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Past smelting, mining, and rolling operations at Matthiessen and Hegeler Zinc Company (MHZ)have resulted in contamination of soils by organic chemicals and various metals. Slag piles,demolition debris, and past mining on the site have also created a variety of physical hazards thatcould be dangerous to trespassers. Soils in residential areas bordering the site also contain metalsthat can be linked to past site operations. Completed exposure pathways include:

  • past inhalation of airborne emissions from plant operations;
  • dermal contact, inhalation, and ingestion of waste materials, contaminated soils, and fugitive dust by site trespassers or those working at the site (past and present); and
  • dermal contact, ingestion, and inhalation of contaminated soil and fugitive dust by residents off the site (past and present).

Though many chemicals are found at elevated levels in soil on the site, access to the public islimited. Off the site, cadmium, lead, and arsenic are present in some soil at levels of potential healthconcern if exposure occurs for a long time. Based on these levels, the proximity of potentiallysensitive populations, and the exposures that occurred in the past, the MHZ site is considered apublic health hazard. Recommendations for future actions include additional sampling on and offthe site, maintenance of the site fencing, periodic sampling of existing groundwater monitoring wellsor construction of new ones, and education of nearby residents on ways to reduce exposure.


The Illinois Environmental Protection Agency (Illinois EPA) requested that the Illinois Departmentof Public Health (IDPH) perform a public health assessment for the MHZ site. The purpose of thispublic health assessment is to evaluate, based on the information reviewed and currently available,any known or potential adverse human health effects if people are exposed to contaminants related to the site.


Site Location

The MHZ site consists of approximately 120 acres on the east side of La Salle in La Salle County,Illinois (Figure 1). The site is bound by the Little Vermilion River on the north and east, the La SalleRolling Mills and Sterling and Zinc Streets on the west, and the Carus Chemical Company on thesouth (Figure 2). Farm fields and vacant land are across the river north of the site. The OakwoodCemetery, vacant land, and a limestone quarry owned by the Illinois Cement Company are east,across the river. Private homes are along the western and southern site boundaries.

For this public health assessment, IDPH reviewed Illinois EPA files relating to the former MHZ sitewhich does not include the areas currently operating as La Salle Rolling Mills and Carus ChemicalCompany. In the future, those parcels could be "annexed" as part of the MHZ site for remedialpurposes. If that happens, IDPH will amend this public health assessment as necessary to includeany data from those separate areas.

Site History

MHZ was founded in 1858 on land purchased from the Illinois Central Railroad. The smelter wassited in La Salle because of its central location between the zinc ore producing areas of Missouri andWisconsin, the locally available supply of coal for fuel, and access to river and rail transportation.The rolling mill was constructed in 1866, and the business was incorporated in 1871. EdwardHegeler invented a hybrid furnace in 1881 that increased the efficiency of the roasting and smeltingoperation. The furnace used a combination of steam and coke as a fuel. The process generated sulfurdioxide that was recovered and converted to sulfuric acid. The acid was stored on the site in severallarge tanks and sold as a by-product. An ammonium sulfate fertilizer plant operated at the site forseveral years in the 1950s and used some of the generated sulfuric acid.

MHZ stopped mining coal at the site in 1937, and zinc smelting ended in 1961. Sulfuric acidmanufacture ended in 1968, and rolling operations continued until the plant closed in 1978 after thecompany declared bankruptcy. Most of the buildings formerly used by MHZ, including the smelter,roasters, acid works, tanks, fertilizer plant, coal mine, and support structures, have been completelyor partially demolished. Most of this property (112 acres) is now held by the Citizen's Trust. Therolling mill was purchased at an auction in 1979 by people who continue to operate the facility asthe La Salle Rolling Mills. The La Salle Rolling Mills is directly west of the site at 1375 NinthStreet and employs approximately 100 people. The company receives zinc ingots from outsidesuppliers and does no smelting on the site. The Carus Chemical Company is directly south of the siteand the rolling mill at 1500 Eighth Street. It produces potassium permanganate and other specialtychemicals and employs approximately 100 people. Illinois Power also owns and operates anelectrical substation on former MHZ property directly west of La Salle Rolling Mills.


La Salle, Illinois, is in the center of La Salle County along the Illinois River. The city of Peruadjoins La Salle to the west. The 1990 U.S. Census reported the population of La Salle at 9,717people and Peru at 10,886 people. Ninety-seven percent of the population of La Salle and Peru areCaucasian. The nearest private homes are immediately adjacent to the site on the west and south. Aschool is approximately 800 feet west of the site, and several small parks are also near the site to thewest. Approximately 1,500 people reside within a quarter mile west and south of the site. Tenthousand people live within a mile of the site, and 23,000 people live within three miles of the site.Two hundred employees work adjacent to the site at La Salle Rolling Mills and Carus Chemical.

