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The tables in this section list the contaminants of concern. In this public health assessment, PADOH evaluates these contaminants in subsequent sections and determines whether exposure to them has public health significance. PADOH selected these contaminants based upon the following factors: on and off-site concentrations; field and laboratory data quality and sample design; comparison of site-related concentrations with background concentrations; and comparison of site-related concentrations with health comparison values for carcinogenic and noncarcinogenic endpoints. Comparison values are contaminant concentrations in specific media that are used to select contaminants for further evaluation. These values include Environmental Media Evaluation Guides (EMEGs), Cancer Risk Evaluation Guides (CREGs), and other relevant guidelines.

In the data tables, which are found in Appendix B, the listed contaminant does not mean that it will cause adverse health effects from exposure. Instead, the list indicates which contaminants will be evaluated further in the public health assessment. When selected as a contaminant of concern in one medium, that contaminant will be reported in all media.

The data tables include the following acronyms:

CREG = ATSDR Cancer Risk Evaluation Guide
gpm = Gallon Per Minute
MCL = EPA Maximum Contaminant Level
MCLG = EPA Maximum Contaminant Level Goal
ND = Not Detected
NT = Not Tested
RMEG = Reference Dose Media Evaluation Guide
µg/L = Microgram Per Liter

EPA's Toxic Chemical Release Inventory data base was accessed by PADOH through the National Library of Medicine's Toxicology Data Network and searched for estimated annual release of toxic chemicals to the environment from industries within a two-mile radius of the Metropolitan Mirror site to identify possible facilities that could contribute to air or groundwater contamination near the site. No significant releases which would affect the air or groundwater quality near the site were reported in the 1987, 1988, and 1989 data bases.

The information, which follows, is presented as on-site (the former Metropolitan Mirror property) and off-site. The data collected in the Listing Site Inspection (LSI) and sampling by media were not presented according to the description of on-site and off-site sampling. For this reason, an overview of the total sampling strategy of the LSI is presented here.

For organic data, 16 sediment and soil samples and 19 aqueous samples were analyzed through the EPA Contract Laboratory Program (CLP) for volatile, acid, base-neutral, and pesticide compounds. Of these, 13 samples were analyzed for volatile compounds only, and four were analyzed for semi-volatile and pesticide compounds only. The sample set included one field duplicate pair and one field blank for each matrix.

For inorganic data, 10 solid and 20 aqueous samples were analyzed through the EPA CLP for metals and cyanide. One field duplicate pair for each matrix and one aqueous field blank were included in the sample set.

Data from other investigations and sources will be identified.

A. On-Site Contamination

Groundwater - Production Well

One on-site industrial well is now used by St. Jude's Polymer for production purposes. A sample was taken from the on-site production well during the site inspection of July 1988 by NUS. Duplicate samples of the well revealed conflicting concentrations of lead at 149.7 µg/L and 31.5 µg/L. No organic compounds were at levels of concern in this sample. PADER sampled the well for organics during their well survey investigation of August 1987. PCE and TCA were detected at 5.8 µg/L and 3.8 µg/L, respectively. See Table 5 and Figure 3 for the location of the production well indicated as IW-1 east of the building.

Groundwater - Monitoring Wells

Groundwater samples taken during the screening site inspection were inconclusive as to whether the sources identified at the site were releasing contaminants to the groundwater. As a result, the LSI sampling requirements for the groundwater pathway were designed to determine if a contaminant release to groundwater is occurring from the site. This involved the installation of six monitoring wells. Table 6 shows monitoring well construction details. The one sampling event in September 1989 did not indicate the site is contributing to groundwater contamination for organic or inorganic contamination. Table 7 shows maximum concentrations of contaminants of concern and Figure 2 shows the sample locations.

Surface Water

Analysis of Stoney Creek surface water samples revealed the presence of 1.15 µg/L TCE 20 feet upstream of the lagoons and 1.14 µg/L 111-TCA 20 feet downstream of the lagoons. Samples taken 0.25 mile upstream and downstream showed no contamination.

Lagoon - Aqueous, Sediment, and Soil Samples

B.E.S. Environmental Specialist, Inc. (B.E.S.), in August 1987, under contract to PADER, sampled the lagoons in a grid pattern, obtaining both aqueous and sediment samples. B.E.S. sediment sample results revealed low levels of organic compounds and trace levels of organic compounds in aqueous samples (1).

