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In March 2000, the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry issued a healthconsultation conducted by the Indiana State Department of Health (ISDH) for the Hoosier WoodTreating site. Since that time, issues of most concern have been addressed; however, land useconditions have changed. Private residences are now on the property, and young children now arepresent on the site. The Indiana Department of Environmental Management (IDEM) requestedthe Indiana State Department of Health (ISDH) to review new environmental data collected fromthe Hoosier Wood Treating site and determine if the property is habitable for residency.

The 12-acre Hoosier Wood Treating site is a former wood treatment and storage facility locatedadjacent to State Highway 67, approximately 0.5 miles northeast of the town of Gosport, OwenCounty, Indiana. The site is not on the National Priorities List (NPL).

The site is surrounded by a low American wire (approximately 3 feet high) fence and is easilyaccessible. The site is immediately adjacent to several residences housing families with children.Four families (one with children) live in mobile homes on site. The site property includes threeparcels that are owned individually by the families. Approximately 1,062 people live within a 1-mile radius of the site. Wood treatment and storage structures remaining on site include severaldilapidated buildings, an abandoned retort pressure treating tank, and a small pond. According toIDEM staff, the property was purchased through an auction. Currently, part of the site is beingused as a junkyard and car lot for vehicles as well as for residential living. The owner of theproperty, who lives on site, has also installed a private well.

The site had been used for pressure treating various wood products. During its time of operationfrom 1975 to 1994; the facility used creosote, copper chromium arsenic compounds (CCA), andpentachlorophenol (PCP) to treat the wood. The site was abandoned by its previous owners inDecember 1994.

Between August 1995 and June 1999, when it was abandoned, a number of site visits, samplingevents, and removal actions were conducted by IDEM and the U.S. Environmental ProtectionAgency (EPA) to evaluate and remediate the site to nonresidential cleanup standards.

In September 1997, IDEM collected a residential well water sample near the site (exact distancefrom the site is unknown) after a complaint was received regarding drinking water quality. Thesample was analyzed for volatile organic compounds (VOCs), semi-volatile organic compounds (SVOCs), and metals. Iron was detected at 12 parts per million (ppm), and manganese waspresent at 0.16 ppm. Those levels exceed secondary maximum contaminant levels (SMCLs),which are standards established for taste and aesthetic water qualities rather than public healthissues [1]. No VOCs were found in the water, and no other inorganic chemicals were found inthe water at levels that exceeded comparison values, screening values used to select contaminants that should be further evaluated if people are coming into contact with the contaminants.

In December 1998, the EPA contractor conducted a site assessment (SA) at the site. IDEM wasalso in attendance. The SA included a site reconnaissance, photo documentation, and collectionof soil, sludge, and sediment samples. The site originally included the wood treatment building,the office building, and the furnace building [2,3]. At the time of the site reconnaissance, the sitewas still fenced; however, the front gate was in a state of disrepair, and the site was not inspectedon a regular basis. The site still had two buildings, one building foundation, an on-site pond, agravel-covered section, one retort tank, and numerous piles of debris.

During the IDEM removal action in 1997, the retort tank had been decontaminated but the tankremained on site. A pit of undetermined size was under the tank and contained oily sludge andwater. The sludge pit is partially covered from the elements by the retort tank. Approximately six55-gallon drums were scattered across the site and exposed to the elements.

Analytical results indicated the presence of 10,215 ppm PCP in the sludge pit beneath the retorttank. In addition, concentrations of up to 870 ppm PCP were detected in surface soils at the eastedge of a gravel-covered area and between the wood treatment and former furnace buildings. No metals in any of the samples were detected above EPA removal action levels.

One sediment sample was collected from the on-site pond. Results did not indicate the presenceof arsenic, PCP, or other site-related contaminants.

In late April 1999, EPA approved a time-critical removal action to consolidate and dispose of allwaste and associated containers. Excavated areas were lined and backfilled with clean soil.During that period, a site visit also was conducted which consisted of a preliminary walkthroughat the site. Also, EPA requested ISDH to evaluate any health risks associated with the site. Inearly May 1999, removal action began at the site and was completed in June 1999. Analyticalresults from confirmation samples of soil indicated that all contamination in excavations waswell below the EPA removal action level of 530 ppm PCP. The highest concentration detectedwas 21 ppm at the southeast corner of the wood treatment building.

In June 1999, IDEM issued a letter to the Owen County Auditor with its findings. On the basis ofsampling results, IDEM does not believe that further sampling at the Hoosier Wood Treating siteis justified. IDEM staff believes that human health and environmental concerns at the site havebeen addressed by IDEM and EPA actions over the past few years.

