PRELIMINARY PUBLIC HEALTH ASSESSMENT
FAIRBANKS, FAIRBANKS NORTH STAR COUNTY, ALASKA
Located in the southeast quadrant of Fairbanks, Alaska, theArctic Surplus National Priorities List (NPL) site consists ofsalvaged material and scrap which have accumulated for more than40 years. Operations at the site (1946 to 1976) have resulted inlocalized soil contamination with chlordane, polychlorinatedbiphenyls, dioxin/furan homologues (compounds of similarstructure), and lead. Some surface soil lead contamination hasbeen detected just beyond the site fence line. In addition,friable asbestos is found on-site. Remediation of the site hasremoved most of the localized on-site soil contamination andasbestos.
Seven of nine on-site and three of eight off-site wells haddetectable levels of lead (5-579 ppb). One of the off-site wellsis a residential well and it had 5 ppb lead. Six of the nine on-site and four of the eight off-site wells had detectable levelsof arsenic (5-87 ppb). Three of the off-site wells areresidential and had 8-9 ppb arsenic. Arsenic is found ingroundwater throughout the Fairbanks region and is not related tothe Arctic Surplus NPL site.
The two independent compiled lists of individuals reported tohave site-related adverse health effects indicate a possiblecluster of adverse health outcomes in the area around ArcticSurplus. The existing health outcome databases did not permitevaluation of this possible cluster in this public health assessment.
The Arctic Surplus site is considered an public health hazardbecause of the potential for exposure to lead through ingestionof water from residential wells, and because of the pastexposures of workers to asbestos, lead, and PCB's on-site.
ATSDR determined that a community health investigation is neededto help address community concerns about cancer and other healthoutcomes. ATSDR also determined that blood lead testing ofresidents of the area near Arctic Surplus be conducted because ofthe clear potential that exposure to lead above 15 ppb indrinking water is occurring.
In addition, ATSDR determined that community and healthprofessions education is indicated. The community healtheducation should include information on how to minimize exposuresto lead and the known health effects of the substances present. The health professions education should focus on the effects oflead, asbestos, and arsenic.
The Arctic Surplus (a.k.a. Arctic Salvage, McPeak Salvage)National Priorities List (NPL) site is located in the southeastquadrant of Fairbanks, Alaska (See Appendix C, Figure I). It isa 22-acre parcel of land northeast of the intersection of BadgerRoad and the Old Richardson Highway, 6 miles southeast ofFairbanks. The site consists of salvaged material and scrapwhich have accumulated for more than 40 years. A maze ofunimproved roadways wind through the property. Vegetation,including trees 20 to 25 feet tall, has grown around and throughscrap metal and debris on much of the site, primarily the easternportion.
The site was owned by the U.S. Department of Defense from 1944through 1958 and was used as a disposal site for equipment andabandoned materials. Some waste material may have been placed inan on-site pit (40 feet x 40 feet x 30 feet). In 1958, the sitewas sold to a private citizen. Salvage yard operations wereconducted at the site until 1976. Since 1976, the property haschanged ownership twice with very little site activity. Thissite is currently owned by three private parties and the AlaskaRailroad.
During the period of private party operation (1958-1976),equipment and materials were brought on-site for salvage andeventual resale. Much of this material remains accumulatedon-site. The majority of equipment and materials that remainon-site appear to be of military origin. Some of the mostnotable materials brought on-site are an incinerator in whichelectrical transformer fluids and transformer copper windingswere burned; batteries which were split open and drained torecover the lead plates; hundreds of 55-gallon drums and othercontainers; and asbestos rolls, bricks, pipe wrapping, andinsulation. A second incinerator is located on-site and wasallegedly used to melt aluminum. Appendix C, Figure II delineates the locations of the notable items.
In 1987 and 1988, the Alaska Department of EnvironmentalConservation (ADEC) investigated the conditions on-site (1-3). Because of the concern over chemicals that may have beencontained in the drums, ADEC notified the U.S. EnvironmentalProtection Agency (EPA). Based on the assessment conducted byADEC and EPA's Technical Assistance Team, EPA determined that thesite posed hazards to public health and the environment. InSeptember 1989, EPA secured the site with a fence and removed22,200 pounds of asbestos. During the summer of 1990, the U.S.Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) stabilized and removed 75 gallonsof chlordane, excavated and removed the dioxin contaminated ashand soil near the incinerators, excavated and removed thecontaminated soil at the battery cracking areas, and stabilizedand removed various electrical transformers and chemical drumsfound on-site.
In 1991, EPA conducted surveys for alleged buried hazardouswastes and to delineate areas of high lead and PCB contamination("hot spots") (4). The identified hot spots were capped ratherthan removed.
The EPA proposed the inclusion of Arctic Surplus on the NPL inOctober 1989 (Update 10). The NPL is a list of sites whichrequire further investigation and possible long-term cleanup.
Mr. Sven E. Rodenbeck and Mr. Joel D. Mulder from the Agency forToxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) conducted a sitevisit on June 7-8, 1990. During the site visit, ATSDR staff metwith representatives of the Alaska Department of Health, ADEC,and EPA.
Another site visit was made to follow-up on concerns expressedduring the public comment period for the public healthassessment. On December 4, 1991, Drs. Leticia Arredondo and JohnCrellin, and Mr. Greg Thomas of ATSDR toured the residentialareas near the site, searched the site's public repository, andheld two public availability meetings.
The results of these site visits are described in the appropriateportions of this public health assessment.
Arctic Surplus is bound to the north by residential properties ofthe Clear Creek Estate Subdivision, and to the south by theAlaska Railroad and the Old Richardson Highway. Badger Road andFort Wainwright are located immediately west of the site. Agravel pit operation is immediately east of the Arctic Surplus. Appendix C, Figure III delineates the property boundaries nearthe site.
No municipal water supply is available for the approximately2,500 residents within three miles of the site. It is believedthat every home obtains potable drinking water from residentialwells which average approximately 30 feet in depth. The 11,667individuals residing at Fort Wainwright obtain potable drinkingwater from the Fort's central water distribution system. The twoFort Wainwright wells, 180 and 190 feet deep, are located twomiles northwest of the site.
