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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 St. Louis Auto Shredder Drum Disposal site. The purpose of this health consultation is to assess any known or potential human health hazards at this site by using information that is currently available.


The St. Louis Auto Shredder site is an operating facility in National City, Illinois, that reclaims metals from old automobiles and appliances. The facility maintains a permitted landfill for disposal of waste material generated as cars are processed for recycling. St. Clair County and IEPA staff regularly inspect the landfill site.

In 1993, IEPA discovered twenty-seven dilapidated 55-gallon drums within an unused portion of the property owned by St. Louis Auto Shredding. The drums were allegedly disposed by unknown parties and reportedly contained paint and solid wastes.

The drum disposal site is about 100 feet by 150 feet, approximately one mile northwest of the Illinois 203 and I-55/ I-70 intersection (Attachment 1). An abandoned railroad embankment about 10 feet high is on the east side of the site. The site is located south of a public golf course and about 2 miles from the Mississippi River. The Cahokia Canal is south of the site. Gateway International Raceway is about 0.25 miles southeast of the site. Wetlands and lowlands border the site to the west. During wet periods, the property is reportedly not accessible because of standing water.

The St. Louis Auto Shredder owners hired a consultant to sample and characterize the materials in and around the drums. The material appeared to contain white paint resin, blue-grey, white, and brown solids, metal filings, and mispunched washers. Twenty of the drums contained polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) at concentrations of 50 parts per million (ppm) or more. One sample contained PCBs at a concentration of 30,539 ppm. Other chemicals detected at low levels include benzene, tetrachloroethene, 4-methylphenol, and nitrobenzene.

In April 1996, 27 drums of paint waste and chemical residues were removed. Some gross surface soil contamination was included in the cleanup.

In 1998, the Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) hired staff from the Illinois Geological Survey (IGS) to evaluate environmental conditions at the site for a proposed right-of-way for I-70. IGS drilled soil borings to a depth of 9 feet and encountered groundwater at 8 feet at the southern part of the site. Immunoassay tests showed the presence of petroleum compounds at levels greater than 100 ppm on the site. The upper several feet of the soil was blackened, oily, and had a petroleum odor.

Each of the sampling locations was further tested at three depths: (1) the surface; (2) about 4 feet below the surface; and (3) 8 to 9 feet below the surface. The samples were analyzed for volatile organic compounds (VOCs), semi-volatile organic compounds (SVOCs), pesticides, PCBs, metals, and pHs. PCBs were measured as high as 1,270 ppm. Lead levels were found as high as 72,000 ppm.

In July 1999, Ecology and Environmental (E & E) Company completed a preliminary site investigation and collected surface and subsurface soil samples. A groundwater sample collected during the preliminary site investigation contained low levels of PCBs.

In August 1999, IDOT notified IEPA that the I-70 New Mississippi River Bridge construction project required an environmental assessment of the area and acquisition of property (IDOT 1999).

During a site visit on March 30, 2000, IDPH staff observed blackened material interspersed with broken glass and other municipal debris on the ground in the cleared area. Some pieces of metal drums littered the area throughout the brushy bottomland. The area with noticeable contamination is small and is surrounded by woods and brush. The area is not fenced or posted, and people can easily trespass into it.

IEPA staff visited the site at the end of March 2000 to sample the surface soils for metals. Arsenic was detected in some locations at levels greater than 200 ppm.

Future land use may include development of the site for a parking lot to be used by patrons of the racetrack facility. Also, several feet of fill material may be added in preparation to relocate I-70 while a new bridge is built over the Mississippi River.


Chemicals of Interest

IDPH compared the concentration of each chemical detected during sampling with appropriate comparison values used to select contaminants for further evaluation for exposure and possible carcinogenic and noncarcinogenic health endpoints. Chemicals at levels that exceeded comparison values or those for which no comparison values exist were selected for further evaluation. A discussion of each of the comparison values used is found in Attachment 2. The chemicals of interest for this site are PCBs, arsenic, and lead.