Natural Resource Use

The geology of the MHZ site consists of Wisconsin glacial till overlying bedrock. Four majorgroundwater units are in the area: the Quaternary Aquifer, the Silurian Dolomite Aquifer, theCambrian-Ordovician Aquifer, and the Mt. Simon-Elmhurst Aquifer. Only the Quaternary andCambrian-Ordovician Aquifers are used for drinking water.

Despite the presence of the Illinois River, wells furnish all the drinking water in the La Salle area.Large quantities of water are removed from wells screened locally in the Cambrian-OrdovicianAquifer. It is composed of several distinct sandstone and dolomite formations hydrologicallyconnected and functioning as one unit. The flow of water in this aquifer is southeast toward theIllinois River. The groundwater flow in the Quaternary Aquifer at the site is also generally southeasttoward the river.

Drinking water within a 3-mile radius is supplied by the municipal water systems operated by LaSalle, Peru, Oglesby, and North Utica. The nearest municipal well is La Salle Well #4, about 0.7miles south of the site. This well is 63 feet deep and draws from the sand and gravel formation of theQuaternary Aquifer. All of the La Salle public water is obtained from a cluster of six wells 0.75miles south of the site near the confluence of the Illinois and Little Vermilion Rivers, and in thedirection of groundwater flow from the site. All wells are 61 to 70 feet in depth and finished in theQuaternary Aquifer. Peru's four wells are nearly 2 miles west of the site and are between 2,600 and2,760 feet in depth. The town of Oglesby is south, across the Illinois River, and uses two wells, bothabout 2,800 feet deep. The town of North Utica is about 3 miles east of the site and uses two wellsthat are 618 and 1,078 feet deep.

Although all La Salle homes are supplied with city water, some private wells exist near the site. Thenearest private well is approximately 1,500 feet north of MHZ and is upgradient from the site. Nocity water is provided to areas outside the municipal boundaries.

Drainage from the site flows primarily east and enters the Little Vermilion River. A narrow strip ofthe site is within the 100-year flood plain. An abandoned sewer line crosses the property, and IllinoisEPA staff have observed water flowing from it into the Little Vermilion River. The Little VermilionRiver enters the Illinois River approximately one mile downstream of the site. While neither river isused as a source of drinking water, both are used for boating and fishing. The Illinois River is alsoused as a transportation corridor by barge traffic. Wetlands and conservation areas also exist alongboth waterways.

Site Visit

IDPH staff have visited the site on several occasions, most recently in December 1997 and January1999. The southern end of the site contained the two, active industrial facilities previouslydiscussed. Both facilities were surrounded by an 8-foot-tall, chain-link fence topped with threestrands of barbed wire. The fence appeared intact. Trespassers would probably avoid this area due tothe production activity and the presence of workers; however, no guards were visible. The samefencing continued along the west side of the site to north of the rolling mill and electrical substation.In the past, the fencing ended just north of the electrical substation, leaving no barrier to trespassersalong most of the western site boundary. This lack of fencing was a concern due to the high volumeof trespassers on the site. The site attracts people because of the wooded areas and hills. The site hasbeen used for hunting, biking, and for access to the Little Vermilion River. A new, 8-foot-tall chainlink fence has been constructed that continues north from the electrical substation and extendsaround the northern portion of the site. The site is now completely fenced along its west, south, andnorth boundaries.

Despite the presence of the fencing, IDPH staff saw footprints in the snow on the site during theDecember 1997 visit. Apparently, at least one person had climbed the fence to gain access. Thesouthern portion of the site is relatively flat but slopes eastward toward the river north and east. Theland becomes distinctly hilly at the extreme northern end. From the fence line, several abandonedbuildings were visible as were several 55-gallon drums and three or more tanks the size of railroadcars. Several children reside in the neighborhood that consists of mostly older, well-maintained, single-family dwellings near the site.


Environmental Sampling

Illinois EPA conducted an Integrated Site Assessment in 1993 and took environmental samples tocharacterize the impact of MHZ on soils and sediments both on and off the site. IDPH compared theconcentration of each contaminant detected during environmental sampling with the appropriatecomparison value developed by the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR).The comparison values are used to select contaminants for further evaluation for exposure and anyresulting carcinogenic and non-carcinogenic health effects. Chemicals found at levels greater thancomparison values or those for which no comparison value exists were selected for furtherevaluation. A discussion of each of the health screening comparison values used is found in Attachment 1.