One of the present landowners resides on-site. His home islocated in the northwest corner of the site. The land owner isthe only occupant of the building and he uses bottled water fordrinking and cooking. Domestic water (bathing and cleaning) isobtained from a 30-foot deep two inch well (see Appendix C,Figure II).
An additional well is located on-site. This well is six inchesin diameter and is not used for domestic purposes.
Two ponds are located on the Arctic Surplus property (SeeAppendix C, Figure II). The nearest off-site surface water,Clear Creek, is approximately 1/2 miles to the north.
Community health concerns were identified through contact withfederal, state, and local officials; letters and calls from localresidents; and public availability meetings.
Drs. Arredondo and Crellin, and Mr. Thomas of ATSDR held twopublic availability meetings at the Hutchinson Career Center inFairbanks, AK from 3-5:30 and 7-9:00 pm. Community healthconcerns were solicited and the health assessment processexplained. Total attendance at both meetings was about 20.
Nearly all the participants in the meetings expressed concernabout the potential for site-related health effects and actionstaken by EPA. One citizen provided a list of about 100individuals with health effects possibly related to the areaaround Arctic. Dr. Arredondo obtained additional informationabout the people on this list on the morning of December 5. Another individual had compiled similar information about fouryears ago and promised to provide ATSDR with a copy.
The community health concerns identified were:
- an apparent increased incidence of stomach, colon,liver, cervical, brain, and spinal cancer; heartdisease; epilepsy; mental disorders; suicide; birthdefects; testicular swelling; and mental retardation;
- the health effects possible from exposure to dioxin andlead;
- poor quality of drinking water;
- need for testing of private drinking water wells nearsite;
- extent of contamination - several citizens mentionedthat drums had been discovered in residential yardsthroughout the area;
- possible impact of a currently operating salvage yard(K & K Recycling), which is similar to Arctic Surplus;
- possible health consequences of children playingoutside; and
- health consequences of eating food grown in their backyards.
These concerns will be discussed in the Community Health ConcernsEvaluation portion of the Public Health Implications section.
In conducting an ATSDR Public Health Assessment, the healthassessors identify and review all available environmentalcontamination data for a site. The on- and off-site portions ofthis section describe the sampling that has been done andidentify contaminants of concern. The quality of theenvironmental data is discussed in the Quality Assurance andQuality Control subsection. Physical and other hazards notrelated to toxic substances, if any, are described in thePhysical and Other Hazards subsection. This introductory portiondiscusses the process for selecting contaminants of concern andToxic Chemical Release Inventory (TRI) data.
ATSDR selects contaminants for further evaluation based upon thefollowing factors:
- comparison of concentrations of contaminants on- andoff-site with values for noncarcinogenic andcarcinogenic endpoints,
- sampling plan and field and laboratory data quality,and
- community health concerns.
Identification of a contaminant of concern in the On-site andOff-site Contamination subsections does not mean that exposurewill result in adverse health effects, only that additionalevaluation is necessary. The public health significance, if any,of exposure to the contaminants of concern is evaluated insubsequent sections of the public health assessment.
Comparison values for public health assessment are contaminantconcentrations in specific media that are used to selectcontaminants for further evaluation. These values includeEnvironmental Media Evaluation Guides (EMEGs), Cancer RiskEvaluation Guides (CREGs), and other relevant guidelines. CREGsare estimated contaminant concentrations based on a one excesscancer in a million persons exposed over a lifetime. CREGs arecalculated from EPA's cancer slope factors. EPA's maximumContaminant Level Goal (MCLG) is a drinking water health goal. EPA believes that the MCLG represents a level that no known oranticipated adverse effect on the health of persons should occurwhich allows an adequate margin of safety. Proposed MaximumContaminant Level Goals (PMCLGs) are MCLGs that are beingproposed. Maximum Contaminant Levels (MCLs) representcontaminant concentrations that EPA deems protective of publichealth (considering the availability and economics of watertreatment technology) over a lifetime (70 years) at an exposurerate of 2 liters water per day. While MCLs are regulatoryconcentrations, PMCLGs and MCLGs are not. EPA's Reference Dose(Rfd) and Reference Concentration (Rfc) are estimates of thedaily exposure to a contaminant via the ingestion (Rfd) orinhalation (Rfc) routes that is unlikely to cause adverse healtheffects.
In order to identify other possible facilities that couldcontribute to the groundwater and air contamination within thearea of concern, ATSDR searched the 1987 and 1988 Toxic ChemicalRelease Inventory (TRI). TRI was developed by EPA from thechemical release (air, water, and soil) information provided bycertain industries. No information on site-related toxicchemical releases in Fairbanks or the 99705 zip code area werereported to EPA in 1987 and 1988.
Initial site assessments have been conducted by ADEC and EPAduring August through November, 1988, and May through June, 1989,respectively (1-3). Additional sampling was done as part ofremoval actions in 1990 and 1991 (4-6). Analyses of the samplestaken at Arctic Surplus NPL site indicate various localized areasof contamination. Tables 1-3 in Appendix A present thecontaminants of concern found on-site.
Chlordane was detected only in soil under a leaking chlordanecontainer and on an adjacent roadway. Elevated surface soillevels of lead were found at the battery cracking and batterycasing storage areas (1-3). During the summer of 1990, the Corpsexcavated and removed surface soils with the higher levels ofcontamination (6). Analysis of soil samples taken after theremoval indicate residual contamination at these areas requiringadditional removal or treatment.
Samples of the ash from incinerator number one were checked forthe presence of polychlorinated biphenyls (PCB) and dioxin/furanhomologues. As previously mentioned, incinerator number one wasallegedly used to burn transformer oil. Analysis of the ashsamples indicate that transformer oil was burned in incineratornumber one because PCB and dioxin/furan homologues were detectedin the ash (see Table 1, Appendix A) (1-3). Analyses of surfacesoil samples taken near the on-site residence found PCB up to196,000 parts per billion (ppb)(3). The ash, soil, and debriswere excavated and stored on-site by the Corps.
