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ATSDR identified the following community health concerns through meetings with concerned community members; contact with Andrews AFB, PGCHD, and EPA; and review of site documents.

  • PGCHD was concerned that children and road construction workers may contact contaminated groundwater seeping from Foxley Road.
  • Residential neighborhoods are located near the area on Foxley Road where the groundwater seep was discovered by PGCHD. Children may be incidentally exposed to the contamination if they play in that area and workers may be exposed during proposed road construction activities. To address this concern, ATSDR calculated conservative recreational and occupational exposure doses to the VOCs (i.e., chlorobenzene, 1,4-dichlorobenzene, 2-butanone, and acetone) and heavy metals (arsenic, barium, cadmium, chromium, vanadium, and lead) that were detected in surface water and sediment from the seep. Please refer to Appendix B for further details concerning how ATSDR estimated exposure doses and determined health effects. The doses expected to result from incidental and occupational exposures to the water and sediment are not of health concern for children or construction crews because contaminant levels were too low.

  • During the initial site visit, ATSDR noticed two buildings--one being used by the NAF Washington DC Police Department (building No. 3462) and the other being periodically used by the girl scouts (building No. 3471)--were potentially located over a contaminated groundwater plume at ST-14. ATSDR was concerned about the potential accumulation of soil gases in the buildings.
  • ST-14 is the former East Side Service Station that is located in the northeast part of Andrews AFB, near the intersection of East Perimeter Road and Fetchet Avenue. The site was used to refuel and repair cars and store waste petroleum, oils, and lubricants in USTs. Groundwater contamination occurred around poorly constructed pipeline joints that caused several gas leaks and from activities at an aircraft maintenance shop, former hangar, and/or Base Fire Department. Three main plumes (TCE/DCE, carbon tetrachloride, and BTEX) originate from several source areas at ST-14. The carbon tetrachloride and BTEX plumes occur within the TCE/DCE plume and are located entirely on base.

    According to sampling data from 1999 and 2000, the groundwater beneath Building Nos. 3462 and 3471 contains less than 100 ppb of TCE, less than 1 ppb of DCE, less than 1 ppb of carbon tetrachloride, and less than 25 ppb of benzene (the primary contaminant of concern in BTEX) [Andrews AFB 1999b, IT Corporation 2000b]. Plume maps from 1994 estimated the maximum concentration of TCE to be 1,000 ppb (Dames & Moore 1994b). The carbon tetrachloride and benzene plumes were not delineated under Building Nos. 3462 and 3471 in 1994. Using conservative screening techniques and the highest detected concentrations beneath the buildings, ATSDR predicted probable inhalation exposures to indoor air concentrations of TCE, DCE, carbon tetrachloride, and benzene that could have volatilized from the groundwater and entered the air within the buildings (EPA 1999). The resulting indoor air concentrations were too low to be of health concern. In addition, exposures are no longer possible at Building 3462 because it was torn down in January 2001.

  • A former Andrews AFB employee was concerned that two instances of leukemia were linked to a TCE plume located in the groundwater beneath a trailer (building No. 47) where the employees worked.
  • It should first be noted that none of the toxicologic studies have shown clear evidence that inhalation of TCE is linked to increased in cancer risk (ATSDR 1997). ATSDR evaluated this concern on the basis of the potential for any health effects to result from exposure to the expected indoor air concentrations.

    The trailer (building No. 47) is located near ST-14 where three groundwater plumes have been found. The 1994, 1999, and 2000 plume maps for Andrews AFB suggest that groundwater contamination is not located beneath the trailer (Andrews AFB 1999b; Dames & Moore 1994, IT Corporation 2000b). However, because the isoconcentration lines were estimated for this end of the plume in 2000 and concentrations were conflicting between the direct-push and monitoring well data in 1994, the reported extent of groundwater contamination did not conclusively rule out the potential for contamination to extend under the trailer. Therefore, using very conservative assumptions, ATSDR calculated probable inhalation exposures to indoor air using the highest concentration of TCE detected at ST-14 (2,500 ppb) [Andrews AFB 1999b]. This concentration was actually detected over 1,200 feet away from the trailer. Based on this assessment, ATSDR concludes that the resulting indoor air concentration would be too low to be the cause of adverse health effects, including leukemia, in workers (EPA 1999).

