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The Georgia Department of Human Resources, Division of Public Health (GDPH) was asked by the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) to prepare a health consultation for Peach Metals Industries (PMI). In January 2002, ATSDR received a petition from a community group to conduct a health consultation at PMI. The purpose of this public health assessment is to determine the potential for adverse health effects from exposure to on-site and off-site environmental contamination generated by past practices of PMI, and to determine the need for additional public health actions.

GDPH has reviewed citizens' concerns and environmental sampling and health outcome data related to PMI. This health consultation evaluates potential pathways of exposure to contaminated groundwater, surface water, and soil.


PMI is a former electroplating facility located at the intersection of Boy Scout Road and Juniper Creek Road in Byron, Peach County, Georgia. PMI operated on approximately 9.5 acres from 1971 until 1987, when PMI filed bankruptcy, and the property was abandoned. Before PMI, the U.S. Air Force used the property as a barracks and radar tracking station for a nearby Nike missile installation until 1967. In 1967, the property was purchased by the McCord Family Irrevocable Trust and subsequently leased to PMI. After PMI filed for bankruptcy, Concrete Sales and Services, Inc. used the site from 1987 to 1991 [1].

Prior to closing, PMI received material from the Briggs & Stratton facility in Perry, Georgia. Briggs and Stratton then operated PMI for a short period of time. Under an Administrative Order issued to potentially responsible parties by the U.S. Environmental Agency (EPA) in 1991, Briggs and Stratton assumed lead responsibility for the site and removed and disposed of soil contaminated with heavy metals, as well as containerized wastes that were abandoned in 1987. This action included the removal of sludge from two surface impoundments located onsite. The Final Soil and Sediment Clean-up Report was submitted to the EPA on September 27, 1995 [1].

Also in 1991, the Georgia Environmental Protection Division (GEPD) ordered Concrete Sales & Services and the McCord Irrevocable Trust to sample groundwater at the site. The initial groundwater samples were taken from four monitoring wells installed in the vicinity of the surface impoundments. On June 29, 1994 the site was listed on Georgia's Hazardous Site Inventory. In late 1995, GEPD's Geologic Survey Program installed and sampled 12 additional monitoring wells at the site. In 1997, GEPD's Hazardous Site Response Program (HSRP) installed an additional 10 monitoring wells. Sampling results from 25 monitoring wells determined that heavy metals and a chlorinated solvent in excess of safe drinking water standards had contaminated on-site groundwater.

On February 20, 2002, GEPD responded to complaints about the site's accessibility and safety. Residents were concerned that children could get onto the site and play in the soil and water collected in the surface impoundments. There were reports of children playing on the property and evidence, as noted by GEPD during a site visit, that children or teenagers were accessing the property for recreational activities [4].

Site Description, Demographics and Land Use

PMI is located approximately 1-mile northwest of downtown Byron, Georgia. The abandoned property contains approximately 9.5 acres of land, six buildings in poor condition, and two tower structures that dominate the site. The majority of the site is paved, or covered with sparse vegetation and overgrown shrubs. Topographically, the site is located on a plateau sloping toward the west side of the property and toward a tributary of Juniper Creek. The site is currently being used to store old restaurant equipment. A chain-link fence surrounds the site. A locked gate on Boy Scout Road restricts access to the property.

The PMI site is bordered to the east by Boy Scout Road, and vacant land across the road; to the north by Juniper Creek Road, and a residential area comprised of modular and mobile homes; to the west by timberland, and to the south by a house constructed adjacent to its boundary. Private wells provide water to a few residents located within a mile of PMI. The residence directly south of PMI is connected to the Byron water supply. Census 2000 data indicate that 507 residents live within a one-mile radius of the site. Over the past decade, the development of new homes and manufactured housing has grown along Juniper Creek Road across from the site. These homes are supplied with municipal water from Byron, Georgia. Figure 1 provides demographic information about the area.

While PMI was in operation, improper management of electroplating wastewater and process materials led to soil contamination at the site, which eventually led to groundwater contamination. The EPA ordered a removal action that cleared the site of abandoned waste, stored process materials, and contaminated soil during several phases between 1991 and 1995.


