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  1. The Thermo-Chem, Inc. site currently poses an indeterminate public health hazard. As mentioned in the Pathways Analysis section above, subsurface soil on the site is extensively contaminated with volatile organic chemicals (VOCs), however, there is not adequate data on contaminants in the surface soil. The potential hazard from contact with the surface soil is much reduced because any VOCs in surface materials have probably evaporated over the years since the site was active. The available information on sub-surface soil contamination does not indicate that the site poses any apparent health hazard under current conditions. In the past, the site posed a health hazard to workers at both Thermo-Chem, Inc. and the Thomas Solvent Co., who could have been exposed to various chemicals they handled or that were in the soil as a result of accidental spills and leaks. Trespassers on the site might also have also been exposed.
  2. Much of the on-site contamination is in subsurface soils. The ROD signed in 1991 includes the excavation and off-site incineration of the most contaminated soils. Remedial workers could be exposed to contamination in surface soil during clean-up activities.

  3. The groundwater beneath and immediately downgradient of the site is contaminated with VOCs as a result of operations and incidents at the Thermo-Chem, Inc. site. However, there is no indication that contaminated groundwater from the site has reached any residential well. No residences exist downgradient between the site and Black Creek. Residential well sampling in other directions has shown no site-related contamination.

  4. The contaminated groundwater discharges to Black Creek,downgradient of the site. Sediment and surface water from thecreek contain traces of VOCs. As mentioned earlier, sampling offish in Black Creek conducted by the MDNR in 1987 did not showlevels of contaminants at or above health concern. Black Creekserves as an exposure pathway for those who may use the creek forrecreation, however, the potential exposure would not be expectedto result in adverse health effects.

  1. On-site surface soil sampling should be conducted to further characterize the extent of on-site contamination and the potential for direct contact exposure, including but not limited to the unfenced Thomas Solvent Co. portion of the site. These samples should be taken from the 0 to 3 inch depth.
  2. Remedial workers on the site should take appropriate safety precautions to prevent exposures to contaminants at levels of health concern. In addition, access to the entire site area should be restricted, particularly the Thomas Solvent Co. property area.

  3. Institutional controls should be considered to restrict the use of groundwater as drinking water in the area between the Thermo-Chem, Inc. site and Black Creek. Such institutional controls are included in the selected remedy in the ROD for the site (9).

  4. Further surface water and sediment sampling of Black Creekis needed to determine the extent of contamination downstream ofthe site. If extensive contamination is found in the creek,warning signs or restriction of access to this area should beimplemented to prevent exposure to site-related contamination. Inaddition, fish in the creek may need to be further sampled ifextensive contamination is found in the sediments or water in thecreek.


A Health Activities Recommendation Panel convened by ATSDR andMDPH has evaluated the data and information developed for theThermo-Chem, Inc. Public Health Assessment for appropriatefollow-up health actions. The panel determined that althoughthere is circumstantial evidence that trespassers on the sitehave been exposed to chemical contaminants, the exposedpopulation cannot be identified and the extent of the exposure isnot known. The site will be included in an ATSDR-sponsored MDPHprogram of community and physician health education for MuskegonCounty. No other follow up health activities are recommended atthis time.


Public Health Action Plans (PHAP) are developed to describeactions to be taken by ATSDR or the Michigan Department of PublicHealth (MDPH) at and in the vicinity of toxic waste sitessubsequent to the completion of Public Health Assessments. Thepurpose of the PHAP is to ensure that Public Health Assessmentsnot only identify public health hazards, but also provide a planof action designed to mitigate and prevent adverse human healtheffects resulting from exposure to hazardous substances in theenvironment. No public health actions have been identified asnecessary at this site at this time.

Health Actions Undertaken

Since the release of the Preliminary Health Assessment, aportion of the Thermo-Chem, Inc. site has been fenced. Hazardouswastes had been removed from the site by late 1982. To date, nocommunity health concerns regarding the site have reachedfederal, state, or local environmental or health agencies.

Health Actions Planned

The MDPH, under a grant from ATSDR, is developing a program ofphysician and community health education to address concernsrelated to the many toxic waste sites in Muskegon County. Thereare 9 sites on the NPL in the county, and approximately 200 sitesin the county on the list developed by the MDNR/MDEQ under theMichigan Environmental Response Act, Part 201 of Public Act 451.The Thermo-Chem Inc. site will be included in this program.