The dioxin/furan homologues are reported as total estimatedtetrachlorodibenzo-p-dioxin toxic equivalence factors. Becausethe different forms of dioxin and furans have differing toxicity,the laboratory results have been adjusted to reflect theequivalent concentration of 2,3,7,8-tetrachlorodibenzo-p-dioxin(2,3,7,8-TCDD) needed to correspond to the concentration ofdioxin and furans found on-site. In other words, the adjustedtotal of all the dioxin/furan homologues detected in the ash isthe same as if only 2,3,7,8-TCDD was detected.
Although 22,200 pounds of asbestos were removed by EPA, asbestosremains on the property (2). However, the remaining asbestos iseither buried under or enclosed by the metal salvage debris stillon-site. Visible asbestos on metal salvage debris (i.e.,boilers, pipes, etc.) was "locked down" with red-dyedencapsulation subsequent to the removal of asbestos (3).
Analytical results of the groundwater samples taken from the twopreexisting wells on-site found lead and arsenic at levels ofpublic health concern (see Table 1, Appendix A) (1). Informationprovided to ATSDR by EPA indicates that arsenic is found ingroundwater throughout the Fairbanks region and is not related tothe Arctic Surplus NPL site. (Memorandum, from John Sainsbury,EPA, to Joel Mulder, ATSDR, January 9, 1991.) Note: Becausethese wells are intended for domestic use (e.g., drinking andbathing), analytical results from unfiltered samples are used todetermine whether contaminants are present. Unfilteredgroundwater samples are more indicative of what contaminantsmaybe present in residential wells.
Seven onsite monitoring wells were installed by the Corps in July1990 (5) (see Figure III of Appendix C). None of the wellssampled in July 1990 had detectable levels of lead and only one(MW-3) had a detectable level of arsenic (46 ppb). However,sampling in December identified detectable levels of lead in fiveand of arsenic in four of the seven wells (Table 3, Appendix A). No organic compounds were detected in the wells (5).
Laboratory analysis of surface water samples taken from the twoon-site ponds do not show any organic or inorganic contaminationof public health concern (2).
The 1,928 drums and 750 five-gallon cans of chemicals foundon-site have been inventoried as to content. The most prevalentcontent categories are waste oil, unknown, antifreeze, fuel oil,alcohol, dry cleaning fluid, de-icer, and alkaline cleaningcompound. The inventory concentrated primarily on the 55-gallondrums, however other containers and features were also noted. Only drums that appeared to have contents were counted during thesurvey (2). Analysis of four drum contents found PCB (Aroclor1260), 7,200,000 ppb to 240,000,000 ppb. The contents of theinventoried drums were removed from the site during the summer of1990 (6).
Two off-site residential wells were sampled in 1988 (Tract A &TL-2107 ), and four in 1989 (TL 18 - TL 21 ), and six in1990 (TL 18 - TL 21, TL 2107 & 2109 ). Four other off-sitewells were sampled in 1990 (5). Two were drinking water wells onthe military reservation (buildings 5008 and 5001) and two weremonitoring wells (MW-1 & 4) drilled in July 1990. See Figure IIIin Appendix C for the location of these off-site wells.
No Arctic Surplus-related organic contamination was shown to bepresent in any of the wells (1,3,5). Levels of inorganics abovethe detection limits were found only in the 1990 testing (1,3,5). However, the detection limits for lead and arsenic were 25 ppb in1989, rather than the more appropriate 5 ppb (3). The resultsfrom the 1990 testing of off-site wells are in Table 4 ofAppendix A. Three of eight off-site wells sampled had detectablelevels of lead (MW 1-16 ppb, MW 4-10 ppb, TL 21-5 ppb) and fivehad detectable levels of arsenic (MW 1-87 ppb, MW 4-16 ppb, TL18-8 ppb, TL 19-9 ppb, and TL 20-9 ppb). The wells labeled TL(tax lot) are residential wells.
Limited surface soil sampling was conducted off-site along thewestern boundary of the site. This sampling was specific forlead and PCBs. Lead was found at 13,000 ppb to 33,273,000 ppb. PCBs were not detected above levels of public health concern.(Letter, from William L. Carberry, Ecology and Environment, Inc.,to Kathy Talber, Alaska Department of Transportation, November 8,1990.)
ATSDR was provided with quality assurance and quality control(QA/QC) information concerning analytical data for the ArcticSurplus NPL site. The information tends to indicate appropriateQA/QC was performed. The conclusions presented in this publichealth assessment are based in part on the data derived from theenvironmental samples of 1988 and 1989. The validity of theseconclusions is therefore dependent on the accuracy andreliability of the data provided.
Various abandoned pieces of equipment and other materials arescattered through out the site. Individuals entering the sitecould be injured when climbing onto or over this material. Access to the site is restricted by a six foot fence.
Past activities at Arctic Surplus NPL site have resulted inlocalized soil contamination (e.g., battery cracking andincinerator ash disposal). Analysis conducted during the siteinvestigations indicate the highest soil contamination (lead,PCBs, and dioxin/furan homologues) is in the surface soils. Additional investigations are needed to determine if other areasof soil contamination are on-site.
The site is underlain with alluvial deposits (sand, gravel, andgray silt) and the groundwater is only ten feet below thesurface. Therefore, the surface soil contamination could easilymigrate into the groundwater. This is particularly true for leadassociated with the former battery cracking operation. Becausebattery acid was reportedly poured directly onto the ground andacid in batteries transforms inorganic lead into the most watersoluble forms (making it easier for lead to dissolve in water),the lead from the former battery cracking operations could haveeasily migrated into the groundwater. PCB's, chlordane, anddioxin/furan homologues are less likely to migrate because theydo not readily dissolve in water.
The water table aquifer (800 feet thick) beneath the site is themain source of potable water for the local residences and FortWainwright. The primary source of recharge for the aquifer isthe Tanana River. The aquifer generally flows towards thenorthwest.
The detection of lead in two preexisting, five of seven on-sitemonitoring, one of seven off-site residential, none of twomilitary domestic, and both off-site monitoring wells indicatesthat lead has migrated into the groundwater. Additionalinvestigations are needed to properly delineate the total extentof groundwater contamination.
