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Residents in the neighborhoods near Pfizer, Inc. in East St. Louis, St. Clair County, Illinoisrequested that the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) conduct a public healthassessment of the Pfizer site. Residents were concerned about exposure to site-relatedcontaminants in the air and soil. In March 2001, the Agency for Toxic Substances and DiseaseRegistry (ATSDR) released a public health assessment for Pfizer, Inc. prepared by IDPH. Thehealth assessment concluded that although the Pfizer site did not pose a public health hazard, thelack of air monitoring data resulted in classification of the air pathway as an indeterminate publichealth hazard. In the health assessment, IDPH recommended measurement of the compositionand particle size of the airborne dust in neighborhoods near Pfizer.

From October to December 2001, air monitoring was conducted in the neighborhoods nearPfizer. This health consultation discusses and evaluates the air monitoring results.


Site History and Location

In 1941, Pfizer, Inc. began manufacturing pigments at 2001 Lynch Avenue, East St. Louis, St.Clair County, Illinois. Since 1941 the site has changed ownership twice and since January 1,1998 has been known as Elementis Pigment, Inc. (1).

The site comprises about 40 acres. It is bordered by railroad tracks on the north, east, and west,and Lynch Avenue on the south (Figure 1). A residential area is within 100 feet of the westernsite boundary. Although the southern, eastern, and northern sections have vacant land directlyadjacent to them, residential areas are within 500 feet of the northern and eastern site boundaries.A park and baseball fields are south and east of the site. Jefferson Elementary School is about ÂĽ-mile northeast of the site.

A fence surrounds the site, and guarded gates are in the southwest corner of the site (2). Thesouthern portion of the site is paved and contains buildings. The northwest portion is not pavedand contains buildings and waste piles of what appears to be asphalt and construction debris. Ironwaste and slag materials have also been observed in this area. Ore and coal piles are known to have been stored in the northern portion of the property (3).

Manufacturing Processes at the Facility

Products manufactured at this facility are inorganic pigments, including red and yellow ironoxides, barium oxide, and magnetic pigments. Substances used on the site and listed in an IllinoisEnvironmental Protection Agency (Illinois EPA) document include ammonia, ferrous chloride,ferrous sulfate, hydrochloric acid, sodium dichromate, sodium hydroxide, sulfuric acid, bariumhydrate, barium hydroxide, and barium peroxide (4).

Primary production at the site is iron oxide pigments. The pigments are produced by placingscrap iron and hydrochloric or sulfuric acid (pickle liquor) into tanks. The pickle liquor isobtained from local steel industries (4). After the acid and iron are heated in tanks for 18 to 24hours, the solids are removed from the ferrous sulfate or ferrous chloride solutions. The solidsare analyzed to determine whether they are hazardous and then are sent to an appropriate landfill.The iron compounds are precipitated out of solution, and the remaining solution is neutralizedand discharged to a sanitary sewer (4). The iron oxides produced by this process are then dried, milled, and packed for shipping.

Air Sampling

Illinois EPA and IDPH staff used high-volume air samplers to conduct air monitoring at twosites. Staff members selected the locations of these monitors based on proximity to the site, winddirection, and exposure points (Figure 2). One sampling location was northeast of the site at theGalilee Baptist Church, which is in a residential area, across the street from Jefferson ElementarySchool. The other sampling location was southeast of the site at the Jackie Joyner-Kersee Center,a children's facility. In addition, Illinois EPA has an air-monitoring station at 13th Street andTudor Avenue, approximately 2 miles south of the site. Air samples were collected every 6 daysfrom October to December 2001. A total of 15 samples were collected at each site. The sampleswere analyzed for total suspended particulates (TSP), arsenic, barium, beryllium, cadmium,chromium, iron, lead, manganese, nickel, selenium, vanadium, nitrates, and sulfate.


Chemicals of Interest

IDPH compared the results of each air sample with the appropriate screening comparison valuesused to select chemicals for further evaluation for carcinogenic and non-carcinogenic healtheffects. Chemicals found at levels greater than comparison values or those for which nocomparison values exist were selected for further evaluation (Table 1). Attachment 1 contains adiscussion of each comparison value used in this health consultation.

The chemicals of interest detected in air samples near Pfizer are arsenic, barium, beryllium,cadmium, chromium, iron, manganese, nickel, selenium, and nitrate. Exposure to a chemical at alevel exceeding a comparison value does not necessarily mean that adverse health effects willresult. The potential for exposed persons to experience adverse health effects depends on

  • how much of each chemical a person is exposed to,

  • how long a person is exposed, and

  • the health condition of the exposed person.

IDPH recognizes that the number of air samples collected near the site is limited. Many of the inorganic chemicals identified in the air samples collected near Pfizer are common in the air in urban areas. The data from the Illinois EPA air monitoring station at 13th Street and Tudor Avenue–which are not expected to be influenced by Pfizer–are shown in Table 1 for comparison. Iron, a primary constituent of site-related dust, had lower average and peak concentrations in the air near Pfizer than from the Illinois EPA sampling location at 13th Street and Tudor Avenue.

The levels of dust in the neighborhoods were measured by TSP–a measure of total dust and notjust the dust one can breathe in. The portion of dust that can be inhaled can be measured bysampling for PM-10, which is particulate matter less than 10 micrometers in diameter. The PM-10 portion of dust is included when TSP is measured. Therefore, since the TSP levels did notexceed PM-10 standards, no adverse health effects would be expected from exposure to the dust, and it is not a chemical of interest.

Exposure Evaluation

To estimate exposure, IDPH assumed that children would be exposed to chemicals of interest atthe highest maximum quarterly concentration at either site, and that they were exposed 24 hoursa day, 7 days a week, 52 weeks per year. IDPH also assumed that contaminant concentrations intotal suspended dust were the same as in the respirable portion of the dust. IDPH assumed thatthe child would breathe 3.8 m3 of air per day and would weigh 10 kg.