ATSDR and MDPH will coordinate with federal and stateenvironmental agencies to carry out the recommendations made inthis assessment.

ATSDR will reevaluate and expand the Public Health Action Planwhen needed. New environmental, toxicological, or health outcomedata, or the results of implementing the above proposed actionsand recommendations may determine the need for additional actionsat this site.


Michigan Department of Public Health

    Michael Lee, Environmental Toxicologist

    Brendan Boyle, Project Manager

    John Filpus, Environmental Engineer

    James Bedford, Environmental Toxicologist

    Robin Freer, Resource Specialist

    John Hesse, Principal Investigator

ATSDR Regional Representative

    Louise Fabinski
    Regional Services, Region V
    Office of the Assistant Administrator

ATSDR Technical Project Officer

    William Greim
    Division of Health Assessment and Consultation
    Superfund Site Assessment Branch


The Thermo-Chem, Inc. Public Health Assessment was prepared bythe Michigan Department of Community Health under a cooperativeagreement with the Agency for Toxic Substances and DiseaseRegistry (ATSDR). It is in accordance with approved methodologyand procedures existing at the time the public health assessmentwas initiated.

William Greim
Technical Project Officer, SPS, SSAB, DHAC

The Division of Health Assessment and Consultation, ATSDR, hasreviewed this health assessment and concurs with its findings.

Richard Gillig
for Director, DHAC, ATSDR


  1. U.S. EPA National Priorities List Sites: Michigan. EPA/540/4-90/023. September, 1990. pp 147-148.
  2. Environmental Resources Management-North Central, Inc. Remedial Investigation Report for the Thermo-Chem site, Muskegon, MI. Project No. 8185006. February, 1991.

  3. Lee, M. Michigan Department of Public Health (MDPH). Site Visit to the Thermo-Chem, Inc. Superfund Site. December 20, 1993.

  4. U.S. EPA Region V. Final Technical Assistance Report for the Thomas Solvent site, Muskegon, MI. Contract No. 68-W9-0007. March, 1991.

  5. MDPH for the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR), Preliminary Health Assessment for Thermo Chem, Inc., Muskegon, MI. November 28, 1988.

  6. Keck Consulting Services, Inc. Hydrogeologic Study of the Thomas Solvent Company of Muskegon. April 23, 1986.

  7. Technical Memorandum No. 1. Soil Gas Investigation. Thermo-Chem Remedial Investigation/Feasibility Study (RI/FS). June, 1989.

  8. Technical Memorandum No. 3. Black Creek Surface Water and Stream Sediment Sampling. RI/FS, Phase I, Task 2. Thermo-Chem Site. April 23, 1992.

  9. Declaration for the Record of Decision. Thermo Chem Site, MI, Operable Unit I. September, 1991.

  10. Hahnenberg, J. U.S. EPA. Personal Communication. October 3, 1995.

  11. U.S. Bureau of the Census. 1990 Census Data.

  12. Adelman, M. Michigan Department of Natural Resources (MDNR). Personal Communication. January 3, 1994. January 6, 1994.

  13. Hahnenberg, J. U.S. EPA. Personal Communication. November 9, 1993.

  14. Vandenheuvel, M. Muskegon County Health Department. Personal Communication.

  15. Michigan Department of Natural Resources, Surface Water Quality Division. Fish Contaminant Monitoring Program, 1989 Annual Report. MI/DNR/SWQ-89/168. December 1989.

  16. Nauen, C.C. Compilation of Legal Limits for Hazardous Substances in Fish and Fishery Products. FAO Fisheries Circular No. 764. Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. Rome, Italy. 1983.

  17. Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry. Toxicological Profile for Naphthalene. December, 1990.

  18. Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry. Toxicological Profile for Polychlorinated Biphenyls (PCBs), Update. April, 1993.

  19. Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry. Toxicological Profile for Cobalt. July, 1992.

  20. Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry. Toxicological Profile for Copper. December, 1990.

  21. Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry. Toxicological Profile for Lead, Update. April, 1993.

  22. Spivak, G., MDPH Office of State Registrar/Division of Health Statistics. Memorandum to J. Filpus. February 3, 1995.

  23. Michigan Department of Public Health,Office of the State Registrar and Center for Health Statistics.Cancer incidence data.

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