NUS FIT 3 sampled lagoon number 1 on November 22, 1988, as part of the screening site inspection conducted at the site. One aqueous sample and one sediment sample were collected from the eastern bank of lagoon number 1. The sediment sample contained concentrations of copper and silver at 1,630 mg/kg and 400 mg/kg, respectively. The aqueous sample contained levels of copper, lead, and silver at 7,580 µg/L, 745 µg/L, and 3,050 µg/L, respectively. Low levels of organic compounds were also identified but levels were below comparison values (1).

Samples collected during the LSI consisted of three volatile aqueous and sediment grid samples from each lagoon and one composite aqueous and sediment sample from each lagoon (see Figure 4).  A sample line was constructed along the long axis of lagoon number 2 and on a diagonal for lagoon number 1. Both the aqueous and the sediment samples were analyzed for volatile organic compounds. A single composite sample was collected along each sample line and analyzed for base-neutral acids, polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), pesticides, and inorganics (1). Sediment samples collected from lagoon number 2 contained concentrations of chromium, lead, copper, and silver at 1,440 mg/kg, 889 mg/kg, 5,110 mg/kg, and 1,720 mg/kg, respectively. Sediment samples from lagoon number 1 contained concentrations of aluminum, lead, copper, and silver at 3,370 mg/kg, 792 mg/kg, 7,400 mg/kg, and 3,000 mg/kg, respectively. Although these levels exceeded the Ambient Water Quality Criteria (AWQC), the presence of these inorganics, with the exception of lead, were not found in high concentrations in groundwater on or off the site. Organic contamination was limited to ethylbenzene and total xylenes at levels below the comparison values for these chemicals.

Soil samples collected in the dredged sludge area during the listing site inspection consisted of a surface soil sample and a subsurface soil sample at a depth of 2 feet. The purpose of this sampling was to determine the contaminants present and to investigate the possible depth of the sludge material. The surface soil sample from the sludge area contained inorganic chemical concentrations of chromium, silver, and lead at 1,270 mg/kg, 312 mg/kg, and 1,580 mg/kg, respectively. Concentrations of these contaminants at 2 feet were 151 mg/kg, 472 mg/kg, and 332 mg/kg, respectively. No organic compound contamination was identified in this area. The Remedial Investigation/Feasibility Study (RI/FS) will re-examine this area.

Former Drum Storage Area

The former drum storage area, estimated to be approximately 3,900 square feet in size, is located along the northern and eastern sides of the manufacturing building and is believed to have been used to store drums containing waste solvents that were generated from the paint line operation (1). These drums were distributed to Frackville area residents upon request when Metropolitan Mirror ceased production and filed for bankruptcy. An accumulation of these drums is believed to be the source of the northern plume. (See Off-Site Contamination).

Results of soil samples collected during the screening site inspection found high levels of lead (up to 114,000 mg/kg). No notable organic compounds were found.

Soil samples collected during the listing site inspection from the drum storage area consisted of two surface soil (0-3 inches) and two subsurface soil samples at a depth of 2 feet. The two surface samples contained lead at 5,570 mg/kg and 4,280 mg/kg. However, the soil lead level dropped to 229 mg/kg and 117 mg/kg, respectively at 2 feet in depth. Organic compound contamination was not found at levels above comparison values (1).

B. Off-Site Contamination

Drum Storage Area - Residential Property

A Frackville residence was inspected by PADER Water Quality personnel in July 1987, and eighteen 55-gallon drums from the Old Metropolitan Mirror site were found. Thirteen of the drums leaked because of corrosion and five drums still contained product. B.E.S., under emergency cleanup contract from PADER, sampled contents of drums at a private residence in August 1987. The leaking drums at this residence was determined to be the source of contamination in the northern plume. Collected samples were sent to Suburban Laboratories of Chicago, Illinois for analysis. Table 8 indicates the results of this analysis.

Soil gas testing by EPA was performed at the residence and no organic compounds were detected; however, soil borings were not performed by EPA.