When IDPH screened sample results from the site, children who might trespass onto the site wereconsidered the most sensitive population potentially exposed. For samples taken in residential areas,more conservative comparison values were used to take into account the presence of toddlers whohave hand to mouth activity and would regularly play in the soil. Illinois EPA provided all datareviewed, and IDPH assumes it meets contract laboratory requirements for quality control andassurance.

On-Site Contamination

Illinois EPA collected seven soil samples plus a duplicate sample from the site and analyzed themfor organic and inorganic contaminants. The soil samples were collected at depths ranging from 2 to24 inches. Soil in the top 3 inches best characterizes the potential for exposure to persons on the site.Most of the Illinois EPA samples were taken deeper than 3 inches. Three sediment samples plus aduplicate were also collected from the Little Vermilion River. Illinois EPA took all sedimentsamples within 1 inch of the surface. In addition, one soil and one sediment sample were collectedfrom areas thought to be unaffected by the site and were used to represent the background levels ofchemicals in local soil.

The results of soil analyses are summarized in Tables 1 and 2. The organic chemical analysesdetected trace amounts of a variety of compounds including pesticides, polychlorinated biphenyls(PCBs), polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), and solvents. Most of the residues were found inareas of past plant operations, including the coal gas plant, rail yard, the pottery works, the slag pile,and acid works. Results of the sediment analyses are summarized in Tables 3 and 4. The sedimentscontained low levels of pesticides and PCBs that may have originated as runoff from the MHZ siteor properties next to the site. Only a few organic compounds exceeded comparison values in soil orsediment, including hexachlorobenzene, pentachlorophenol, benzo(a)pyrene, toxaphene, and PCBs.

The primary contamination found on the site consisted of inorganic chemicals typically found at ametal smelting facility. The analyses showed several metals present in soil and sediment on the siteat levels greater than local background levels. The metals were elevated in several samples on thesite and included cadmium, lead, arsenic, nickel, beryllium, copper, manganese, aluminum, iron,potassium, and zinc.

Off-Site Contamination

Thirteen soil samples were collected from residential areas, primarily west of the site. Ten sampleswere collected from the yards of private homes; two samples were collected from nearby schools.One sample was taken at a nearby day care facility. Those samples were only analyzed for inorganicchemicals, and the results are summarized in Table 5. While the average levels are lower than thosefound on the site, several metals exceed the comparison values and are greater than levels found inbackground samples. Chemicals that exceeded local and state backgrounds or comparison valuesincluded cadmium, lead, arsenic, beryllium, manganese, vanadium, and zinc.

Physical Hazards

The site has been an attraction to trespassers in the past, but a newly-constructed fence limits accessto the site. The site is unvegetated in many places and contains many partially demolishedstructures, slag piles, demolition debris, and open pits from past mining or excavations. Thissituation presents the possibility of death or injury from falls, crushing, cutting, or puncture injuries.A drowning hazard might exist if standing water accumulates in any open excavations, depressions,or pits.

Completed Exposure Pathways

For illness to result, people must come into contact with environmental contamination; in otherwords, a completed exposure pathway must exist. An exposure pathway must satisfy severalconditions to be considered completed. The conditions include a source of contamination, transportof the contaminant through an environmental medium, a point of contact, a route of exposure, andan exposed population. At MHZ, an example of an exposure pathway would be the slag piles(source), generation of fugitive dusts (transport), the adjacent neighborhood (point of contact),inhalation (route of exposure), and residents (exposed population). Exposure pathways are eithercompleted or potential. Completed pathways have all five components while potential pathways lack one or more of the components.

At the MHZ site, several pathways are complete (Table 6). In the past, local residents wereundoubtedly exposed to airborne emissions from smelting and roasting operations. Area residentsreported they had to go indoors at times because of heavy air emissions. Those reports dated fromthe 1950s and probably ended with the closure of smelting activities and sulfuric acid production.The most likely chemical responsible for the complaints was sulfur dioxide, but residents were alsolikely to have been exposed to metals in air as evidenced by the deposition of metals in soils off thesite. Because the site is largely unvegetated, wind erosion continues to contribute to exposure of sitetrespassers, nearby residents, and nearby workers. Digging in soil off the site and wind erosion ofunvegetated soil off the site would also increase the likelihood of exposure to airborne soilcontaminants.