Arsenic was detected in the groundwater at levels of publichealth concern. Elevated levels of arsenic are found throughoutthe Fairbanks area and are not related to the Arctic Surplus NPLsite. (Memorandum, from John Sainsbury, EPA, to Joel Mulder,ATSDR, January 9, 1991.)
In addition to possibly migrating into the water table aquifer,the surface soil contamination (chlordane, PCBs, dioxin/furanhomologues, lead, and asbestos) may have been transportedoff-site as dust or particulate matter. This could occurwhenever the surface soils are disturbed by on-site activities orduring high wind conditions. Because the ash piles and asbestoswere not covered with vegetation or any other type of barrier,off-site transport of ash and asbestos could potentially haveoccurred whenever the ground was not covered with snow (generallyMay through September). The prevailing winds for the Fairbanksarea come from the south and southwest.
When in operation, the on-site incinerators could have dischargeddioxin/furan homologues into the air. This would be particularlytrue for the incinerator which is alleged to have burnedtransformer fluids. Because dioxin/furan homologues were foundin the ash from incinerator number one, it is likely thatdioxin/furan homologues were discharged to the air duringoperations. Without stack testing, it is not possible todetermine the quantity of dioxin/furan homologues discharged.
Lead can bioaccumulate in plants (7). However, no foodstuff isgrown on-site. If a sufficient amount of lead were released tothe air and deposited on adjoining properties, the contaminantscould possibly bioaccumulate in foodstuffs grown on nearbyresidential gardens. Because only limited off-site soilsampling has be conducted, it is not possible to adequatelyaddress this possible contaminant transport mechanism. PCB's anddioxin/furan homologues are not known to bioaccumulate in plants(8,9).
Although the site is relatively flat (less than 1 percent grade),surface soil contaminants could have been transported off-site bysurface water runoff (e.g., heavy rain falls or snow melt). On-and off-site surface soil sampling in drainage areas should beconducted in the future in order to evaluate this possibility.
The two on-site ponds have been sampled and analytical resultsdid not find any organic or inorganic contamination in thesurface water. However, additional surface water and sedimentsampling should be conducted in order to confirm thesepreliminary findings.
On the basis of the environmental pathways evaluation, humanexposure to significant levels of hazardous substances could haveoccurred by contact with contaminated groundwater and surfacesoils. In addition, occupational exposures to airbornecontaminants may have occurred when the facility was operational. Each human exposure pathway is discussed in detail below.
The current primary human exposure pathway of concern at theArctic Surplus NPL site is the ingestion of groundwatercontaminated with lead. Preliminary groundwater studies haveidentified one off-site residential and two monitoring wells with5 - 16 ppb of lead. In addition, two preexisting and five ofseven monitoring wells onsite are contaminated withconcentrations of lead up to 579 ppb. The preexisting wells arenot normally used for drinking water but are used for domesticuses (e.g., bathing). Clearly, the off-site residential wellstowards the northwest, the direction of groundwater movement,could become contaminated in the future. The discovery of lowlevels of lead (5 ppb) in the residential on TL 21 confirms thepotential for finding other contaminated residential wells.
Humans may be ingesting groundwater contaminated with arsenic. Elevated levels of arsenic are found throughout the Fairbanksarea and are not related to the Arctic Surplus NPL site.
Significant human exposures may have occurred to on-site workersin the past. The scrap yard workers could have come in contact(inhalation, ingestion, and dermal) with asbestos, lead, PCBs,and other compounds managed at the facility. The extent ofexposure would depend upon the type of safety equipment used(e.g., respirators) by the workers. In addition, on-site workerscould have come in contact (inhalation, ingestion, and dermal)with dioxin/furan homologues whenever the number one incineratorwas in use or during ash removal operations.
Trespassers could have also come in contact with the contaminantson-site. However, this contact was probably not significantbecause the exposure would be of short duration. Access to thesite has been restricted since September 1989 by a locked sixfoot chain link fence.
Other possible human exposure pathways are dermal contact,inhalation, and ingestion of contaminants that may have migratedonto off-site surface soil (lead, PCBs, asbestos, anddioxin/furan homologues) and bioaccumulated lead in foodstuffsgrown in gardens adjacent to the site. The contaminants couldhave migrated off-site as contaminated dust and incineratorparticulates. This exposure pathway can not be evaluated at thistime because off-site surface soil sampling has not beenconducted.
As discussed in the preceding section, one residential well haslow levels of lead and future migration of contaminatedgroundwater will likely contaminate additional residential wellswith lead. There are three residential wells where exposure toarsenic is occurring. The on-site workers may have been exposedin the past to asbestos, lead, PCB's and other compounds managedat the facility by ingestion, dermal contact, and inhalation.
The Toxicological Evaluation portion of this section will discussthe implications of the human exposures to lead and arsenic andprobable human exposures to asbestos, chlordane, PCBs, anddioxin. In the Health Outcome Data Evaluation subsection theguidelines ATSDR uses to select health outcomes for evaluationwill be described. Community health concerns will be addressedin the Community Health Concerns Evaluation subsection.
Typically, the toxicological evaluation in a public healthassessment involves comparison of the exposure dose for thoseindividuals in an exposure pathway to ATSDR's Minimal Risk Levels(MRLs) or EPA's Reference Doses (Rfd). The MRLs and Rfds areestimates of daily human exposure to a contaminant below whichnoncarcinogenic adverse health effects are unlikely to occur(10). This means that any exposure dose that is below theappropriate MRL or Rfd, does not represent a hazard to humanhealth. The finding of an exposure dose above the appropriateMRL or Rfd indicates that evaluation of the toxicologicalliterature needs to be done to determine whether the specificexposure situation represents a hazard to public health. Theexposure dose, based on the contaminant concentrations andexposure length for the area where exposure has, is, or couldoccur, is compared to the MRL or Rfd appropriate for the routeand length of exposure.
This sort of comparison can be done only for arsenic as this isthe only contaminant of concern where both exposure levels areknown and an health guideline (Rfd) is available. While there isone known exposure situation for lead, no health guideline isavailable. For the other contaminants of concern, no specificexposures have been demonstrated. The exposure dose for arsenicwill be discussed in the next paragraphs. The possible publichealth implications of the other contaminants will also bebriefly described.
