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The Illinois Environmental Protection Agency (Illinois EPA) requested that the IllinoisDepartment of Public Health (IDPH) review and evaluate residential groundwater sample resultscollected near the Livingston Landfill in Livingston County, Illinois. This health consultationevaluates the groundwater samples collected from residential wells and on-site monitoring wells.


Livingston Landfill is near Pontiac, Illinois, just north of Interstate 55 and west of Illinois Route23 (Attachment 1). In the past, area residents have expressed concerns about poor landfillingoperations. Concerns included

  • litter blowing off the site,
  • dust and mud on township roads from garbage trucks, and
  • potential surface water and groundwater contamination.

The site was originally called the Pontiac Landfill, but more recently has been known as theLivingston County Landfill. Development began in 1979 and landfill operations began in mid-1980. The landfill consists of two primary units: Parcel ABC Unit, and Parcel D Unit(Attachment 2).

Parcel ABC Unit lies south of Rowe Road and includes the original landfill. Of these threesubunits, Parcel C was used as a borrow area while A and B were used for waste disposal. Thepermitted waste boundary of ABC comprises approximately 115 acres. The capacity of ParcelABC Unit was projected to allow it to remain open until about 2008; however, it filled muchearlier, and closure began before the end of 2000. Reportedly, this unit could be expandedvertically in the future [1].

Parcel D Unit is an entirely new, active development north of Rowe Road with a permitted wasteboundary of about 139 acres. Its life expectancy is estimated at 14 to 18 years. The design life ofboth ABC and D units also includes a 30-year, post-closure care and monitoring period [1].

The oldest portion of the site, called the Old Fill Area, does not have an engineered liner. In1991, the Old Fill Area was capped with 2 feet of clay and 1 foot of vegetation-supporting soil.The construction of new disposal cells contained liners and a leachate drainage system [1].

Groundwater appears to flow southwesterly from the site toward Wolf Creek. Drainage nearParcel ABC is south to Wolf Creek and north to an unnamed tributary of Wolf Creek near ParcelD [1]. In April 1999, IDPH mailed letters to the residents giving a health interpretation of theirprivate water sample results. One private well sample had contaminants at levels that couldpossibly cause adverse health effects. IDPH recommended that these residents not use their wellwater for drinking or cooking. These same residents were offered follow-up well water samplingby Illinois EPA, but declined.

In January 2001, Illinois EPA collected groundwater samples from the landfill monitoring wells.The sample results will be discussed later in the document.

Site Visit

IDPH staff accompanied Illinois EPA during the January 25, 2002 groundwater follow-upinspection. To determine their condition, the reinspection of groundwater monitoring wells wasconducted at the ABC Unit.

The landfill units appeared to be well maintained. No litter or odors were observed orencountered. Agricultural land surrounds the landfill units. The landfill has gated entrances withan 8-foot tall, chain-link fence around the perimeter. The surface of the ABC Unit is coveredwith soil and some vegetation. Wolf Creek borders the southeast portion of the ABC Unit. Nolandfilling activities were being conducted. A gas-to-energy facility is immediately west of theABC Unit. North of Rowe Road, active landfilling was being conducted in the D Unit. Watertrucks were observed controlling dusts from vehicle traffic at this unit. About 20 homes wereobserved within 1 mile of the landfill units.


Chemicals of Interest

IDPH compared the maximum level of each chemical detected during environmental samplingwith appropriate screening comparison values to select chemicals for further evaluation for bothcarcinogenic and non-carcinogenic health effects. Chemicals exceeding comparison values wereselected for further evaluation. A detailed discussion of each of the comparison values used isfound in Attachment 3.

Comparison values are used to screen for contaminants that should be evaluated further--they donot represent thresholds of toxicity. Though some of these chemicals might exist at levels greaterthan comparison values, the contaminants can only affect someone who is exposed and only ifthat exposure results in high enough doses for adverse effects to occur. The amount of thecontaminant, as well as the duration and route of exposure, and the health status of exposedindividuals, are important factors in determining the potential for adverse health effects.

Based on the groundwater monitoring well data from January 2001, arsenic and iron were theonly two inorganic compounds found at levels greater than comparison values. No organicchemicals exceeded comparison values.

Private well water data showed iron, manganese, cadmium, and lead at levels greater thancomparison values. Although iron exceeded comparison values, these guidelines are based onaesthetic qualities and would not be expected to cause adverse health effects.


To determine whether nearby residents are exposed to chemicals migrating from a site, IDPHevaluates the environmental and human components that could lead to exposure. A chemical ofinterest can affect people if they are exposed to sufficient levels for a sufficient period. A sourceof contamination, transport of the contaminant in the media of concern, a point of contact, aroute of exposure, and an exposed population must all be present for an exposure to occur.Exposure pathways are either completed or potential. Completed pathways have all fivecomponents while potential pathways lack one or more of the components.

Private Wells

Residents living near the landfill who use private wells as their potable water source could beexposed to chemicals in that water, primarily through ingestion (drinking the well water).Elevated levels of lead and cadmium were found in one private well.

Lead was also found, at a level of 200 parts per billion (ppb) [2]. Its presence is most likely theresult of corrosion from the lead plumbing materials throughout the distribution system ratherthan site-related. Potential sources of lead corrosion by-products can include

  • lead service lines and interior household pipes,
  • lead solders and fluxes used to connect copper pipes, and
  • brass or bronze alloy faucets that could contain lead.

