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Public Health Assessment
Baytown Township Groundwater Contamination Site, Washington County, Minnesota

Child Health Considerations

MDH recognizes that the unique vulnerabilities of infants and children make them of special concern to communities faced with contamination of their water, soil, air, or food. Children are at greater risk than adults from certain kinds of exposures to hazardous substances at waste disposal sites. They are more likely to be exposed because they play outdoors, and they often bring food into contaminated areas. They are smaller than adults, which means they breathe dust, soil, and heavy vapors close to the ground, and receive higher doses of chemical exposure per body weight. The developing body systems of children can sustain permanent damage if toxic exposures occur during critical growth stages. Most importantly, children depend completely on adults for risk identification and management decisions, housing decisions, and access to medical care. At the present time, child exposure to levels of TCE in excess of health-based criteria is being prevented by the use of GAC filtration units on private wells. Exposure of children to TCE and possibly CCl4 in drinking water at levels below the interim recommended exposure limit/HRL is occurring at some residences in the SWCA served by private wells. Children may also be exposed to low levels of TCE through the Bayport municipal water supply. However, as stated above, MDH believes that the health-based and regulatory criteria are sufficiently conservative and protective of human health.


  1. Due to the fact that exposure to TCE above health-based criteria is currently being prevented by use of whole-house GAC filtration units on private wells, and by the fact that levels of TCE in the Bayport municipal system are below regulatory and health-based standards, the site represents no apparent public health hazard at this time.
  2. There are uncertainties over the long-term maintenance of the many individual GAC filter systems in use at the site, tracking and monitoring of the plume, and potential development in the area. Local ordinances (enacted with the assistance of MDH) governing the use of GAC filters on new wells, and a state statute passed in 2003 designed to notify new homeowners of the presence of groundwater contamination at the site should help reduce these uncertainties.
  3. Past exposures to TCE and CCl4 in groundwater in private wells represent an indeterminate public health hazard because concentrations exceeded the current interim recommended exposure limit for TCE, and/or the hazard index of one.
  4. There is no direct evidence of an increased incidence of adverse health effects (i.e., cancer or birth defects) at the Baytown site.
  5. Further investigation and response actions at the site are under consideration by the MPCA.


  1. Additional permanent monitoring wells should be installed by the MPCA at or upgradient of the north hangar and the MW-10B areas to clarify whether TCE sources are located in these areas.
  2. The lateral extent and overall competence of the St. Lawrence formation should be evaluated to determine where the Franconia aquifer is adequately protected. Such an assessment should include, but not be limited to, identifying faulting and fracture patterns, erosional and structural features, and other aspects of the local geology (both in the St. Lawrence and the formations above and below it) that may create pathways for contaminant migration to the Franconia.
  3. The magnitude and extent of contamination in the Franconia should be defined by installation of permanent monitoring wells, or by other means.
  4. The city of Bayport should consider ways to minimize the amount of TCE in the water distribution system and a contingency plan should also be developed in the event that TCE concentrations in Bayport well #2 or the water supply system exceed regulatory or health-based standards.
  5. The vulnerability of the currently unaffected Bayport city water supply wells should be evaluated and a plan developed to prevent further contamination of the water supply system.
  6. The feasibility of connecting homes within the city of Bayport that are currently served by private wells to the city's municipal water supply should be explored. If a connection is made, the existing well should be properly sealed.
  7. The assessment and feasibility of long-term water supply options for the entire site should be completed. Alternate water supply options such as new private wells or community wells, or connection to a municipal or other community water supply system should be considered as long-term solutions.
  8. The construction of all existing private wells constructed before 1990 should be carefully reviewed to determine from which aquifer(s) they obtain water. To better protect the Jordan aquifer over the long term, consideration should be given to sealing those wells completed in both the Prairie du Chien and Jordan aquifers. These wells may allow unrestricted vertical migration of contaminated groundwater downward into the Jordan aquifer.
  9. Methods to prevent further migration of the contaminant plume should be considered.
  10. The current well sampling plan should be re-evaluated by all parties when a final HRL for TCE is adopted to ensure that it is still protective of public health.
  11. The number of new private wells constructed in the SWCA should be limited to minimize the oversight burden on state and local governments, and to minimize the potential for the spread of contaminants vertically or laterally. Where feasible, community public water supply wells should be constructed to serve 15 or more homes.
  12. The MAC (or their consultants) should update the Prairie du Chien and Jordan plume maps on an annual basis to provide current information regarding the plume configurations.
  13. The MAC (or their consultants) should generate a plume map for the Franconia formation, and update it annually as new information becomes available.

Public Health Action Plan

MDH's Public Health Action Plan for the site will consist of the distribution of this Public Health Assessment, and an information sheet summarizing the information in this Public Health Assessment to area residents. MDH will also continue to consult with MPCA and other agency staff on investigation, monitoring and response action activities, and participate in any public outreach events.

The MDH will also continue to evaluate mixtures of VOCs at wells impacted by multiple contaminants to ensure that the mixture does not exceed the hazard index and therefore represent an unacceptable health risk. MDH may also finalize a new HRL for TCE through its rule making process. MDH will also continue to work with local units of government at the site to ensure that the ordinances recently enacted are fully implemented, to ensure that new wells are fitted with a GAC (when necessary), and to review monitoring results for GAC filter systems regulated under the township ordinances.

MDH staff will closely monitor TCE concentrations in the area of Osprey and Oriole Avenues and along 21st Street North, between Olene and Osprey Avenue, as this appears to be an area where the plume in the Jordan aquifer may be expanding. MDH staff will work with MPCA staff to ensure that adequate sampling occurs to track changes in the plume in this area, and any other area where the plume appears to be changing.

MDH's Well Management Section will continue to maintain the Baytown Special Well Construction Area, and review the latest monitoring data and adjust its boundaries as needed. MDH's Drinking Water Protection Section will monitor Lake Elmo municipal well #1 for VOCs on an annual basis as a precaution, and continue to monitor the Bayport municipal wells on a regular basis.

MDH staff will review any proposed remediation plans for the site to ensure that a groundwater pump-out system is properly designed. Such a design could be to arrange a series of wells along the eastern edge of the airport property, sufficient in number and capacity to capture the majority of the contaminant plume. This series of wells should be combined with a pump-out well (or wells) in the source area(s) if such an area (or areas) can be located. The goal would be for the downgradient wells to "cut off" the plume, while the near-source well(s) would reduce the mass of contaminants feeding the plume, thus reducing the time frame over which the downgradient wells must operate.


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Preparers of Report

James Kelly
Health Assessor
Site Assessment and Consultation Unit
Minnesota Department of Health
tel: (651) 215-0913

Virginia Yingling
Site Assessment and Consultation Unit
Minnesota Department of Health
tel: (651) 215-0917

Tannie Eshenaur
Community Health Educator
Site Assessment and Consultation Unit
Minnesota Department of Health
tel: (651) 215-0916

Patrick Sarafolean
Well Management Section
Minnesota Department of Health
tel: (651) 643-2110


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