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Residential Well Sampling



The Ohio Environmental Protection Agency (Ohio EPA) asked the Health Assessment Section (HAS) of the Ohio Department of Health (ODH) to review the analytical results of a residential well sampling event conducted in Kent, Ohio, during March 2002. The samples were collected as part of an investigation conducted by Ohio EPA at the Old Kent City Dump in Portage County, Ohio. Specifically, HAS was asked to determine if contaminants were present in the wells at levels that could pose an adverse health effect to residents living in these homes. This health consultation documents the review of the analytical results and actions taken by ODH and Ohio EPA.

The Old Kent City Dump is a 12-acre parcel of land located less than one-quarter of a mile east of the city limits of Kent, in Franklin Township, Portage County, Ohio. The site is bounded to the north by Brady Lake Road, to the south and west by Second Avenue and the Kent Park residential subdivision on Ohio Avenue, and a railroad and Breakneck Creek on the east-northeast (Figure 1). Breakneck Creek flows in a northwesterly direction toward the Cuyahoga River. Approximately 10 of the 12 acres of the site have been used as a landfill. According to Ohio EPA's Expanded Site Inspection Report dated August 29, 2002, solid waste, metal, and rubber debris are on the surface of the site. Records also show the past disposal on the site of live ammunition, such as hand grenades. The live ammunition has since been removed from the site (Ohio EPA 2002).

The Old Kent City Dump was first used as the city dump in the 1940s-1950s, a landfill from 1965-1969, and a salvage operation in 1970. The Portage County Health Department closed down the landfill in 1969. Ohio EPA has inspected the site several times since the landfill closed in 1969, including an investigation of the site in 1986, following a complaint of continued dumping at the site. Approximately 100-200 drums were present on the site surface. All of the drums were in poor condition. Ohio EPA completed assessments of the site April 1986 and January 1987.

Site investigations in April and May 1992 by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and PRC Inc. included site inspections and sampling of drums, soil, sediment, and residential wells. The EPA on-scene coordinator noted approximately 400 drums scattered around the site. Some drums were thought to contain solvents, paint waste, and petroleum sludge Exiting ATSDR Website.

Samples from three residential wells, eight soil samples, and eight sediment samples were collected during the 1992 investigation. The residential wells were all located along Ohio Street, south of the site. One residential well sample contained very low (at the detection limit) levels of several VOCs. All three wells contained very low, estimated levels of the pesticides alpha-BHC and DDT (ODH 1994).

As a result of the PRC investigation, the EPA Emergency Response Section and E&E Technical Assistance Team (TAT) arrived on the site and removed about 1,200 waste drums. About 700 of these drums were full or partially full, and the other 500 were empty (Ohio EPA 2002). In 1993, 14 monitoring wells were installed at the site by the potentially responsible parties. No significant contamination was found in on-site groundwater at the time of sampling.


(Source: "Screening Site Inspection" report by PRC Inc., December 1992).

The Old Kent City Dump is in the northwest part of the glaciated Allegheny Plateau. Sand and gravel deposits left by wasting glaciers underlie the site. These sand and gravel deposits are covered by alluvium deposited by Breakneck Creek. Reports on the area's glacial geology indicate that the sand and gravel deposits are highly permeable and noncohesive, with the thickness of the sand and gravel nearly 100 feet. Area well logs from the Ohio Department of Natural Resources' (ODNR) Division of Groundwater confirm that the sand and gravel deposits are between 90 and 100 feet thick along the site's southern boundary.

A bedrock valley underlies the sand and gravel deposits and generally follows the course of Breakneck Creek. The uppermost bedrock is a sandstone and conglomerate member of the Sharon Member of the Pottsville Group. Area well logs indicate that this sandstone bedrock underlies the site at a depth of about 90 to 110 feet below ground surface.

Potable water supplies are obtained from the shallow sand and gravel deposits (unconsolidated aquifer) and the upper sandstone deposits (sandstone aquifer). Most private wells in the vicinity draw water from bedrock aquifers beneath the upper sandstone aquifer, according to well logs at ODNR's Division of Groundwater.

