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Public Health Assessment
CERCLIS NO. VA3170024605


The Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, ATSDR, was established by Congress in 1980 under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act, also known as the Superfund law. This law set up a fund to identify and clean up our country's hazardous waste sites. The Environmental Protection Agency, EPA, and the individual states regulate the investigation and clean up of the sites.

Since 1986, ATSDR has been required by law to conduct a public health assessment at each of the sites on the EPA National Priorities List. The aim of these evaluations is to find out if people are being exposed to hazardous substances and, if so, whether that exposure is harmful and should be stopped or reduced. If appropriate, ATSDR also conducts public health assessments when petitioned by concerned individuals. Public health assessments are carried out by environmental and health scientists from ATSDR and from the states with which ATSDR has cooperative agreements. The public health assessment program allows the scientists flexibility in the format or structure of their response to the public health issues at hazardous waste sites. For example, a public health assessment could be one document or it could be a compilation of several health consultations - the structure may vary from site to site. Nevertheless, the public health assessment process is not considered complete until the public health issues at the site are addressed.

Exposure: As the first step in the evaluation, ATSDR scientists review environmental data to see how much contamination is at a site, where it is, and how people might come into contact with it. Generally, ATSDR does not collect its own environmental sampling data but reviews information provided by EPA, other government agencies, businesses, and the public. When there is not enough environmental information available, the report will indicate what further sampling data is needed.

Health Effects: If the review of the environmental data shows that people have or could come into contact with hazardous substances, ATSDR scientists evaluate whether or not these contacts may result in harmful effects. ATSDR recognizes that children, because of their play activities and their growing bodies, may be more vulnerable to these effects. As a policy, unless data are available to suggest otherwise, ATSDR considers children to be more sensitive and vulnerable to hazardous substances. Thus, the health impact to the children is considered first when evaluating the health threat to a community. The health impacts to other high risk groups within the community (such as the elderly, chronically ill, and people engaging in high risk practices) also receive special attention during the evaluation.

ATSDR uses existing scientific information, which can include the results of medical, toxicologic and epidemiologic studies and the data collected in disease registries, to determine the health effects that may result from exposures. The science of environmental health is still developing, and sometimes scientific information on the health effects of certain substances is not available. When this is so, the report will suggest what further public health actions are needed.

Conclusions: The report presents conclusions about the public health threat, if any, posed by a site. When health threats have been determined for high risk groups (such as children, elderly, chronically ill, and people engaging in high risk practices), they will be summarized in the conclusion section of the report. Ways to stop or reduce exposure will then be recommended in the public health action plan.

ATSDR is primarily an advisory agency, so usually these reports identify what actions are appropriate to be undertaken by EPA, other responsible parties, or the research or education divisions of ATSDR. However, if there is an urgent health threat, ATSDR can issue a public health advisory warning people of the danger. ATSDR can also authorize health education or pilot studies of health effects, full-scale epidemiology studies, disease registries, surveillance studies or research on specific hazardous substances.

Community: ATSDR also needs to learn what people in the area know about the site and what concerns they may have about its impact on their health. Consequently, throughout the evaluation process, ATSDR actively gathers information and comments from the people who live or work near a site, including residents of the area, civic leaders, health professionals and community groups. To ensure that the report responds to the community's health concerns, an early version is also distributed to the public for their comments. All the comments received from the public are responded to in the final version of the report.

Comments: If, after reading this report, you have questions or comments, we encourage you to send them to us.

Letters should be addressed as follows:

Attention: Chief, Program Evaluation, Records, and Information Services Branch, Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, 1600 Clifton Road (E-60), Atlanta, GA 30333.

List of Figures

Figure 1. Cheatham Annex and Vicinity
Figure 2. Current and Past Property Ownership
Figure 3. Demographic Data
Figure 4. ATSDR's Exposure Evaluation Process

List of Tables

Table 1. Evaluation of Potential Exposure Pathways at Cheatham Annex
Table 2. Installation Restoration Program Sites and Areas of Concern
Table 3. Potential Contaminant Sources in Jones Pond
Table 4. Potential Contaminant Sources in Cheatham Pond
Table 5. Potential Contaminant Sources in Youth Pond
Table 6. Potential Contaminant Sources in Penniman Lake
Table 7. Sites Potentially Impacted by Penniman Activities

List of Abbreviations
AOC area of concern
AST above-ground storage tank
ATSDR Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry
bgs below ground surface
BTEX benzene, toluene, ethylbenzene, xylenes
CAX Cheatham Annex
CEL cancer effect level
CERCLA Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act
CREG cancer risk evaluation guide (ATSDR)
CV comparison value
EMEG environmental media evaluation guide (ATSDR
EPA U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
EPIC Environmental Photographic Interpretation Center
FFA Federal Facilities Agreement
ft feet
IAS initial assessment study
IDA Industrial Development Authority
IRP Installation Restoration Program
LOAEL lowest-observed-adverse-effect level
MCL maximum contaminant level (EPA)
MRL minimal risk level (ATSDR)
N/A not available
NFRAP no further remedial action planned
NOAEL no-observed-adverse-effect level
NPL National Priorities List
NPS National Park Service
NTP National Toxicology Program
NWS Naval Weapons Station
PAH polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon
PCB polychlorinated biphenyl
PHA public health assessment
ppb parts per billion
ppm parts per million
RBC risk-based concentration (EPA)
RCRA Resource Conservation and Recovery Act
RFA RCRA Facility Assessment
RfD reference dose (EPA)
RI remedial investigation
RMEG reference media evaluation guide (ATSDR)
ROD record of decision
SARA Superfund Amendment and Reauthorization Act
SDWA Safe Drinking Water Act
SI site investigation
SOC synthetic organic contaminant
SVOC semi-volatile organic compound
TNT 2,4,6-trinitrotoluene
UST underground storage tank
UXO unexploded ordnance
VDEQ Virginia Department of Environmental Quality
VDH Virginia Department of Health
VIMS Virginia Institute of Marine Science
VOC volatile organic compound

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