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In September 1998, a resident south of the Chanute Air Force Base (CAFB) Landfill #3requested that IDPH and the Champaign County Health Department sample the well water.Subsequently, in October 1998, a consultant for CAFB conducted the first round of residentialgroundwater sampling at four homes. To date, eight rounds of sampling have taken place. In thishealth consultation, IDPH will summarize its evaluation of the data from residential wells southof the CAFB property.


CAFB is an inactive military facility within the incorporated limits of the Village of Rantoul, inChampaign County, Illinois. The base site is approximately 2,125 acres, with farmland abuttingthree sides of the property and residential and commercial land along the northern boundary(Attachment 1). The U.S. Air Force has deeded about 700 acres of the former CAFB to theprivate sector (Mark Hutchinson, U.S. Air Force Base Conversion Agency, personalcommunication, September 2001). The remaining acres are either being leased to the privatesector or are undergoing an environmental cleanup.

The original base was constructed in 1917 and was designated as a World War I pilot trainingfacility. From 1918 to 1921, the base was used as a storage depot for aircraft engines, paints, andother miscellaneous surplus items. After World War II, the primary mission of the base wasmilitary and technical training for aerospace weapons systems support personnel. The base wasthe primary installation for training in B-52 and B-58 long range bombers and various missiles.In 1971, military flight operations ended at the base. Closure began in 1990 and the base wasofficially closed in September 1993 [1].

Operations that could have released hazardous materials into the environment include

  • metal plating,
  • painting,
  • degreasing,
  • operation of hydraulic equipment, vehicles and aircraft,
  • pest control, and
  • land filling [1].

Hazardous wastes generated included

  • waste oil and fuels,
  • waste absorbents,
  • antifreeze,
  • bead blast media,
  • wastewater treatment and oil-water separator sludge,
  • batteries,
  • solvent residues, and
  • other chemical waste [1].

During much of CAFB's operational life, waste generated by the base was placed in landfills onthe base. At the time of the base closure, all of the hazardous waste generated on the base wascollected from storage and designated accumulation points, and disposed off the base in apermitted facility [1].

To date, eight rounds of sampling have taken place. After reviewing the sample data, IDPH sentletters to residents giving health interpretations of the laboratory results. IDPH also maderecommendations to reduce potential exposure to chemicals of interest detected in the residents'water supply. As a precautionary measure, since 1999 the Air Force has provided residents withbottled water.

Site Visit

On June 26 and 27, 2001, IDPH staff visited the site with staff from ATSDR, the U.S. Air Force(USAF), the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA), and Illinois EPA. The nearesthome was less than ΒΌ mile south of CAFB Landfill #3. A fence with a warning sign stating an"Environmental Area of Concern" separates Landfill #3 from the nearest home. The other threelandfills were fenced and had signs posted. Landfills #1 and #2 were in the process of beingconsolidated and capped. The consolidation process will reduce the area to be capped by diggingup the outer edges of the landfill material and placing it in the center of the landfills.


Chemicals of Interest

The following chemicals were detected in at least one of the eight rounds of residential watersampling south of CAFB:

  • dioxins,
  • furans,
  • polycylic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs),
  • bis(2-ethylhexyl)phthalate,
  • thallium,
  • cyanide,
  • arsenic,
  • lead,
  • manganese., and
  • sodium [2].

The maximum levels detected and the frequency of detection are shown in Table 1. Other thansodium and arsenic, none of the chemicals were detected in every round of sampling, so nopattern for their occurrence has been determined.

IDPH compared the results of each groundwater sample collected with the appropriatecomparison values to select chemicals for further evaluation for exposure and possiblecarcinogenic and non-carcinogenic health effects. Chemicals found at levels greater thancomparison values or those for which no comparison values exist were selected for furtherevaluation. A discussion of each comparison value used is found in Attachment 2. IDPHassumed that the samples were collected and handled properly and that appropriate analyticaltechniques were used.

The dioxins and furans were not detected at levels greater than comparison values. The rest of thechemicals listed above exceeded comparison values in at least one round of sampling and arechemicals of interest. It should be noted, however, that exposure to a chemical at a levelexceeding a comparison value does not necessarily mean that adverse health effects will result.

PAHs and bis(2-ethylhexyl)phthalate were detected at levels only slightly greater than theircomparison values. Thallium, cyanide, arsenic, and lead were detected only once in the eightrounds of sampling at levels greater than comparison values. The inorganic chemicals manganeseand sodium were also detected at levels greater than comparison values.

Exposure Assessment

The potential for exposed persons to experience health effects depend on

  • the specific chemical and the concentration to which a person is exposed,
  • how long a person is exposed, and
  • the health condition of the exposed person.

Residents near the landfills with private wells as their source of water can be exposed tochemicals in the water, primarily through ingestion.

