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The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Region I office in Boston asked the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) to review and evaluate the protectiveness of EPA's soil cleanup strategy for formerly active areas of the Temple Stuart site in Baldwinville, Worcester County, Massachusetts [1]. The purpose of this health consultation is to determine whether levels of polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) that will remain in soil after remediation of the site pose a public health threat.

The Temple Stuart site is located on 23-acres in the Baldwinville section of Templeton, Massachusetts. There is an adjacent inactive landfill located on approximately 5 acres along the northeastern portion of the site. Residential areas are located adjacent to the site along the southeast and southwest borders and several hundred residents live within ΒΌ mile and [1]. An elementary school, reform school, nursing home, and two housing units for the elderly are located within one mile of the site [1].

First occupied in 1884, the site has served as the location for the manufacture of wooden containers and wooden furniture. According to the Removal Site Investigation report, several suspected sources of PCBs were found, including transformers and light ballasts/capacitors [2]. Previous sampling activities at the site indicated the presence of PCBs, metals, as well as other contaminants. Other wastes produced at the site include crankcase oil, paint thinners, lacquer, and glue [2].

Although the landfill area is fenced, there is no permanent fencing around the remainder of the site. There is evidence of frequent unauthorized access to the property including:

  • Young children riding bicycles in unpaved areas
  • Older children riding small motorcycles around and through the property
  • Adults and pets walking through the property [1]


In August 2003, EPA conducted sampling in the area of the site in the area where several abandoned buildings were located. Grab samples were collected in surface and sub-surface soils and sent to a laboratory for PCB analysis. PCB levels in surface soil ranged from non-detect to 507 parts per million (ppm).

For the purposes of additional sampling within the area where buildings were located, EPA identified 717 grids, each measuring 30 feet by 30 feet. However, only 131 of these grids were accessible; the remaining 586 grids were covered by unbroken asphalt. Surface soil samples (0-1' depth) were collected from each of the 131 accessible grid areas and analyzed for PCBs. Of the 131 sampled grids, 101 of them contained PCB levels greater than 10 ppm. The remaining 30 grids contained PCB levels between 2 and 10 ppm.

EPA plans to excavate, to a level of 2 ppm, the contaminated soil from the 101 grid areas containing PCB levels at or above 10 ppm. In addition, the 30 remaining grids will not be excavated, leaving PCB levels approaching 10 ppm in some surface soils. Although not contiguous, these 30 grids comprise a total area of about 2/3 acre.

Access to the most of the property is unrestricted and there is evidence that nearby residents frequently traverse the property. Of particular concern is the evidence that children often play on the unpaved areas there. As a result, ATSDR used a conservative approach in evaluating exposures at the site.

ATSDR's evaluation is based on a residential exposure to levels of PCBs in surface soil approaching 10 ppm. The ATSDR chronic Minimal Risk Level (MRL) for PCBs is 0.00002 mg/kg/day [3]. This MRL is consistent with EPA's established soil clean-up level of 1 ppm for PCBs in residential settings [4].

Nearby residents, including children, have unhindered, recreational access to contaminated soils. Therefore, ATSDR considers soil at levels between 2 and 10 ppm to be a potential health threat to nearby residents and others who frequently walk or play on the site.


The unique vulnerabilities of children demand special emphasis in the evaluation of PCBs in residential soils. PCBs are a "probable" human carcinogen. Early life exposures to carcinogens are anticipated to be more likely to cause cancer than exposures later in life.


On the basis of available information about the current exposure conditions at the Temple Stuart site, ATSDR concludes that the levels of PCBs that would remain in surface soils (between 2 and 10 ppm) pose a potential public health hazard.


Access to the site should be restricted in order to prevent children and adults from recreational or other use of the site.


  1. US Environmental Protection Agency. Memorandum to Katherine Robbins from Mary Ellen Stanton concerning request for Health Consultation: Consideration of Protectiveness of PCB-Contaminated Soil Cleanup Strategy at the Temple Stuart Site Baldwinville, Massachusetts. Boston, Massachusetts. December 9, 2003.

  2. Roy F. Weston, Inc. Removal program preliminary assessment/site investigation report for the Temple Stuart Site, Baldwinville, Massachusetts. Wilmington, MA. Roy F. Weston, Inc.; 2001 Nov 9.

  3. Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry. Toxicological profile for polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs). Atlanta: US Department of Health and Human Services; 2000.

  4. US Environmental Protection Agency, Solid Waste and Emergency Response. A Guide on Remedial Actions at Superfund Sites with PCB Contamination. Office of Emergency and Remedial Response, Hazardous Site Control Division. August 1990.


Prepared by

Gail E. Scogin
Environmental Health Scientist
Exposure Investigations Section
Exposure Investigations and Consultation Branch
Division of Health Assessment and Consultation
Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry

Reviewed by

Gregory M. Zarus
Strike Team Leader
Exposure Investigations and Consultation Branch
Division of Health Assessment and Consultation
Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry

Donald Joe, PE
Chief, Petition Response section
Exposure Investigations and Consultation Branch
Division of Health Assessment and Consultation
Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry

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