Ms. Jacquelyn Healon will present a public health assessment at a public meeting sponsored by Stanton Cleaners Area Group (SCAG, Inc.) tonight, Jan. 26 at the Great Neck Plaza village hall at 7:30 p.m. Great Neck residents and business people are invited to attend and ask questions. To evaluate the potential health risks from contaminants of concern associated with the Stanton Cleaners Area Groundwater Contamination site, the New York State Dept. of Health assesses the risks for cancer and non-cancer health effects.
The report states: "Increased cancer risks were estimated by using site-specific information on exposure levels for the contaminant of concern and interpreting them using cancer potency estimates derived for that contaminant by the USEPA or, in some cases by the NYSDOH."
For example, if the qualitative descriptor was "low," then the excess lifetime cancer risk from that exposure is in the rate of greater than one person per million people to less than one person per 10,000 people.
Risk Ratio: "Very Low" is equal to or less than one person per million. "Low" is greater than one person per million to less than one person per 10,000. "An estimated increased lifetime cancer risk is not a specific estimate of expected cancers. Rather, it is a plausible upper bound estimate of the probability that a person may develop cancer sometime in his or her lifetime following exposure to that contaminant.
The report adds, "There is insufficient knowledge of cancer mechanisms to decide if there exists a level of exposure to a cancer-causing agent below which there is no risk of getting cancer, namely, a threshold level. Therefore, every exposure, no matter how low, to a cancer-causing compound is assumed to be associated with some increased risk. As the dose of a carcinogen decreases, the risk of developing cancer decreases, but each exposure is accompanied by some increased risk.
"There is general consensus among the scientific and regulatory communities on what level of estimated excess cancer risk is acceptable. An increased lifetime cancer risk of one in one million or less is generally not considered a significant public health concern.
"For non-carcinogenic health risks, the contaminant intake was estimated using exposure assumptions for the site conditions. This dose was then compared to a risk reference dose (estimated daily intake of a chemical that is without an appreciable risk of health effects) developed by the US EPA, ATSDR and/or NYSDOH. The resulting ratio of estimated contaminant intake to risk reference dose is minimal for non-carcinogenic health risks."
Non-carcinogenic effects unlike carcinogenic effects are believed to have a threshold, that is, a dose below which adverse effects will not occur. Current practice is to identify, usually from animal toxicology experiments, a no-observed-effect-level. This is the experimental exposure level in animals at which no adverse toxic effect is observed. The risk reference dose is not expected to cause health effects because it is selected to be much lower than dosages that do not cause adverse health effects in animals.
There are sensitive subpopulations - children and the elderly which results in an uncertainty factor.
It is my understanding that the goal of the USEPA is zero contamination of potential or actual carcinogens in our drinking water, soil and air. It is no consolation to the individual and his or her family if they are the "one in one million" with cancer of any kind - bladder, liver, or leukemia. In Nassau and Suffolk counties the breast cancer occurrence is one person in eight people. The research has still not determined the cause.
Packed air aeration systems and GACs (Granular Activated Charcoal) systems are currently used to remove volatile organic compounds (VOC) and PCE and benzene contaminants from water prior to its distribution in all water districts on Long Island in order to meet high NYSDOH standards.
US EPA project engineer Damian Duda for the Stanton Site; NYSDEC Walter Parish, director, Hazardous Remediation Region 1; Ajay Shah, NYSDEC air unit; WAGNN Superintendent Graziano and hydro geologist consultant will answer your questions on any past, present or potential environmental problem concerning the Stanton Cleaners Area Groundwater Contamination on site or off-site at the public meeting tonight, Jan. 26, Great Neck Plaza village hall, 7:30 p.m. The NYSDOH report will be distributed to residents arriving early.