Health Concerns – Tooele Valley Railroad Spur
In January 2000, Tooele County Health Department (TCHD) discovered elevated levels of metals in soil samples taken along the Tooele Valley Railroad Spur.
TCHD requested the Environmental Epidemiology Program (EEP) of the Utah Department of Health (UDOH) conduct a health consultation to identify any public health hazards posed by the Tooele Railroad Spur. (To view the health consultation, please follow this link.)
Subsequent sampling revealed elevated levels of arsenic, aluminum, antimony, copper, lead, vanadium, and zinc.
Children with high levels of lead are most at risk
Atlantic Richfield Company, under oversight from the EPA, completed remediation activities of residential properties on the Tooele Valley Railroad Spur in September 2005. Since the remediation work has been completed, and the contaminated soil has been removed, this site is not considered a public health hazard.
Metals Of Concern:
Lead is the only chemical of concern for adults. For children, arsenic and lead levels are of health concern.
Should residents living in or around the spur be concerned?
- After remediation, sampling at the site has shown that contamination levels decreased dramatically with distance from the spur
- Soil remediation samples along the eliminated off site migration of contaminated soil were negative
- Sampling at the site has shown that contamination levels decreased dramatically with distance from the spur due to high velocity winds
- Railroad There is no surface and groundwater contamination
Children with Pica:
Levels of arsenic, copper, lead, and zinc are chemicals of concern for pica children. There are several factors that introduce uncertainty in estimating the concern for pica children including:
- varying amounts of dirt or paint chips that pica children may eat
- variations in how often children exhibit soil pica behavior
- uncertainty in the percentage of children with soil pica behavior
- length of duration of pica behavior
Therefore, the estimated concern for pica children are considered to be very conservative – parents are encouraged to watch the behaviors of children with pica.
Medical Tests If you believe your child might be at risk, please contact your doctor.
The Good News:
Tooele County Health Department, along with the Utah State Bureau of Epidemology, will monitor the development of residential property near the spur, and activities on the spur that may further facilitate migration of contaminants off-site.
The State Bureau of Epidemology has continued to monitor the Utah Blood Lead Registry for children with elevated blood lead levels in areas near the spur. Current ongoing monitoring of the blood registry has not detected any children with elevated blood lead levels associated with this spur.