In March 2000, ISDH, under a cooperative agreement with the Agency for Toxic Substances andDisease Registry (ATSDR), released a health consultation (HC) for Hoosier Wood Treating. TheHC stated the site posed a public health hazard because of access to physical hazards, such asthe ponds and dilapidated buildings and because groundwater had not been adequatelycharacterized, leaving unanswered whether drinking water wells in the area could becomecontaminated in the future.

PCP contamination was removed from the site around the sludge pit and surface soil, and the lowlevels remaining pose no health risk if the land was used for non-residential purposes asproposed [1].

The ISDH recommended:

  1. Consider improving the fence to prevent trespassing. At a minimum, post "NoTrespassing" signs to help restrict public access to the site.

  2. Collect groundwater samples around the retort tank, wood treatment building, and furnacebuilding areas to determine if contamination has migrated into groundwater. Ifgroundwater is affected, determine direction of groundwater flow and test any nearbydrinking water wells downgradient of the site.

In October 2000, IDEM collected surface water/drinking water and soil/sediment samples afterbeing notified that the site was being used for business and residential purposes. Also uponsampling, an additional on-site pond was sampled. The collected samples were analyzed forVOCs, SVOCs, metals (arsenic, chromium, copper), and dioxins (Figure 1 and Figure 2) [2].

Arsenic was detected at a maximum concentration of 59 ppm in surface soil and at 12 ppm insubsurface (18-24 inches) soil. No other inorganic chemicals were found at levels exceedingcomparison values.

PCP was detected at a maximum concentration of 38 ppm in surface soil. No PCP was detected insubsurface soil. Sediment sample results collected from and around the two on-site ponds (dry,but moist at time of sampling) did not indicate the presence of arsenic or PCP (Table 1).

A drinking water sample collected from an on-site private well and analyzed for VOCs, SVOCs,and metals did not indicate the presence of contamination at that time; however, groundwater atthe site has not been adequately characterized. If groundwater contains site-related contaminantsand flows in the direction of the on-site private well or other nearby private wells, contaminants could reach those wells in the future [4].


People who are now living on the property are most likely to come into contact with thecontaminants present in surface soil. The residents can ingest contaminated soil, inhalecontaminated dust, and get the contaminated soil on their skin. Of those ways that people cancontact the contamination, ingestion is the route of exposure of most concern. Young children areof greatest concern because they tend to ingest more soil than adults because of their play habits,such as chewing on toys that have fallen to the ground.

Approximately 23 surface and subsurface arsenic soil samples collected by IDEM after soilremoval were above the ATSDR comparison value (CV) for a pica child (generally children aged6 years and younger who ingest unusually high amounts of soil). Six of the samples were abovethe CV for a nonpica child [5,6]. A total of nine samples contained PCP at levels above theATSDR CV for a nonpica child.

Ingestion and dermal exposure to arsenic and PCP present in the surface soil are the potentialexposure pathways of concern at the Hoosier Wood Treating site on the basis of theenvironmental data submitted and the fact that residents (including young children) are now livingon site. Samples were collected at locations on site, including around the trailers where childrenlive. Past groundwater sampling has shown that residents are not ingesting contaminants throughtheir drinking water; thus, the well water is not considered to be an exposure pathway at this time. The subsurface soil is not a factor because children are not likely to come into contact with it [7,8].

Several factors are considered to determine whether one will be harmed from exposure to achemical. These factors include the dose (how much), the duration (how long), and how much onecomes into contact with the chemical. The estimated dose calculation for adults did not exceed theminimal risk level (MRL--a screening tool to determine whether exposure to a contaminantshould be evaluated further) for adults in arsenic or PCP.

A worst-case estimated dose calculation was done for arsenic using a pica child because childrenwho are living on the site are pre-school age and the assumption that at least one of the childrenexhibits pica behavior is a conservative assumption. These calculations were based on theadditional conservative assumptions that a pre-school child could be exposed 7 months/year, 7days/week, 6 hours/day for 3 years. Exposure to arsenic at the concentrations calculated do notpose a health hazard for a pica child [9]. However, children living on site should not be exposedto arsenic for long periods of time if the exposure can be avoided.

For PCP, the dose estimated is below most of the concentrations at the no observed adverse effectlevel (NOAEL), the doses at which no harmful effects were found in studies of people or animalsexposed to PCP [9]. Therefore, no noncancer, adverse health effects are expected.


ISDH and ATSDR recognize that children are especially sensitive to the toxicity of somecontaminants. ISDH and ATSDR also recognize that children react differently than adults whenexposed to contaminants in their environment. They are more likely to be exposed for severalreasons. Children play outside more often than adults, increasing the likelihood that they willcome into contact with chemicals in the environment. Because they are nearer to the ground,children breathe more dust, soil, and heavy vapors. Children are also smaller, resulting in higherdoses of chemical exposure per body weight. The developing body system of children can sustaindamage if toxic exposures occur during certain growth stages.