  • Community members who live near the POL Storage Yard (SS-13) were concerned about groundwater contamination at the site impacting their health.
  • The 4-acre POL Storage Yard is located along the southeastern border of Andrews AFB on East Perimeter Road. The site consists of eight ASTs, 11 USTs, two pumping stations, two oil/water separators, an unused washrack area, a laboratory, and a main office. SS-13 has received, stored, and distributed petroleum since 1944. Throughout operation several fuel spills and leaks occurred causing soil and groundwater to be contaminated. Free product exists at the POL Yard in the vicinity of the Northern Pump Station and along the Steuart Petroleum pipeline. In 1995, it was reported that a plume of contamination extended slightly off base across Leapley Road, with benzene as the primary contaminant of concern (Tetra Tech 1995). In 1993, a free product removal system was installed in the vicinity of the source area (Northern Pump Station) to eliminate petroleum contamination. In 1995, a vacuum-enhanced pumping system was installed to remove free phase hydrocarbon from shallow groundwater. By 1998, the system had removed 5.3 million gallons of contaminated groundwater (USAF 1998). Groundwater gauging results have indicated that a groundwater ridge exists at the base boundary with the plume located on the opposite side of the residential neighborhood. Monitoring in 1997 and 2000 confirmed that the benzene plume is moving west and is now located entirely on base (PEER Consultants 1997, IT Corporation 2000a).

    All of the 20 residences that are located within 800 feet of the POL Storage Yard are supplied with public water from WSSC (PGCHD 1992b; Tetra Tech 1995). A well survey performed in 1994 identified six commercial wells and three residential wells within 1.25 miles of the POL Storage Yard (Tetra Tech 1994). Another residential well survey reported that 11 private wells existed in the immediate vicinity of the POL Storage Yard, however, only one well appeared to be in use--for watering pets and washing cars (Tetra Tech 1995).

    Based upon this information, residents near the POL Storage Yard do not need to be concerned for their health. Since the benzene plume does not extend past the Andrews AFB boundary into the housing area (PEER Consultants 1997, IT Corporation 2000a), exposures to both soil gas vapors and groundwater are not occurring. Additionally, residences in the vicinity are being supplied with public water and are not ingesting groundwater as their drinking water supply.

    Since the plume did extend off base in the past, the potential for exposure could have occurred. However, none of the private groundwater wells identified were located within the confines of the plume, therefore, no one was drinking or using benzene-contaminated groundwater. It is possible that one or two of the trailers located immediately outside the boundary of SS-13 (in Flower Village) were above the plume when it extended off base. The expected concentration of benzene in the off-base groundwater was, however, very low (less than 100 ppb). ATSDR used conservative screening techniques to predict probable inhalation exposure to indoor air concentrations of benzene that could have volatilized from the groundwater and entered the air within the trailers (EPA 1999). Even if trailers were located above the confines of the benzene plume, the resulting indoor air concentrations would have been too low to be of health concern.

  • A resident of Andrews AFB inquired about the potential for lead-based paints in his home. He noticed that the paint was peeling and was concerned because he has a young child who might be exposed to lead from this source.
  • Some of the housing units at Andrews AFB do contain lead-based paints. The Air Force has identified the locations of these housing units and has a program to notify on-base residents of the possible presence of lead-based paints in their homes (e.g., residents are given a handout from the Base Housing Office). Residents must also initial a paragraph in the contract that states that they were notified of the potential presence of lead-based paints (Andrews AFB 2001a). ATSDR suggests that the notification include information on proper procedures to follow and who to contact if accessible lead-based paints are suspected.