Northern and Southern Contamination Plumes

Groundwater - Residential Wells/Commercial Wells

With the cooperation of Frackville Borough and the Keystone Water Company (now Pennsylvania-American), private and commercial wells were inventoried and tested for VOCs by PADER beginning July 27, 1987. One new commercial well was found to have PCE contamination at 430 µg/L and was switched to the public water supply. This well was immediately downgradient of the source property. On August 1, 1987, the sampling zone was expanded by the analysis of 13 additional wells with one well in the southeast corner of Frackville showing contamination. A third round of sampling was conducted on August 13, 1987, and indicated three additional wells had contamination. In total, 12 of 45 wells sampled showed contamination. Based on the plotting of collected data, a northern and southern plume of contamination were defined and determined to be separated geologically and hydraulically by a syncline structure. Wells sampled within the confines of this structural feature (syncline) showed no contamination. A syncline is a trough of stratified rock in which the beds dip toward each other from either side. Table 9 shows the maximum concentrations of the contaminants of concern in both commercial and residential wells in the northern and southern plumes. Figure 5 shows the approximate location of the plumes.

Other Groundwater Sampling - Screening Site Inspection

The Zapata Industries' industrial well, which is 340 feet deep, is approximately 300 feet from the site and is topographically upgradient. No contaminants of concern were identified in this well. A private well, which is 150 feet deep and 1,250 feet north of the site, was sampled, and TCE was found in the well water at 1 µg/L and lead was found at 9.4 µg/L. The Pennsylvania-American well number 4 is located approximately 2,200 feet west of the site and is 530 feet deep. Sampling analyses for this well indicated PCE present at 2 µg/L. No inorganic chemicals were detected in the analyses (1).

Pennsylvania-American Water Supply Sampling

The Pennsylvania-American Water Company provided PADOH with results of comprehensive sampling for organic compounds at each well from October 1987 through July 1992. This represented approximately 20 sampling events for each well. Inorganic testing results were also provided for the recent time period. Table 10 indicates the maximum concentration of contaminants of concern for each well in the Borough. The four wells in the southern Frackville area have a common effluent (12). The raw readings are at the individual well heads. The Nice Street well is being treated by air stripping and the effluent readings are what is entering the public water supply and blended with the entire system.

C. Quality Assurance and Quality Control

In preparing this public health assessment, PADOH relies on the information provided in the referenced documents and assumes that adequate quality assurance and quality control (QA/QC) measures were followed regarding chain-of-custody, laboratory procedures, and data reporting. The validity of the analyses and conclusions drawn for this public health assessment are determined by the availability and reliability of the referenced information. The QA/QC data summary sheets stated that the field data and sampling quality during the Preliminary Assessment of Metropolitan Mirror and Glass Company was satisfactory and was fully reviewed. This is likewise true of the chemical analysis reports received from the Pennsylvania-American Water Company prepared by Belleville Laboratory in Belleville, Illinois. However, samples obtained by B.E.S. Environmental Specialists, Inc., in August 1987, under contract to PADER, are not known to have QA/QC procedures performed on all sample results.

D. Physical and Other Hazards

The accessible lagoons at the site are a physical hazard. A small 3-foot wire fence surrounding the lagoon area is inadequate when in good condition; in addition, it has been flattened in some areas allowing persons to walk over it. The lagoons were shallow at the time of the site visit; nonetheless, their uniqueness would attract the curiosity of young children.


To determine whether residents are exposed to contaminants migrating from the site, PADOH and ATSDR evaluate the environmental and human components that lead to human exposure. A pathway consists of five elements: a source of contamination, transport through an environmental medium, a point of exposure, a route of human exposure, and a receptor population.

PADOH and ATSDR identify exposure pathways as completed, potential, or eliminated. In completed exposure pathways, the five elements exist and indicate that exposure to a contaminant has occurred in the past, is occurring, or will occur in the future. In potential exposure pathways, however, at least one of the five elements is missing, but could exist. Potential exposure pathways indicate that exposure to a contaminant could have occurred in the past, could be occurring now, or could occur in the future. Eliminated exposure pathways have at least one of the five elements missing, and the element will never be present. Completed and potential pathways, however, may be eliminated when they are unlikely to be significant.

A. Completed Exposure Pathways

The completed exposure pathways are discussed according to type of water supply (public or private) and according to plume (northern or southern). Table 4 shows the estimated number of wells, and the number of people served by those wells, up to 4 miles from the site. A total number of 45,558 people may have been exposed to different concentrations of contaminants at some point in time.

Private Well Pathway - Residential/Commercial - Northern Plume

In July 1987, Water Quality personnel inspected a residence in Northern Frackville. Eighteen 55-gallon drums from the old Metropolitan Mirror site were found. Thirteen of the drums leaked because of corrosion and 5 drums still contained product. A site investigation conducted by B.E.S Environmental Specialties, Inc., indicated significant soils contamination beneath the ruptured drums (QA/QC procedures were not performed on all sample results). The contamination is believe to be the source of the groundwater contamination in the northern plume with the commercial property immediately downgradient having the highest level of contamination in their private well.

