; Local Toxic EventsB
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Local Toxic EventsB


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									Local Toxic Events
•   I.     Methyl Mercury in Clear Lake
•   II.    Metam Sodium Spill
•   III.   Remco in Willits
•   IV.    DDT-local and global
      I. Methyl Mercury in Clear Lake

    History of Sulphur Bank Mine
• 1865-Sulphur extraction
  – 2 million pounds
• 1873-Mercury ore mined
  – 4,500 tons
• Herman Pit
  – Geothermal site
  – “Chinese and Indian workers could only work in 15
    minute shifts before their body temperatures
    started to climb toward lethal levels.”
  – Brought to surface, cooled with firehose, sent
    back down
    History of Sulphur Bank Mine
• 1957-final year of operation
• Waste rock, tailings, etc. bulldozed back into
  the lake
  – 400 feet of lakeward shoreline created
• Mid-1980’s-California Department of Health
  Services issued consumption warning.
• 1990-EPA made this a Superfund site
• Estimates show 100 tons of mercury have
  escaped into Clear Lake.
           Herman Pit Mine Tailings

           Sources of Mercury
• Burning fossil fuels, such as coal
  – Accounts for 33% of all anthropogenic inorganic
• Industrial uses
  • Fluorescent lamps, dental fillings, thermometers,
    manometers, electrical and electronic switches
• Volcanoes, forest fires
• Liquid mercury used in mining
   How does Methylation Occur?
• Bacteria add a methyl group to mercury.
• Characteristics change!
•   http://edubj.ssreader.com.cn/discoveryguides/mercury/images/bioaccumulation.jpg
• http://sofia.usgs.gov/sfrsf/rooms/mercury/achilles_heel/bmagnify.gif
                Not Just Local!!
             Minimata Bay Disaster

             Other References…

• http://www.sequoyahcleanair.org/image/madhatter.jpg

        II. Metam Sodium Spill

• July 14th, 1991
• 97 car Southern Pacific Train

• 7 tankers derailed at the Cantara Loop near
• One tanker landed in the Sacramento River,
  and leaked 19,000 gallons of metam sodium
               Metam Sodium
• Soil fumigant
• Herbicide

• When mixed with water, metam sodium
  becomes methyl isothiocyanate (MITC)
  – Very volatile

• Toxic to plants, people and animals
  Response of Railway Employees
• Nothing at first

• Metam Sodium was not listed as hazardous

• Train Conductor and Engineer only called for
  help when they were overcome by the smell

• Uncoupled the engine, left the tanker car in
  the river
• Spill occurred on
• Friday evening
  most of the spill
  had entered Lake
  – “formed a plume
    18 feet thick,
    one hundred
    yards wide and
    three quarters of
    a mile long, lying
    18 to 36 feet
    below the
        Symptoms of Exposure
• Headaches, shortness of breath, chest pains,
  rashes, dizziness, and vomiting.
• "At daybreak the smell was so noxious near
  Dunsmuir that it was difficult to breathe. A pea-
  green foam was running down the Sacramento
  River, and dead trout were everywhere, upside
  down, many on the bottom of pools, some
  floating. Under the rocks, the insect larvae were
  dead. Residents seemed confused but there was
  no doubt what was happening: A river was being
  murdered." (Tom Stienstra, San Francisco
              Who Responded?
•   California Utilities Commission
•   Local Fire Departments
•   US Fish and Wildlife Service
•   CA Fish and Game
•   Air Resources Board

• What was done?
• Evacuations
• Aerosolization
               End Results…
• 45 miles of river sterilized
• 200,000 dead fish
• 300 ill residents
• millions of $$$$$ in damage and lost tourist
• $38 million settlementrestoration projects
What we learned…..
   III. Remco Hydraulics in Willits