IDPH compared the estimated exposure doses with health guidelines for non-cancer healtheffects. Cancer risks were estimated for those chemicals that are known or suspectedcarcinogens. From this exposure scenario, IDPH found no non-cancer health hazards and noapparent increased cancer risk due to exposure to airborne contamination.

Community Health Concerns

In the 2001 public health assessment, residents expressed concern about the airborne dust thatsettles onto their cars and houses. They were concerned about whether exposure to the dust couldcause adverse health effects. In the 2001 public health assessment, insufficient information wasavailable about the amount of dust in the air to evaluate that exposure pathway. The air samplingdata collected recently showed that the amount of dust in the air would not be expected to cause adverse health effects.


IDPH recognizes that children can be especially sensitive to some contaminants. For this reason,IDPH used exposure factors for children when evaluating exposures to contaminants near thePfizer facility. Children are the most sensitive population considered in this health assessment.IDPH concludes, however, that children are not currently being exposed to chemicals from the site at sufficient levels to cause adverse health effects.


IDPH concludes that the Pfizer, Inc., site in East St. Louis, Illinois, poses no apparent publichealth hazard for exposure to air. This conclusion is based on the fact that estimated exposure tothe highest quarterly levels of contaminants in air would not cause adverse health effects.


IDPH recommends that residents contact the Illinois EPA Bureau of Air to report any odors or dust they believe are coming from Pfizer.


David R. Webb
Environmental Toxicologist
Illinois Department of Public Health


The Illinois Department of Public Health prepared this Pfizer, Inc. health consultation under acooperative agreement with the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR). Itwas done in accordance with approved methodology and procedures existing at the time thehealth consultation was begun.

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

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

Roberta Erlwein
Chief, State Programs Section


  1. Letter from Roger Rader, Harcross Pigments, to IEPA. December 22, 1997

  2. Letter from Roger Rader, Pfizer Plant Manager, to Larry Estep, IEPA. August 5, 1987.

  3. IEPA. Draft: April 1998 site team evaluation prioritization report. 1999.

  4. IEPA. Preliminary site assessment for Pfizer Chemical. 1984.

  5. Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry. Public health assessment guidancemanual. Boca Raton, Florida: Lewis Publishers; 1992.

  6. Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry. Toxicological profile for arsenic (Draft). Atlanta: US Department of Health and Human Services; 1991.

  7. Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry. Toxicological profile for barium.Atlanta: US Department of Health and Human Services; 1992.

Table 1.

Chemicals of Interest in Air Samples Collected October to December 2001 Near Pfizer, Inc. (concentrations in micrograms per cubic meter)
Compound Maximum Single Sample Quarterly Average Comparison Values Illinois EPA Air Monitoring Station at 13th and Tudor in 2001
Both Sample Locations Church Jackie Joyner-Kersee Maximum of Both Sample Locations Church Jackie Joyner-Kersee Noncancer (Source) Cancer (CREG) Annual Average Maximum Single Sample
Arsenic 0.03 0.03 0.008 0.006 0.006 0.003 NV 0.0002 0.004 0.015
Barium 0.639 0.389 0.639 0.111 0.093 0.111 NV NV ND ND
Beryllium 0.003 0.003 0.003 0.003 0.003 0.003 0.02 (RfC) 0.0004 0.000 0.000
Cadmium 0.006 0.006 0.003 0.003 0.003 0.003 NV 0.0006 0.007 0.073
Chromium*,†0.005 0.005 0.005 0.005 0.005 0.005 0.1/1(RfC/I EMEG) 8E-05 0.003 0.005
Iron 1.64 1.54 1.64 0.754 0.72 0.754 NV NV 0.89 2.39
Manganese 0.062 0.062 0.056 0.025 0.025 0.023 0.04 (C EMEG) NV 0.036 0.117
Nickel 0.01 0.01 0.01 0.01 0.01 0.01 0.2 (C EMEG) NV 0.000 0.000
Selenium 0.002 0.002 0.002 0.001 0.001 0.001 NV NV 0.001 0.002
Nitrate 8.084 7.734 8.084 3.196 3.062 3.196 NV NV 4.5 10

NV - No Comparison Value

ND - No Data

CREG - Cancer Risk Evaluation Guide

CEMEG - Chronic Environmental Media Evaluation Guide

IEMEG - Intermediate Environmental Media Evaluation Guide

RfC - Reference Concentration

* - Chromium not speciated

†- All comparison values used are for hexavalent chromium.


Pfizer Site Location Map
Figure 1. Pfizer Site Location Map

Location of Air Monitors Near Pfizer
Figure 2. Location of Air Monitors Near Pfizer


Environmental Media Evaluation Guides (EMEGs) are developed for chemicals based on theirtoxicity, frequency of occurrence at National Priority List (NPL) sites, and potential for humanexposure. They are derived to protect the most sensitive populations and are not action levels, butrather comparison values. They do not consider carcinogenic effects, chemical interactions,multiple route exposure, or other media-specific routes of exposure, and are very conservativeconcentration values designed to protect sensitive members of the population.

Reference Concentration (RfCs) are another type of comparison value derived to protect the mostsensitive populations. They do not consider carcinogenic effects, chemical interactions, multipleroute exposure, or other media-specific routes of exposure, and are very conservativeconcentration values designed to protect sensitive members of the population.

Cancer Risk Evaluation Guides (CREGs) are estimated contaminant concentrations based on aprobability of one excess cancer 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.

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Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, 4770 Buford Hwy NE, Atlanta, GA 30341
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