A 1987 well survey and sampling round indicated exposure to PCE above the comparison values in several wells. The contaminants 111-TCA and TCE were also detected at low levels in several residential wells. The highest contamination level was about 430 µg/L of PCE in a commercial well. However, this was a new well (in use less than two years), and upon testing, was taken out of service; this establishment was hooked to the municipal supply. The source of contamination was determined to be leaking drums obtained from Metropolitan Mirror and stored on a residential property immediately upgradient. The source is now removed; however, there is most likely contamination in the soil that could enter groundwater. All residents in the area of contamination and using private wells have access to the municipal supply, which is now being treated and meets safe drinking water standards. Table 11 depicts the private well pathway in the northern plume. As shown, people using the contaminated water are exposed to contaminants through ingestion, inhalation of volatile compounds, and direct skin contact.

Public Water Supply - Northern Plume

A completed exposure pathway existed through use of the Nice Street public supply well. However, the contamination was monitored and the well was taken out of service. No one received water directly from the Nice Street well as water was blended with water from other wells before it was distributed to people (13). The maximum contamination of PCE detected after remediation was 1.0 µg/L for the period 1987-1992. People who use the water are exposed through ingestion, inhalation of volatile organic compounds, and direct skin contact.

Private Well Pathway - Residential/Commercial - Southern Plume

The same 1987 well survey and sampling round indicated people were exposed to PCE, TCE, and TCA through use of their contaminated well water. The levels of contamination were generally lower than in the northern plume of contamination (see Table 9). Three homes immediately downgradient from the Frackville Industrial Park are using private wells. PCE was found in two of these wells above the comparison values, and TCA and TCE were present in trace amounts. Several homes and the public supply wells show low levels of PCE and TCA present in the water. The source(s) of this contamination appears to be past, and perhaps even on-going, practices of industry located in the Frackville Industrial Park. Limited sampling to date and other field investigations indicate that Metropolitan Mirror is not likely the only source of contamination. The Pennsylvania-American Water Company has applied for a permit to install an air stripper at the Center Street well location. Contamination at the effluent has not reached the MCL for PCE, the primary contaminant, to date. All private well users have access to the public water supply. Table 12 shows how people are exposed through use of wells in the southern contamination plume.

B. Potential Exposure Pathway

The Metropolitan Mirror and Glass Company obtained a hazardous ranking score for listing on the NPL through the groundwater pathway. The unlined lagoons and the proximity to the water table to the bottom of the lagoon was considered hazardous. Sampling to date has not revealed migration of lagoon sediment contaminants to groundwater. Although this potential remains, the anticipated remedial work at the lagoon area should eliminate the potential pathway. The workplan for the RI/FS is not finalized, but EPA indicated that drainage of the lagoons and reducing or eliminating surface exposure are likely exposure prevention steps to be implemented.

Although a potential exposure pathway through contact with surface soil and sediment is possible, the exposure pathway can be eliminated by better area access restriction. Surface water from the site area does not impact any potable drinking supply, and Stony Creek, which is on-site, is only several feet wide and not easily accessible at the site. Samples from ¼ mile upstream and downstream of the site indicated no contamination from organics or inorganics.



In this section, we discuss the health effects that may occur in persons exposed to site contaminants, evaluate the relevance of state health data bases to provide information for the Metropolitan Mirror site, and evaluate community health concerns.

A. Toxicologic Evaluation

To evaluate non-cancer, adverse health effects, either a Minimum Risk Level (MRL) for contaminants developed by ATSDR or Reference Dose (RfD) developed by EPA has been used. The MRL is an estimate of daily exposure (mg/kg/day) to a contaminant below which non-cancer adverse health effects are unlikely to occur. The RfD is also an estimate of daily exposure (mg/kg/day) to the general public (including sensitive groups) that is likely to be without an appreciable risk of harmful, non-cancerous effects during a lifetime exposure (chronic RfD). Also because of possible cancer effects that may result from a site, PADOH uses an estimate of cancer risk based on EPA's cancer slope factor.

PCE and lead will be evaluated in this section.

Tetrachloroethylene (PCE)

People have been and are being exposed to PCE through use of contaminated groundwater. Commercial, residential, and public water supply wells are contaminated with PCE. People who use the contaminated groundwater are exposed to PCE through the routes of ingestion, inhalation, and dermal contact.

