Public Health Assessment



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Public Health Assessment
Evaluation of Cancer, 1982–2000, and Environmental Concerns Related to the Old Colony Railroad Site and Alloy Castings Company
Old Colony Railroad Site

EPA Facility ID: MAD981061567
East Bridgewater, Plymouth County, Massachusetts



Prepared by:

Massachusetts Department of Public Health

Center for Environmental Health

Community Assessment Program

Boston, Massachusetts


Under a Cooperative Agreement with:

Public Health Service

Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry

United States Department of Health and Human Services

Atlanta, Georgia

TABLE OF CONTENTS


I. SUMMARY 1

II. BACKGROUND AND STATEMENT OF ISSUES 4

III. OBJECTIVES 6

IV. COMMUNITY ENVIRONMENTAL CONCERNS 6

A.Old Colony Railroad Site 7

1.Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority Railroad Bed 8

2.Precise Engineering 9

3.Eastern States Steel 10

B.Alloy Castings Company 12

C.Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection 21E Hazardous Material and Oil Releases 12

V. REVIEW OF ENVIRONMENTAL SAMPLING DATA 13

A. Soil 15

1.Surface Soils 15

2.Subsurface Soils 18

B. Groundwater 20

C. Surface Water 22

D. Sediment 24

VI. EVALUATION OF POTENTIAL COMMUNITY EXPOSURE PATHWAYS AND HEALTH CONCERNS 24

A.Exposure to Soil 25

B.Exposure to Groundwater 31

C.Exposure to Surface Water/Sediment 32

D.Exposure to Indoor Air 34

VII. ANALYSIS OF CANCER INCIDENCE 35

A. Methods for Analyzing Cancer Incidence 35

1. Case Identification/Definition 35

2. Calculation of Standardized Incidence Ratios (SIRs) 37

3. Interpretation of a Standardized Incidence Ratio (SIR) 38

4. Calculation of the 95% Confidence Interval 39

5. Evaluation of Cancer Risk Factor Information 40

6. Determination of Geographic Distribution of Cancer Cases 40

B.Results of Cancer Incidence Analysis 41

1.Cancer Incidence in East Bridgewater 41

2.Cancer Incidence in East Bridgewater Census Tracts 43

C.Review of Cancer Risk Factor Information 45

1.Bladder Cancer 47

2.Brain and Central Nervous System Cancer 49

3.Breast Cancer 50

4.Kidney and Renal Pelvis Cancer 51

5.Leukemia 52

6.Liver Cancer 54

7.Lung and Bronchus Cancer 55

8.Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma 57

D.Analysis of Geographic Distribution of Cancer Incidence 58

VIII. DISCUSSION 60

IX. CHILD HEALTH CONSIDERATIONS 64

X. LIMITATIONS 65

XI. CONCLUSIONS 66

XII. RECOMMENDATIONS 68

XIII. PUBLIC HEALTH ACTION PLAN 69

XIV. REFERENCES 70

CERTIFICATION 76

FIGURES 77

TABLES 81

Appendix A: Coding Definitions of Cancer Site/Type* 110

Appendix B: Risk Factor Information for Selected Cancer Types 112

Appendix C: ATSDR Glossary of Terms 137

I. SUMMARY


At the request of Representative Kathleen Teahan, the East Bridgewater Board of Health, and concerned residents, the Community Assessment Program (CAP) of the Massachusetts Department of Public Health (MDPH), Center for Environmental Health (CEH), conducted an evaluation of cancer and possible environmental exposures in East Bridgewater, Massachusetts. The evaluation was initiated based on community concerns about possible environmental exposures and cancer in relation to the Old Colony Railroad (OCRR) site, which consists of three smaller properties, Precise Engineering, Eastern States Steel, and an old Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) railroad bed. Various manufacturing operations occupied the Precise Engineering property from about 1920 to 1991 and the Eastern States Steel property from 1851 to the late 1990s. The MBTA railroad bed operated from 1847 to at least the 1930s and was originally part of the Old Colony Railroad. The OCRR site is located at the corner of Cook and West Union Streets. Community concerns also focused on cancer in the Ashley Drive neighborhood and possible environmental exposures related to Alloy Castings Company, an active aluminum foundry operating since 1948 at 151 West Union Street. This project was conducted under a cooperative agreement with the United States Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) for MDPH to conduct public health assessments in Massachusetts.