Direct contact with waste materials on the site may lead to dermal absorption. That route ofexposure is not a concern for the public because fencing limits access to the site. Dermal absorptionwould largely be limited to organic contaminants that exist at very low levels on the site. Inorganiccompounds are also on the site at elevated levels, but are generally not well absorbed through theskin. Exposure to the contaminants occurs when residues on the hands are transferred to the mouthduring eating, drinking, or smoking.

Ingestion of off-site soil, primarily by children, is also a completed exposure pathway. Soils off thesite have become contaminated from deposition of smelter emissions and fugitive dusts, surfacerunoff, vehicle traffic, and individual tracking. Because of their behavior and play, children ingest acertain amount of soil daily. Children who have more hand-to-mouth activity may ingest much moresoil. Adults ingest a small amount of soil daily through accidental hand to mouth transfer. Playing insoil, gardening, or excavating contaminated soil will increase exposure to area residents.

Potential Pathways

The most evident potential pathway is through drinking water. The proximity of the La Salle publicwells to the MHZ site, their relatively shallow depth, and the fact that they are in the path ofgroundwater flow make this a potential concern. While metals are not very mobile in soil, thepresence of acid waste and standing water in pits may increase their mobility. Illinois EPA requiresthat public water supplies be analyzed regularly, and presently, no indication has been found that theLa Salle public water supply is affected.

Air deposition from wind erosion or smelter operations may have affected the farmland east of theMHZ site. This may have resulted in increased residue levels in food crops grown or animalsgrazing there.

The contaminant level in house dust may be increased as the result of tracking contaminated soilinto the home. Former workers or site trespassers may have carried metals on their clothes into thehome and increased the household dust levels. Persons in the home may then inhale and ingest thiscontaminated dust. If contaminated soil is near homes, exposures are possible for individuals who donot dig or play in soil through incidental contact.

Garden crops may also serve as a route of exposure through the uptake of contaminants by roots andcontamination of exposed plant surfaces. Certain crops may selectively accumulate some metals,like cadmium, when grown in contaminated soil and increase exposure through the diet. Severalhomes had garden plots, and consumers of the produce would be expected to increase their exposure,particularly if fruits and vegetables were not properly cleaned.

Additionally, hunting was known to take place on the site before construction of the current fence,and the Little Vermilion River is used for fishing. Some of the site contaminants may bioaccumulatein animals or fish exposed to them. The Little Vermilion River receives drainage from the site andprobably aerial deposition from past operations and wind erosion. Fish and other aquatic life mayaccumulate some of the contaminants from the sediment. Humans may be exposed through theconsumption of the fish.

Public Health Implications

Given the current site conditions, the most likely exposure scenario would be children playing in contaminated soil off the site. The levels of contaminants found off the site are shown in Table 5. IDPH estimated exposure to contaminants in surface soil based on a child's contacting and ingesting 200 milligrams of soil daily while playing 5 days per week, 9 months per year for 16 years. Based on that scenario, the following chemicals have the potential to cause adverse health effects:

Lead. Lead was found at elevated levels both on and off the site. The levels on the site are less of aconcern because access to the site is limited, but one sample off the site exceeded the standardadopted under the Illinois Lead Poisoning Prevention Act (1,000 parts per million) for the protectionof children. When ingested, lead is not well absorbed by adults, but it is absorbed more readily bychildren, particularly undernourished children. Given the levels of lead found off the site, childrenwho might be exposed to contaminated soils might have increased blood lead levels that can causeeffects such as developmental problems and learning disorders. Past studies have found that lead insoil and lead in household dust contributes to the lead body burden. Hand to mouth transfer of leaddust is the major route of exposure for most children and adults in the indoor environment. Whilelead is not readily taken up by plants, lead dust can contaminate the outside surface of plants. Leadpaint used in exterior and interior paints and in a variety of occupations and hobbies may contributeto individual exposure.

Arsenic. Arsenic was found at elevated levels primarily on the site, although soils off the site werealso higher than the local background. Still, the levels found are similar to some levels reported asbackground in Illinois. Based on our exposure scenario, no non-cancer health effects would be expected, and exposure poses no apparent increased cancer risk.


IDPH and Illinois EPA held a public meeting in La Salle on January 24, 1995, and area residentshad the opportunity to express their health concerns. Since then, IDPH has received phone calls fromarea residents who have asked questions and expressed concerns about issues at the site. Thefollowing information is a summary of the health concerns expressed and IDPH's answers to thosequestions.

