Skip directly to search Skip directly to A to Z list Skip directly to site content




ATSDR staff contacted the NYSDOH, the Oneida County Health Department, and residents living in the Floyd area during site visits to identify health concerns expressed by the community. The health concerns expressed to ATSDR are addressed below.

1. Was I exposed to ethylene glycol, and if so, should I expect health problems?

There is no evidence that people were exposed to ethylene glycol in drinking water at levels of health concern in the Griffiss area. Therefore, no adverse health effects are expected.

2. What are potential sources of ethylene glycol?

Ethylene glycol is present in anti-freeze, coolants, hydraulic fluid, and solvents. Use of ethylene glycol in the Rome/Floyd area is expected to be common because of the need for anti-freeze in automobiles and farm equipment. The Air Force used ethylene glycol to deice base aircraft until 1988 when they began using propylene glycol which is less toxic.

3. Could volatilized deicing fluids be migrating off-base at levels of health concern?

No. Air sampling during deicing activities in March 1994 did not detect glycols (deicing fluids) in the breathing zones of personnel performing deicing operations. Since the nearest residence is about one-half mile east of where deicing occurs, it is highly unlikely that glycols would reach residential populations through the air and certainly not at levels of health concern.

4. Is the incidence of cancer in the Rome/Floyd area higher than other parts of New York State?

The NYSDOH conducted a review of cancer incidence in the Rome/Floyd area in 1991 to compare cancer rates in that area with similar areas in the state. This study is in Appendix C. This review determined that the rates of all cancer types in the Rome/Floyd area were not higher than expected, except for cancer of the uterus. Cancer of the uterus has been associated with women who are obese, women who have never given birth, early onset of menstruation, and late onset of menopause. Those associations appear to reflect levels and effects of estrogen.25

5. Is noise off-base from air operations likely to cause adverse health effects?

No. The Air Force was required by law to meet strict regulations regarding noise levels, flight patterns, and residential areas when flying aircraft. Adherence to those regulations insured that off-base residential populations were not exposed to unsafe noise levels.

Military aircraft have not been stationed at Griffiss since November 1994. The Air National Guard will operate the runway to transport Army troops from Fort Drum for a few years, and will also adhere to noise regulations.


The Public Health Action Plan (PHAP) for Griffiss contains a description of actions taken and those to be taken by ATSDR, the Air Force, the NYSDOH, and the NYSDEC at and in the vicinity of the site subsequent to the completion of this public health assessment. The purpose of the PHAP is to ensure that this public health assessment not only identifies public health hazards, but provides a plan of action designed to mitigate and prevent adverse human health effects resulting from exposure to hazardous substances in the environment. Included is a commitment on the part of ATSDR to follow up on this plan. The public health actions to be implemented are as follows:

Completed Actions:

  1. The NYSDOH issued a fish consumption advisory for Three Mile Creek in 1990 based on the PCB contamination detected in 1988.6 The advisory has three parts: 1) women of childbearing age, infants, and children less than 15 years old should not eat any fish from Three Mile Creek, 2) others should not eat white suckers (one-half pound meals) more frequently than once a month, and 3) other species should not be eaten more than once per week.1
  2. Since there is no specific advisory for Six Mile Creek, the NYSDOH consumption advisory for all New York State freshwaters applies: everyone eat no more than one meal (one-half pound) per week of any fish species.1
  3. The Air Force provided bottled water to 940 residences north, east, and southeast of the base as a precaution and as part of their Good Neighbor Policy in 1990. Beginning in the fall of 1991, municipal water lines were installed in several areas around the base (Figure 4) at the Air Force's expense. Private wells in which nitrates and VOCs were detected are no longer in use, thus exposures to contaminated groundwater have ceased.
  4. The NYSDOH and the Oneida County Health Department has conducted a six part well monitoring survey within the City of Rome and the Town of Floyd beginning in December 1991 (Figure 5). Approximately 50 private wells in the area not scheduled for public water supply hook-ups were sampled during each round to ensure an alternate drinking water supply was not required. This study concluded that there is no evidence of a broad-based water quality problem in the survey area.26
  5. A joint fact sheet, Groundwater Contamination in the Rome/Floyd Area, was put together by the EPA, the Air Force, the NYSDOH, the NYSDEC, the Oneida County Health Department, the Rome/Floyd Residents Association, and the Waterline Committee (Appendix D). This fact sheet, released in August 1992, provides an overview of the groundwater contamination issue and answers questions asked by area residents. Groundwater Contamination in the Rome/Floyd Area will assist the community (both on-base and off-base) in understanding their potential for exposure to hazardous substances.
  6. Because some of the initial glycol data were deemed invalid and the glycol exposures did not pose a health hazard, the activities recommended in 1993 by ATSDR's Health Activities Recommendation Panel (a disease- and symptom-prevalence study and biomedical testing) will not be performed.