PCE was detected in groundwater at a maximum of 430 µg/L in a commercial well. The maximum amount of PCE to which people may have been exposed in a residential well is 28 µg/L. The daily dose the receptor population would have received through ingestion of PCE is less than the intermediate MRL (14). EPA's RfD would be exceeded for children and adults if used the commercial well water for a 70-year period. RfDs are based on long-term ingestion of the water (14). The commercial well that was found contaminated at 430 µg/L was known to be is use less than two years. Therefore, the short duration of use indicates that non-cancer adverse health effects are not likely to occur through drinking that contaminated well water.

Studies of occupational workers have not linked PCE to cancer in humans; however, laboratory studies have shown that PCE can cause cancer in animals. Based on these studies, PCE has been classified as a possible carcinogen by the Department of Health and Human Services/National Toxicological Program, EPA, and the International Agency on Research of Cancer. The level of exposure in these animal studies was several thousand times greater than the level in the exposed population at this site (14). Based on these animal studies, PADOH estimates that persons exposed to PCE in the private wells, at the highest concentration detected, may have no apparent increased risk of developing cancer over a lifetime. However, exposure to this chemical should be eliminated or reduced to the lowest level possible.


Lead was found in an on-site production well, lagoon sediment, and soils -- specifically in the drum storage area. However, there were much lower levels of lead in the monitoring wells (maximum value of 13.4 µg/L in MW1A). The private well investigation of 1987 tested for organics only. Only one home downgradient from the site was tested for inorganics during the site inspection. This well contained lead at 9.4 µg/L.

The maximum lead concentrations found in sediment (889 mg/kg) and in soil at the drum storage area (114,000 mg/kg) are not a public health concern because exposure is unlikely, especially if actions are taken to better restrict access to lagoon areas or eliminate the possibility for human contact with the soil. The former drum storage area has loading skids and other material covering the area and the lagoon sediment, although accessible, is not likely to be accessed routinely.

The current Maximum Contaminant Level Goal (MCLG) for lead in drinking water is zero. While ATSDR has no MRLs and EPA has no RfD for lead, this lead exposure of 9.4 µg/L is below EPA's proposed guidelines (action level) of 15 µg/L at the tap. No studies are available to indicate how much lead present in drinking water may result in an increased blood-lead level (15). High blood-lead levels are associated with a decrease in intelligence quotient (IQ) scores, slow growth, and hearing problems. Lead exposure is especially dangerous for unborn children because they can be harmed during fetal development. Pregnant women exposed to lead can transfer lead to unborn children, causing premature birth, low birthweight, and miscarriages (15).

B. Health Outcome Data Evaluation

The Frackville Borough wells were not contaminated for a long period of time or at levels that would have produced adverse health outcome. Only a small number of residences used contaminated private wells, and this contamination was at low levels. Data that are available would not result in being able to ascertain whether certain adverse health outcomes would be related to exposure. Additionally, there were no community concerns associated with morbidity or mortality. Therefore, no health outcome data are evaluated at this time.

C. Community Health Concerns Evaluation

PADOH addresses the community concern about health as follows:

    Are there any health risks in drinking the water from the public supply wells?

No. The Pennsylvania-American Water Company has regular water testing - at least quarterly. The contamination at the Nice Street well (northern plume) was being monitored and as the well approached or went slightly above an MCL it was removed from service and is now being treated by an air stripper. Likewise, the contamination in the southern plume wells is being monitored. The Pennsylvania-American Water Company provided extensive water tests for organic chemicals from 1987 to 1992 for each well in service. These tests complied with drinking water standards. PCE ranged from nondetect to the MCL of 5.0 µg/L. No other contaminants were reported at an MCL. Primary MCLs are federal drinking water standards declared under the Safe Drinking Water Act. Generally, an MCL for a toxic chemical represents the allowable lifetime exposure to the contaminant for a 70-kg (154 lb.) adult who is assumed to ingest 2 liters of water per day. In addition to health factors, an MCL is required by law to reflect the technological and economic feasibility of removing the contaminant from the water supply. The limit set must be feasible given the best available technology and treatment techniques. Contaminant levels have averaged below the MCL, and below levels associated with adverse health effects, for the contaminants of concern. Pennsylvania-America Water Company has applied for an air stripper for wells in the southern plume to ensure a high level of public safety (16).

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