofresidents surrounding the landfill [1]. The petition included a request to "investigate, prevent, and/ormitigate concerns regarding potential adverse human health effects and diminished quality of life of theresidents possibly resulting from exposure to hazardous substances as a result of the dumping of toxicash" [1]. In response to that request a Health Consultation was prepared and finalized on December 23,1996 [2]. One recommendation listed in that report was that the Connecticut Department ofEnvironmental Protection conduct ambient air sampling for hydrogen sulfide. In December 1996, theConnecticut Department of Environmental Protection did not have the methodology to conduct samplingfor hydrogen sulfide. Since then, methods have been developed to analyze hydrogen sulfide in the ambientair. This health consultation will review the hydrogen sulfide ambient air sampling conducted by theConnecticut Department of Environmental Protection [3] during June of 1997.

The Hartford Landfill is in the northeastern section of Hartford, Connecticut. This landfill is also knownas the North Meadows Landfill and is owned by the City of Hartford. The Hartford Landfill is borderedon the west by Interstate Highway I-91. The west side of I-91 includes many commercial businesses. Northwest of the landfill is an area containing residential and commercial properties. Some commercialareas are located approximately 300 feet from the landfill perimeter. Thirty acres of land are locateddirectly north of the landfill. The space is used partially for incineratoraash disposal. The shores of theConnecticut River provide the eastern periphery of the landfill. Located just outside the southernboundary of the landfill are Hartford City facilities including the Police Department and the Public WorksYard. Other commercial operations are also located to the south of the landfill.

The Hartford population living within one mile of the Hartford Landfill is approximately 10,300 [2].The nearest residential areas are approximately 1,500 feet from the landfill.

The contour of the landfill resembles a rectangle. The dimensions are roughly 1,200 feet by 2,500feet. The parcel on which the landfill is situated consists of about 120 acres. Eighty acres comprisethe area where disposal has occurred. The landfill rises to a height of about 100 feet [4, 5].

From approximately 1940 to 1953, the landfill was an open burning dump. All municipal waste fromHartford went to the landfill. From 1953 to 1977, all city waste was burned at the then state-of-the-art Hartford Incineratorb. For this period, the landfill received incinerator ash and bulky wastes. From1977 to 1988, the landfill received large quantities of municipal solid waste from Hartford and manysurrounding communities. From 1988 to the present, the landfill has been used for the Mid-ConnecticutProject incinerator ash, processing fines, and assorted bulky and special wastes. Although it is a verylarge landfill with a lengthy history, the greatest majority of the gas producing wastes were placed in thelandfill over the period from 1977 to 1988.

Municipal solid waste in landfills undergoes a process known as decomposition (break down intosimpler compounds). Decomposition by-products include landfill gases. Some of these landfill gasesare: methane, carbon dioxide, volatile organic compounds, and odorous compounds includinghydrogen sulfide. Hydrogen sulfide has a characteristic odor of rotten eggs, and was selected forsampling due to its nuisance properties.


The Connecticut Department of Environmental Protection conducted hydrogen sulfide sampling at theWindsor Avenue sampling station. This is approximately one-half mile northwest of the Hartford Landfill.The sampling was conducted on three separate sampling rounds. The first sampling round was conductedfrom June 3, 1997, through June 5, 1997. The second sampling round was conducted from June 9, 1997through June 17, 1997. The third sampling round was conducted from June 27, 1997 through June 30,1997. The measuring devices were selected to sample every five minutes twenty-four hours per day.

The sampling location was chosen after evaluating the Toxics Release Inventory datac, census data,meteorological data, and geographic data. The air sampling was conducted to find out what the concentrations ofhydrogen sulfide were in the air of the community northwest of the landfill. Potential sources of the contaminantsinclude the Hartford Landfill, interstate I-91, automobile repair facilities, and industrial facilities.


Table 1 lists the minimum and maximum values for hydrogen sulfide measured over the entire sampling period. Thehighest hydrogen sulfide concentration detected during one of the five minute sampling intervals was 12.5 ug/m3.This maximum concentration was reached on three days (June 11, 12, 13, 1997). The peak values were reachedduring morning (8 am) and late at night (10 pm to 1 am). One peak was reached at 3:00 pm. The averageconcentration of hydrogen sulfide during the days when the maximum value was reached was between 5.5 ug/m3and 7 ug/m3. The hydrogen sulfide concentrations were evaluated using the wind direction as measured near theWindsor Avenue sampling station. The maximum hydrogen sulfide concentrations were measured when the windwas originating from the direction of the Hartford Landfill. A comparison of hydrogen sulfide levels to other cities,as well as a comparison to health effects levels are presented in Figure 1 (Appendix). Figure 2 (Appendix)highlights the maximum hourly hydrogen sulfide concentrations over the sampling period during June of 1997. Thesampling periods were: June 3-5, June 9-17, and June 27-30, 1997.

Table 1.