IDPH assumed that residents were exposed to the highest levels detected in the well watersamples for 12 months every year for 15 years. Based on this exposure scenario, of the chemicalsof interest, only sodium was detected at levels that could cause adverse health effects.


The highest level of sodium detected in residential wells was 32,000 parts per billion (ppb). Theprimary health effect associated with ingestion of elevated levels of sodium in drinking water ishypertension (high blood pressure) [3]. Sodium has long been a major dietary factor in highblood pressure. Many studies have shown that reducing sodium intake can reduce high bloodpressure. In letters to residents with wells containing elevated sodium levels, IDPHrecommended that persons who have high blood pressure, a heart condition, or who are on asodium-restricted diet consult their physician if they are drinking this water. As a precautionarymeasure, since 1999 the Air Force has provided residents with bottled water.


Children are a sensitive subpopulation, thus in toxicological evaluations special consideration isgiven to potential exposures to children. With the exposure scenarios stated previously and thelevels of sodium detected in the well water, IDPH does not anticipate that children will be at riskfor hypertension.


Based on the well water sampling data from years 1998 to 2001, IDPH concludes that undercurrent conditions, exposures are not at levels expected to cause adverse health effects. IDPH hascategorized the groundwater in the residential wells south of CAFB as "no apparent public healthhazard." Although elevated levels of sodium were found in some wells, the Air Force hasprovided residents with bottled water since 1999 as a precautionary measure. The IDPH advisedresidents with wells containing elevated sodium levels to consult their physician if they have highblood pressure, a heart condition or a restricted dietary intake of sodium, and they are using theirwells for drinking water.


IDPH recommends that:

  • The U.S. Air Force continue to sample residential wells. Another round ofsampling is scheduled for 2002.

  • The U.S. Air Force conduct a hydrogeological study for CAFB and thesurrounding area. This is part of the site assessment plan.


Residents with elevated sodium levels in their well water who also have either (1) a history ofhigh blood pressure or (2) who are on a low-sodium diet should consult their physician. IDPHhas informed these residents by letter about this recommendation.


Cary Ware
Environmental Health Specialist
Illinois Department of Public Health


  1. Department of Air Force. Basewide environmental baseline survey for Chanute Air Force Base, Illinois. [Rantoul, IL]; December 1993.

  2. Jacobs Engineering Group, Inc. Residential well sampling for the Chanute Air ForceBase, Rantoul, Illinois. [Chicago, IL]; October 1998-June 2001.

  3. American Heart Association--Am I at risk? Available from: URL: Accessed April, 2002.

Table 1.

Chemicals of Interest in Off-Site Residential Groundwater at Chanute Air Force Base (October 1998 to September 2001)
Chemical Maximum Level Detected (ppb) Frequency of Detection Comments
Dioxins 0.05 12/28
Furans 0.01 9/28
Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons 0.21 6/28
Bis(2-ethylhexyl)phthalate 182 5/28
Thallium 5.03 1/28
Cyanide 397 1/28
Arsenic 50.4 12/28 Detected in one well in all eight sampling rounds
Lead 25.7 3/28
Manganese 364 28/28
Sodium 32,000 28/28


This Rural Rantoul Residential Wells Health Consultation on residential wells was prepared bythe Illinois Department of Public Health under a cooperative agreement with the Agency forToxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR). It is in accordance with approvedmethodology and procedures existing at the time the health consultation was begun.

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

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

Roberta Erlwein
Chief, State Programs Section


Map of Survey Areas


Environmental Media Evaluation Guides (EMEGs) are developed for chemicals based on theirtoxicity, frequency of occurrence at National Priorities List (NPL) sites, and potential for humanexposure. They are not action levels but are comparison values. They are developed withoutconsideration for carcinogenic effects, chemical interactions, multiple route exposure, orexposure through other environmental media. They are very conservative concentration valuesdesigned to protect sensitive members of the population.

Reference Dose Media Evaluation Guides (RMEGs) are another type of comparison value. Theyare developed without consideration for carcinogenic effects, chemical interactions, multipleroute exposure, or exposure through other environmental media. They 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.

Maximum Contaminant Levels (MCLs) have been established by USEPA for public watersupplies to reduce the chances of occurrence of adverse health effects from use of contaminateddrinking water. These standards are well below levels for which health effects have beenobserved and take into account the financial feasibility of achieving specific contaminant levels.These are enforceable limits that public water supplies must meet.

Lifetime Health Advisories (LTHAs) for drinking water have been established by USEPA. Theyrepresent the concentrations of chemicals in drinking water that are not expected to cause anyadverse, non-carcinogenic effects over a lifetime of exposure. These are conservative values thatincorporate a margin of safety.

Table of Contents The U.S. Government's Official Web PortalDepartment of Health and Human Services
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