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To evaluate the potential health risks from contaminants of concern associated with the 150 Fulton Avenue site, theNew York State Department of Health assessed the risks for cancer and noncancer health effects.

Increased cancer risks were estimated by using site-specific information on exposure levels for the contaminant ofconcern and interpreting them using cancer potency estimates derived for that contaminant by the US EPA or, insome cases, by the NYS DOH. The following qualitative ranking of cancer risk estimates, developed by the NYSDOH, was then used to rank the risk from very low to very high. For example, if the qualitative descriptor was"low", then the excess lifetime cancer risk from that exposure is in the range of greater than one per million to lessthan one per ten thousand. Other qualitative descriptors are listed below:

Excess Lifetime Cancer Risk

Risk Ratio

Qualitative Descriptor

equal to or less than one in a million

very low

greater than one in a million to less than one in ten thousand


one in ten thousand to less than one in a thousand


one in a thousand to less than one in ten


equal to or greater than one in ten

very high

An estimated increased excess lifetime cancer risk is not a specific estimate of expected cancers. Rather, it is a plausible upper bound estimate of the probability that a person may develop cancer sometime in his or her lifetime following exposure to that contaminant.

There is insufficient knowledge of cancer mechanisms to decide if there exists a level of exposure to a cancer-causing agent below which there is no risk of getting cancer, namely, a threshold level. Therefore, every exposure,no matter how low, to a cancer-causing compound is assumed to be associated with some increased risk. As thedose of a carcinogen decreases, the chance of developing cancer decreases, but each exposure is accompanied bysome increased risk.

There is general consensus among the scientific and regulatory communities on what level of estimated excesscancer risk is acceptable. An increased lifetime cancer risk of one in one million or less is generally considered aninsignificant increase in cancer risk.

For noncarcinogenic health risks, the contaminant intake was estimated using exposure assumptions for the siteconditions. This dose was then compared to a risk reference dose (estimated daily intake of a chemical that is likelyto be without an appreciable risk of health effects) developed by the US EPA, ATSDR and/or NYS DOH. Theresulting ratio was then compared to the following qualitative scale of health risk:

Qualitative Descriptions for
Noncarcinogenic Health Risks

Ratio of Estimated Contaminant
Intake to Risk Reference Dose
equal to or less than the reference dose or minimal risk level minimal
greater than one to five times the reference dose or minimal risk level low
greater than five to ten times the reference dose or minimal risk level moderate
greater than ten times the reference dose or minimal risk level high

Noncarcinogenic effects unlike carcinogenic effects are believed to have a threshold, that is, a dose below which adverse effects will not occur. As a result, the current practice is to identify, usually from animal toxicology experiments, a no-observed-effect-level (NOEL). This is the experimental exposure level in animals at which no adverse toxic effect is observed. The NOEL is then divided by an uncertainty factor to yield the risk reference dose. The uncertainty factor is a number which reflects the degree of uncertainty that exists when experimental animal data are extrapolated to the general human population. The magnitude of the uncertainty factor takes into consideration various factors such as sensitive subpopulations (for example, children or the elderly), extrapolation from animals to humans, and the incompleteness of available data. Thus, the risk reference dose is not expected to cause health effects because it is selected to be much lower than dosages that do not cause adverse health effects in laboratory animals.

The measure used to describe the potential for noncancer health effects to occur in an individual is expressed as aratio of estimated contaminant intake to the risk reference dose. If exposure to the contaminant exceeds the riskreference dose, there may be concern for potential noncancer health effects because the margin of protection is lessthan that afforded by the reference dose. As a rule, the greater the ratio of the estimated contaminant intake to therisk reference dose, the greater the level of concern. A ratio equal to or less than one is generally considered an insignificant (minimal) increase in risk.



A. Urgent Public Health Hazard

This category is used for sites where short-term exposures (< 1 yr) to hazardous substances or conditions could result in adverse health effects that require rapid intervention.

