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IDPH compared the concentration of each chemical detected during sampling with appropriate comparison values used to select contaminants for further evaluation for carcinogenic and non-carcinogenic health endpoints. The levels of metals were compared with IEPA mean soil concentrations from urbanized areas expected to represent naturally occurring soil background in Illinois. Contaminants exceeding comparison values and those for which no comparison was available were selected for further evaluation for both non-cancerous and cancerous health effects. The selected contaminants, their concentrations on the site and off the site, and comparison values are presented in Table 1 and Table 2.

A detailed discussion of each of the comparison values used is found in Attachment 7. Exceeding a comparison value does not mean adverse health effects will occur upon exposure. The amount of the contaminant, the duration and route of exposure, and the health status and receptivity of exposed individuals are important factors in determining if negative health effects will occur.

The Mittelhauser Corporation study in the spring of 1990 included soil and groundwater sampling. Some VOCs were detected in soil in the UST areas, but all chemicals were found at levels well below the comparison values. Benzene, 1,2-dichloroethane, cis-1,2-dichloroethene, toluene, trichloroethene, and vinyl chloride were detected in many groundwater monitoring wells at levels above the comparison values but not exceeding the health protective guidelines. Benzene and vinyl chloride were also found in a residential well at concentrations that might cause a low increased risk of getting cancer over a lifetime exposure. The study concluded that the presence of VOCs in both upgradient and downgradient monitoring wells suggests that sources other than KTI are responsible for the aquifer contamination. Increased levels of xylene and ethylbenzene in the former eastern UST area suggest that contamination here originated from past facility storage operations. However, the reliability of the study is reduced by the fact that the specified detection limits for many chemicals were above the comparison values.

In November 1991, an IEPA inspection team collected 9 soil and sediment samples, and 6 groundwater samples (Attachment 5 & 6). The soil and sediment samples were collected on the site and near the site within areas of suspected contamination. The samples were collected from 0 to 2 feet depth. Table 3 gives the locations, depths, and physical appearances of individual samples. Because each sample represented a mixed sample, it was impossible to separate data on surface soil (less than or equal to 3" deep) from data on subsurface soil (more than 3" deep). Soil sample X103, collected west of Marathon Oil and north of the rail road, served as a background sample. Soil and sediment samples X101 and X104 were collected on the site, and X102, X106, X107, X108, and X109, were collected east of the site, in a residential area. Soil sample X105 was collected south of KTI.

Sediment samples for the unnamed creek (X106, X107) and residential pond (X108, X109) were collected instead of surface water samples. The groundwater samples included 4 from on-site monitoring wells and 2 from privately owned wells. Sample G203 was taken from a private well approximately 850 feet northwest of KTI and served as a background sample. Samples G101, G102, G104, and G109 were collected on the site, and G202 from a private well approximately 0.25 miles northeast of KTI, at the corner of Cunningham and Meridian Roads. During the CERCLA Screening Site Inspection, a photo-ionization detector was used to detect the presence of certain airborne contaminants. Except sample G102, no documented releases to the air were noted.

None of the contaminants detected in on-site and off-site soil and sediment samples were present at levels that might be harmful if people are exposed to them. Several VOCs were found in on-site monitoring wells at levels above the comparison values. Vinyl chloride was found at a concentration of 0.03 milligrams per liter (mg/L) in sample G101 collected from the eastern border of KTI property, next to a home. High levels of toluene (6.1 mg/L), naphthalene (1.2 mg/L), and 1-ethyl-3-methyl-benzene (23 mg/L) were detected in monitoring well G102 on the western site border, near the Marathon Oil Co. A petroleum-type product was floating atop the water level in monitoring well G102, and the photo-ionization reading for this well registered 300 units above the background. Metals such as aluminum and antimony were detected in all on-site monitoring wells, but not at levels above comparison values.

