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This health consultation provides an update of activities at the Warner Electric Brake and ClutchCompany site (Warner). In June 1992, the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH)completed a public health assessment for Warner, which evaluated site data collected fromseveral sources beginning in 1983 [1]. IDPH concluded that past exposure and future potentialexposure to groundwater contamination were the primary human health hazards at the site. Analternative water supply system was supplied for affected homes, and a pump and treatgroundwater extraction system was constructed. Continued groundwater monitoring wasrecommended. Area residents were also encouraged to participate in the Agency for ToxicSubstances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) National Trichloroethylene (TCE) ExposureSubregistry. This health consultation reports on evaluation of site activities conducted since thecompletion of the public health assessment.


Warner manufactures brake, clutch, and drive train components. The manufacturing facility issituated on 93.3 acres in Roscoe, Winnebago County, Illinois, and has been in existence since1957 (Figure 1). The manufacturing processes include use of various organic solvents to cleanand degrease metal parts.

Roscoe has a population of about 1,600 people. Demographic information within a one milebuffer around the site are shown in Figure 2. Roscoe does not have a public water supply andmany private wells exist in the community. The Rock River is 0.75 miles southwest of the siteand is used exclusively for recreation and not as a potable water supply.

In early 1983, the Winnebago County Health Department (WCHD) and IDPH foundtrichloroethylene (TCE) at levels greater than 500 parts per billion (ppb) in several residentialwells in two nearby subdivisions, Hononegah Estates and Moore Haven (Figure 1). Subsequentinvestigations by WCHD, IDPH and the Illinois State Water Survey (ISWS) found that nearly100 homes in the area had private wells contaminated with several volatile organic compounds(VOCs) at levels of health concern. The predominant contaminant was TCE, ranging from 1 to12,158 ppb. Because Warner was suspected as the primary source of this contamination, thecompany provided bottled water for area residents beginning in December 1983.

In 1984, samples collected from monitoring wells placed on the site by Warner contained variouslevels of VOCs including TCE, 1,1,1-trichloroethane, and trans-1,2-dichloroethene. Thesechemicals were detected predominantly in the monitoring wells situated near the on-site, unlinedlagoons that were part of the plant's wastewater treatment process.

In 1984, ISWS reported that the contaminant plume was a well-defined area, approximately5,000 to 7,200 feet long and at least 1,200 feet wide. The plume originates from Warner andpasses directly underneath the two subdivisions. Groundwater flow in the area is northeast tosouthwest. After the ISWS report, Warner constructed a community water supply system for theaffected subdivisions. In November 1991, a water treatment system became operational in theHononegah Estates subdivision. The system pumps approximately 285 gallons of water perminute and is operational 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Recent sampling from a monitoringwell north of the Hononegah Estates subdivision (well N160) continues to show thatgroundwater contamination remains at high levels (Table 1). Samples from the water treatmentsystem extraction well show that contaminant levels decrease closer to the water treatment plant(Table 1).


Although no one is currently exposed to VOCs in the groundwater, persons were exposed in thepast. Residents of the area who had been exposed to TCE from the Warner site were included onthe ATSDR National TCE Exposure Subregistry in June 1990 [2]. The TCE Subregistry is one offour chemical-specific subregistries that comprise the National Exposure Registry (NER).Individuals with documented exposure to specific chemicals comprise the NER. Self-reportedhealth effects are documented in the NER reports. At the start of the subregistry, participantswere asked about their smoking habits, work history, demographic history, and a series of healthrelated questions. The same questions are asked during each followup.

Information has been collected on 4,986 individuals (4,652 living and 334 deceased) included inthe TCE Subregistry. These individuals had documented environmental exposure to TCE andresided in 15 areas in 5 states (Michigan, Illinois, Indiana, Pennsylvania, and Arizona). TCEregistrants were exposed through drinking water from TCE-contaminated private wells. To beeligible for the TCE Subregistry, participants had to have lived in an affected area for more than30 days and had to have used the water at an address where the water supply was contaminatedwith TCE [2].