Owners: MC IndustriesRemco Hydraulics,
Inc.Whitman Corporation/Pesi Americas, Inc.
                 The Problem…
• 1940-1995: industrial machine shop
• 1963-1995: electroplating (chrome) plating
  using hexavalent chromium and other toxins
  – Chemicals released:
     •   Solvents (VOC’s)
     •   Metals (chromium)
     •   Acids
     •   Coolants
     •   Lubricants
     •   Petroleum hydrocarbons
     •   Paints
• 1997: City of Willits sue the former owners
  – MC Industries and Remco Hydraulics, Inc. had
    gone bankrupt in 1995
• 2000: Federal District Court for Northern CA
  declared that Whitman Corporation/Pepsi
  Americas, Inc. would pay for clean up and
  – Willits Remediation Trust
• Since 2000:
  – USEPA and CDHS (California Department of Health
    Services) have worked to monitor and remediate
  – North Coast Regional Water Quality Control Board
    (RWQCB) has monitored soil and groundwater
          Monitoring Includes
• Water-private wells
• Surface water-swimming in Baechtel Creek
• Soil-contaminants at the Baetchel Grove
  School, Blosser Lane Elementary School, Boys
  and Girls Club
• Air-inhalation of VOCs
• Edible produce-blackberries and fruit trees
        Lack of Monitoring for:
• VOCs in the air during the Remco operations
• Swimming and wading in Baetchel Creek in
  the past
• Private well usage
• Exposure to VOCs in indoor air rom soil gas
  migration/vapor intrusion
• No samples taken from 1963-1995 for
  hexavalent chromium!!!
 Effects of Hexavalent Chromium
Exposure (clinically demonstrated)
•   Asthma
•   Bloody nose
•   Nasal septum scarring and perforation
•   Runny nose
•   Decreased lung function (minor)
•   Bronchitis
•   Gastric irritation
•   Mild kidney disfunction
•   Lung cancer
         Willits Citizen’s Health
• Issues Attributed to the illegally dumped
  – Tumors
  – Birth defects
  – Blood clotting disorders
  – Diabetes
  – Rashes
  – Headaches
CDHS and ATSDR Recommendations
• CDHS: CA Dept of Health Services
• ATSDR: Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease
  – Remediation of groundwater to prevent wells and
    indoor air from being contaminated by VOCs
  – Mendocino County Dept of Environmental Health and
    CA RWQCB will educate population of Willits, and
    identify contaminated sites
  – Medical monitoring and counseling recommended
  – Willits Trust should mitigate resuspension of
    hexavalent chromium-contaminated soil or dust
      IV. DDT-both local and global!
• DDT=dichlorodiphenyltrichloro-
• Used extensively in WWII against
  typhus and malaria
  – Kills insects via neurological effects
• 1948: Nobel Prize goes to Swiss
  chemist Paul Hermann Muller
• 1972: Most uses banned in
• Persistent in the environment
  – Likes fats!!!
  – Soil half life is up to 30 years
  – Absorbed quickly by organisms in water
• Breaks down into DDE and DDD
  – Similar chemical characteristics

• Significant human and wildlife health concerns!
         Problems in Humans
• Resistant to detoxification and excretion
• Half-lives in humans are 6-10 years
• Can be excreted in breast milk
• In the 2005, CDC found DDT and DDE in
  almost all human blood samples from the US
• FDA commonly detects these chemicals in
  food samples tested
       Human Health Concerns
• Endocrine Disruptor
• Linked to diabetes
  – Environmental Health Perspectives, March 2009.
• Developmental neurotoxin
  – Environmental Health Perspectives, 116(5):666-673
• Decreased sperm count and motility
  – 2007, South African men from DDT using
  – Journal Androl., 28(3):426-434
• Premature Births
• Immune suppressors
   Human Health Concerns, cont.
• Linked to cancers of:
  – Breast
  – Liver
  – Pancreas
  – Blood
  – Prostate
  – Endometrium
  – Liver
  – Kidney
  – Etc.
       Wildlife Health Concerns
• Highly toxic to aquatic life
  – Crayfish, daphnia, sea shrimp, fish
• Highly toxic to cats
  – American Journal of Public Health, 98(11):1940-
• Moderately toxic to amphibian species in
  larval stages
• Reproductive toxicant in birds eggshell
  thinning and other effects
                      Susceptible Birds

Brown pelican:
Perigrine Falcoln:
        Specifically in Clear Lake
• 1954: after 2 applications of DDD
  – 100 Western Grebes dead
  – Breeding population went from 2,000 to zero in
  – Fat analysis showed 1,600 ppm in their tissues

• One of the first studies definitely linking bird
  deaths to organochlorine pesticides.
             DDT Worldwide
• DDT, DDE and DDD vaporize at high
  temperatures, and are deposited at low
• Arctic regions have high levels due to this
  “global distillation”
• DDT, DDE, and DDD are now found in animals
  such as polar bears and seals
  – Polar bears are 12 times more contaminated than
    Alaskan bears
         Current Status of DDT Use
• 1996: EPA has been involved in international
  negotiations to limit and monitor use
• 2006: WHO supported use of DDT indoors to
  prevent malaria
   – Left the specifics up to the countries affected
   – 4,000-5,000 tonnes used per year as of 2008

• http://www.epa.gov/opp00001/factsheets/chemicals/ddt-brief-history-
• http://www.pops.int/documents/ddt/Global%20status%20of%20DDT%20
•   I.     Methyl Mercury in Clear Lake
•   II.    Metam Sodium Spill
•   III.   Remco in Willits
•   IV.    DDT-local and global

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