The Quality Assurance/Quality Control (QA/QC) plan, obtained from IEPA, states that field data and sampling quality during the site assessment were satisfactory. No analytical problems were noted in the QA/QC summary, except for calcium and magnesium in soil from the lagoon, and naphthalene, toluene, and trichloroethene in on-site monitoring wells. Calcium, magnesium, and toluene were estimated values. Naphthalene and trichloroethene were identified at a secondary dilution factor because their initial concentrations exceeded the calibration range.

The July 1994 indoor air samples showed that in the living room air, benzene was the only waterborne contaminant identified. Other chemicals detected may have been related to cigarette smoking. During shower use, there was a continuous build up of the waterborne contaminants in the shower stall air. These data parallel the contaminant levels detected in the pre-shower and post-shower breath of the resident. The pre-shower breath samples showed no detectable levels of the waterborne contaminants except benzene, but the post-shower breath contained benzene, 1,2-dichloroethane, cis-1,2-dichloroethylene, trichloroethylene, and vinyl chloride. The post-shower breath contaminants were due to the inhalation and skin exposure associated with the 10 minute shower.

One of the private wells sampled in February 1995 contained elevated levels of benzene, toluene, ethylbenzene, and xylene. However, except for toluene, the contaminants were detected at concentrations below the comparison values.

Adverse health effects may occur in exposed individuals when a contaminant reaches people through an exposure pathway. An exposure pathway consists of a source of contamination, environmental media and transport mechanisms, a point of exposure, a route of exposure, and a receptor population. Exposure to a contaminant may have occurred in the past, may be occurring now, or may occur in the future. When all the five elements that link the contaminant source to an exposed population are known, a completed exposure pathway exists. When information on one or more of the five elements is missing, only a potential exposure pathway exists.

In the past, hazardous waste sources at KTI were the drum disposal area, underground storage tanks, contaminated soils, and the lagoon. Various amounts of petroleum products and VOCs were found at these locations. However, as part of the voluntary clean up in June 1989, the buried drums and underground storage tanks were removed, along with about 300 cubic yards of contaminated soils. The contaminated materials from the lagoon were also removed and properly disposed, and the lagoon floor was covered with a clay base and an impermeable industrial liner. Later, the lagoon was brought to grade. KTI also stopped using xylene to clean its trucks. All these activities managed to contain, reduce, and remove the past sources of hazardous waste. The 1991 soil and sediment sampling revealed that no contaminants remained in those media at levels above comparison values.

Still, some contaminants migrated to the groundwater and were detected in on-site monitoring wells at levels that might pose a health hazard if people were exposed to them. These contaminants were naphthalene, vinyl chloride, toluene, and 1-ethyl-3-methyl benzene. The 5 full-time workers at the site and about 6 transient truck drivers could have been exposed by drinking contaminated water. The KTI wells draw water from a continuous aquifer with no confining layers to hinder pollutant migration to shallow and deep groundwater.

Groundwater flows east-northeast, where a residential area exists. Both private and public water supplies might become contaminated. The annual assessment of the municipal wells has not revealed contamination of the public water supply, but toluene was found in private wells providing water to residents in nearby houses. These residents, estimated at about 15 people, might have been exposed in their homes by drinking contaminated water, by skin contact, and by inhalation of VOCs during washing and showering. This completed exposure pathway (Table 4) could have occurred in the past, before petroleum facilities in the area provided residents bottled water for drinking and the houses with contaminated water were demolished. No exposure pathways connected to the site currently exist. Still, activities at KTI and the nearby petroleum facilities might pose a health risk in the future if oils or related product spill and contaminate soils and groundwater.

IDPH used the maximum detected level of contaminants to estimate the exposure dose for on-site workers and truck drivers. This may result in an overestimate of the actual exposure. A worker drinking 1.5 liters of contaminated water daily, 5 days per week, for more than a year, may receive a dose of naphthalene, toluene, and vinyl chloride that could result in adverse health effects. The comparison of estimated exposure doses to health guidelines are shown in Table 5.