1. When will additional sampling be done?

IDPH will work with Illinois EPA to plan a sampling strategy that will help to better characterizethe extent of contamination off the site. The sampling is best done in the summer months whenconditions are dry and dust migration from the site is likely at its highest levels.

2. Are any drinking water wells affected?

Most drinking water in the surrounding area is provided by municipal wells. The public watersupplies are tested for contamination on a regular basis, and the results are reported to Illinois EPA.Thus far, no municipal wells appear to be affected by the site. If contamination were to migrate inthe future, the wells most at risk would be the La Salle public wells. Those wells are in the projectedpath of groundwater flow and are much more shallow than the Peru public wells.

3. What do area health professionals know about the site?

In 1997, IDPH sponsored health professional education at hospitals in both Spring Valley andPrinceton regarding the New Jersey Zinc site in De Pue. The program focused on the health effectsof exposure to heavy metals and the importance of taking a patient's exposure history. This program was offered to Illinois Valley Community Hospital in Peru, but they declined.


IDPH and ATSDR recognize that children are especially sensitive to some contaminants. For thatreason, IDPH includes children when evaluating exposures to contaminants. Children are the mostsensitive population considered in this public health assessment, and the implications of children's exposure were discussed in the Public Health Implications section of this document.


Based on the limited sampling of the MHZ property, MHZ is apparently contaminated with avariety of inorganic chemicals, several of which have migrated to the adjacent residentialneighborhood. Though many chemicals are at levels of health concern on the site, public access islimited. Off the site, lead is at levels that may contribute to elevated blood lead in exposed children.Nearby residents and workers on the site were exposed to airborne contaminants during smeltingoperations in the past. Those past exposures, however, cannot be quantified. Based on the levels ofcontamination on the site, the proximity of potentially sensitive populations, the past exposures thatoccurred to the community, physical hazards on the site, and the completed exposure pathways expected to continue in the future, the MHZ site is considered a public health hazard.


IDPH recommends:

  1. Maintaining the fence that restricts access to the site.

  2. Conducting additional soil sampling on the site to better determine the extent ofcontamination.

  3. Undertaking dust control measures at the site to prevent the movement of contamination.

  4. Conducting periodic sampling at any existing groundwater monitoring wells around the site,more specifically between the site and the La Salle public water supply wells to assess theimpact of the site on the area groundwater. Construct additional monitoring wells ifnecessary. If any private wells are used in the area between the site and public water supply wells, those wells should be tested.

  5. Conducting surface soil sampling in the nearby residential areas to further evaluate the effect of site emissions. Special attention should be given to neighboring yards, gardens, and parks.

  6. Providing residents with information that will teach them how to reduce exposure to site-related chemicals.


IDPH will work with Illinois EPA to plan additional sampling in nearby residential areas to furtherevaluate the effect of the site on neighboring properties. IDPH suggests giving special attention toneighboring yards, gardens, and parks. IDPH will also develop a fact sheet for distribution toresidents to provide information that will allow them to reduce their exposures to site-related chemicals in soil.


Jennifer Slightom
Environmental Toxicologist
Illinois Department of Public Health

Ken Runkle
Mike Moomey
Environmental Toxicologists
Illinois Department of Public Health

ATSDR Regional Representative
Louise Fabinski
Regional Operations
Office of the Assistant Administrator

ATSDR Technical Project Officers
Gail Godfrey
Division of Health Assessment and Consultation

Steve Inserra
Division of Health Studies

Courtney Wilson
Division of Health Education and Promotion


ATSDR, 1992. Public Health Assessment Guidance Manual. Agency for Toxic Substances andDisease Registry, U.S. Public Health Service, Atlanta, GA.

ATSDR, 1996. Toxicological Profile for Hexachlorobenzene (Update). Agency for ToxicSubstances and Disease Registry, Atlanta, GA.

ATSDR, 1990. Toxicological Profile for Silver (TP-90/24). Agency for Toxic Substances andDisease Registry, Atlanta, GA.

ATSDR, 1991. Toxicological Profile for Barium (TP-91/03). Agency for Toxic Substances andDisease Registry, Atlanta, GA.

ATSDR, 1998. Draft Toxicological Profile for Manganese (Update). Agency for Toxic Substancesand Disease Registry, Atlanta, GA.

ATSDR, 1992. Toxicological Profile for Arsenic (TP-92/06). Agency for Toxic Substances andDisease Registry, Atlanta, GA.

ATSDR, 1998. Draft Toxicological Profile for Cadmium (Update). Agency for Toxic Substancesand Disease Registry, Atlanta, GA.