    Through the housing maintenance program, periodic comprehensive surveys of housing units are performed for the purpose of detecting and repairing any peeling or chipping paint (Andrews AFB 2001a). Proper monitoring and maintenance eliminates much of the potential hazard. If the paint is not accessible, then no exposure can occur.

    Andrews AFB also has a blood lead screening program in place that screens for any potential exposure to lead; not just exposure from living in homes with lead-based paint (Andrews AFB 2001a). Until 1999, the Air Force conducted a universal blood lead screening program that tested each child as he or she arrived on base and each baby born on base at 18 months of age. Up to that time more than 98% of the children tested were negative for elevated blood lead levels (i.e., less than 10 micrograms per deciliter [mg/dl]); thereby, qualifying Andrews AFB to use a risk-based screening program instead of screening each child (IERA/RSRH 1999). The Air Force's new Child Blood Lead Screening Program tests all 12-month-old babies and those children who are at risk for lead exposure. Risk is determined through the parents completing an exposure assessment form. Thorough notification to the residents about the potential for lead-based paint in their homes ensures that the existing blood lead screening program is effectively used by the parents.

  • Community members expressed concerns to PGCHD about the contaminant plumes originating from Andrews AFB. They wanted to know the location of the groundwater plumes.
  • All of the groundwater plumes at Andrews AFB are briefly addressed in this public health assessment under the "Groundwater Contamination" section in the third pathway: Groundwater. The only two plumes that were identified to potentially impact off-site residents were a VOC plume from LF-05 (Leroy's Lane Landfill) and a potential petroleum plume from SS-11 (Davidsonville Fuel Oil Spill). All other groundwater plumes were located entirely on Andrews AFB and; therefore, cannot adversely impact residential groundwater wells.

    • LF-05 is located in the southeast of Andrews AFB. The plume was defined in 1989, 1995, 1996, and in 1998 quarterly groundwater monitoring was initiated to monitor the groundwater contamination. The contaminated groundwater has migrated about 350 to 500 feet off base into an industrial area.

    • SS-11 is located at a remote facility, Davidsonville Transmitter Station. A groundwater plume has not been defined at this site, however, in 1984 a large amount of free product may have leaked from a UST. It is not known how far any potential groundwater contamination traveled or if it reached past site boundaries.

    For more information concerning these two sites, please read the Groundwater Pathway discussion.

  • Community members also expressed specific concerns to PGCHD about the impact Andrews AFB is having on Piscataway Creek.
  • Piscataway Creek exits Andrews AFB on the east-southeast border and flows south and southwest for about 13 miles before flowing into the Potomac River. Sections along these 13 off-site miles are used for recreation. Piscataway Creek potentially receives contaminants from several IRP sites that are located at its headwaters (FT-03, FT-04, LF-05, LF-06, LF-07, and AOC-27). Surface water, sediment, and fish from Piscataway Creek were sampled in 1993, and surface water and sediment were again tested in 1994. Various VOCs, SVOCs, pesticides, and metals were detected.

    ATSDR concluded that no one is being harmed by contamination originating at Andrews AFB while recreating along Piscataway Creek because none of the detected chemicals were found at levels of health concern. This includes an evaluation of potential exposure as a result of participating in activities such as swimming and catching and eating fish up to 7 meals a month. For further details concerning Piscataway Creek please read the "Potential exposure of recreational users to contamination in Piscataway Creek" discussion in the Surface Water and Sediment Pathway.


ATSDR recognizes that infants and children may be more sensitive to environmental exposure than adults in communities faced with contamination of their water, soil, air, or food. This sensitivity is a result of the following factors: 1) children are more prone to be exposed to certain media (e.g., soil or surface water) because they play outdoors; 2) children are shorter than adults, which means that they can breathe dust, soil, and vapors close to the ground; and 3) children are smaller, therefore childhood exposure results in higher doses of chemical exposure per body weight. Children can sustain permanent damage if these factors lead to toxic exposure during critical growth stages. ATSDR is committed to evaluating their special interests at sites such as Andrews AFB as part of its Child Health Initiative.

