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Off-site Residential Properties Investigation



The Health Assessment Section of the Ohio Department of Health was asked by the United States Environmental Protection Agency to aid in the development of a sampling plan and to evaluate sampling results for lead in several residential properties located in and around Delta, Ohio that may have used spent foundry sand from the former Eagle Picher facility as fill material. HAS was asked to determine if the levels of lead detected in the soils pose a public health hazard to area residents. The evaluation was centered on four residential areas of Delta. This investigation took place as a result of the recent discovery that lead-contaminated foundry sand that was stored at the facility was distributed freely to the area residents and may have been used as fill material in many areas throughout the village. This health consultation documents the results of the residential soil sampling and outline plans for determining if there are other possible areas that could have received the used foundry sand.


The former Eagle Picher Industries (current Bunting Bearing Corporation) facility occupies 5.2 acres on the eastern edge of the Village of Delta in a largely rural portion of Fulton County, Ohio (Figure 1). The operational foundry facility is east of Van Buren Street and north of Main Street (State Route 2) in a mixed residential/commercial portion of the village. It consists of a complex of metal casting and machining facilities between Palmer Street to the south and Linwood Street to the north. Most of the property is fenced, including a portion of Maplewood Street just west off Jackson Street and east of Van Buren Street. The facility is currently surrounded on all sides by residential properties that are separated from the former Eagle Picher Industries property by distances as little as 30 feet.

The site of the current Bunting Bearing Corporation facility has been used for industrial purposes since the early 1900s. Prior to the 1930s, the site was used to repair steam locomotives. Foundry operations have been carried out at the site since 1936. Primary products were bronze alloys, bar stock, and metal bearings (ENSR, 1998). Metal alloys produced at the facility contained various amounts of copper, lead, tin, and zinc. Prior to 1977, metal casting at the site used molds made out of olivine sand. The olivine sand from sand casting operations, which were later discovered to contain high levels of lead, was landfilled on-site. The excess sand was piled on-site and was given to area residents and building contractors to use as fill material.

Prior Agency Actions

As a follow-up on citizen complaints concerning poor air quality due to excessive emissions from the Eagle Picher Industries facility, the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency (OEPA) investigated the Eagle Picher plant in 1985 and collected 56 surface soil samples from 28 locations along the outside perimeter of the facility and in adjacent residential areas. Sample analysis revealed lead to be present in off-site surface soils at levels as high as 2,024 parts per million (ppm) (Ohio EPA, 1995). The highest levels of lead were detected in areas closest to the Eagle Picher Industries fence line.

The elevated lead levels detected on residential surface soil adjacent to the Eagle Picher Industries facility raised concerns regarding the potential for blood lead poisoning of area residents, especially small children. As a result of these concerns, the Fulton County Health Department and the Division of Epidemiology within the Ohio Department of Health (ODH) conducted blood-lead screenings of area children in April and December of 1986. The screenings focused on area children six months to six years of age. Twenty-eight children were screened in April, but only six returned to be retested in December. ODH concluded that while "clearly the potential for lead exposure exists in the study area, . . . no significant exposure has occurred and there is no evidence of lead toxicity in the children who participated in the screening clinics." (ODH, 1987).

Ohio EPA initiated air monitoring at the Eagle Picher Industries facility in 1985. With Bunting Bearing Corporation's purchase of the property in 1989, the air emissions control systems at the facility were upgraded with five baghouse filter units currently collecting particulate matter from all manufacturing processes at the Delta plant. The facility has been in compliance with state and federal air quality regulations since 1985 (Ohio EPA-NWDO, pers.comm., 1998).

Ohio EPA performed an integrated assessment of the former Eagle Picher Industries facility June 6-7, 1995, by sampling groundwater from wells within a one mile radius of the site, by collecting sediment and surface water samples from Fewless Creek, and by collecting 12 surface soil samples from the perimeter of the facility. Results of this sampling indicated the presence of elevated levels of heavy metals in on-site and off-site soils and in sediments from Fewless Creek. Lead was detected on off-site residential surface soils at levels up to 15,600 ppm, nearly 700 times higher than typical background levels for lead in northwestern Ohio. Elevated lead levels were detected in on-site sediment samples from Fewless Creek (up to 360 ppm lead).