ATSDR, 1998. Draft Toxicological Profile for Lead (Update). Agency for Toxic Substances andDisease Registry, Atlanta, GA.

ATSDR, 1997. Toxicological Profile for Nickel (Update). Agency for Toxic Substances andDisease Registry, Atlanta, GA.

ATSDR, 1997. Toxicological Profile for Polychlorinated Biphenyls (Update). Agency for ToxicSubstances and Disease Registry, Atlanta, GA.

ATSDR, 1993. Toxicological Profile for Mercury (TP-93/10). Agency for Toxic Substances andDisease Registry, Atlanta, GA.

ATSDR, 1993. Toxicological Profile for Pentachlorophenol (TP-93/13). Agency for ToxicSubstances and Disease Registry, Atlanta, GA.

ATSDR, 1993. Toxicological Profile for Zinc (TP-93/15). Agency for Toxic Substances andDisease Registry, Atlanta, GA.

ATSDR, 1997. Toxicological Profile for Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons (Update). Agency forToxic Substances and Disease Registry, Atlanta, GA.

IDPH, 1993. Public Health Assessment for La Salle Electrical Utilities, La Salle, IL. IllinoisDepartment of Public Health, Springfield, IL.

Illinois EPA, 1994. CERCLA Integrated Site Assessment - Matthiessen and Hegler Zinc Co., LaSalle, IL. Illinois Environmental Protection Agency, Springfield, IL.

Sullivan, J.B. and G.R. Krieger, 1992. Hazardous Materials Toxicology. Williams and Wilkins. Baltimore, MD.


This Matthiessen and Hegeler Zinc public health assessment was prepared by the IllinoisDepartment of Public Health under a cooperative agreement with the Agency for Toxic Substancesand Disease Registry. It is in accordance with approved methodology and procedures existing at the time the public health assessment was begun.

Gail D. Godfrey
Technical Project Officer

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

Richard Gillig


Table 1.

SOIL SAMPLES TAKEN FROM THE SITE - ORGANIC ANALYSES Compounds that exceed a comparison value or have no comparison value
CompoundFrequency Range (ppm) Local Background (ppm) Comparison Values (ppm)
2-Methyl Naphthalene2/80.12 - 3.4----
Dibenzofuran2/80.097 - 1.5----
Hexachlorobenzene1/87.3-- 0.4 (CREG)
1 (EMEG)
Pentachlorophenol1/836.0-- 6 (CREG)
50 (EMEG)
Phenathrene5/80.083 - 5.4----
Chrysene3/80.34 - 2.4----
Benzo(b)fluoranthene2/80.73 - 2.9----
Benzo(a)pyrene1/81.2--0.1 (CREG)
beta-BHC3/80.002 - 0.035----
Toxaphene2/80.22 - 0.81-- 0.6 (CREG)
50 (EMEG)
Aroclor 12421/80.1----
Aroclor 12545/80.025 - 1.5--1 (EMEG)
Aroclor 12603/80.037 - 0.67----

- = no data or comparison value available
ppm = parts per million

Table 2.

SOIL SAMPLES TAKEN FROM THE SITE -- INORGANIC ANALYSES Chemcials that exceed a comparison value or have no comparison value
ChemicalsFrequency Range (ppm)LocalBackgroundIllinoisBackground1Comparison Values
Aluminum6/87740 - 3530048601388 - 37200--
Arsenic7/821.5 - 1105.50.35 - 24 0.5 (CREG)
20 (EMEG)
Beryllium4/81.4 - 12.70.39<0.02 - 9.9 0.2 (CREG)
300 (RMEG)
Cadmium7/82.7 - 13200.870.2 - 8.210 (EMEG)
Calcium2/835400 - 5070011800630 - 184000--
Cobalt2/846.4 - - 32--
Copper8/838.4 - 43409.91 - 156--
Iron1/8103000146003200 - 80000--
Lead8/8342 - 431013.34.7 - 6471000 (IDPH)2
Manganese3/81290 - 545037661.5 - 55907000 (RMEG)
Mercury7/80.68 - 86ND<0.01 - 1.67--
Nickel3/8105 - 247014.1<3.1 - 1351000 (RMEG)
Potassium1/88100850270 - 5820--
Sodium6/8422 - 1440--14.1 - 7600--
Thallium6/80.4 - 0.96--0.08 - 2.8--
Zinc8/8445 - 7120095.3<5.5 - 79820000 (EMEG)

1Illinois EPA: A Summary of Selected Background Conditions for Inorganics in Soil, August 1994
2Illinois Lead Poisoning Prevention Act
- = no data or comparison value available
ppm = parts per million
ND = not detected

Table 3.