On-Site Groundwater Contamination

In 1991, GEPD ordered Concrete Sales & Services and the McCord Irrevocable Trust to sample groundwater at the site because hazardous waste generated at the site was disposed of in unlined surface impoundments. Four monitoring wells (MW's-1, 2, 3, 4) were installed in the vicinity of the surface impoundments. The monitoring wells depths range from 38.5 feet below ground surface (bgs) to 68.5 feet bgs. All four wells were sampled in 1991, 1994 and 1997 [1].

In 1995, GEPD, with support from the Georgia Geologic Survey, installed 12 additional monitoring wells at the site (MW's-5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 10a, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15). The wells ranged in depth from approximately 35 to l00 feet bgs. In 1997, GEPD installed an additional 10 monitoring wells (MW's-16, 17, 18, 18a, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24).

The monitoring well installation and boring data collected from the site demonstrated the presence of low permeability soils and the lack of a continuous water bearing system, which limits the vertical and horizontal migration of subsurface contaminants. The only significant groundwater beneath the PMI site appears in the underlying surficial aquifer, which resides approximately 150 feet bgs. Four monitoring wells (MW-20, 21, 22 and 23) were placed at depths below 150 feet bgs to sample in this aquifer [1]. The direction of groundwater flow was determined to be from south to north [1].

Table 1 is a summary of the highest levels of contaminants found in groundwater above the maximum contaminant levels (MCLs). On-site groundwater contained cadmium, chromium, lead, nickel, zinc and trichloroethene above safe drinking water MCLs and ATSDR comparison values. See Appendix A for an explanation of MCL's and ATSDR comparison values.

Table 1. Highest Levels of Contaminants in Groundwater in Peach Metal Industries Monitoring Wells. Sampling Conducted between 1991 and 1997 [1].

Contaminant Health Based Comparison Values (mg/l) Summary Well Data
Monitoring Well #
Concentration (mg/l)

0.05     MCL

0.002 EMEG child

0.007 EMEG adult

MW 2 MW 3 MW 4 MW 6 MW 7 MW 8 MW 9 MW 13  
1.26 1.60 0.94 0.04 0.03 0.01 0.03 0.13  
Chromium 0.1 MCL MW 20                
Lead 0.015 MCL MW 1 MW 7 MW 9 MW 10A MW 15 MW 16 MW 18A MW 20 MW 22
0.02 0.10 0.02 0.03 0.02 0.02 0.03 0.03 0.015

5.0     MCL

0.2 RMEG child

0.7 RMEG adult

MW 2 MW 3 MW 4            
0.2 0.3 0.3            

5.0     MCL

3.0 RMEG child

10.0 RMEG adult

MW 2 MW 3 MW 4            
25.30 31.3 0.26            
TCE 0.005 MCL MW 10A MW 11 MW 12 MW 13 MW 15 MW 18A MW 20 MW 21  
0.07 0.02 0.3 0.07 0.01 0.03 0.01 0.02  

mg/l: milligrams per liter
MW: monitoring well
MCL: maximum contaminant level for public drinking water systems
EMEG: environmental media evaluation guide (see Appendix A)
RMEG: Reference Dose Media Evaluation Guide (see Appendix A)

Potable water for PMI was supplied by a well located onsite. Samples for this well were obtained August 13, 1997. Results indicated that that no volatile organic compounds (VOCs) or metals sampled for were detected at levels above the analytical detection limit [1]. On-site monitoring well sampling results have verified the presence of contaminants to be above health based comparison values (Appendix A). Because no samples were collected before August 1997, past employee exposure to contaminated groundwater cannot be determined. There is potential for future exposure to on-site groundwater, but it is low because the on-site surface contamination has been removed (see below), and because the property is inaccessible. Table 2 summarizes potential exposure pathways.