This determination represents a professional judgement based on critical data which ATSDR has judged sufficient to support a decision. This does not necessarily imply that the available data are complete; in some cases additional data may be required to confirm or further support the decision made. Evaluation of available relevant information* indicates that site-specific conditions or likely exposures have had, are having, or are likely to have in the future, an adverse impact on human health that requires immediate action or intervention. Such site-specific conditions or exposures may include the presence of serious physical or safety hazards.
B. Public Health Hazard

This category is used for sites that pose a public health hazard due to the existence of long-term exposures (> 1 yr) to hazardous substance or conditions that could result in adverse health effects.

This determination represents a professional judgement based on critical data which ATSDR has judged sufficient to support a decision. This does not necessarily imply that the available data are complete; in some cases additional data may be required to confirm or further support the decision made. Evaluation of available relevant information* suggests that, under site-specific conditions of exposure, long-term exposures to site-specific contaminants (including radionuclides) have had, are having, or are likely to have in the future, an adverse impact on human health that requires one or more public health interventions. Such site-specific exposures may include the presence of serious physical or safety hazards.
C. Indeterminate Public Health Hazard

This category is used for sites in which "critical" data are insufficient with regard to extent of exposure and/or toxicologic properties at estimated exposure levels.

This determination represents a professional judgement that critical data are missing and ATSDR has judged the data are insufficient to support a decision. This does not necessarily imply all data are incomplete; but that some additional data are required to support a decision. The health assessor must determine, using professional judgement, the "criticality" of such data and the likelihood that the data can be obtained and will be obtained in a timely manner. Where some data are available, even limited data, the health assessor is encouraged to the extent possible to select other hazard categories and to support their decision with clear narrative that explains the limits of the data and the rationale for the decision.
D. No Apparent Public Health Hazard

This category is used for sites where human exposure to contaminated media may be occurring, may have occurred in the past, and/or may occur in the future, but the exposure is not expected to cause any adverse health effects.

This determination represents a professional judgement based on critical data which ATSDR considers sufficient to support a decision. This does not necessarily imply that the available data are complete; in some cases additional data may be required to confirm or further support the decision made. Evaluation of available relevant information* indicates that, under site-specific conditions of exposure, exposures to site-specific contaminants in the past, present, or future are not likely to result in any adverse impact on human health.
E. No Public Health Hazard

This category is used for sites that, because of the absence of exposure, do NOT pose a public health hazard.

Sufficient evidence indicates that no human exposures to contaminated media have occurred, none are now occurring, and none are likely to occur in the future  
*Such as environmental and demographic data; health outcome data; exposure data; community health concerns information; toxicologic, medical, and epidemiologic data; monitoring and management plans.


This summary was prepared to answer the public's comments and questions on the Public CommentDraft Public Health Assessment written for the 150 Fulton Avenue/Garden City Park IndustrialArea (GCPIA) site in Nassau County, New York. The public was invited to review the documentduring the public comment period which ran from July 5, 2000 to August 11, 2000. The commentperiod was subsequently extended to December 2000 for one entity that had not received their copyof the document during the initial distribution.

Comments were received from the public, one of the affected water districts, the EcologicalCommission of the Town of North Hempstead, and Genesco. Similar comments may beconsolidated or grouped together to incorporate similar concerns raised by more than one person. Also, some statements were reworded to clarify the comment. Editorial changes or suggestions of arelatively minor nature were made to the Public Health Assessment, as appropriate, withoutdiscussion here. If you have any questions about this Summary, you may contact the New YorkState Department of Health (NYS DOH) at the toll free number: 1-800-458-1158.

Comment 1.

The draft Public Health Assessment discusses the contaminant history of each affected or potentiallyaffected public water supply well in the area of study. In some cases, contaminant concentrationsare listed without including the corresponding maximum contaminant levels for public watersupplies in effect at the time of sampling. This could lead some to believe that there were drinkingwater violations when there were not.