SEDIMENT SAMPLES TAKEN FROM THE SITE - ORGANIC ANALYSES Compounds that exceed a comparison value or have no comparison value
CompoundFrequency Range (ppm)LocalBackground Comparison Values (ppm)
Aroclor 12423/40.038-0.81----
Aroclor 12544/40.032-0.82--20 (RMEG)
Aroclor 12604/40.012-0.18----

- = no data or comparison value available
ppm = parts per million

Table 4.

1993 SEDIMENT SAMPLES TAKEN FROM THE SITE -- INORGANIC ANALYSES Chemicals that exceed a comparison value or have no comparison value
ChemicalFrequencyRange(ppm)LocalBackgroundIllinoisBackground1ComparisonValues (ppm)
Aluminum0/4 41701388 - 37200--
Arsenic1/415.83.20.35 - 24 0.5 (CREG)
20 (EMEG)
Beryllium4/40.48-0.82--<0.02 - 9.9 0.2 (CREG)
300 (RMEG)
Cadmium4/42.6-46.5--<0.2 - 8.240 (EMEG)
Copper2/4109-2595.51.0 - 156--
Lead3/428.8-3256.94.7 - 6471000 (IDPH)2
Potassium2/41480-1650409270 - 5820--
Thallium 2/40.29-0.36--0.02 - 2.8--

1Illinois EPA: A Summary of Selected Background Conditions for Inorganics in Soil, August 1994
2Illinois Lead Poisoning Prevention Act
- = no data or comparison value available
ppm = parts per million

Table 5.

RESIDENTIAL SOIL SAMPLES -- INORGANIC ANALYSES Chemicals that exceed a comparison value or have no comparison value
ChemicalsFrequency Range (ppm)LocalBackground Illinois Background1 Comparison Value (ppm)
Aluminum9/1315,800-19,9004,8601,388 - 37,200--
Arsenic8/1316.8- - 24 0.5 (CREG)
0.6 (EMEG)
Barium13/13159-29736.8<5 - 1,720100 (RMEG)
Beryllium7/131.2-1.80.39<0.02 - 9.9 0.2 (CREG)
10 (RMEG)
Cadmium13/137.8-1100.87<0.2 - 8.21 (EMEG)
Calcium1/1338,30011,800630 - 184,000--
Chromium9/1324.7-338.0<2.14 - 15110 (RMEG)
Copper13/1329.2-1539.91.0 - 156--
Lead13/13100-1,03013.34.7 - 6471000 (IDPH)2
Manganese6/131170-434037661.5 - 5,59010 (RMEG)
Mercury13/130.09-1.0ND<0.01 - 1.67--
Potassium13/131770-3270--270 - 5,820--
Thallium6/130.28 - 0.58--0.02 - 2.8--
Vanadium1/1345.8--<2.5 - 806 (EMEG)
Zinc13/131030 - 13700--<5.5 - 798600 (EMEG)

1 Illinois EPA: A Summary of Selected Background Conditions for Inorganics in Soil, August 1994
2Illinois Lead Poisoning Prevention Act
- = no data or comparison value available
ppm = parts per million
ND = not detected

Table 6.

Pathway Name Source Media Exposure Point Exposure Route Receptor Population Time of Exposure Exposure Activities Estimated Number Exposed Chemicals
Waste materials on the site Slag piles
Soil Waste Debris on the site Dermal
Site workers
Working ortrespassing onthe site 200 Metals
Organic compounds
Contaminated Air Smelting
Slag piles
Air Emissions
Site workers
Nearby residents
Working or trespassing,
Breathing outdoors
1700 Metals
Organic compounds
Soil off the site Dust
Run off
Surface soil Yards
Nearby residents
School children
Park visitors
Outdoorrecreationgardening1700Metals, mainlylead, cadmium& arsenic


Location Map
Figure 1. Location Map

Site Map
Figure 2. Site Map



Environmental Media Evaluation Guides (EMEGs) are developed for chemicals based on their toxicity,frequency of occurrence at National Priorities List (NPL) sites, and potential for human exposure. They arederived to protect the most sensitive populations and are not cut-off levels, but rather comparison values.They do not consider carcinogenic effects, chemical interactions, multiple route exposure, or other media-specific routes of exposure, and are very conservative concentration values designed to protect sensitivemembers of the population.

