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The Illinois Environmental Protection Agency (IEPA) requested that the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) conduct a health consultation for the Seymour of Sycamore (Seymour) site. The purpose of this health consultation is to evaluate any known or potential exposure to site contaminants and any resulting adverse human health effects.

Seymour is an active paint formulation business at 917 Crosby Avenue, on the northwest side of Sycamore in DeKalb County, Illinois (Attachment 1). The site is on 12.8 acres in the Northwest quarter of Section 32, Township 41 North, Range 5 East in DeKalb County, Illinois [1]. The site is bordered on the south by Crosby Avenue, to the east by residential property, to the west by agricultural property, and to the north by agricultural property with residences beyond (Attachment 2).

The nearest municipal water well is approximately 200 feet east of the site. IEPA routinely tests this well, and no site-related contamination has been found to date. Groundwater flow is northwest. The closest private drinking water well is about 0.25 miles from the site. Within a 3-mile radius of the site, about 440 private wells are serving about 1,160 people [1]. The nearest surface water body, the Kishwaukee River, is approximately 2,000 feet north of the site.

Seymour began as a paint formulation business on Lucas Street in Sycamore in 1949. In 1963, the company moved to its current location on Crosby Avenue. Before 1963, this property was used for agricultural purposes. The site currently consists of an 8,000 square-foot office, a 60,000 square- foot manufacturing and processing building, and a separate 12,000 square-foot building used for mixing various solvents [1].

Activities at Seymour consist of formulating the paint and putting the paint in aerosol spray cans. The process begins by blending raw materials for paints. Next, non-chlorinated solvents, mainly toluene, are added to the paint as a propellant, and the paint is then put into aerosol cans. The cans are labeled and shipped off the site.

Types of wastes generated at Seymour include: 1) off-specification waste paints, 2) spent non-chlorinated solvents, and 3) small amounts of chlorinated solvents, such as methylene chloride and 1,1,1-trichloroethane. In the past, waste handling practices at the facility consisted of transferring generated waste to a dual semi-tank trailer with a 5,000 gallon capacity and hauling the waste away for disposal or recycling. Generally, the trailer was returned to the site full of recycled solvent. In the Spring of 1977, the trailer was emptied of its contents and buried in a shallow trench in the northwest corner of the site. The exact location of the trailer burial site is shown in Attachment 3.

In October 1987, Seymour hired Heritage Remediation/Engineering, Inc. (Heritage) to conduct an environmental assessment of the site. During the assessment, the trailer was removed from the trench. The material found in the underground trailer was placed in 25 drums and disposed according to IEPA regulations. The trailer had deteriorated and had several holes. When removing the trailer, 32 drums were also discovered buried near the trailer. Twenty-four of the drums contained waste. Soil that appeared to be contaminated was also removed. The remaining soil from the excavation was placed into piles and sampled. Soil samples were also taken in the trailer burial area [2].

Four groundwater monitoring wells were installed after the excavation was completed (Attachment 4). Water samples were taken from these wells on November 18, 1987. One groundwater monitoring well was removed in 1989 due to the addition of the 12,000 square foot building in the northern section of the property. Besides groundwater samples, 20 soil boring samples were taken in the area surrounding the excavation site to determine the extent of vertical and lateral contamination [2].

IEPA issued a Water Pollution Control Permit to Seymour in February 1989 that allowed installation of a groundwater recovery system and discharge up to 1,000 gallons per day of groundwater to the City of Sycamore Sanitary Sewer System. In the Spring of 1990, this system was installed and put into operation. The process of pumping water to the public sewer system begins each year in the Spring and ends in the Fall.

Heritage removed six steel underground storage tanks (USTs) and two above ground storage tanks on September 28, 1990. The locations of the tanks are shown in Attachment 3. The USTs removed included one 8,000-gallon toluene tank; one 4,000-gallon hexane tank; one 3,000-gallon hexane tank; one 3,000-gallon xylene tank; and two 3,000-gallon acetone tanks. The above-ground storage tanks consisted of one 560-gallon kerosene tank, and one 1,500-gallon methanol tank. The tanks appeared to be intact with minimal corrosion; however, a small hole was observed in a 3,000-gallon tank. Eleven soil borings were drilled and twelve subsurface soil samples were collected. Five surface soil samples were collected from the excavation [4]. Groundwater samples were taken from two of the boreholes. Along with the tank removals, 500 cubic yards of soil were excavated and eventually removed. Clean sand was used to backfill the excavation site to prevent further release and to prevent the migration of the contaminants.

In August 1991, a second groundwater recovery system was added directly behind the manufacturing building on the site. Samples of the groundwater from the recovery system are taken each year before pumping begins and again after pumping has ended for the year.