Response 1.

In the late 1970s and the 1980s, the NYS DOH drinking water guideline for individual volatileorganic compounds (VOCs) was 50 micrograms per liter (µg/L). In 1989, the NYS DOH adopted(in 10 NYCRR Part 5) maximum contaminant levels of 5 µg/L for many of these VOCs, includingthose that are the primary contaminants for this Health Assessment. In some cases, water containingspecific VOC contaminants in excess of 5 µg/L but less than 50 µg/L may have been provided to thepublic before January of 1989. This would not have constituted a drinking water violation. Additional text has been added to the summary sections for each water district discussed to clarifythis.

Comment 2.

The incident of 19 µg/L [in Well N-7058, also known as Garden City Village Well #13] occurredover a 3-day period and the water from the well with the air stripper blower failure went into a 1million gallon storage tank where it was diluted before being put into the system where it was withinlimit. Only one sample in the system over the 3-day event came in at 7 µg/L. The blower wasrestored to service and the tank dumped and refilled as a precaution.

Response 2.

The commentor is apparently referring to an incident that occurred in October 1996 when 18 µg/Lof trichloroethene (TCE) was detected in treated water. A retest indicated concentrations to be lessthan detectable three days later. The value of 19 µg/L used in the Public Health Implicationsdiscussion was the maximum detected concentration during a two and one-half year period betweenearly 1986 and late 1988 when TCE concentrations averaged about 12 µg/l. This was prior to VOCremoval treatment at the affected well.

Comment 3.

One commentor expressed dismay at the length of time it has taken to begin, much less complete,remediation of this groundwater contamination. This is said to follow a pattern throughout LongIsland when groundwater and soil is so saturated with tetrachloroethene (PCE) that it impacts indoorair quality in overlying buildings, finally remediation begins in earnest.

Response 3.

Remediation began at 150 Fulton Avenue before it was known that indoor air in the on-site structurewas contaminated with PCE vapors. Earlier sampling with higher detection limits had not detectedindoor air contamination.

Comment 4.

Are we going to rely on the United States Environmental Protection Agency (US EPA) to do all ourremediation?

Response 4.

The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYS DEC) was lead agency forOperable Unit 1, the source area remediation, at the 150 Fulton Avenue property. This remediationwas carried out by Genesco, Incorporated, the main tenant at 150 Fulton Avenue during the periodwhen PCE was used there. The NYS DEC has also been the lead agency, though workingcooperatively with US EPA and other agencies, for Genesco's implementation of the off-siteremedial investigation.

Comment 5.

Every contaminated well that must have treatment to remove VOCs costs large sums of taxpayermoney; the cost of health hazards is another more serious problem.

Response 5.

Most of the public water supply well treatment units within the area of study were funded by therespective water districts. The NYS DEC funded the installation of VOC removal treatment forGarden City Well #9. Under Superfund, the State of New York seeks to recoup costs fromresponsible parties; other affected entities may do likewise. With respect to health hazards, NYSDOH seeks to identify and mitigate exposures related to contaminated sites. In the case of affectedwells in the subject area of study, the promulgation of the Part 5 maximum contaminant levels forVOCs necessitated treatment of significantly contaminated wells or their removal from service.

Comment 6.

Water districts must rewrite their rules and regulations, in concert with NYS DOH, to protect theirwater supplies from contamination. They need enforceable rules and wellhead protectionregulations.

Response 6.

The NYS DOH established specific regulations (i.e., 10 NYCRR Part 5, Subpart 5-1) that pertain topublic water systems in New York State. The NYS DOH, in conjunction with County HealthDepartments, is responsible for the enforcement of these public water system regulations. Theseregulations help to ensure the quality of drinking water.

