Mobile and Ohio Railyard Site

Fact Sheet #3
February 2000

Murphysboro, Illinois

Site Background

Properties on both the north and south side of Gartside Street in Murphysboro were previously operated as the Greenberg Junkyard and as a railyard. Battery plates and other debris found there suggested that lead contamination deposited in this area was from battery cracking at the junkyard and other operations at the railyard. Illinois EPA investigated the site at the request of the Jackson County Health Department and conducted initial soil testing in June 1999.

Introduction: Sampling Update

Public Availability Sessions

February 8, 2000

The City of Murphysboro, Illinois EPA, IDPH and the Jackson County Health Department will hold two public availability sessions at Murphysboro Community (Senior) Center, 17 North 14th Street from 2 to 4 p.m. and 6 to 8 p.m., Tuesday, February 8. Staff from these agencies will be present to answer your questions one-onone about the latest sampling results and future actions planned. This is not a public meeting; no formal presentations will be given.

If you cannot attend the public availability sessions and wish to talk to someone about your questions and concerns, please contact Lynn Stone in the IDPH Marion Regional Office at 618-993-7010 or Gary Steele in the Illinois EPA Marion Regional Office at 618993-7200.

The Illinois Environmental Protection Agency (Illinois EPA) has received the results of the soil sampling done in November 1999. The results of this sampling showed elevated levels of lead in the vacant lot west of the southern end of Glover Lane. Elevated levels of dioxin compounds were also found in a few of the surface soil samples in the Glover Lane and Meadow Lane subdivision. Illinois EPA has been working closely with the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) and other agencies to evaluate the potential risks from exposure to the contaminants and to determine appropriate future actions.

Illinois EPA has prepared this fact sheet with IDPH, and has discussed the sampling results with the City of Murphysboro, the Jackson County Heath Department, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA), and the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR).

What are the possible health effects?

Lead

The highest levels of lead were found in the vacant lot west of the southern end of Glover Lane. Last fall, the Jackson County Health Department tested the blood of local residents living near the site and did not find elevated lead levels in the persons tested. At the same time, indoor surface sampling conducted by IDPH did not find elevated lead levels in the homes tested.

Dioxins

IDPH and ATSDR have determined that no short-term health effects would be expected from exposure to the levels of dioxins detected in the surface soil. The most obvious short-term health effect in persons exposed to large amounts of dioxins is chloracne. Chloracne is a severe skin disease with pimple-like sores that usually occur on the face and upper body.

The levels of dioxins found may pose a health risk over a long-term exposure. Studies of laboratory animals to determine the longterm effects of exposure to dioxins have shown that dioxins may cause cancer. Because of this, USEPA has classified dioxins as probable human carcinogens (cancer-causing chemicals). However, there is no evidence that dioxins cause cancer in humans at the levels found near the site.

How can I reduce my exposure to contaminated soil?

Exposure to contaminated soil should be minimal during the winter months when most activities are indoors. The same advice that was previously distributed in fact sheets to reduce lead exposure in soil also applies to dioxin exposure in soil:

Practice good personal hygiene habits.

Wash children's hands and faces frequently, especially before eating and at bed time. Frequently clean toys or objects that children put in their mouths. Thoroughly wash garden vegetables before eating them.

Practice good housekeeping techniques.

Remove your shoes upon entering your home to prevent tracking contaminated soil inside. Store outdoor shoes at entry ways. Vacuum carpeting, rugs and upholstery often. Regular vacuuming will keep dust from accumulating.

Do not let children play or dig in contaminated soil.

Build a sandbox with a bottom and fill it with clean sand to give children a safe play area. Do not disturb contaminated soil on windy days or when children or pregnant women are present.

What's Next?

Illinois EPA will collect additional surface and subsurface soil samples beginning Wednesday, February 9, to find the extent of the contamination. Based on the results of this sampling, some soil removal will likely be necessary. Illinois EPA will construct a fence to restrict access to the vacant lot west of the southern end of Glover Lane to prevent future exposure within the next few weeks. Persons who had their yards sampled in November will be receiving a letter from IDPH interpreting the results. Illinois EPA and IDPH will sample household surfaces for dioxins.

For Additional Information

If you have any questions about the site or sampling activities, you may contact:

Mark Densmore
Illinois EPA
Remedial Project Manager
217/785-8725
Michelle Tebrugge
Illinois EPA
Community Relations Coordinator
217/524-4825