The exposure doses for ingestion of water contaminated with themaximum levels of arsenic in residential wells were calculated inthe following manner. The maximum concentration for arsenic (9ppb) was multiplied by the daily ingestion rate of water foradults, 2 liters/day; and for children, 1 liter/day. Thisproduct was divided by the average weight for an adult, 70 kg(154 pounds) or for a child, 10 kg (22 pounds). These resultswere compared to the oral Rfd for arsenic of 0.0003 mg/kg/day(11). These calculations assume that all the water drunk duringa day was contaminated with the maximum level.
The adult exposure dose for arsenic did not exceed the Rfd forthe arsenic. However, the exposure dose for children did exceedthe Rfd for arsenic. The possible noncarcinogenic health effectsof exposure of children to the maximum levels of arsenic inresidential levels will be discussed subsequently.
It is unlikely that ingestion by children of the maximum level ofarsenic in water will result in adverse health effects. Theexposure dose is two times lower than the lowest no observedeffects level and 13 times lower than the lowest observed effectslevels reported from human epidemiological studies (12). Asmentioned previously, the arsenic levels identified around ArcticSurplus appear to be typical for the Fairbanks area.
Arsenic is considered a human carcinogen (12). However,ingestion of the maximum levels of arsenic in off-siteresidential wells does not represent a risk for carcinogeniceffects, based on a comparison of the exposure dose for adults tothe lowest observed effect level observed in epidemiologicinvestigations of human exposures (12).
Studies of workers indicate that asbestos can cause healtheffects with exposures as short as 6 months. Possible effectsinclude asbestosis (scarring of lung tissue which restrictsbreathing), mesothelioma (cancer of the linings of the chest orabdominal cavities), and lung cancer (especially among personswho also smoke cigarettes). There is usually a latency period of15 or more years between exposure to asbestos and the onset oflung cancer and mesothelioma (13). Depending on length andamount of exposure, past workers at this site may experiencehealth effects related to exposure to asbestos. Until ATSDRreceives additional information concerning the on- and off-sitelevels of asbestos in the air and soils, the current publichealth implication of asbestos at the site can not be evaluated.
Based on animal studies, the levels of chlordane found on-sitecould increase the risk of cancer, cause liver damage, and, atthe highest concentrations, cause gastrointestinal and centralnervous system effects (14). However, it is improbable thatsignificant exposure could occur due to the limited area known tobe contaminated.
The Centers for Disease Control has calculated a safe level of 1ppb for 2,3,7,8-TCDD in residential soil. A 70 year exposure to1 ppb would increase an individual's risk of cancer (15). Healtheffects from exposure to the dioxin on-site are very improbable,since the equivalent level of dioxin is below 1 ppb and 70 yearsof exposure is unlikely to occur. The site has only been inexistence for 40 years.
Long-term exposure of children to levels above 20 ppb in watercould result in learning deficits and other neurological effects. Effects in adults may start at long-term exposures to levels aslow as 50 ppb in water (7). The levels of lead found in theon-site wells could cause health effects in both children andadults. However, information provided to ATSDR indicates no oneobtains drinking water from these wells. Until ATSDR receivesadditional information concerning the on- and off-site levels oflead in the groundwater and soils, the current public healthimplication of lead at the site can not be evaluated.
Based on animal studies, several days to weeks of exposure to thehighest on-site levels of PCB's could cause liver damage. Long-term exposure (years) to the lower PCB concentrations foundon-site could cause birth defects and elevate the risk of cancer(8). Until ATSDR receives additional information concerning theon- and off-site levels of PCBs in the soils, the current publichealth implication of PCBs at the site can not be evaluated.
In a public health assessment, available health outcome databasesare identified for the area near the site. From those availabledata, ATSDR selects health outcomes for further evaluation thatare biologically plausible or are community health concerns. However for the Arctic Surplus site, no analysis of healthoutcome data was conducted because no data were available for thearea around the site.
The community health concerns are addressed as follows.
- An apparent increased incidence of several types of cancer,and other adverse health effects including epilepsy andtesticular swelling
- The health effects possible from exposure to dioxin and lead
- Poor quality of drinking water
- Need for testing of private drinking water wells near site
- Extent of contamination - several citizens mentioned that drums had been discovered in residential yards throughout the area
- Possible impact of a currently operating salvage yard (K & K Recycling), which is similar to Arctic Surplus
- Possible health consequences of children playing outside
- Health consequences of eating food grown in their back yards
- Possible Cluster of Adverse Health Outcomes
Cancer incidence or mortality data for the area around thissite need to be evaluated to ascertain whether thecommunity's impressions about cancer frequency are correct. This type of data is not presently available for ATSDR toreview. However, cervical and colon cancers have notpreviously been associated with environmental agents(16,17). Brain and spinal cancers have not been associatedwith the chemicals found on-site (18). The results of theresidential soil and well water sampling mentioned above,are needed to determine if levels of contaminants are highenough to possibly cause any adverse health effects.
The term epilepsy denotes any disorder characterized byrecurrent seizures. A seizure is a disturbance of cerebralfunction due to an abnormal and sudden discharge of actionin the cells of the brain. Epilepsy is a common disorderaffecting approximately 0.5% of the population in the U.S.A.
Epilepsy has several causes. Its most likely cause inindividual patients relates to the age at onset. Epilepsyhas not been related to environmental exposures. Causesassociated with epilepsy are known as idiopathic orconstitutional and symptomatic. In idiopathic epilepsy nospecific cause is identified and there is no otherneurologic abnormality. The usual age at which seizuresbegin to occur is between 5 and 20 years of age.
Symptomatic epilepsy on the other hand, has many causes: metabolic disorders (low levels of calcium, vitamindeficiencies, phenylketonuria); head injuries; tumors andother space occupying lesions in the head; and infectiousdiseases (bacterial-meningitis, viral-encephalitis, andparasitic). Patients with AIDS can also have seizures dueto secondary infections in the brain.
Based on a review of the literature, it is very unlikelythat any cases of epilepsy occurring in the area aroundArctic Surplus site, are site-related.
Testicular swelling is a nonspecific health concern and maybe a result of a number diseases. The causes of each of thediseases is very different and has not been related toenvironmental exposures in the scientific and medicalliterature.