Table 2. Peach Metals Industries Potential Exposure Pathways

Pathway Name Source Medium Exposure Point Exposure Route Receptor Population Time of Exposure
on-site water supply well improper disposal of electroplating waste and parts cleaning solvent groundwater potable water from faucets/showers inhalation ingestion Unknown past

Off-Site Private Wells

In 1994, GEPD sampled eight private wells approximately ½-mile east of the site. Boring logs and well construction information could not be located. Three of the eight private wells sampled contained metals in excess of the MCL. Lead levels in private wells 2 (PW-2) and 3 (PW-3) were 24 micrograms/liter (ug/l) and 50 ug/l, respectively, exceeding the MCL for community drinking water supplies, which is15 ug/l [2]. PMI is unlikely, however, that the source of the lead was from PMI because groundwater flow was determined to be to from south-to-north, and these wells are located approximately 1/2-mile east of PMI. In 2002, three of the eight private wells showing previous contamination were sampled again. PW-2 had lead at 13 ug/l, which is below the MCL, while PW-1 and PW-3 constituents present in the 1994-sampling event were not detected.

Other Water Supply Wells and Surface Water Sampling

In 1995, GEPD sampled water for VOCs and metals in four permitted non-community water supply wells at the Benjamin Hawkins Boy Scout Camp located approximately ½-mile north of the site. Lead was detected in all four wells, but at a level below the MCL. GEPD classifies the camp's water system as a non-community water system because water is not consumed year-round like a residence. Therefore, lead is not likely to be a health concern at these low levels because the water is consumed only on a temporary basis (while attending camp).

No municipal wells were identified within a 1/2-mile of the site [2].

1n 1997, GEPD conducted surface water sampling at three locations. Two locations were sampled in a stream that lies west of the site and one location in a stream south of the site. These streams feed into Juniper Creek, which is approximately 1-mile northwest of the site. In general, surface water at the site flows towards a tributary of Juniper Creek west of the site. Neither VOCs nor metals were detected in the samples [1].

Soil Contamination

Soil contamination was primarily restricted to runoff areas of the process buildings (Buildings D and E), the chemical storage buildings (Buildings A, B and C), the package wastewater treatment plant, and the surface impoundments. As a result of an EPA Administrative Order, a cleanup at the site was conducted from 1991 to 1995. Approximately 6,520 tons of soils and 20 cubic yards of concrete debris were removed from the site [3]. Soil excavation continued until metals of concern met the EPA cleanup criteria levels for cadmium, chromium, and lead. Site-specific EPA cleanup goals for the PMI facility were 40, 400, and 500 milligrams/kilogram (mg/kg), respectively [2]. The effectiveness of the cleanup was verified by sampling to show that contaminant levels were reduced to below cleanup target levels [3]. After excavation, the areas, excluding the surface impoundments, were backfilled with clean soil. Table 3 highlights the sampling data for the largest surface impoundment.

Table 3. Highest Cadmium and Chromium Soil Concentrations at the Large Surface Impoundment During Excavation to EPA Action Levels Compared to ATSDR Comparison Values.

Location Contaminant Highest Level (mg/kg) Intermediate Verification Excavated depth in feet Highest Level (mg/kg) Final Verification Excavated depth in feet EPA Residential Action Level (mg/kg) ATSDR Comparison Value* (mg/kg)
Large Surface Impoundment Cadmium 84.9 2.5 18 7.0 37 10 (EMEG) Child
Chromium 400 2.5 186 3.5 210 N/A1

mg/kg: milligrams per kilogram
1 Not applicable. An ATSDR comparison value has not been established for chromium.
* Source: ATSDR soil comparison values (Fall 2003)


  • The community group's petition letter stated that there are an increased number of neurological diseases, rare blood diseases, and numerous types of cancer in the community.

While measured levels of soil and groundwater contamination on the PMI property were present in the past, and some contaminated on-site groundwater remains, the information regarding groundwater flow and the data from off-site private water wells show no current exposure pathway for elevated levels of contaminants from the site. The majority of residents living near PMI are connected to the Byron municipal water supply. It is unlikely that the health conditions described are associated with PMI because individuals in the community (except those who worked at PMI) did not likely spend enough time on the property to have significant contact with contaminants. For PMI workers, the hazards from contaminants are not known and the level of exposure to contaminations remains undetermined because the limited amount of information available about conditions during plant operations. The community group did not indicate that the health conditions noted were among former workers.

  • Residents were concerned about children playing on the site in the surface impoundments after a rainfall.