Eagle Picher Industries and the Bunting Bearing Corporation signed an administrative order by consent with USEPA in March, 1998. The companies, through their contractor (ENSR, 1999), carried out an environmental investigation of the foundry property and surrounding residential and commercial areas during June-August, 1998 as part of the Engineering Evaluation/Cost Analysis (EE/CA) investigation of the site. Initial on-site soil samples had concentrations of lead in soils up to 5,590 parts per million (ppm) and lead in spent foundry sand ranging from 3,440 - 5,080 ppm (ENSR, 1999). This investigation also included off-site soil sampling to assess the extent of heavy metals contamination in adjacent residential and commercial properties. Lead, copper, and zinc concentrations were initially screened using x-ray fluorescence (XRF) technology. Soil samples were taken at a total of 146 sampling locations around the periphery of the Bunting Bearing Property (ENSR, 1998). The companies and USEPA established a preliminary remediation goal (PRG) of 400 ppm for residential surface soils (ENSR, 1998). Lead levels in the soils were detected across the sampling area above the screening level of 400 ppm with levels up to 8,209 ppm. Due to the high levels of lead present in the soils, blood lead screenings were once again given to area children in 1998. All blood lead levels were below available health screening levels (ODH, 2001 PHA). USEPA conducted a removal action of contaminated soils in the residential properties adjacent to the facility to mitigate the possibility of any future exposures to lead contaminated soil. Additional activities are planned to address on-site lead contamination.


USEPA initiated an investigation of four off-site residential property areas based on information from Bunting Bearings Corporation and local residents that spent foundry sands from the facility were hauled off-site by homeowners and building contractors to be used as fill material in these areas.The investigation consisted of geophysical monitoring and soil sampling of four residential areas of Delta to determine if foundry sand was used as fill material in the area and if so, what is the extent of the contamination.

Linwood Street Area

The Linwood Street area is located directly east of the former Eagle Picher facility (Figure 2). The area includes properties on one block of Delta, Ohio. Fewless Creek flows through these properties and continues underneath the former Eagle Picher facility. It appears that the creek has been diverted and channelized in the past, and that foundry sand was potentially used as fill material.

Twenty-nine sample locations at varying depths were investigated using x-ray fluorescence (XRF). From the 29 locations, 21 samples were sent to the laboratory for analysis. One XRF reading exceeded the 400 ppm screening; however, laboratory results from the same location could not confirm the result (Weston, 2001). Since the laboratory samples did not exceed screening levels, the Linwood Street area does not appear to pose a threat of adverse health effects due to exposure to residential soils. It does not appear that foundry sands were used in large quantities as fill in this area.

Main Street Area

The Main Street area is located approximately 2 miles to the southwest of the former Eagle Picher facility on Main Street (U.S. 20) (Figure 2). The area includes eight properties located east of County Road FG. Through interviews conducted by USEPA, it was discovered that prior to home construction, the area may have been filled with spent foundry sand.

Twenty-six sample locations were analyzed using XRF. One of the XRF readings was above the screening level of 400 ppm; however, repeated attempts to achieve this reading a second time were unsuccessful (Weston, 2001). Laboratory analysis of the samples failed to yield any results above screening levels. The Main Street area does not appear to pose an adverse health threat to residents based on exposure to residential soils.

Wood Street Area

The Wood Street area is located approximately 1 mile to the northwest of the former Eagle Picher Facility (Figure 2). The area includes four properties sitting on the east bank of Bad Creek. The Delta city council informed USEPA that the area was filled with construction debris, empty drums, garbage, and possibly foundry sand (Weston, 2001).

Twenty-two sample locations were analyzed with the XRF. Two of the XFR readings exceeded the screening level of 400 ppm. Twelve samples were sent to the laboratory for analysis. None of the sample results had lead concentrations above 400 ppm. Residential soils in the Wood Street area do not appear to pose a threat of adverse health effect to residents living in the area.

The FG Area

The FG area is a residential property located approximately 2 miles southwest of the former Eagle Picher facility on County Road FG (Figure 2). The property is surrounded by farmland and other residential properties. Foundry sand, slag, and crucible material are visible at the surface on the eastern portion of the property.

Twenty locations were investigated with XRF. Several sample locations showed XRF readings above 400 ppm. XRF analysis at varying depths revealed that lead contamination did not extend below 8 feet (Weston 2001). Eleven sampling locations exceeded the screening level of 400 ppm. The XRF readings ranged from <100 ppm to 4,672.2 ppm for lead. Confirmatory laboratory samples for the same location ranged from 3.6 ppm to 16,500 ppm. (Weston 2001). Foundry sand was found at thirteen sample locations. Contamination appears to be present from the surface to depths as great as seven feet deep.

It is evident that lead-contaminated foundry sand was used as fill at this property. Pieces of slag and crucible material are visible at the surface and there are barren patches of exposed foundry sand throughout the yard. Levels of lead are consistently above screening levels throughout the area. It is unknown at this time the extent of contact that the residents have with the contaminated soils. Levels of lead in the soil pose a health threat to the residents living at the property due to the possibility of a completed exposure pathway. Some possible pathways of exposure include: accidental ingestion/inhalation of dust particles while mowing the grass or during periods of high winds; dermal contact with the contaminated soils; and/or possible impacts to the on-site drinking water well. There are currently no children living at the residence; however, it is unknown if children may visit the site. There is a possibility that future property owners may have children that may be at risk of exposure.

