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PCBs are a group of manufactured organic chemicals that contain 209 individual chlorinated chemicals. PCBs are either oily liquids or solids and are colorless to light yellow in color. They have no known odor or taste. Some commercial PCB mixtures are known in the United States by their industrial trade name, Aroclor. PCBs do not burn easily and are good insulating materials. They have been used as coolants and lubricants in transformers, capacitors, and other electrical equipment. The manufacture of PCBs stopped in the United States in 1977 because of evidence that they build up in the environment and cause harmful effects. People exposed to a high dose of PCBs in the air for a long time could experience irritation of the nose and lungs, and skin irritations, such as acne and rashes. Scientists are unsure whether PCBs may cause birth defects or reproductive problems in people. Some studies have shown that babies born to women who consumed PCB-contaminated fish had problems with their nervous systems at birth. However, the studies did not indicate whether these problems were definitely due to PCBs or other chemicals. Whether PCBs can cause cancer in people is not known (ToxFAQs).

The PCBs detected in soils at the Speedway site were mainly in the west and south parking areas and adjacent portions of the dirt drive, upwind of the grandstand area. Water and waste oil are regularly used by the track owners to reduce dust levels along the driveway and in the parking areas during the racing season (Ecology & Environment, 1998). PCB levels in the track soils are much lower than in surrounding areas (Table 1) due to asphalting of the track surface in 1970. At any rate, prevailing winds would generally carry the dust generated in the track area to the north and east, away from spectators sitting in the grandstand area.

Most of US EPA samples had PCBs at levels less than 10 ppm or below the detection level (Figure 3). Average total PCB levels in the west and south parking lots and the dirt driveway (not track) were below 13 ppm, and average levels at the track were below 3 ppm (Table 1). A cumulative curve for the same samples indicates that 90% of the samples (N=117) have PCB concentrations of less than 30 ppm and 70% have concentrations of less than 10 ppm (Figure 3).

Ten ppm of total PCBs in soil has been used by ATSDR as a comparision value for a long term, continuous, 24 hour per day exposure. Levels above the comparision value do not necessarily represent a health threat. USEPA levels for an industial scenario (25 years exposure) are between 10 to 25 ppm. These values would not apply to PCB exposures at the Sharon Speedway because potential exposures to racetrack spectators would be only intermittent and short-term. The duration of potential exposure is limited to several hours on weekends during the active racing season (April to Labor Day). No apparent direct soil contact for spectators exists.

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