Exposure Evaluation

Given the current condition of the site, exposure to contaminated soil is the most likely exposure pathway. In the one shallow groundwater sample collected in 1999, Aroclor 1254 was detected at a level of 1.3 micrograms per liter (µg/L) and Aroclor 1260 at 3.3 µg/L. Nineteen water wells are within 1,000 feet of the site, and most of those wells are used for industrial purposes. Groundwater has not been tested beyond the site boundary, but PCBs such as the two found in the groundwater do not usually migrate far from the source because they tend to adhere to soil.

IDPH used an exposure scenario of a trespasser coming onto the site 10 times per year. Based on this scenario, exposure to chemicals in the on-site surface soil would not be expected to cause adverse health effects.


Young children are not likely to trespass onto the site, but older children may do so. IDPH considered older children when evaluating trespassing as a way to be exposed to on-site contamination. Based on our scenario, no adverse health effects would be expected.


Although people might come into contact with contaminated soil occasionally, that contact poses no public health hazard for trespassers coming onto the St. Louis Auto Shredder drum disposal site. The drums and some gross surface soil contamination have been removed. Exposure will be further reduced when the site is developed by IDOT as part of a proposed highway relocation. Contaminated groundwater has not been characterized well, but migration of contaminants to wells that might be used for drinking water purposes is unlikely at this time.


IDPH recommends that IDOT and IEPA:

  • develop a land use plan that prevents future exposure to contaminated soil.
  • evaluate the potential for groundwater contamination to migrate from the site.

As this property is developed when I-70 is relocated, these recommendations will be followed. IDPH will review and evaluate any future data that may be generated for the site.


Catherine Copley, MS, LEHP
Environmental Health Specialist
Illinois Department of Public Health


Illinois Department of Transportation (1999) Preliminary Site Investigation Report for One Property Along the Interstate 70 Relocation Project in Madison City, St. Clair County, Illinois. Ecology and Environment, Inc. July 1999.

Illinois Environmental Protection Agency (1999a) Memo by Tom Miller with a chronology of activities at the drum site from February 9, 1993 through April 15, 1998. August 12, 1999.

Illinois Environmental Protection Agency (1999b) Memo written by John Sherrill to Site Referral Group about Drum Disposal Site for the St. Louis Auto Shredding Site. Springfield, Illinois. August 17, 1999.

Illinois Environmental Protection Agency (1984) Evaluation of Illinois Stream Sediment Data, 1974-1980. January 1984. Report IEPA/WPC/84-004.

Illinois Environmental Protection Agency Office of Chemical Safety (1994) A Summary of Selected Background Conditions for Inorganics in Soil. IEPA/EN/94-161. August 1994.

Illinois Environmental Protection Agency Bureau of Land (1998) File search. October 14 and 21, 1999. Springfield, Illinois.

Illinois Environmental Protection Agency (1998) Mark Wagner, project manager. Preliminary data collected with XRF spring 1999. Received June 19, 2000.

Pais, Istvan and J. Benton Jones, Jr. (1997) The Handbook of Trace Elements. St. Lucie Press, Boca Raton, FL.


Approximate Location of St. Louis Auto Shredder Drum Disposal Site


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 are not action levels but are comparison values. They are developed without consideration for carcinogenic effects, chemical interactions, multiple routes of exposure, or exposure through other environmental media. They are very conservative concentration values designed to protect sensitive members of the population.

Reference Dose Media Evaluation Guides (RMEGs) are another type of comparison value. They are developed without consideration for carcinogenic effects, chemical interactions, multiple routes of exposure, or exposure through other environmental media. They are very conservative concentration values designed to protect sensitive members of the population.

Cancer Risk Evaluation Guides (CREGs) are estimated contaminant concentrations based on a probability of one excess cancer in a million persons exposed to a chemical over a lifetime.

Maximum Contaminant Levels (MCLs) have been established by EPA for public water supplies to reduce the chances of occurrence of adverse health effects from use of contaminated drinking water. These standards are well below levels for which health effects have been observed 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 for drinking water (LTHAs) have been established by EPA for drinking water. They represent the concentrations of chemicals in drinking water that are not expected to cause any adverse, non-carcinogenic effects over a lifetime of exposure. These are conservative values that incorporate a margin of safety.


This St. Louis Auto Shredder Drum Disposal Site 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

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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