Ongoing Actions:

  1. NYSDOH reviews new fish sampling data every year, if available, and revises fish consumption guidelines as necessary.14,15

Planned Actions:

  1. ATSDR will reevaluate and expand the PHAP when needed. New environmental, toxicological, or health outcome data, may determine the need for additional actions at Griffiss.

Recommended Actions:

  1. ATSDR recommends that people follow the fish consumption guidelines in the NYSDOH fish advisory.
  2. If more fish are sampled, edible fillets collected from areas of the creek where people are known to fish should be analyzed.
  3. ATSDR recommends people have their well inspected and sampled before resuming in-home use since contamination has been detected in wells in the past and a definitive source has never been identified. Also, re-use of private wells would require installing separate home plumbing and cross connection prevention equipment to protect the public water supply system.
Figure 4
Figure 4.

Key for Figure 4: Air Force Funded Bottled Water Service Areas

A-1: In October 1991, municipal water lines were installed in this area east and southeast of the base. The water lines became operational on November 9, 1991, and were paid for by the Air Force.4 Approximately 300 residences in this area had private wells.22 Private well contamination was first detected in this area.

A-2: Residences in this area east and northeast of the base had the option to hook up to municipal water lines at their own expense. Those lines were installed to maintain water pressure throughout the system.

B: People living in Area B east of the base were concerned about the quality of their water and provided water samples from their homes to a laboratory for analysis. No chemicals at levels of health concern were detected.16 However, the Air Force provided them with bottled water. Residents in this area paid for the water main extension and connections to municipal water.

C: Residences in the area directly north of the base have paid for a water main extension and hookups themselves.

D: This area, northeast of the base, is a sparsely populated rural farming area. Residents here received bottled water from the Air Force per their request until January 1994.27 Those homes are in an area that is not affected by groundwater contamination.4

Figure 5
Figure 5.

    Victoria Ann Smith
    Environmental Health Scientist
    Federal Facilities Assessment Branch
    Division of Health Assessment and Consultation

Reviewers of Report

    Diane Jackson
    Chief, Air Force/Navy Unit
    Federal Facilities Assessment Branch
    Division of Health Assessment and Consultation

    Susan McAfee Moore
    Federal Facilities Assessment Branch
    Division of Health Assessment and Consultation

  1. NYSDOH. Health Advisory: Chemicals in Sportfish and Game. 1995-1996.

  2. Tetra Tech. Basewide Environmental Baseline Survey. Draft. September 30, 1994.

  3. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Cortland Field Office, Cortland, New York. Contamination in Fish and Sediment from Six Mile Creek and Three Mile Creek in the vicinity of Griffiss Air Force Base, Oneida County, New York. February, 1989.

  4. ATSDR. Griffiss Air Force Base site visit notes and observations. November 8-10, 1993.

  5. Law Engineering and Environmental Services. Technical Memorandum No. 8: Contaminant Fate and Transport: Groundwater. Griffiss Air Force Base. July-August 1994.