The Kent Water Department obtains its water supplies from three wells located about 1 mile south and downgradient of the site. These wells, which supply most of Kent's 30,000 residents, draw water from the unconsolidated aquifer and are screened between 80 and 110 feet below ground surface. An estimated 51,000 people utilize the groundwater within a 4-mile radius of the site. The nearest drinking water wells are residential wells within 100 feet of the site.


Current Investigation

Ohio EPA began the current investigation of the Old Kent City Dump in March 2002. Samples were collected from soil, sediment, and both on-site and off-site groundwater. Samples were analyzed for volatile organic compounds (VOCs), semi-volatile organic compounds (SVOCs), pesticides, polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), and metals.

For the purpose of this health consultation, HAS was asked to review the results of samples collected from residential wells adjacent to the Old Kent City Dump property (Figure 2). Fourteen residential wells were sampled during the investigation. The majority of the wells were located on the southwest side of the landfill. All of the wells appear to be downgradient of the site because groundwater has been shown to flow radially from the site (Ohio EPA 2002).

Arsenic was detected in one residential well at a level of 11.2 parts per billion (ppb), which is slightly above the federal maximum contaminant level (MCL) of 10 ppb. Arsenic is a naturally occurring metal in groundwater in Ohio that is often present at levels that are sometimes much higher than the current MCL. However, the MCL is only enforceable for public water systems and does not become enforceable until 2006. While this level is not enforceable for private wells, HAS does use this level as guidance. It is unlikely that adverse health effects would occur when consuming water at the current level of 11.2 ppb; however, some people might be more sensitive than others and might wish to seek an alternate source of drinking water to avoid drinking water contaminated with arsenic.

Lead was detected in a second residential well at 33.5 ppb, which is above the EPA removal action level of 15 ppb. This sample was collected before it passed through any treatment system. The water was retested at a later date after passing through the home's water softener, and no lead was detected. Because the water softener appears to be removing the lead from the drinking water, there is no cause for concern when consuming the well water.

No contaminants were detected at levels in the other 12 wells sampled that would be expected to cause adverse health effects.


HAS and ATSDR recognize that children are often at a greater risk for environmental exposure than adults. Children with rapidly developing bodies might also be more susceptible to adverse health effects resulting from exposures to toxic material in their environment. For this reason, this document uses public health guidelines that are protective of children.


Arsenic was detected in one of the residential wells sampled at 11.2 ppb, which is above the maximum contaminant level of 10 ppb established for public water supplies. There are no studies that indicate adverse health effects would occur at this level of exposure. In addition, this residence is currently a rental property and it is unlikely that residents would be living in the property for more than a limited number of years. The residential wells sampled in association with the Old Kent City Dump investigation currently pose "no apparent health hazard" to the residents living in the homes. None of the other residential wells contained contaminants that would be expected to cause adverse health effects.


If the residents in the home with slightly elevated arsenic have concerns about their drinking water, they might wish to seek an alternate source of drinking water such as bottled water or the installation of a water treatment system.


No further actions are planned at this time. The Health Assessment Section of the Ohio Department of Health is willing to review future data concerning this site as needed.


Eric R. Yates, environmental specialist
Robert Frey, PhD, principal investigator


Ohio Department of Health. Old Kent City Dump health consultation. Columbus, Ohio: Ohio Department of Health; 1994.

Ohio Environmental Protection Agency. Expanded site inspection Old City of Kent Dump. Columbus, Ohio: Ohio Environmental Protection Agency; 2002.

PRC Inc. Screening site inspection report. 1992.


Site Features Map
Figure 1. Site Features Map

Ground Water Sample Location Map
Figure 2. Ground Water Sample Location Map


The Ohio Department of Health prepared this public health consultation under a cooperative agreement with the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR). The document is in accordance with approved methodology and procedures existing at the time the public health consultation was initiated.

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 its findings.

Richard Gillig
for Chief, State Programs Section, SSAB, DHAC, ATSDR

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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