Staff from IEPA and IDPH visited the site in June 1998. Seymour staff gave a brief tour of the plant and explained operating procedures. An 8-foot-high chain link fence surrounded the site. The gate in this fence is locked at night and is open during the work day. The two groundwater recovery systems were observed, as were the three remaining groundwater monitoring wells. There were no visible signs of contamination or detectable odors present during the site visit.


IDPH compared the contaminant concentrations of each groundwater and soil sample with the appropriate screening comparison value used to select contaminants for further evaluation for exposure and for any resulting carcinogenic and non-carcinogenic health effects. Chemicals found at levels greater than comparison values or those for which no comparison value exists were selected for further evaluation. A discussion of each of the health screening comparison values used is found in Attachment 5.

In November 1987, 20 soil boring samples were collected from locations surrounding the tanker excavation area to determine the extent of the lateral and vertical contamination. The sample results showed contamination near the tanker burial area. The soil remaining after excavation of the tanker was also sampled. Results of these samples identified toluene to be present at 27,700 milligrams per kilogram (mg/kg) [3]. They removed and properly disposed contaminated soil.

Besides the soil samples taken in November 1987, five groundwater samples were also collected for analysis. One sample was taken from each groundwater monitoring well, and a fifth sample was taken as a field blank. The results of these samples did not contain any compounds that exceeded comparison values.

In November 1990, twelve soil samples were collected for analysis to find the contamination caused by the USTs. In two soil samples, borehole 5 (B-5) and borehole 7 (B-7), toluene was detected at 2,400 mg/kg and 1,500 mg/kg, respectively. Sample B-5 was near the former location of a solvent receptacle, which received wastes from the paint mix room, and sample B-7 was near the staging area for tankers containing waste and recycled solvent. These samples showed the extent of the contamination, but the levels detected do not exceed health-based comparison values. No other contaminants exceeded comparison values in these soil samples.

None of the five soil samples taken from the excavation soil in November 1990 contained contaminants at levels that exceeded comparison values.

Groundwater samples were collected from B-1 and B-3 in November 1990. A field blank was also collected. No contaminants were found at levels above comparison values in the groundwater samples collected at that time.

Seymour is currently using two large-diameter sump pumps to move groundwater to the City of Sycamore sewage treatment plant. The pumping is scheduled to continue until the contamination no longer exists. IDPH reviewed the most recent results of the groundwater recovery system analysis. Results from the north sump showed toluene present at 60,000 micrograms per liter (ug/L) and ethyl benzene at 1,100 ug/L. Toluene was detected at 2,800 ug/L in sample results from the south sump [5]. Although elevated levels of toluene and ethyl benzene were found, no one is exposed to this contaminated water.

An 8-foot-high chain link fence restricts access to the site. The contaminated soil is found between 3 and 8 feet below the surface. The soil exposure pathway would only be a threat if the site were disturbed. Therefore, nearby residents and on-site workers are unlikely to be exposed to any of the soil contamination [4].

After reviewing groundwater sample results, only the shallow aquifer appears contaminated. This is not the aquifer used for the public water supply. The closest private drinking water well in this aquifer is a quarter of a mile from the site. No sampling data were available for that well.


Based on the information reviewed, IDPH concludes that no apparent public health hazard presently exists from contamination at Seymour of Sycamore. Presently, there are no completed exposure pathways at the site. Groundwater at the site is contaminated; however, no one is believed to be exposed to this water and remediation continues. No data were available for review for the closest private drinking water well. IDPH will reevaluate the site in the future should any change occur that could threaten public health.


IDPH recommends that the groundwater recovery system continue to operate until contamination no longer exists. The closest private well should be tested annually to ensure that no contamination exists.


Tiffanie Saxe
Environmental Toxicologist
Illinois Department of Public Health


  1. Illinois Environmental Protection Agency. CERCLA Preliminary Assessment Report for Seymour of Sycamore. November 1990.

  2. Heritage Remediation/Engineering, Inc. Initial Corrective Action Response for Seymour of Sycamore. November 9, 1990.

  3. Environmental Resources Management. Environmental Status Report for Seymour of Sycamore. May 7, 1991.

  4. Illinois Environmental Protection Agency. CERCLA Integrated Site Assessment Analytical Results for Seymour of Sycamore. March 7, 1997.

  5. National Environmental Testing. Analytical Results for Seymour of Sycamore. May 4, 1998.


This Seymour of Sycamore Health Consultation was prepared by the Illinois Department of Health under Cooperative Agreement with the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry. It is in accordance with approved methodology and procedures existing at the time the Health Consultation was initiated.

Gail D. Godfrey
Technical Project Officer

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

Richard Gillig

Attachment 1. Seymour Site Location

Attachment 2. Seymour Site Location 2

Attachment 3. Seymour Site Overhead

Attachment 4. Seymour Location, water wells

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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