In the past, children could have been exposed to harmful levels of lead in the soil surrounding two lead-paint containing water towers that were sandblasted in 1990/1991. An elevated blood lead level was documented for one child living near water tower No. 3589. Other children living or playing in the area may have had similar exposures. Currently, children playing near water tower No. 4614 may be exposed to elevated levels of lead in the soil. Sampling was recently conducted to define the nature and extent of the level of lead. The results are not yet available for review, however, preliminary evaluations from the Air Force's sampling suggest that the extent is limited. Once results are available, ATSDR will evaluate the effect of this exposure on children's health.

Andrews AFB established a childhood blood lead surveillance program in 1993 as required in the Department of Air Force Lead Screening Policy from HQ, April 2, 1993. The Public Health Flight reports statistics on blood lead screening to the Epidemiology Division at Armstrong Laboratories, Brooks AFB, TX. In 1996, Armstrong Laboratories analyzed the blood lead data and determined that Andrews AFB could move from universal screening to risk-based screening based on the statistically low percentage of elevated blood lead tests (IERA/RSRH 1999). All children attending the Pediatrics and Family Practice clinics are screened at their well-baby and annual check-ups via a questionnaire administered to the parents. The parents are also educated on lead exposures by their health care providers. Children whose activities, behaviors, or residence indicate a potential for lead exposure have their blood drawn to screen for elevated blood lead levels. Since 1994, 4,895 children have been screened. The Public Health flight investigates any blood lead levels elevated above 9 mg/dl to identify potential hazards/exposures. Since 1994, 99.37% of all tests were negative (98% is required to transition from universal to risk-based screening).

ATSDR did not identify any other pathways at Andrews AFB that could result in harmful exposures to children. ATSDR based this conclusion of the following factors:

  • The detected levels of and probable exposure to chemicals in the soil are not expected to cause adverse health effects in children. The level of chemicals detected near water tower No. 3589, the Family Housing Units on Richmond Drive, and the southern golf course were too low to be of health concern for children and children are not expected to come in contact with contaminated soil at the soccer fields.

  • The levels of chemicals detected in the surface water and sediment of the unnamed tributary to Paynes Branch, Cabin Branch, Base Lake, Piscataway Creek, Henson Creek, and Charles Branch were too low to be of health concern for children.

  • Groundwater contamination at Andrews AFB is not impacting private drinking water wells used by children. A plume is migrating off base from a former landfill (LF-05) into an industrial area where there is the potential for shallow groundwater wells to be impacted. However, no children are living in this area and; therefore, cannot be exposed. Even though not enough information exists to evaluate potential groundwater contaminant migration at SS-11, there is no evidence that contamination has reached off-site private wells. In addition, two groundwater seeps (LF-05 and ST-14) are not discharging harmful levels of chemicals that children may contact while playing in the areas.

  • Harmful levels of volatilized organics are not accumulating in buildings above contaminated groundwater plumes at Andrews AFB. Furthermore, children are not expected to be visiting these buildings on a regular basis.


ATSDR has drawn the following conclusions from current environmental data and information on the Andrews AFB site:

  • A past public health hazard existed for children living or playing near the lead-painted water towers when they were sandblasted in 1990/1991. One child's blood lead level increased from 5 mg/dl to 23 mg/dl over a seven month exposure. No apparent current or future public health hazards exist for exposure to lead, cadmium, or chromium in the surface soils surrounding water tower No. 3589. Additional investigations were performed to further define the extent of lead contamination around one elevated sample in the playground area near water tower No. 4614. Preliminary results indicate that the extent is limited. An indeterminate public health hazard exists for exposure to the soil here until the results are available for review. Based upon the results of the additional sampling, appropriate remedial actions will be taken to prevent exposure to high levels of lead in the soil.

  • Surface soil at the Family Housing Units at 2131 Richmond Drive was contaminated in 1991 when a UST was overfilled. No apparent past, current, or future public health hazard exists for residents exposed to soil in the Family Housing Units because detected levels were too low to pose a health hazard.