  6. ATSDR Record of Activity. Communication between Larry Skinner, NYSDEC, and Vicki Smith, ATSDR. February 22, 1995.

  7. Great Lakes Fish Advisory Task Force. Protocol for a Uniform Fish Consumption Advisory. September 1993.

  8. EPA Region III. Risk-Based Concentration Table. October 1995.

  9. Law Engineering and Environmental Services. Remedial Investigation for Griffiss Air Force, Technical Memorandum No.15: Fish Tissue Analyses. November 1994.

  10. FDA. Guidance Document for Lead in Shellfish. August 1993.

  11. Law Environmental, Inc. Volume 6 - Draft Primary Report. Remedial Investigation - Sixmile Creek Area of Concern. Griffiss AFB. August 1995.

  12. ATSDR Record of Activity. Communication between Larry Skinner, NYSDEC, and Vicki Smith, ATSDR. July 5, 1995.

  13. ATSDR Record of Activity. Communication between Tony Forti, NYSDEC, and Vicki Smith, ATSDR. July 7, 1995.

  14. NYSDOH comments on the Public Comment Release - Griffiss AFB Public Health Assessment. January 22, 1996.

  15. ATSDR Record of Activity. Communication between Lani Rafferty, NYSDOH, and Vicki Smith, ATSDR. September 3, 1996.

  16. ATSDR meeting with New York State Department of Health representative Henrietta Hamel. November 10, 1993.

  17. New York State Department of Health. Fact Sheet, Groundwater Quality, Rome/Floyd Area. June, 1990.

  18. Department of the Army, Corps of Engineers, Omaha District. Memorandum for HQ SAC. Subject: Final Report, Griffiss AFB, Rome, NY. November 15, 1990.

  19. Department of the Army, Missouri River Division, Corps of Engineers. Subject: Quality Control Test Results. March 21, 1991.

  20. Law Engineering and Environmental Services. Draft Remedial Investigation Report: Vol 32, Off-Base Ground-Water Contamination AOC. Griffiss Air Force Base. August 1995.

  21. Oneida County Health Department. Water Well Sampling Results. December 22, 1987.

  22. Geotech. Domestic Water Well Sampling Program, Phase I, Final Report. November 1989.

  23. New York State Department of Health. Water well sampling results for November 30-December 1, 1989.

  24. U.S. Bureau of the Census. Census of Population and Housing, 1990, Summary Tape File 1 (Washington D.C.). 1991.

  25. Cancer Surveillance Program, New York State Department of Health, Albany, New York. Cancer Incidence in Rome/Floyd Area, Block Group 9 of Census Tract 227.02 and Block Group 9 of Census Tract 237.02 Oneida County, New York. 1991.

  26. New York State Department of Health. Rome/Floyd Well Monitoring Survey. Final Update. June 14, 1993.

  27. ATSDR Record of Activity. Communication between Randy Smith, Griffiss AFB, and Vicki Smith, ATSDR. August 8, 1995.


The following appendices were not available in electronic format for conversion to HTML at the time of preparation of this document. To obtain a hard copy of the document, please contact:

Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry
Division of Health Assessment and Consultation
Attn: Chief, Program Evaluation, Records, and Information Services Branch,
MS E-56
1600 Clifton Road NE, Atlanta, Georgia 30333

Appendix A

Griffiss Air Force Base NPL Site
Health Assessment
June 9, 1988

Appendix B
Public Health Hazard Conclusion Categories

Appendix C
Cancer Incidence in the Rome/Floyd Area
September 1991

Appendix D
Groundwater Contamination in the Rome/Floyd Area
August 1992

Appendix E
Comments Received on the Public Comment Release (October 23, 1995)

Table of Contents The U.S. Government's Official Web PortalDepartment of Health and Human Services
Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, 4770 Buford Hwy NE, Atlanta, GA 30341
Contact CDC: 800-232-4636 / TTY: 888-232-6348

A-Z Index

  1. A
  2. B
  3. C
  4. D
  5. E
  6. F
  7. G
  8. H
  9. I
  10. J
  11. K
  12. L
  13. M
  14. N
  15. O
  16. P
  17. Q
  18. R
  19. S
  20. T
  21. U
  22. V
  23. W
  24. X
  25. Y
  26. Z
  27. #