With respect to wellhead protection, New York State implemented a Wellhead Protection Program(WHPP) pursuant to Section 1428 of the 1986 Amendments to the Safe Drinking Water Act. NewYork's WHPP specifies the responsibility of different federal, state, and local agencies inimplementing wellhead protection measures; it identifies source control and management programsand it delineates wellhead protection areas. Recently, NYS DOH initiated a Source WaterAssessment Program (SWAP). Under this program, source water assessments must be completedfor all water sources that are used by public water systems by May 2003. These assessments willidentify and evaluate significant risks to source water quality and evaluate the susceptibility ofpublic water systems to source water contamination. Information from completed source waterassessments can be used as a basis to focus future wellhead protection efforts.

Comment 7.

The New York State Superfund must be re-authorized, funded, and enforced.

Response 7.

So noted.

Comment 8.

The Health Assessment write-up indicates that sloppy laboratory practices were used to gatherenvironmental data.

Response 8.

The referenced section notes that the detection of three common laboratory contaminants in soilsamples is not unusual and does not necessarily imply environmental contamination. Thesecontaminants are often detected in even the most careful laboratories. This is an artifact ofperforming sensitive, trace-level analyses in the same laboratories where these chemicals areproperly required for use in sample preparation, standard preparation, instrument calibration, anddisinfection.

Comment 9.

Basic research needs to be done on exposure to VOCs in humans.

Response 9.

NYS DOH recognizes that gaps exist in understanding the effects of long term, low level humanexposure to VOCs in drinking water. Much of the available toxicological and epidemiologicalresearch for human exposure to VOCs has focused on air within occupational settings whereexposures tend to be much greater. Some studies of human VOC exposure from residential watersupplies do exist; these are taken into consideration during NYS DOH's evaluations of VOCexposures associated with hazardous waste sites.

In addition to reviewing available information on human exposure to VOCs, NYS DOH alsoconducts its own research. One example of this is an ongoing VOC exposure registry that compilesinformation about residents exposed to VOCs, particularly via drinking water. Concerning PCEexposures in air, the NYS DOH is presently directing a project to evaluate exposure to PCE,evaluate "biomarker" indicators of exposed populations, and identify corresponding health effects (ifany) in residents of buildings with operating dry cleaners. NYSDOH is also conducting follow-upevaluations of individuals exposed to PCE at a day care center adjacent to a dry cleaning facility.

Comment 10.

One commentor noted, with anticipation, the ongoing National Cancer Institute (NCI) research onenvironmental factors and breast cancer in Long Island. The commentor also stated that suchresearch should include colon, bladder, prostate, and lung cancer. Limiting this type of research tobreast cancer does not make sense.

Response 10.

Inquiries and suggestions about the scope of the referenced research should be directed to theNational Cancer Institute. Under the New York State Cancer Surveillance Improvement Initiative(the "cancer mapping project"), the NYS DOH is evaluating zip code and small area incidence ofthe most prevalent cancers throughout the state. Statewide zip code-level maps have been producedfor breast, lung, colorectal and prostate cancer. Follow-up investigation of areas with unusualpatterns of disease incidence is also in progress.

Comment 11.

Given the minimal amount of hazardous waste remedial staff in the NYS DEC Regional office, howcan NYS DEC possibly do a good job in remediating the GCPIA?

Response 11.

The administration of the Preliminary Site Assessment contracts that led to identification of the 150Fulton Avenue site was done by NYS DEC's Central Office in Albany. Similarly, NYS DEC'sCentral Office provided oversight for the source removal action (on-site interim remedial measure)and for implementation of the remedial investigation program. Because the site has been placed onthe federal National Priorities List, the US EPA will gradually assume more responsibility as itbecomes the lead agency. In fact, both agencies have been working together in a cooperative efforton this project and will continue to do so in the future.

Comment 12.

The Health Assessment should distinguish between two distinct contaminant plumes andcorresponding impacts: 1) the tetrachloroethene plume originating at 150 Fulton Avenue, and 2)the general VOC groundwater contaminant plumes originating in or near the GCPIA. The"Background" Section of the document should be divided into two subdivisions, one for each ofthese two issues.