  • Two soccer fields were constructed over a former fire training area sometime in the early 1980s. The fire training area was reportedly regraded prior to the recreational use of the land. The soccer fields were replaced by part of the southern golf course in 1996. No apparent public health hazard existed for people who used the soccer fields because grading and filling have covered the contaminated soil.

  • The southern golf course was built over two IRP sites and one AOC in 1996. Surficial soil sampling was conducted prior to the construction of the golf course. No apparent current or future public health hazard exists for people golfing at or maintaining the southern golf course, because detected chemicals were at concentrations too low to be of health concern.

  • Surface soil in the flightline of Andrews AFB was evaluated for PAH and metal contamination. The concentrations that were detected were too low to be of health concern for people coming in contact with the soil south of the base. Therefore, no apparent public health hazard exists.

  • Three on-site surface water bodies (an unnamed tributary to Paynes Branch, Cabin Branch, and Base Lake) were evaluated by ATSDR because they have the potential to be played in by children or are used for recreational purposes. Although the unnamed tributary to Paynes Branch and Cabin Branch are not designated for recreational use by Andrews AFB, they are easily accessible to children because they flow near family housing units. The Base Lake is used for fishing and non-motorized boating. No apparent public health hazards exist for children who play in the unnamed tributary to Paynes Branch and Cabin Branch or recreational users of the Base Lake because the levels of detected chemicals were too low to be of health concern.

  • Three off-site surface water bodies (Piscataway Creek, Henson Creek, and Charles Branch) were evaluated by ATSDR because there was the potential for contamination from IRP sites at their headwaters to migrate to areas of recreational use. No apparent public health hazards exist for people who use Piscataway Creek, Henson Creek, or Charles Branch for recreational purposes because detected chemical concentrations were too low to pose a health hazard.

  • Contaminated groundwater is migrating off base from a former landfill, LF-05. At this time, it does not appear that the contamination is reaching private drinking water wells. However, ATSDR is concerned that additional wells exist and concludes that an indeterminate public health hazard exists for unknown wells downgradient from LF-05. ATSDR recommends that PGCHD perform an off-base shallow groundwater well survey to identify any drinking water wells downgradient of LF-05. If any wells are identified, PGCHD should inform the residents of the potential for contamination and Andrews AFB should offer to sample water from the wells to confirm that the water is safe to drink. If no groundwater wells are being used to supply water, then no health hazards are expected.

  • There is the potential for extensive groundwater contamination to exist at Davidsonville Transmitter Station (SS-11). Not enough information is available for ATSDR to provide a definitive statement regarding the exposure to on-site employees and off-site residents who rely on groundwater wells for their source of water. ATSDR recommends that Andrews AFB sample and analyze water from the existing monitoring wells at Davidsonville Transmitter Station to confirm that the groundwater is safe to drink.

  • Contaminated groundwater is also present on base creating the potential for exposure to volatilized organics in enclosed spaces of buildings above contaminated plumes. No apparent public health hazard exists for people occupying these buildings because chemical concentrations in the groundwater were too low to adversely impact indoor air quality.


The Public Health Action Plan for Andrews AFB contains a description of actions taken and those to be taken by ATSDR, the Air Force, and PGCHD at and in the vicinity of the site after the completion of this public health assessment. The purpose of the Public Health Action Plan is to ensure that this public health assessment not only identifies public health hazards, but also provides a plan of action designed to mitigate and prevent adverse human health effects resulting from exposure to hazardous substances in the environment. The public health actions that are completed, being implemented, planned, or recommended are as follows:

Actions Completed:

  • Since 1985, Andrews AFB has identified 32 sites to investigate for contamination. For four of the sites (ST-09, SS-12, ST-15, and AOC-23), decision documents have been written and no further action is planned. MDE recently closed its case at SS-12 because the site was in compliance with the Code of Maryland Regulations (MDE 2000). In addition, a sixth site (AOC-28) was dropped from further evaluation because contaminants of concern were not found at the site during initial investigations.