Reference Dose Media Evaluation Guides (RMEGs) are another type of comparison value derived toprotect the most sensitive populations. They do not consider carcinogenic effects, chemical interactions,multiple route exposure, or other media-specific routes of exposure, and are very conservative concentrationvalues designed to protect sensitive members of the population.

Cancer Risk Evaluation Guides (CREGs) are estimated contaminant concentrations based on a one excesscancer in a million persons exposed to a chemical over a lifetime. These are also very conservative values designed to protect sensitive members of the population.

A copy of the Draft Public Health Assessment for the Matthiessen and Hegeler Zinc Company sitewas available for public review and comment at the La Salle Public Library at 305 Marquette Streetin La Salle, Illinois from January 29 to March 4, 1999. The following comments were received.


Comment 1. The Draft Report does not appear to take into account certain relevant information concerning the site available as a result of extensive investigations conducted by Carus Chemical.
During the public comment period, IDPH learned that Carus Chemical has conducted environmental investigations on their property adjacent to the site. This information was not available to the health assessor at the time of writing this document. The information reviewed in this document pertains to the MHZ site, which at this time does not include property currently operating as Carus Chemical and La Salle Rolling Mills. If in the future, property owned by Carus Chemical becomes part of the site for remedial purposes, this data will be reviewed.
Comment 2. The former MHZ property does not include certain portions of the Carus Chemical property. It is unclear whether only property formerly owned and operated by MHZ constitutes the site or whether additional areas are included.
As stated in response to Comment 1, this public health assessment pertains to the MHZ site, which at this time does not include property currently operating as Carus Chemical and La Salle Rolling Mills. This fact was clarified in the site definition of the final document.
Comment 3. Wells north of the MHZ site would be upgradient and are unlikely to be affected by site conditions.
IDPH agrees with this statement. The final document clarifies this issue when discussing natural resource use.
Comment 4. There is no "gap" in fencing on the southeast portion of the site near the Carus plant.
During the site visit in 1997, a gap large enough for a child to squeeze through was noted between the fence and a gate, IDPH is not sure whether this fence was on Carus property or on MHZ site property. Given that IDPH has not visited that portion of the site in the last two years, this reference was removed from the document.
Comment 5. Trespassers on the site are adolescent and young adult age and not typically children. Exposure to children on the site is very minimal.
For public health assessment purposes, IDPH defines "children" as persons less than 16 years of age and "pica children" as toddlers and young children who exhibit hand to mouth behavior. When evaluating contaminant levels on the site, IDPH used comparison values for children up to age 16, which would include adolescents. The more stringent comparison value set that exists for pica children was not used in evaluating exposure to contaminants on the site.
Comment 6. Illinois background values are much higher and wider range than "local background" values. IDPH should re-evaluate local background values.
The values listed as "Illinois Background" are taken from an Illinois EPA document based on a limited number of samples from around the state. This document was never intended to replace local background samples and is only a reference range. When sampling plans have included a local background sample, it is the preferred comparison for site contamination.
Comment 7. The Draft Report identifies site workers among the exposed population along with trespassers. The potential for the workers from Carus Chemical to carry metal contamination into their home is minimal.
Taking into account the clarified definition of the site, the workers mentioned would be any persons on the property formerly operated as MHZ. This includes past smelter workers and any person that might be working on the site. At this time, there are no operations occurring on the site or any workers on the site.
Comment 8. The Draft Report states that the site is largely unvegetated but over 80 percent of the Carus Chemical Plant is grassed and maintained or covered by buildings or concrete.
As stated in response to Comment 1, this public health assessment pertains to the MHZ site which at this time does not include property currently operating as Carus Chemical.
Comment 9. Carus Chemical does not believe that its employees are exposed to health risks resulting from historical MHZ activities.
Sampling has shown that contamination related to the MHZ site has migrated to areas away from the site. The levels found off the site, however, are not at a level that would be expected to cause adverse health effects to healthy adults living or working near the site.
Comment 10. Carus Chemical does not believe that its fenced-in plant area is a public health hazard to its workers.
IDPH concluded that the MHZ site is a public health hazard. As stated previously, this does not include property currently operating as Carus Chemical.
Comment 11. The draft report recommends additional soil sampling, installation of groundwater monitoring wells and testing of private wells. As pointed out, there are significant data available resulting from investigations by Carus.
Given that the current scope the of the site does not include property owned by Carus, these data are not relevant to this assessment. IDPH will include the information available from Carus in a subsequent public health assessment if their property becomes part of the site.

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