Children live on and near the Hoosier Wood Treating site. The site is accessible, and the risk ispresent for potential exposure to contaminants in soil through ingestion and dermal contact withcontaminated soil. The levels of arsenic and PCP found in surface soil should not harm childrenwho come into contact with it. However, a potential exists for the private well that suppliesdrinking water for the residence to become contaminated with PCP and other chemicals present inthe soil. Two on-site ponds (when water is present in them) present a potential physical hazard because unsupervised children could drown in them.


Currently, the Hoosier Wood Treating site poses no public health hazard because contact withthe levels of contamination in soil on the property is not expected to result in adverse healtheffects; however, on-site groundwater has not been adequately characterized to demonstrate thatthe residential well could not become contaminated in the future. Any future drinking watercontamination would have to be evaluated to see if exposure could result in adverse health effects. The two on-site ponds present a potential physical hazard for the childrenliving on site.


  1. Precautions should be taken when children are near the two lagoon-type, on-site ponds when water is present in them.

  2. The on-site private well should be monitored annually for contaminants.


Actions that have been completed

Between May 1999 and June 1999, removal activities conducted by EPA at the Hoosier WoodTreating site included [1]:

  • Excavation of approximately 340 tons of PCP-contaminated soil from the area adjacent tothe wood treatment building and from the sludge pit outfall area. In addition, contaminated

  • debris, including blocks, wood, and an outfall pipe, were also removed. The contaminatedsoils and debris were transported off site to a disposal facility.

  • Excavation of approximately 300 gallons of PCP-contaminated liquid sludge from thesludge pit below the retort tank. The sludge was stored in six 55-gallon drums and sent offsite to an incineration facility.

  • Inspection of one drum of caustic sludge found on site; it was then transported to arecovery facility for neutralization.

  • Approximately 30 cubic yards of nonhazardous debris were collected on site andtransported to a disposal facility.

  • Two empty propane cylinders were sent for reclamation to a gas facility.

  • The excavated areas were lined with poly sheeting and backfilled with clean soil.

  • Repairs were completed on the front gate, and a new lock was added.

Actions to be taken within 2002

  1. ISDH will provide health education on how to minimize children's exposure topotentially contaminated soil.

  2. ISDH will discuss preventive safety measures with residents surrounding the two on-site ponds.

  3. The Owen County Health Department will conduct annual groundwater analysis at theprivate well onsite for potential future contaminants.


  1. Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry. Health consultation concerningHoosier Wood Treating site. Atlanta: US Department of Health and Human Services; 2000Mar.

  2. Ecology and Environment Inc. Letter report for Hoosier Wood Treating. Lancaster, NY:1999 Jul.

  3. Ecology and Environment Inc. Letter report for Hoosier Wood Treating. Lancaster, NY:1999 Mar.

  4. Indiana Department of Environmental Management. Office memorandum concerninganalytical results for Hoosier Wood Treating. Indianapolis: 2000 Dec.

  5. Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry. Summary report for the ATSDR soil-pica workshop. Atlanta: US Department of Health and Human Services; 2000 Jun.

  6. Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry. Comparison values. Atlanta: USDepartment of Health and Human Services; 2001 Jun.

  7. Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry. Toxicological profile for arsenic,(update). Atlanta: US Department of Health and Human Services; 1998 Aug.

  8. Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry. Toxicological profile forpentachlorophenol, (update). Atlanta: US Department of Health and Human Services; 1999 Aug.

  9. Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry. Public health assessment guidancemanual. Atlanta: US Department of Health and Human Services; 1992.


Garry L. Mills
Environmental Manager
Environmental Epidemiology Section
Indiana State Department of Health


This Hoosier Wood Treating Health Consultation was prepared by the Indiana State Departmentof Health under a cooperative agreement with the Agency for Toxic Substances and DiseaseRegistry (ATSDR). It is in accordance with approved methodology and procedures 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.

Lisa C. Hayes
for Richard E. Gillig


Hoosier Wood Treating Residence, Arsenic Surface and Subsurface Soil Sample Results, October 2000
Figure 1. Hoosier Wood Treating Residence, Arsenic Surface and Subsurface Soil Sample Results, October 2000

Hoosier Wood Treating Residence, PCP Surface Soil Sample Results, October 2000
Figure 2. Hoosier Wood Treating Residence, PCP Surface Soil Sample Results, October 2000

Table 1.

Arsenic Surface and Subsurface Soil Sample Results October 2000
Maximum Concentration Comparison Value

Surface - 59 ppm

Subsurface - 12 ppm

0.6 ppm
20 ppm
PCP Surface Soil Sample Results
October 2000
Maximum Concentration Comparison Value
38 ppm Pica
2 ppm
50 ppm

Data Qualifier
ppm = parts per million

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