Cadmium was found at a level of 6 ppb [2]. Cadmium also does not appear to be site-related, andcould also result from the pipes in the household water distribution system. Although this levelexceeds the current drinking water standard (5 ppb), no adverse health effects would be expected.

Manganese was found at a level of 1,000 ppb [2]. USEPA has set a secondary maximumcontaminant level of 50 ppb based on staining and discoloration of materials. Children drinkingwater containing more than 500 ppb manganese may experience adverse neurological effects. Because manganese was not found in on-site monitoring wells, it is probably not a site relatedcontaminant.

Based on the private well data available, no one is being exposed to site-related contaminants atlevels that could cause adverse health effects. However, exposure to lead from householdplumbing materials could cause adverse health effects. Residents have been advised to use analternate water supply for drinking and cooking.

Monitoring Wells

Fourteen on-site monitoring wells were sampled, and elevated levels of arsenic were found ineight of them[3]. In June 1999 elevated levels of arsenic were also detected in a non-communityschool water supply [4]. The school is east of the landfill and upgradient from the water flowaround the site. This suggests arsenic levels in the area are naturally occurring rather than relatedto contamination originating from the landfill. No arsenic was detected in private wells, and noone is drinking water from the monitoring wells.



Lead can cause a variety of adverse health effects in humans. It can affect almost every organ andsystem in the body. Exposure to lead poses the greatest risk to children under 6 years of age andto developing fetuses. Exposure to elevated levels of lead can cause premature births, decreasedbirth weight, decreased mental ability in the infant, learning difficulties and reduced growth [5].

In adults, lead can cause headaches, fatigue, slow reaction time, and weakness in fingers, wrists,or ankles. Lead can also damage the blood-forming system and can cause anemia, but at levelsmuch higher than found at this site [5].


IDPH does not anticipate children will be exposed to site-related contaminants. Though not site-related, elevated levels of lead and cadmium were present in a private well. Children areespecially susceptible to impaired neurological development from lead exposure. In April 1999,IDPH advised residents with elevated levels of lead in their well water not to use that water.


Currently, based on the limited well water sampling data from January 2001, IDPH concludesthat Livingston Landfill poses no apparent public health hazard from exposure to groundwaternear the landfill. Although elevated levels of lead and cadmium were found in a private watersupply, the source is most likely from corrosion of the water distribution system containing lead plumbing materials rather than site-related.


IDPH recommends that nearby residents with elevated lead levels in their well water not drinkthat water. In April 1999, IDPH advised these residents to: (1) not use their well water fordrinking or cooking and (2) resample their water wells to confirm results.

If future environmental data suggest that landfill contaminants have migrated off site, IDPH willre-evaluate the site.


Cary Ware
Environmental Health Specialist
Illinois Department of Public Health


  1. Illinois EPA. Livingston landfill groundwater sampling inspection. Springfield, Illinois; January 2001.

  2. PDC Laboratories, Inc. Residential well water sample analysis. August and December 1998.

  3. Illinois EPA. Groundwater monitoring data. Springfield, Illinois; January 2001.

  4. Illinois DPH. Non-community water supplies. Springfield, Illinois; June 1999.

  5. Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry. Toxicological Profile for Lead. Atlanta: US Department of Health and Human Services; July 1999.


This Livingston Landfill health consultation was prepared by the Illinois Department of Public Health under a cooperative agreement with the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR). It is in accordance with approved methodology and procedures existing at the time the health consultation was begun.

W. Allen Robison
Technical Project Officer
Superfund Site Assessment Branch (SAAB)
Division of Health Assessment and Consultation (DHAC)

The Division of Health Assessment and Consultation, ATSDR, has reviewed this health consultation and concurs with its findings.

Sven E. Rodenbeck
for Roberta Erlwein
Chief, State Programs Section


Site Map


Gas/Groundwater Monitoring Well Locations


Environmental media evaluation guides (EMEGs) are developed for chemicals on the basis oftheir toxicity, frequency of occurrence at National Priorities List (NPL) sites, and potential forhuman exposure. They are derived to protect the most sensitive populations and are not actionlevels, but rather comparison values. They do not consider carcinogenic effects, chemicalinteractions, multiple route exposure, or other media-specific routes of exposure. They are veryconservative concentration values designed to protect sensitive members of the population.

Reference dose media evaluation guides (RMEGs) are another type of comparison value derivedto protect the most sensitive populations. They do not consider carcinogenic effects, chemicalinteractions, multiple route exposure, or other media-specific routes of exposure They are alsovery conservative concentration values designed to protect sensitive members of the population.

Cancer risk evaluation guides (CREGs) are estimated contaminant concentrations that are basedon a probability of 1 excess cancer in 1 million persons exposed to a chemical over a lifetime.These are also very conservative values designed to protect sensitive members of the population.

Maximum contaminant levels (MCLs) have been established by USEPA for public watersupplies to reduce the chances of adverse health effects from contaminated drinking water. Thesestandards are well below levels for which health effects have been observed and take intoaccount the financial feasibility of achieving specific contaminant levels. These are enforceablelimits that public water supplies must meet.

USEPA has established lifetime health advisories for drinking water (LTHAs). LTHAs are theconcentration of a chemical in drinking water that is not expected to cause any adversenoncarcinogenic effects over a lifetime of exposure. These are conservative values whichincorporate a margin of safety.

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

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