Response 12.

Recent groundwater profile data suggest that the VOC plume associated with 150 Fulton Avenue iscurrently situated along a southwesterly trending transect from the site. This plume (primarily PCE)apparently runs concurrently with and co-mingles with a distinct VOC plume (primarily TCE) to thenorthwest. The source of the TCE plume is not presently known; however, given the depth andconcentration trends, it would appear to originate in an area north of the GCPIA.

Inasmuch as the remedial investigation has yet to be completed, the agencies are not likely to ascribecontamination at specific public supply wells to specific contaminant sources. Also, NYS DOHdoes not generally make such determinations as this is not the health agencies' responsibility. Further, given alterations in groundwater pumping rates through the years, the previous extent of thecontaminant plume associated with the 150 Fulton Avenue may never be definitively known. Consequently, the revised PHA does not distinguish between the resultant impacts of specific plumesand the document's original format is retained. Additional language has been added to the text,however, noting that there appears to be a more widespread VOC contaminant plume into which the150 Fulton Avenue plume co-mingles.

Comment 13.

The Health Assessment uses the word "site" to refer to the large area impacted by the regional VOCgroundwater contamination and also to refer to the 150 Fulton Avenue property. This languageinaccurately links the 150 Fulton Avenue site with contamination of all 18 public water supplywells.

Response 13.

The importance of this distinction is recognized. The reality of this distinction appears to have beenborne out by the results of the ongoing off-site remedial investigation for the 150 Fulton Avenuesite. The text has been modified in several locations, including those cited in the text of thecommentor's letter, to clarify this distinction.

Comment 14.

The Health Assessment should note that PCE and TCE are common solvents that have been used byhundreds of businesses in Nassau County over the last 40 years. Thus, there are many potentialcontributors to the widespread regional VOC groundwater contamination. The Public HealthAssessment (PHA) should also include the Manfred Schulte site and the Star Carting site in itsdiscussion of potential sources of VOC contamination.

Response 14.

The text has been revised to emphasize that other unknown contaminant sources exist. The ManfredSchulte and Star Carting sites have been included in the discussion. The Remedial Investigation(RI) data suggest that a major source of TCE contamination exists or existed at some location northof the GCPIA. Given the significant depth of this TCE contamination, the location of the highestconcentrations identified to date, and its apparent presence prior to the 1980s, none of the known orpotential sites listed in the revised Health Assessment appear to be likely sources. Additionalinvestigation is necessary to identify the extent and source(s) of the TCE contamination.

Comment 15.

The description of the groundwater contaminant plume should be revised based on the informationfrom ongoing investigations. In particular, the text should remove the suggestion that TCE presentin some wells is degraded PCE from 150 Fulton Avenue.

Response 15.

The text has been revised to temper the referenced suggestion and to point out the substantial TCEplume that appears to originate north of the GCPIA.

Comment 16.

References to a second Interim Remedial Measure (IRM) should be deleted as that groundwaterIRM is no longer being considered. Remediation of groundwater will be addressed as part of theRemedial Investigation/Feasibility Study (RI/FS).

Response 16.

The text has been updated to reflect this situation.

Comment 17.

The PHA should clarify that, based on available data, the local recharge basin is not impacted by the150 Fulton Avenue site.

Response 17.

Although existing data from the 150 Fulton Avenue site suggest that the subsurface dry well was theonly source area of contamination at that property, the draft PHA presumed that historic on-sitepractices leading to tetrachloroethene in the dry well may also have resulted in discharges to stormdrains. Storm drains around the 150 Fulton Avenue site lead to nearby Recharge Basin #123. Consequently, if surface spills did occur on paved areas at that property, these could have resulted inthe presence of tetrachloroethene in the Basin without leaving evidence (for example, surfacecontamination) of such a spill at the property. As stated in the draft, the exposure concern withtetrachloroethene in a drainage basin would not be a surficial exposure pathway (for example, directcontact with contaminated soil), but rather a possible source of continuing groundwatercontamination.