ATSDR made comparisons between the health-outcome rates reported in the TCE Subregistryand composite morbidity rates from the 1989-1994 National Health Interview Survey,administered by the National Center for Health Statistics. Morbidity data analyses indicated thatTCE Subregistry registrants had an increased self-reporting rate for several health outcomes,most of which were consistent across data collection points. However, because of small numbersfor some reporting periods, a change of 1 in the number of reports or in the sample size changedthe level of statistical significance. The following statistically significant increases (p < .01significance level) were found:

  1. Speech impairment and hearing impairment reporting rates for children under 10 years ofage were statistically increased at baseline but not for the followups. Reporting ratesdecreased for all other age groups.

  2. Reporting rates for anemia and other blood disorders increased at all collection points, particularly for those aged less than 10 years and people aged 35 through 64 years.

  3. Stroke was reported in excess at each data collection period. The greatest increases werefor females aged 10 through 54 years and males 25 through 44 years.

  4. Urinary tract disorders were reported at a higher rate for females in all age groups, and formales aged 10 through 25 years.

  5. Reported rates for liver problems were elevated or significantly higher for females aged45 through 64 years; kidney problems were also reported in excess at baseline for femalesaged 55 through 64 years.

  6. Diabetes rates were higher for females aged 18 through 24 years and 45 through 54 yearsat all reporting periods; there was an overall increase at followup.

  7. Skin rashes, eczema, and other skin allergies were reported at a higher rate at baseline andfollowup; the two youngest age groups (less than 17 years) had the highest rates.

When interpreting statistical results, and planning future activities based on these results, certainlimitations of the TCE Subregistry data files must be kept in mind. For example, a bias inreporting rates would exist because registrants (1) were more aware of their TCE exposure, (2)had been advised of the potential effect on their health, and (3) might have sought medical caremore often than the general population. To moderate this potential bias, TCE Subregistry datawere collected with the restriction that a health care provider had to have told the registrant theyhad the condition or treated them for the condition. Statistically significant deficits for the TCEpopulation were found for the following health conditions:

    - hearing impairment (after age 25 years);
    - asthma, emphysema, or chronic bronchitis;
    - arthritis, rheumatism, or other joint disorders; and
    - other respiratory allergies or problems, such as hay fever.

Although the findings of the TCE Subregistry report do not identify a causal relationship betweenTCE exposure and adverse health effects, they do reinforce the need to continue ongoingfollowup of registrants [2].

The health status of these residents will be followed until 2010 to gain more information aboutexposure to TCE.


IDPH determined that no one is currently exposed to site-related contaminants. The childpopulation around the site is small, and future exposure is unlikely given the remedial activitiesdecided upon for the site.


IDPH concludes that this site presently poses no public health hazard because people arecurrently not exposed to contaminants. While future exposure to contaminated groundwater ispossible, remedial actions already taken at the site make this exposure unlikely.


IDPH recommends that USEPA continue remediation and monitoring of the groundwater plume.USEPA plans to continue their monitoring program.


Ken McCann, MA
Environmental Toxicologist
Illinois Department of Public Health


  1. Illinois Department of Public Health. Public Health Assessment for Warner ElectricBrake and Clutch Company, South Beloit, Winnebago County, Illinois, CERCLIS NO.ILD006114151. Springfield, IL. June 18, 1992.

  2. The Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry. 1999. National ExposureRegistry, Trichloroethylene (TCE) Subregistry, Baseline Though Followup 3 TechnicalReport. October 1999.


This Warner Electric Brake and Clutch Company Health Consultation was prepared by theIllinois Department of Public Health under a cooperative agreement with the Agency for ToxicSubstances and Disease Registry (ATSDR). It is in accordance with approved methodology andprocedures existing at the time the health consultation was begun.

Gail D. Godfrey
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.

Richard E. Gillig

Table 1.

Selected Groundwater Samples (concentrations are parts per billion)
Chemical Well N160
Well N160
Extraction Well Before Treatment
cis-1,2-dichloroethene 260 100 9.3 70 (MCL)
trichloroethylene 190 150 26 5 (MCL)

MCL - maximum contaminant level; MCLs have been established by USEPA 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.


Site Map
Figure 1. Site Map

Demographic Statistics
Figure 2. Demographic Statistics

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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