The residents were supplied with a fact sheet and a letter from USEPA explaining site conditions. The Fulton County Health Department explained health implications of the contaminated soil and offered to conduct blood lead screenings of the two residents living at the property. The residents did not seem to be concerned about adverse health effects from the contamination and refused the offer for blood lead screenings. The local health department also collected a sample of the residential well and analyzed it for lead. Lead was not present in the residential well above detection limits.


Due to the extent of lead contamination on the FG property at levels far above the preset screening level of 400 parts per million and the potential for a completed exposure pathway, HAS informed USEPA that the site posed a health hazard to the residents living on the property and to visitors to the property. Because of the health hazard, USEPA is currently planning to conduct a time-critical removal action of contaminated soils at the FG property. The total estimated volume of soil to be removed is approximately 4,000 cubic yards (Weston, 2001).


HAS and ATSDR recognize that children are often at a greater risk for environmental exposure than adults. Children with rapidly changing bodies may also be more susceptible to adverse health effects resulting from exposures to toxic materials on their environment. When evaluating the potentially contaminated sites in this investigation, HAS considered the threat to children's health in all activities. The removal action being conducted at the FG property is being completed with the priority of protecting the health of children that may visit the site.


Soils in the Linwood Street, Main Street, and Wood Street areas currently pose no public health hazard to residents and visitors to the area as the lead levels in the soils being far below health-based screening levels. The FG property currently poses a public health hazard to the residents living on-site and to children and adults that may visit the site and come into contact with the contaminated soils. The planned removal action at the FG property is designed to remove this potential health threat.


    1) Continue with plans to conduct removal action at the FG property to mitigate the potential for adverse health effects as a result of contact with contaminated soils at the property.

    2) Continue to seek out information on other possible locations where foundry sand could have been dumped.


The Public Health Action Plan is designed to ensure that the health consultation not only identifies public health hazards, but provides a plan of action designed to prevent exposure and mitigate human health effects resulting from exposure to on-site related contaminants. The public health actions completed and planned for the properties affected by contaminated soils are as follows.

Public Health Actions Completed:

  1. HAS staff visited Delta, Ohio on March 28, 2001, accompanied by USEPA, Ohio EPA, and the Fulton County Health Department to view possible sites that may have received contaminated foundry sand from the Eagle Picher facility. HAS and Fulton County Health Department staff also answered questions from several concerned residents that approached us during the site visit.

  2. At the request of USEPA, HAS reviewed the environmental data collected during the investigation conducted in the four residential areas of Delta, Ohio during April and May of 2001. All residents were notified by letter of the results of the environmental sampling in their area by the Fulton County Health Department. The residents of the FG property were contacted personally and informed of the option for a removal action by USEPA and offered blood lead screenings by the Fulton County Health Department.

  3. During a June 14, 200l conference call, HAS recommended that a removal action be conducted at the FG property due to high levels of lead in the surface and subsurface soils and the potential for a completed exposure pathway.

Actions to be Completed:

  1. USEPA will conduct a removal action at the FG property to mitigate the potential for exposure to elevated levels of lead in the surface and subsurface soils.

  2. USEPA and Ohio EPA will continue to seek information about other possible locations where contaminated foundry sand could have been dumped.

  3. HAS will evaluate and additional lead sampling data from additional locations investigated and sampled by USEPA.


ENSR. 1998. Data Report for EE/CA Support Sampling Program at the Former Eagle Picher Site. Delta, Ohio. October, 198. 10 p. + appendices, tables and figures.

ENSR, 1999. EE/CA Report for Former Eagle Picher Site. Delta, Ohio. 23 p. + tables, figures, and appendices.

Ohio Department of Health (ODH). 1987. Lead Toxicity Screening in the Vicinity of Eagle Picher Picher Bearings. Delta, Fulton County, Ohio. 33 p. + attachments.

Ohio Department of Health (ODH) 2001. Public Health Assessment for Eagle Picher Industries/Bunting Bearings Corporation.

Ohio Environmental Protection Agency (Ohio EPA). 1995. Integrated Assessment Report for Eagle Picher (a.k.a. Markey Bronze). Delta, Fulton, County. September 22, 1995. 27 p. + appendices.

Weston. 2001. Site Assessment Report for the Eagle Picher Residential Properties Site. Delta, Fulton County, Ohio. June 20, 2001. 38 p. + attachments, tables, figures, & pictures.


This Eagle Picher Industries Health Consultation was prepared by the Ohio Department of Health under a cooperative agreement with the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR). It is in accordance with approved methodology and procedures existing at the time the health consultation was begun.

Alan W. Yarbrough
Technical Project Officer, SPS, SSAB, DHAC, ATSDR

The Division of Health Assessment and Consultation, ATSDR, has reviewed this public health consultation and concurs with the findings.

Roberta Erlwein
Chief, State Program Section, SSAB, DHAC, ATSDR


Surface Soil and Sediments Lead Results
Figure 1. Surface Soil and Sediments Lead Results

Geoprobe Lead Results - Core 'A' (0-4 feet)
Figure 2. Geoprobe Lead Results - Core "A" (0-4 feet)

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
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