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The Region I U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has requested that the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) provide health consultations assessing properties associated with the General Electric (G.E.) site in Pittsfield, Massachusetts [1]. ATSDR personnel, accompanied by a representative from EPA and the Massachusetts Department of Public Health (MDPH), conducted a site visit on March 13, 1998. The evaluation of sites is based on information contained in the data packages along with the information acquired during the site visit. This health consultation will only address polychlorinated biphenyl (PCB) contamination on lot 18-23-22 in Pittsfield, Massachusetts. Lot 18-23-22 is a residential property that may have received PCB contaminated fill material from the G.E. facility.

EPA provided ATSDR with surface soil (0-to-6-inches) and subsurface soil (various depths) sampling data. Samples were collected from the property and analyzed for PCBs. PCB contamination was identified east of the house beginning on the edge, and extending into a wooded area. Five surface soil samples collected in this area ranged from 16 ppm to 23 ppm. Samples collected from the remainder of the subject property were <2.1 PPM for PCBs.


PCBs are a group of 209 synthetic organic chemicals that have varying levels of toxicity. In humans, long-term exposure to PCBs can effect the skin, liver, reproductive and endocrine systems [2]. While human evidence of PCB carcinogenicity is limited, animal studies provide sufficient evidence. EPA has characterized PCBs as "probable human carcinogens" [2].

Humans are exposed to PCBs through multiple pathways. In addition to the ingestion of soil, water, and inhalation of contaminated air, food serves as a major source of PCB exposure. The potential health threat from environmental PCBs is dependent on factors such as concentration in the media, completed exposure pathways, and frequency of exposure.


The PCB contamination beginning at the edge, and extending into the woods, poses a public health hazard to people who are exposed long-term to the surface soil.


Based on the information provided, ATSDR recommends the following:

Remediate area of PCB contaminated soil which begins on the edge of the woods on the east side of the property.


Timothy Walker, MS
Environmental Health Specialist

Concurred: Richard Canady, Ph.D., DABT
Senior Toxicologist


  1. E-Mail request for consultation from Don Berger (EPA Region I) to Suzanne Simon, ATSDR. March 2, 1998.

  2. ATSDR Toxicological Profile for Polychlorinated Biphenyls.


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