Scientists do not know if there are any harmful effects in humans to long-term exposure to high levels of 1-ethyl-3-methyl benzene [9]. Up to 1 year exposure to estimated doses of naphthalene may cause the destruction of red blood cells, anemia, nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, diarrhea, and liver and kidney damage [10]. Low to moderate daily exposure to toluene can cause tiredness, confusion, weakness, drunken-type actions, memory loss, and loss of appetite. These effects are more likely to occur when inhalation is the primary route of exposure [11]. Exposure to the estimated dose of vinyl chloride by ingestion is not likely to cause noncancerous health effects. However, vinyl chloride is known to cause cancer in humans, and prolonged drinking of contaminated water may increase the risk of getting cancer in exposed individuals [12].


In June 1993, staff from IEPA and IDPH sampled private wells at nearby homes and interviewed residents about the history of their well contamination. At the time, all residents were drinking bottled water provided by the petroleum facilities in the vicinity. Water from their private well was used for vegetable gardens and to tend horses and domestic animals. Residents raised the following health-related concerns. We have addressed each of the community concerns about health as follows:

  1. Will people drinking contaminated water get sick? Is there any link between a resident getting cancer back in 1981 and chemicals in the drinking water?

Although some residents might have been exposed to naphthalene, toluene, and vinyl chloride by drinking contaminated water or inhaling these chemicals during showering, it is very unlikely that their exposure was high enough to cause harmful health effects. At the concentrations detected in private wells, a long-term exposure period would be necessary for harmful health effects to occur. There was no documented long-term exposure. Because no information was provided about the cancer patient from 1981, it is impossible to discuss any connection with the inhalation of vinyl chloride. Inhalation of high levels of vinyl chloride for a long time is known to cause cancer in humans, especially liver cancer. However, only experimental animal studies exist to relate cancer with ingesting vinyl chloride.

  1. Will the use of contaminated water harm animals (pets, horses) and vegetable gardens?

It is unlikely that the detected levels of toluene, naphthalene, and vinyl chloride in well water will have a harmful effect on pets, horses, and cultivated vegetables. When watering gardens, a portion of naphthalene volatilizes to the atmosphere. The remaining naphthalene enters the soil and is rapidly degraded by reacting with the soil and by microbes in the soil. It is unlikely to enter the plants and the food chain. Vinyl chloride is rapidly removed from the water through volatilization into the air. It is also broken down in the soil, but to a lesser extent than naphthalene. It is not likely to accumulate into plants and the food chain. Toluene is also removed from the water by volatilization into the air, oxidation processes, and by microbial action. Toluene has a tendency to concentrate in fatty tissues, but it does not accumulate in plants that contain no fat.

  1. Kids swim and play in an area swimming pool. Will they be hurt if the pool is filled with contaminated water?

The levels of contaminants detected in the private wells in the past was unlikely to cause harmful health effects for the brief exposure children would have swimming and playing in the pool. At the present time, there is no private well water contamination detected.

Residents also raised several questions about property values and liability issues. These issues are beyond the focus of this public health assessment.

This health assessment was available for public comment from August 28 to September 27, 1998. All grammatical and structural comments have been incorporated into this final version. No comments regarding the content and conclusions of this health assessment were received.


ATSDR and IDPH, through ATSDR's Child Health Initiative, recognize that the unique vulnerabilities of infants and children demand special emphasis in communities faced with the contamination of their environment. Children are at a greater risk than adults from certain kinds of exposure to hazardous substances emitted from waste sites. They are more likely exposed because they play outdoors and because they often bring food into contaminated areas. They are shorter than adults, which means they breath dust, soil, and heavy vapors close to the ground. Children are also smaller, resulting in higher doses of chemical exposure per body weight. The developing body systems of children can sustain permanent damage if toxic exposures occur during critical growth stages. Most importantly, children depend completely on adults for risk identification and management decisions, housing decisions, and access to medical care.

IDPH evaluated the likelihood for children living near the site to be exposed to contaminants at levels of health concerns. Children were likely exposed to chemical contaminants in the past, but there are currently no completed exposure pathways affecting children at the site. Should private wells still in use downgradient of the site be affected by contamination in the future, children in these houses may be exposed to the contaminated water.

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