Mental Health and Environmental Contamination
No clear association between exposure to chemicals in theenvironment and mental health impacts has been establishedto date.
Birth Defects and Mental Retardation
These concerns can not be addressed without birth defectsdata and information on which contaminants, if any, presentin residential well water and yards. The birth defects dataare not currently available. ATSDR is recommending in thispublic health assessment that off-site environmentalsampling be done.
High levels of exposure to dioxin can cause a severe skinlesion in humans called chloracne, and may damage the liver,cause weight loss, loss of appetite, and digestive orders(9). However, two recent studies of long-term humanexposure to soils contaminated with up to 2.2 ppm of dioxindid not identify any health effects (19,20). A broadbattery of physical, clinical and immunological exams wereadministered to individuals who had lived in areascontaminated with dioxin. The soil levels encountered inthese two studies are much higher than any level on-site atArctic Surplus.
Exposure to lead causes a wide range of effects (7). Thelevel of lead in blood is a good measure of recent exposureand also correlates well with health effects. The Centersfor Disease Control (CDC) recently concluded that levels of10 ug/dL and perhaps lower in children's blood have beenassociated with adverse health effects; levels of 15 ug/dLand greater can result in a decrease in IQ and rate ofgrowth (21). In adults, levels as low as 15 ug/dL arelinked to an increase in blood pressure (7). Lead cansignificantly affect both the reproductive process and thedevelopment of the fetus at blood lead levels in a pregnantwoman as low as 10 ug/dL (7,21). Documented effects includereduced production of sperm, premature birth, and low birthweight (7).
Children are especially sensitive to lead and many of itseffects are observed at lower concentrations than in adults(7). Children exposed to lead may have impaired mental andphysical development, decreased heme (a component of redblood cells) production, hearing problems, and decreasedlevels of vitamin D (22). Neurological effects may persistafter exposure has ceased and blood lead levels havereturned to normal (23).
This increased vulnerability of children results from acombination of factors, including: (1) the increasedsusceptibility of the developing nervous system to theneurotoxic effects of lead, (2) an average higher rate ofsoil ingestion than adults, (3) the greater efficiency oflead absorption in the gastrointestinal tract of children,(4) the greater prevalence of iron or calcium deficiencieswhich may exacerbate the toxic effects of lead, and (5) theready transfer of lead across the placenta to the developingfetus (22).
Health effects in children appear to begin at blood leadlevels of 10 ug/dL (22). Three literature reviews haveevaluated the relationship between concentrations of lead insoil and blood lead levels in children (24-26) All threeconcluded that soil lead levels of 1000 ppm would increaseconcentrations in blood from 0.6 to 65 ug/dL with an averageincrease of 4-5 ug/dL. This wide range was due to differentsources of lead, exposure conditions, and exposedpopulations. The health effects associated with such anincrease would depend partly on the existing body burden oflead.
The taste and odor of drinking water is not necessarilyindicative of possible health consequences. Only samplingand analysis of water from private wells can identifywhether there are chemicals or bacteria present at levels ofhealth concern.
ATSDR is recommending in this public health assessment thatadditional testing of wells near the site be done.
ATSDR is recommending in this public health assessment thatsampling of residential soils be done.
The sampling of off-site residential soils and wellsrecommended in this public health assessment would assist toaddress this concern.
This is dependent on the types and concentrations ofcontaminants present in the yards, the amount of time thechildren spend playing outside, and whether the ground isfrozen. The washing of hands before eating reduces theingestion of any contaminants present. Personal habits suchas putting fingers in mouths and eating soil also can affectthe amount of contaminants ingested. The sampling of off-site residential soils and wells recommended in this publichealth assessment would assist in identifying which, if any,contaminants are present.
This can not be determined without sampling residentialyards. Small amounts of the contaminants may be on or inthe vegetables. Washing will remove contaminants on thesurface of vegetables. The amount of contaminants in theflesh of the vegetables would be dependent on the amount inthe soil and the ability of the plant to take in thecontaminant. Sampling of residential yards is one of therecommendations in this public health assessment.
The two independently compiled lists of individuals reportedto have site-related adverse health effects indicate apossible cluster of adverse health outcomes in the areaaround Arctic Surplus. The lack of appropriate healthoutcome databases prevented evaluation of this possiblecluster in this public health assessment.
The Arctic Surplus site is considered an public health hazardbecause of the potential for exposure to lead through ingestionof water from residential wells, and because of the pastexposures of workers to asbestos, lead, and PCB's on-site. Thesoil on-site is extensively contaminated with lead, PCBs, andother contaminants. Seven of nine on-site and three of eightoff-site wells had detectable levels of lead (5-579 ppb). One ofthese wells was an off-site residential well with 5 ppb of lead.
There is a clear potential for the site contaminants to betransported via the air and/or groundwater to the residentialsoil and/or drinking water wells. Sampling of residential yardsand water wells is needed to address these issues. Insufficientdata are available to determine whether this has occurred orwhether the contaminant levels, if any, are a health concern.
The reported cluster of adverse health outcomes (i.e., the twolists of individuals with adverse health effects) could not beinvestigated using the existing health outcome databases. Thispossible cluster needs to be investigated.
ATSDR recommends the following for this site:
- In order to determine the total extent of soilcontamination, a statistically valid sampling of the on-siteand residential soils near the site should be done. Analysis of the soil samples should include lead, asbestos,PCB's and dioxins. In addition, surface soil and sedimentsamples should be taken in the natural drainage areas of thesite.
- The total extent of groundwater contamination should bedetermined and appropriate procedures be employed to preventfuture migration of the groundwater contamination intopotable water supplies. Analysis of groundwater shouldinclude all the organic and inorganic parameters. Groundwater samples should not be filtered before metalchemical analysis.
- Quarterly monitoring for site-related contaminants should beconducted at residential wells downgradient of the site.
- Any former or current worker who worked regularly around theasbestos and PCBs should be evaluated for asbestos- andPCBs-related health effects following protocols recommendedby the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health(NIOSH).