Maximum, Minimum, and Average Hydrogen Sulfide Concentration, During a five minute Interval, For each Sampling Date in June as Measured at the Windsor Avenue Testing Station
DateMaximum (ug/m3)
(5 minute interval)
Minimum (ug/m3)
(5 minute interval)
Average (over 24 hour period)
June 38.362.795.12
June 48.362.794.62
June 58.3604.39
June 99.764.186.06
June 1011.152.795.99
June 1112.541.395.31
June 1212.544.187.07
June 1312.542.796.68
June 145.5803.30
June 155.5803.32
June 168.3604.95
June 176.972.793.88
June 276.9702.76
June 286.9703.25
June 296.971.394.17
June 306.972.794.91
ug/m3 - Micro gram of Contaminant per Cubic Meter of Air


Residents living near the Hartford Landfill have expressed concern regarding the odors in the air near the Landfill.Asthma in the community has also been an area of concern. Hydrogen sulfide is an odorous compound associatedwith landfills and the decomposition of municipal waste. This compound was analyzed for at the Windsor Avenuetesting location. The maximum level of hydrogen sulfide detected at the Windsor Avenue testing station was abovethe level at which an unpleasant odor may be noticed. This concentration is well below the level of hydrogen sulfidethat can cause toxic effects such as irritant damage to eyes or respiratory tract. The average hydrogen sulfideconcentration detected over the sampling period ranged from about 2.5 ug/m3 to 7 ug/m3. The maximumconcentrations were detected when the wind was, for the majority of the time, in a downwind direction from theHartford Landfill to the Windsor Avenue sampling station. This concentration is within the range where somesensitive people may notice an unpleasant odor. Strong unpleasant odors may in some instances make people feelill (for example, nausea and headache). Although this compound may be unpleasant at times, asthma is not acondition that results from hydrogen sulfide exposure (7).


This report examined hydrogen sulfide concentration in the air near the Hartford Landfill. Potentialsources include the Hartford Landfill as well as Interstate I-91, automobile repair facilities, andindustrial facilities.

  1. The concentration of hydrogen sulfide measured at the Windsor Avenue testing station (one-half mile northwest of the Hartford Landfill) is not likely to trigger a pre-existing asthmatic condition, or cause any overt toxic reaction. Hydrogen sulfide is not among the compounds that is considered a cause of asthma.
  2. The residents, who live next to the Hartford Landfill, may notice at times a rotten egg odor caused by hydrogen sulfide.
  3. The residents, who are sensitive to unpleasant odors, may experience episodes of nausea and/or headaches as a result of the odor produced by short-term maximum peaks in hydrogen sulfide concentration.
  4. No further sampling for hydrogen sulfide is needed at this time.


The Connecticut Department of Public Health should continue to work with the Hartford Health Departmentand local community organizations to facilitate community education regarding health issues that have beenraised because of concerns about the landfill. The Connecticut Department of Public Health and the Agencyfor Toxic Substances and Disease Registry encourage residents who notice objectionable odors from thelandfill to use established networks of communication including the 24-hour telephone complaint hotline setupby Connecticut Resource Recovery Authority at (860) 549-1751.


Gary D. Perlman, MPH
Environmental Epidemiology and Occupational Health
Connecticut Department of Public Health

ATSDR Regional Representative:

Louise House, RN, MA
ATSDR Region I

ATSDR Technical Project Officer:

Tina Forrester, PhD
Superfund Site Assessment Branch
Division of Health Assessment and Consultation
Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry


  1. Correspondence from: A Hartford Citizen's Group, to: Dr. Barry Johnson, (Agency for ToxicSubstances and Disease Registry). June 29, 1994.

  2. Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) Health Consultation HartfordLandfill Review of Air Emissions Data, December 23, 1996.

  3. Correspondence from: Jim Ellis (Senior Air Pollution Control Engineer (Connecticut Departmentof Environmental Protection) to: Brian Toal, (Epidemiologist IV - Connecticut Department ofPublic Health). June 25, 1997.

  4. Environmental Risk Limited. Evaluation of Air Emissions at the Hartford Landfill Hartford,Connecticut. March 1995.

  5. Correspondence from: Christopher Recchia (Director of Environmental Programs- ConnecticutResources Recovery Authority) to: Gary Perlman, (Epidemiologist III - Connecticut Department ofPublic Health). June 24, 1996.

  6. Metcalf & Eddy. Letter report, summary of our September 27, 1996, ambient air sampling event atand in the vicinity of the Danbury Landfill, Danbury Connecticut. Table 2, Air sample number 4.October 7, 1996.

  7. Health Consultation for Hartford Landfill, Review of Air Emissions Data. Prepared by theConnecticut Department of Public Health Under a Cooperative Agreement with the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry. December 23, 1996.


Figure 1. Comparison of Hydrogen Sulfide Levels

Figure 2. Maximum Hydrogen Sulfide Concentration by Date


The Hartford Landfill, Review of Hydrogen Sulfide Ambient Air Data Health Consultation was prepared by the Connecticut Department of Public Health under a cooperative agreement with the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR). It is in accordance with approved methodology and procedures existing at the time the Health Consultation was initiated.

Tina Forrester
Technical Project Officer, SPS, SSAB, DHAC

The Division of Health Assessment and Consultation, ATSDR, has reviewed this Health Consultation and concurs with its findings.

Richard Gillig

a The United States Environmental Protection Agency, and the Connecticut Department of Environmental Protection use the term municipal waste combustion. However, throughout this report the term incinerator will be used.

b The combustion byproducts resulting from the burning went into the air without any pollution controls: similar to a fireplace.

c The Toxics Release Inventory contains information on total releases of certain chemicals from certain industries. The Toxics Release Inventory does not identify all facilities which may have in the past or may currently be contributing to contamination near the site. The U.S. Government's Official Web PortalDepartment of Health and Human Services
Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, 4770 Buford Hwy NE, Atlanta, GA 30341
Contact CDC: 800-232-4636 / TTY: 888-232-6348

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