When the draft PHA was written, there was sufficient groundwater data to demonstrate substantialcontamination with VOCs in the general downgradient areas from the GCPIA and Recharge Basin123, however, the data were not sufficient to rule out many potential sources of VOC contribution tothe groundwater. Since publication of the draft PHA, considerable groundwater data have beencollected from the area downgradient of the 150 Fulton Avenue property. Although there are nopermanent monitoring wells immediately downgradient of the Recharge Basin, the RI for 150Fulton Avenue included three hydrogeologic vertical profiles somewhat distant, but generallydowngradient, from the Recharge Basin. Groundwater samples from these profiles containedrelatively low concentrations of VOCs. Thus, it does not appear that the Recharge Basin is asignificant contributor to groundwater contamination in the area. A permanent monitoring well orwell couplet immediately downgradient of the Basin would verify that this is the case. NYS DOHwill pursue placement of appropriate monitoring wells. The need for soil sampling in the Basin, ifany, can be reassessed when data from those wells become available.

Comment 18.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration Permissible Exposure Limit (OSHA PEL) forPCE should be added to the discussion of air impacts at 150 Fulton Avenue.

Response 18.

Individuals that use PCE in an occupational setting would be covered by OSHA regulationspertaining to workplace activities in general and regulations pertaining to PCE (including the PELfor PCE) in particular. Workers who presently occupy 150 Fulton Avenue are not known to usePCE in occupational processes. Thus, while some OSHA regulations pertaining to workplaceactivities would apply, those pertaining to PCE would not. In cases such as these, the NYS DOHwould consider workers as members of the general community and make exposure-basedrecommendations accordingly. This includes comparing indoor air results to the NYS DOH and USEPA databases of background contaminant levels in indoor air and, because PCE is a contaminantof concern at 150 Fulton Avenue, to the NYS DOH guideline value for PCE in air of 100micrograms per cubic meter (µg/m3) as well.


ATSDR Plain Language Glossary of Environmental Health Terms

How a chemical enters a person's blood after the chemical has been swallowed, has come into contact with the skin, or has been breathed in.

Acute Exposure:
Contact with a chemical that happens once or only for a limited period of time. ATSDR defines acute exposures as those that might last up to 14 days.

Additive Effect:
A response to a chemical mixture, or combination of substances, that might be expected if the known effects of individual chemicals, seen at specific doses, were added together.

Adverse Health Effect:
A change in body function or the structures of cells that can lead to disease or health problems.

Antagonistic Effect:
A response to a mixture of chemicals or combination of substances that is less than might be expected if the known effects of individual chemicals, seen at specific doses, were added together.

The Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry. ATSDR is a federal health agency in Atlanta, Georgia that deals with hazardous substance and waste site issues. ATSDR gives people information about harmful chemicals in their environment and tells people how to protect themselves from coming into contact with chemicals.

Background Level:
An average or expected amount of a chemical in a specific environment. Or, amounts of chemicals that occur naturally in a specific environment.

Used in public health, things that humans would eat - including animals, fish and plants.

See Community Assistance Panel.

A group of diseases which occur when cells in the body become abnormal and grow, or multiply, out of control

Any substance shown to cause tumors or cancer in experimental studies.

See Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act.

Chronic Exposure:
A contact with a substance or chemical that happens over a long period of time. ATSDR considers exposures of more than one year to be chronic.

Completed Exposure Pathway:
See Exposure Pathway.

Community Assistance Panel (CAP):
A group of people from the community and health and environmental agencies who work together on issues and problems at hazardous waste sites.

Comparison Value (CVs):
Concentrations or the amount of substances in air, water, food, and soil that are unlikely, upon exposure, to cause adverse health effects. Comparison values are used by health assessors to select which substances and environmental media (air, water, food and soil) need additional evaluation while health concerns or effects are investigated.

Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA):
CERCLA was put into place in 1980. It is also known as Superfund. This act concerns releases of hazardous substances into the environment, and the cleanup of these substances and hazardous waste sites. ATSDR was created by this act and is responsible for looking into the health issues related to hazardous waste sites.

A belief or worry that chemicals in the environment might cause harm to people.

How much or the amount of a substance present in a certain amount of soil, water, air, or food.

See Environmental Contaminant.

Delayed Health Effect:
A disease or injury that happens as a result of exposures that may have occurred far in the past.

Dermal Contact:
A chemical getting onto your skin. (see Route of Exposure).

The amount of a substance to which a person may be exposed, usually on a daily basis. Dose is often explained as "amount of substance(s) per body weight per day".

Dose / Response:
The relationship between the amount of exposure (dose) and the change in body function or health that result.

The amount of time (days, months, years) that a person is exposed to a chemical.

Environmental Contaminant:
A substance (chemical) that gets into a system (person, animal, or the environment) in amounts higher than that found in Background Level, or what would be expected.

Environmental Media:
Usually refers to the air, water, and soil in which chemical of interest are found. Sometimes refers to the plants and animals that are eaten by humans. Environmental Media is the second part of an Exposure Pathway.

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA):
The federal agency that develops and enforces environmental laws to protect the environment and the public's health.

The study of the different factors that determine how often, in how many people, and in which people will disease occur.

Coming into contact with a chemical substance.(For the three ways people can come in contact with substances, see Route of Exposure.)

Exposure Assessment:
The process of finding the ways people come in contact with chemicals, how often and how long they come in contact with chemicals, and the amounts of chemicals with which they come in contact.

Exposure Pathway:
A description of the way that a chemical moves from its source (where it began) to where and how people can come into contact with (or get exposed to) the chemical.

ATSDR defines an exposure pathway as having 5 parts:
  1. Source of Contamination,

  2. Environmental Media and Transport Mechanism,

  3. Point of Exposure,

  4. Route of Exposure; and,

  5. Receptor Population.

When all 5 parts of an exposure pathway are present, it is called a Completed Exposure Pathway. Each of these 5 terms is defined in this Glossary.

How often a person is exposed to a chemical over time; for example, every day, once a week, twice a month.

Hazardous Waste:
Substances that have been released or thrown away into the environment and, under certain conditions, could be harmful to people who come into contact with them.

Health Effect:
ATSDR deals only with Adverse Health Effects (see definition in this Glossary).

Indeterminate Public Health Hazard:
The category is used in Public Health Assessment documents for sites where important information is lacking (missing or has not yet been gathered) about site-related chemical exposures.

Swallowing something, as in eating or drinking. It is a way a chemical can enter your body (See Route of Exposure).

Breathing. It is a way a chemical can enter your body (See Route of Exposure).

Lowest Observed Adverse Effect Level. The lowest dose of a chemical in a study, or group of studies, that has caused harmful health effects in people or animals.

See Cancer.

Minimal Risk Level. An estimate of daily human exposure - by a specified route and length of time -- to a dose of chemical that is likely to be without a measurable risk of adverse, noncancerous effects. An MRL should not be used as a predictor of adverse health effects.

The National Priorities List. (Which is part of Superfund.) A list kept by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) of the most serious, uncontrolled or abandoned hazardous waste sites in the country. An NPL site needs to be cleaned up or is being looked at to see if people can be exposed to chemicals from the site.

No Observed Adverse Effect Level. The highest dose of a chemical in a study, or group of studies, that did not cause harmful health effects in people or animals.

No Apparent Public Health Hazard:
The category is used in ATSDR's Public Health Assessment documents for sites where exposure to site-related chemicals may have occurred in the past or is still occurring but the exposures are not at levels expected to cause adverse health effects.

No Public Health Hazard:
The category is used in ATSDR's Public Health Assessment documents for sites where there is evidence of an absence of exposure to site-related chemicals.

