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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 will be 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 at Lots K15-3-7,-108,-208 and contiguous properties in Pittsfield, Massachusetts.

The subject lots are residential properties that may have either received PCB contaminated fill material from the G.E. facility, or may have become contaminated through migration by one of several possible transport mechanisms. EPA provided ATSDR with surface soil (0-to-6-inches) and subsurface soil (various depths) sampling data. Samples were analyzed for PCBs.

Surface and subsurface sampling results were provided for lots K15-3-9, K15-3-108, K15-3-208, and the north edge of K15-3-508 (see attached map). A total of five surface soil samples exceeded a PCB level of 2 parts per million (ppm). The highest PCB concentration detected in the surface soil was 6.7 ppm on lot K15-3-208. There were elevated concentrations of PCBs detected at 2-to-4 feet (57 ppm) and at 4-to-6 feet (26 ppm) below the surface at sample location K15-3-208. (SB-1) Generally, surface and subsurface PCB levels were less than 1 ppm throughout the site.



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.

Lots K15-3-108,-208 and contiguous properties:

On these sites, only a few surface soil samples detected slightly elevated levels of PCBs. Exposure to the surface soil would not pose a health hazard. Subsurface soils do not pose a health hazard since PCBs levels were generally less than 1 ppm, with only one sample location exceeding 10 ppm.

Lot K15-3-7:

Since samples were only collected along the property line on this lot, there is not enough data to make a health determination for this property.


Lots K15-3-108,-208 and contiguous properties:

Soil PCB levels on these lots do not pose a public health hazard.

Lot K15-3-7:

There is not enough data to make a health determination for this property; therefore, this lot is an indeterminate public health hazard.



Based on the information provided, ATSDR recommends the following:

  1. Collect additional surface and subsurface soil samples from lot K15-3-7 if a health determination is required.

  2. No recommendations for remaining properties.


Timothy Walker, MS
Environmental Health Specialist
Concurred: Richard Canady, PhD, 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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