The surface impoundments were backfilled with clean dirt in April 2002, therefore; this hazard was eliminated. Rainwater in the surface impoundments was not sampled; therefore, information about potential contaminants in on-site surface water before the cleanup is not known [4]. However, based on EPA soil clean up levels reached at PMI, infrequent exposure to levels of cadmium and chromium present in the soil or surface water runoff contained in the surface impoundments prior to being backfilled is not expected to cause any adverse health effects. Although children had access to the site in the past, the site is now fenced and the entrance gate is locked to prevent unauthorized entry onto the site. Unless a child's contact with rainwater occurred almost daily with actual ingestion of contaminated water, and the contact occurred over several years, the level of exposure to any contamination is not likely to be a health concern.


The ATSDR and GDPH recognize that the unique vulnerabilities of infants and children demand special emphasis in communities faced with contamination of their water, soil, air, or food. Children are more likely to be exposed because they play outdoors and they often bring food into contaminated areas. They are more likely to come into contact with dust, soil, and heavy vapors close to the ground. Moreover, they receive higher doses of chemical exposure due to lower body weights. At PMI, debris, abandoned buildings and structures still occupy the site. Physical hazards may cause have caused harm to children accessing the property in the past, and still pose a threat if trespassing occurs. However, this is unlikely because the site is fenced and the entrance gate is locked to prevent unauthorized entry onto the site.

Children may be exposed to lead in their environment in a variety of ways, including their drinking water. The lead concentration in drinking water at the Boy Scout Camp are below the MCL. Lead in drinking water should be kept as low as can be reasonably achieved.


The PMI site currently poses no apparent public health hazard (Appendix B). No current or future completed exposure pathways exist with known contaminants in groundwater, soil or surface water. For PMI workers and others who had exposures on-site in the past, the health hazard is unknown because insufficient data are available to evaluate past exposures.

  • Individuals consuming water from private wells east of the site are not exposed to PMI-related contaminants because they are outside the direction of groundwater flow from the site.

  • Individuals consuming water from private wells PW-2 and PW-3 were exposed to lead in the past; however, the source of the lead contamination is unknown and not likely related to PMI. Past lead exposure from PW-2 and PW-3 poses an indeterminate health hazard because sufficient information to evaluate the exposures is not available.

  • Lead was present in the well water at the Boy Scout Camp; however, the lead does not appear to be site-related and does not represent a health concern.

  • Contact with contaminated soil on the site does not pose a current health threat because contaminated soil has been removed. Exposure to contaminated soil by children in the past was not likely to be a health concern.

  • Contact with potentially contaminated surface water by children trespassing onto the site and surface impoundments was likely; however, contact is no longer a health threat. Current and future contact with potentially contaminated surface water has been eliminated.

  • Although children had access to the site in the past, the perimeter of PMI is fenced and a locked entry gate secures access to the property. Therefore, current exposure to on-site physical hazards is not likely.

  • Because no on-site drinking water samples were collected before August 1997, past employee exposure to contaminated groundwater cannot be determined. However, past exposure to heavy metals may have been likely. There is potential for future exposure to on-site groundwater, but it is low because the on-site surface contamination has been removed (see below), and because the property is inaccessible.

  • Health concerns identified by the community are not likely related to contamination from PMI.


  • GEPD should continue to monitor groundwater contamination at PMI to prevent future exposure.

  • The drinking water well located on-site should be properly abandoned and capped by the owner of the property.

  • The property owner should ensure the continued security of the fence and the placement and upkeep of "No Trespassing" signs posted along the perimeter fence of the property.


Actions Completed

  • GEPD conducted past private well sampling in the vicinity of PMI. The most recent sampling event was in 2002.

  • GDPH staff attended a public meeting, along with ATSDR and GEPD concerning the PMI in Byron, GA on May 30, 2002.

  • GDPH mailed cancer information brochures to the community group's representative for distribution to the group and other community members.

Actions Planned

  • GDPH should provide educational material on lead in drinking water to the owners of the private wells containing lead contamination and to the Boy Scout camp operators located north of the facility.

  • GDPH will review relevant new environmental sampling data and make additional recommendations to conduct further public health actions, if the data may change the conclusions and recommendations.

  • GDPH will provide health education materials regarding lead exposure to the Boy Scout Camp north of PMI and residents east of PMI who have had lead detected in their well water in the past.