Public Health Assessment. A report or document that looks at chemicals at a hazardous waste site and tells if people could be harmed from coming into contact with those chemicals. The PHA also tells if possible further public health actions are needed.

A line or column of air or water containing chemicals moving from the source to areas further away. A plume can be a column or clouds of smoke from a chimney or contaminated underground water sources or contaminated surface water (such as lakes, ponds and streams).

Point of Exposure:
The place where someone can come into contact with a contaminated environmental medium (air, water, food or soil). For examples:
the area of a playground that has contaminated dirt, a contaminated spring used for drinking water, the location where fruits or vegetables are grown in contaminated soil, or the backyard area where someone might breathe contaminated air.

A group of people living in a certain area; or the number of people in a certain area.

Potentially Responsible Party. A company, government or person that is responsible for causing the pollution at a hazardous waste site. PRP's are expected to help pay for the clean up of a site.

Public Health Assessment(s):
See PHA.

Public Health Hazard:
The category is used in PHAs for sites that have certain physical features or evidence of chronic, site-related chemical exposure that could result in adverse health effects.

Public Health Hazard Criteria:
PHA categories given to a site which tell whether people could be harmed by conditions present at the site. Each are defined in the Glossary. The categories are:
  1. Urgent Public Health Hazard

  2. Public Health Hazard

  3. Indeterminate Public Health Hazard

  4. No Apparent Public Health Hazard

  5. No Public Health Hazard

Receptor Population:
People who live or work in the path of one or more chemicals, and who could come into contact with them (See Exposure Pathway).

Reference Dose (RfD):
An estimate, with safety factors (see safety factor) built in, of the daily, life-time exposure of human populations to a possible hazard that is not likely to cause harm to the person.

Route of Exposure:
The way a chemical can get into a person's body. There are three exposure routes:
- breathing (also called inhalation),
- eating or drinking (also called ingestion), and
- or getting something on the skin (also called dermal contact).

Safety Factor:
Also called Uncertainty Factor. When scientists don't have enough information to decide if an exposure will cause harm to people, they use "safety factors" and formulas in place of the information that is not known. These factors and formulas can help determine the amount of a chemical that is not likely to cause harm to people.

The Superfund Amendments and Reauthorization Act in 1986 amended CERCLA and expanded the health-related responsibilities of ATSDR. CERCLA and SARA direct ATSDR to look into the health effects from chemical exposures at hazardous waste sites.

Sample Size:
The number of people that are needed for a health study.

A small number of people chosen from a larger population (See Population).

Source (of Contamination):
The place where a chemical comes from, such as a landfill, pond, creek, incinerator, tank, or drum. Contaminant source is the first part of an Exposure Pathway.

Special Populations:
People who may be more sensitive to chemical exposures because of certain factors such as age, a disease they already have, occupation, sex, or certain behaviors (like cigarette smoking). Children, pregnant women, and older people are often considered special populations.

A branch of the math process of collecting, looking at, and summarizing data or information.

Superfund Site:
See NPL.

A way to collect information or data from a group of people (population). Surveys can be done by phone, mail, or in person. ATSDR cannot do surveys of more than nine people without approval from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Synergistic effect:
A health effect from an exposure to more than one chemical, where one of the chemicals worsens the effect of another chemical. The combined effect of the chemicals acting together are greater than the effects of the chemicals acting by themselves.

Harmful. Any substance or chemical can be toxic at a certain dose (amount). The dose is what determines the potential harm of a chemical and whether it would cause someone to get sick.

The study of the harmful effects of chemicals on humans or animals.

Abnormal growth of tissue or cells that have formed a lump or mass.

Uncertainty Factor:
See Safety Factor.

Urgent Public Health Hazard:
This category is used in ATSDR's Public Health Assessment documents for sites that have certain physical features or evidence of short-term (less than 1 year), site-related chemical exposure that could result in adverse health effects and require quick intervention to stop people from being exposed.

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