- An appropriate state and federal agency should ensure thatworkers conducting remedial activities use adequate personalprotective equipment which meets Occupational Safety andHealth Administration standards and National Institute ofOccupational Safety and Health recommendations.
- When indicated by public health needs, and as resourcespermit, the evaluation of additional relevant health outcomedata and community health concerns, if available, isrecommended.
The Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, andLiability Act of 1980 (CERCLA), as amended, requires ATSDR toperform public health actions needed at hazardous waste sites. To determine if public health actions are needed, ATSDR's HealthActivities Recommendation Panel (HARP) has evaluated the data andinformation developed in the Arctic Surplus Preliminary PublicHealth Assessment.
HARP determined that a community health investigation is neededto help address community concerns about cancer and other healthoutcomes. This could include documentation of some of thealleged illness and/or a medical records review. ATSDR isrecommending in this public health assessment that the possiblecluster of adverse health outcomes be investigated. ATSDR willbe working with the Alaska Department of Health to accomplishthis.
HARP determined that blood lead testing of residents of the areanear Arctic Surplus be conducted because of the clear potentialthat exposure to lead above 15 ppb in drinking water isoccurring. ATSDR will work with the Alaska Department of Healthto accomplish this blood lead testing.
In addition, HARP determined that community and healthprofessions education is indicated. The community healtheducation should include information on how to minimize exposuresto lead and the known health effects of the substances present. The health professions education should focus on the effects oflead, asbestos, and arsenic.
ATSDR will reevaluate this site for any indicated follow-upwhenever data become available suggesting that human exposure tohazardous substances at levels of public health concern did occuror is currently occurring.
The preliminary public health assessment for the Arctic SurplusNPL site, Fairbanks, Alaska was available for public review andcomment from May 20 through June 20, 1991. A summary of thecomments received can be found in Appendix B.
Sven E. Rodenbeck, P.E.
Environmental Engineer Consultant
Remedial Programs Branch
John R. Crellin, Ph.D.
Environmental Health Scientist
Remedial Programs Branch
Leticia Arredondo, M.D., M.P.H.
Federal Programs Branch
Charlotta V. Gavin
Remedial Programs Branch
Joel D. Mulder
Senior Public Health Advisor
ATSDR Region X
Senior Regional Representative
ATSDR Region X
- Ecology and Environment, Inc. Site Inspection Report forMcPeak Salvage Yard, Fairbanks, Alaska. Anchorage, Alaska:Ecology and Environment, Inc., 1989.
- Ecology and Environment, Inc. Technical Assistance TeamSite Assessment Final Report for Arctic Surplus, Fairbanks,Alaska. Anchorage, Alaska: Ecology and Environment, Inc.,1989.
- Ecology and Environment, Inc. Interim On-SceneCoordinator's Report for: Arctic Surplus, Fairbanks, Alaska. Anchorage, Alaska: Ecology and Environment, Inc., 1990.
- Ecology and Environment, Inc. On-Scene Coordinator's Reportfor: Arctic Surplus, Fairbanks, Alaska. Anchorage, Alaska:Ecology and Environment, Inc., 1991.
- Corps of Engineers. Final Report on Chemical Data fromGroundwater Monitoring - Arctic Surplus Site, Fairbanks,Alaska. Anchorage: U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. October1991.
- OHM Remediation Services Corp. Operation Report for theArctic Surplus Site located in Fairbanks, Alaska. Vol. I. Findlay, OH: OHM Corporation. November 5, 1991.
- ATSDR. Toxicological Profile for Lead. Atlanta, Georgia:Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry(ATSDR/TP-88/17), 1990.
- ATSDR. Toxicological Profile for Selected PCBs. Atlanta,Georgia: Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry(ATSDR/TP-88/21), 1989.
- ATSDR. Toxicological Profile for2,3,7,8-Tetrachlorodibenzo-p-dioxin. Atlanta, Georgia:Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry(ATSDR/TP-88/21), 1989.
- Barnes DG and Dourson M. Reference dose (RfD): descriptionand use in health risk assessments. Regul Toxicol Pharmacol8: 471-486. 1988.
- EPA. Integrated Risk Information System (IRIS) file onToxicology Data Network (TOXNET). Bethesda, MD: NationalLibrary of Medicine (NLM). September 1991.
- ATSDR. Toxicological Profile for Arsenic. Atlanta,Georgia: Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry(ATSDR/TP-88/02), 1989.
- Seidman H, Selikoff IJ, Hammond EC. Short-term AsbestosWork Exposure and Long-Term Observation. Ann NY Acad Sci1979;330:61-89
- ATSDR. Toxicological Profile for Chlordane. Atlanta,Georgia: Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry(ATSDR/TP-89/06), 1989.
- Kimbrough RD, Stehr P, Fries G. Health Implications of2,3,7,8-Tetrachlorodibenzo-p-dioxin (TCDD) Contamination ofResidential Soil. J Toxicol Env Hlth 1984;14:47-93.
- Hoskins WJ, Perex C, Young RC. Gynecologic Tumors. In:DiVita VT, Hellman S, Rosenberg SA, eds. Cancer, Principlesand Practice of Oncology. 3rd ed. Philadelphia: J.B.Lippincott, 1989.
- Cohen Am, Shank B, Friedman B. Colorectal Cancer. In:DiVita VT, Hellman S, Rosenberg SA, eds. Cancer, Principlesand Practice of Oncology. 3rd ed. Philadelphia: J.B.Lippincott, 1989.
- Levin VA, Sheline GE, Gutin DC. Neoplasms of the CentralNervous System. In: DiVita VT, Hellman S, Rosenberg SA,eds. Cancer, Principles and Practice of Oncology. 3rd ed. Philadelphia: J.B. Lippincott, 1989.
- Evans RG, Webb KB, Knutsen AP, Roodman ST, Roberts DW, BagbyJR, Garrett WA, Andrews JS. A medical follow-up of thehealth effects of long-term exposure to 2,3,7,8-tetrachlorodibenzo-p-dioxin. Arch Envir Hlth 43: 273-278.
- Webb KB, Evans RG, Knutsen AP, Roodman ST, Roberts DW,Schramm WA, Gibson BB, Andrews JS, Needham LL, Patterson DG. Medical evaluation of subjects with known body levels of2,3,7,8-tetrachlorodibenzo-p-dioxin. J Tox Env Hlth 28: 183-193. 1989.