Franklin Sanchez
Program Consultant
Chemical Hazards Program
Georgia Division of Public Health

Maurice Redmond, MA
Program Consultant
Chemical Hazards Program
Georgia Division of Public Health


Jane Perry, MPH
Chemical Hazards Program
Georgia Division of Public Health

David Brownlee
Environmental Engineer
Georgia Environmental Protection Division

CAPT John Steward, REHS, MPH
Technical Project Officer
Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry

CDR William T. Going III, M.P.H.
Technical Project Officer
Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry

Robert E. Safay, MS
Senior Regional Representative
Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry


  1. Roy F. Weston Inc. Site assessment report for the peach metals industries site, Byron, Georgia. February 1998.

  2. Georgia Environmental Protection Division. Site investigation peach metals industries, Byron, Georgia. September 30, 1996

  3. Radian Corporation. Soil and Sediment Cleanup Report for the Peach Metals Industries site, Byron, Georgia. May 1995.

  4. Georgia Environmental Protection Division: Trip report, peach metals industries. March 4, 2002.


The Georgia Department of Human Resources prepared this Peach Metals Industries, Peach County, Georgia, public health assessment 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 were begun.

William T. Going III
Technical Project Officer, DHAC

The Division of Health Assessment and Consultation, ATSDR, has reviewed this public health consultation and concurs with the findings.

Roberta Erlwein

Peach Metal Industries Demographic Map
Figure 1. Peach Metal Industries Demographic Map


Comparison Values are contaminant concentrations that are found in specific media (air, soil, and drinking water) that are used to select contaminants for further evaluation if people are exposed to the contamination. Comparison values used in this document are defined in the following paragraphs

Cancer Risk Evaluation Guideline (CREGs) are estimated contaminant concentrations that could be expected to cause no more than one excess cancer in one million (1 x 10-6) persons exposed over a lifetime (70 years). CREGs are calculated from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's cancer slope factors.

Environmental Media Evaluation Guide (EMEGs) is based on minimal risk levels (MRL, see definition). Contaminants present in environmental media below the EMEG are safe levels.

Reference Dose Media Evaluation Guideline (RMEGs) is based on the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) Reference Dose. Like the EMEG, contaminants present in environmental media below the RMEG are safe levels.

Maximum Contaminant Levels (MCLs) represent the maximum permissible level of a contaminant in water which is delivered to any user of a public water system that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) deems protective of public health over a lifetime (70 years) at an exposure rate of drinking 2 liters of water per day for an adult and 1 liter of water per day for a child. In establishing MCLs, EPA is required to consider factors, such as whether the technology is available to achieve the level, other than public health alone.

A Minimal Risk Level (MRL) is an estimate of daily human exposure to a chemical (in mg/kg/day) that is likely to be without an appreciable risk of deleterious effects (noncarcinogenic) over a specified duration of exposure. MRLs are based on human and animal studies of noncancer effects, and are reported for acute (14 days), intermediate (15-364 days), and chronic (365 days) exposures. Where sufficient toxicological information is available, the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) has derived MRLs for inhalation and oral routes of entry at each duration of exposure (acute, intermediate, and chronic). MRLs are published in ATSDR's Toxicological Profiles for specific chemicals.


No Public Health Hazard

A category used in ATSDR's public health assessment documents for sites where people have never and will never come into contact with harmful amounts of site-related substances.

No Apparent Public Health Hazard

A category used in ATSDR's public health assessments for sites where human exposure to contaminated media might be occurring, might have occurred in the past, or might occur in the future, but where the exposure is not expected to cause any harmful health effects.

Indeterminate Public Health Hazard

The category used in ATSDR's public health assessment documents when a professional judgment about the level of health hazard cannot be made because information critical to such a decision is lacking.

Public Health Hazard

A category used in ATSDR's public health assessments for sites that pose a public health hazard because of long-term exposures (greater than 1 year) to sufficiently high levels of hazardous substances or radionuclides that could result in harmful health effects.

Urgent Public Health Hazard

A category used in ATSDR's public health assessments for sites where short-term exposures (less than 1 year) to hazardous substances or conditions could result in harmful health effects that require rapid intervention.

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