The investigation provides a review of available environmental data for the OCRR site, considers potential ways people may come in contact with chemicals from this facility, and evaluates the pattern of cancer in East Bridgewater with a particular focus on neighborhoods near areas of community environmental concern. Information about Alloy Castings Company was obtained from the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection and the East Bridgewater Board of Health; however, there was no available environmental data related to the company. Therefore, evaluation of community concerns in relation to Alloy Castings Company was limited to a qualitative evaluation of the geographic pattern of cancer diagnoses in neighborhood areas surrounding the company.



    Using data from the Massachusetts Cancer Registry (MCR), incidence rates for eight cancer types were calculated for the town of East Bridgewater as a whole as well as for each of the three census tracts (CTs) that divide the town. Available information about risk factors, including environmental factors, related to the development of cancer was considered. In general, the eight cancer types evaluated occurred near expected rates from 1982 to 2000, the period for which the most recent and complete cancer incidence data were available from the MCR at the time of this analysis, for the town of East Bridgewater as a whole and for the census tracts (CTs) that comprise the town. In addition, none of the cancer types thought to be associated with exposures to contaminants of concern identified at the OCRR site were statistically significantly elevated in CT 5231, the census tract that contains both the site and Alloy Castings Company. Leukemia was statistically significantly elevated among females in East Bridgewater as a whole from 1988 to 1993. However, no apparent geographic concentrations of cases were noted. In addition, a variety of different subtypes of leukemia were represented. This indicates the occurrence of different diseases because the four major subtypes and rarer subtypes each have different risk factors related to their development.

    Review of the geographic distribution of each of the cancer types in East Bridgewater revealed no apparent spatial patterns at the neighborhood level. Further, no unusual concentrations of individuals diagnosed with cancer were observed in the vicinity of the OCRR site, Alloy Castings Company, in the Ashley Drive area, or in any other area of East Bridgewater.



    There are some potential exposure pathways that may have occurred in the past related to the OCRR site. Past intermittent exposures to onsite surface soil, surface water, and sediment and offsite surface soil may have been possible for trespassers, former workers, or nearby residents. However, based on the contaminant levels detected and the frequency and duration of contact expected, it is unlikely that potential exposures related to the OCRR site would have resulted in adverse health effects for trespassers, former workers, or nearby residents. While soil, surface water, and sediment in some areas of the OCRR site were contaminated in the past, the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) performed contaminant removal activities at the site in 2001. Therefore, exposure to contamination in soil, surface water, or sediment in the present and future for individuals visiting or residing in neighborhoods adjacent to the site is unlikely. Potential exposure to vinyl chloride volatilized to indoor air may be possible for downgradient Spring Street residents if this contaminant is present in shallow groundwater beneath homes at concentrations similar to those detected in onsite monitoring wells in 1988. Because offsite groundwater conditions are unknown, it would be beneficial to address this data gap with additional investigation, for example, hydrogeological modeling or groundwater sampling at downgradient locations. Based on criteria established by ATSDR, the OCRR site would be classified as posing an Indeterminate Health Hazard in the past, present, and future.

Based on the information reviewed in this evaluation, including available environmental data for the OCRR site and risk factor information for individuals diagnosed with cancer, it does not appear that a common factor (environmental or nonenvironmental) played a major role in the incidence of cancer in the census tract containing the OCRR site and Alloy Castings Company or in the town of East Bridgewater as a whole during the 19-year time period, 1982–2000.



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