- CDC. Preventing Lead Poisoning in Young Children. AStatement by the Centers for Disease Control. Atlanta,Georgia: Centers for Disease Control. October 1991.
- ATSDR. The Nature and Extent of Lead Poisoning in Childrenin the United States: a Report to Congress. Atlanta,Georgia: Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry,1988.
- Needleman HL et al. The long-term effects of exposure tolow doses of lead in childhood: an 11-year follow-upreport. NEJM 322: 83-88, 1990.
- Duggan MJ. Lead in urban dust: an assessment. Water, Air,Soil Pollut 14: 309-321, 1980.
- Duggan MJ, Inskip MJ. Childhood exposure to lead in surfacedust and soil: a community problem. Pub Hlth Rev 13: 1-54, 1985.
- Madhaven S, Rosenman KD, Shehata T. Lead in soil: recommended maximum permissible levels. Env Res 49: 136-142, 1989.
Contaminants of Concern - Arctic Surplus NPL Site, Fairbanks, Alaska
|Contaminant||Range of Levels in ppb||Comparison Value|
|Chlordane||<1,400 - 320,000,000||1,200 - 420,000*||1|
|PCBs1||<100 - 8,000,000||10 - 3,500*||1|
|TCDD TEF2||<0.0034 - 0.83||0.002 - 0.7*||1|
|Lead||43,000 - 183,000,000||**||-|
|Contaminant||Range of Levels in ppb||Comparison Value|
|Lead||<5 - 579||15*||3|
|Arsenic||<6 - 45||3 - 11****||4|
|Contaminant||Range of Levels in ppb||Comparison Value|
|Lead||<4 - 29||15*||3|
|Arsenic||<5 - 68||3 - 11****||4|
|Contaminant||Range of Levels in ppb||Comparison Value|
|Lead||<2 - 16||15||3|
|Arsenic||<5 - 87||3 - 11****||4|
Explanation of Tables 1 - 4
1 PCB - polychlorinated chlorinated biphenyl. In this case it was the commercial mixture of PCB's called Aroclor 1260.
2 TCDD - Tetrachlorodibenzo-p-dioxin and TEF - Toxic equivalence factor
* This substance is considered a probable human carcinogen.
** A comparison value can not be calculated for lead because thereare no MRLs, Rfds, or cancer slope factors. Whenever lead is foundat a site, further evaluation is made because of lead's well-documented ability to cause health effects in children at lowconcentrations in the environment.
*** A comparison value is not available for friable asbestos insoil. However, the presence of friable asbestos in soil is apublic health concern because asbestos is a known human carcinogen.
**** Arsenic is a known human carcinogen.
Sources for Environmental Contamination Data
Ecology and Environment, Inc. Site Inspection Report forMcPeak Salvage Yard, Fairbanks, Alaska. Anchorage, Alaska:Ecology and Environment, Inc., 1989.
Ecology and Environment, Inc. Technical Assistance Team SiteAssessment Final Report for Arctic Surplus, Fairbanks, Alaska. Anchorage, Alaska: Ecology and Environment, Inc., 1989.
Ecology and Environment, Inc. Technical Assistance Team SiteAssessment Final Report for Arctic Surplus, Fairbanks, Alaska. Anchorage, Alaska: Ecology and Environment, Inc., 1990.
Ecology and Environment, Inc. On-Scene Coordinator's Reportfor: Arctic Surplus, Fairbanks, Alaska. Anchorage, Alaska:Ecology and Environment, Inc., 1991.
Corps of Engineers. Final Report on Chemical Data fromGroundwater Monitoring - Arctic Surplus Site, Fairbanks,Alaska. Anchorage: U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. October1991.
Sources for Comparison Values
- ATSDR Environmental Media Evaluation Guide (EMEG) for thischemical in soil. The lowest number in the range is based ona 10 kg child ingesting 5 g of soil/day, while the highest isfor a 70 kg adult ingesting 100 mg of soil/day.
- Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry. Toxicological Profile for Asbestos. Atlanta, Georgia: Agencyfor Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR/TP-90/04),1990.
- The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) Action Levelfor Lead in drinking water.
- The ATSDR Environmental Media Evaluation Guide for arsenic inwater. The lowest level in the range is for a 10 kg childdrinking 1 liter of water a day, while the highest is for a 70kg adult drinking 2 liters of water a day.
Summary of Public Comments
The Arctic Surplus Preliminary Public Health Assessment wasavailable for public review and comment from May 20 through June20, 1991. The Public Comment Period was announced in localnewspapers and by local radio stations. A repository wasestablished to permit public review at the Defense Reutilizationand Marketing Office, Badger Road, across the street from the site. In addition, copies of the preliminary public health assessmentwere automatically sent to seven individuals who were interested inreviewing ATSDR's findings. Eight individuals submitted writtencomments. One individual submitted verbal comments to an ATSDRrepresentative during a telephone conversation. The comments andthe corresponding response are summarized below.
Several individuals requested that ATSDR conduct further and morein-depth reevaluation of the Arctic Surplus NPL site.
ATSDR will continue to be involved with the Arctic Surplus NPL sitethroughout the remedial process. ATSDR is recommending in thispublic health assessment that the possible cluster of adversehealth outcomes be investigated. ATSDR will be working with theAlaska Department of Health to accomplish this. Additional healthevaluations are dependent on determining the extent ofcontamination off-site. In the Recommendation section of thepreliminary public health assessment, ATSDR states what additionalenvironmental sampling is needed. The U.S. EnvironmentalProtection Agency is planning to collect the necessary samplesduring the Remedial Investigation of this site. Once theadditional information is collected, ATSDR will be able to conduct more in-depth evaluations of the public health concerns related tothe Arctic Surplus NPL site.
The groundwater samples taken from the two on-site residentialwells are not representative of the overall groundwater condition.
These well samples due appear to be representative of thegroundwater condition at the Arctic Surplus based on the 1990sampling of the on-site monitoring wells. The preliminary publichealth assessment recommends that the total extent of thiscontamination be determined.