  • PGCHD inspected and took samples from the sites of the sandblasted water towers in December of 1990.

  • PGCHD sampled the well on Hexagon Developers property on July 13, 1992 and August 30, 2000. Andrews AFB sampled this well on November 25, 1997.

  • PGCHD sampled surface water and sediment from the seep that originates from LF-05 for VOCs and heavy metals on August 8, 2000, August 30, 2000, and October 10, 2000.

  • To address ATSDR's concern about a possible public health hazard for children, Brook's AFB's IERA jointly with Andrews AFB's Bioenvironmental Engineering Flight and in coordination with ATSDR, performed surface soil sampling for residual lead-based paint contamination in the housing and recreational areas surrounding the water towers (No. 3589 and No. 4614) in April 2001.

  • Brooks AFB's IERA and Andrews AFB's Bioenvironmental Engineering Flight jointly conducted follow-up sampling in May 2001 in the area of the detection that was above EPA's soil screening level of 400 ppm outside the fence at water tower No. 4614. Appropriate corrective/remedial actions will be taken to ensure that children are not being exposed to harmful levels of lead in the soil.

Actions Ongoing:

  • IRP activities are underway at several of the original 32 sites identified. Investigations to identify the nature and extent of contamination are underway at six sites (FT-02, FT-03, ST-10, SS-11, ST-14, and SS-21). Andrews AFB is conducting remedial actions at five sites (SS-13, ST-17, ST-18, ST-19, and ST-20). Interim remedial actions are being conducted at three sites (FT-04, ST-08, and SS-22).

Actions Planned:

  • Andrews AFB will gather historical information and confirm/negate the presence of contamination for the remaining eight AOCs and 78 SWMUs.

  • Remedial Investigations will begin in 2001 at SS-01 and LF-05. In particular, the groundwater plumes will be delineated and a Risk Assessment will be performed.ATSDR understands that Andrews AFB, with the help of PGCHD, will identify any private wells downgradient of LF-05 during the investigations to ensure that no exposures to contaminated groundwater are occurring.

  • LF-06 and LF-07 are currently part of Andrews AFB's annual groundwater monitoring program. Remedial Investigations are scheduled to begin in 2002.

  • A limited Remedial Investigation is planned for WP-16 in 2003 or 2004.

Recommendations for Further Action:

  • If the results of the lead sampling around water tower No. 4614 determine that sufficient contamination exists to pose a potential public health hazard, remediation should be undertaken, such as removal of surface soil and filling with clean soil or other cover, to ensure that children are not being exposed to harmful levels.

  • Exposure doses, based on the limited sampling available, suggest that subsisting on fish from the upper reaches of Piscataway Creek could be potentially harmful. To confirm that people are not eating fish from the upper reaches of Piscataway Creek on a subsistence basis, ATSDR recommends that the regulators or Andrews AFB conduct a use survey. If people are found to be subsistence fishing in the upper reaches of Piscataway Creek, ATSDR recommends that Andrews AFB conduct additional analyses to identify the range of contaminant concentrations in edible species of fish.

  • If access is granted, state and county regulators should confirm that no other shallow groundwater wells are being used in the area downgradient from LF-05 and that the known wells are properly maintained. If additional groundwater wells are identified, Andrews AFB should offer to test the water from the wells to ensure that it is safe to drink.

  • To allow for an evaluation to be made concerning contaminated groundwater at SS-11, ATSDR recommends that Andrews AFB sample the monitoring wells at Davidsonville Transmitter Station. If extensive contamination does not exist, then no public health hazards are occurring.


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Jeff Kellam
Environmental Health Scientist
Federal Facilities Assessment Branch
Division of Health Assessment and Consultation

LCDR Danielle DeVoney, Ph.D.
Environmental Health Scientist
Federal Facilities Assessment Branch
Division of Health Assessment and Consultation

Gary Campbell, Ph.D.
Environmental Health Scientist, Section Chief
Federal Facilities Assessment Branch
Division of Health Assessment and Consultation

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