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Full text of "Plastimet Inc. fire Hamilton, Ontario : July 9-12, 1997 /"

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PLASTIMET INC. FIRE 
HAMILTON, ONTARIO 
JULY 9-12, 1997 



OCTOBER 1997 




Ontario 



Ministry of 
Environment 
and Energy 



ISBN 0-7778-6833-4 



PLASTIMET INC. FIRE 

HAMILTON, ONTARIO 

JULY 9-12, 1997 



OCTOBER 1997 







Cette publication technique 
n'est disponible qu'en anglais. 

Copyright: Queen's Printer for Ontario, 1997 

This publication may be reproduced for non-commercial purposes 

with appropriate attribution. 



PIBS 3598E 



PLASTIMET INC. FIRE 

HAMILTON, ONTARIO 

JULY 9-12, 1997 



Report prepared by: 

Adam Socha, Scott Aberaethy, Brendan Birmingham, 

Robert Bloxam, Scott Fleming, 

David McLaughlin & Douglas Spry 

Standards Development Branch 

Environmental Sciences and Standards Division 

and 

Frank Dobroff & Lou-Ann Comaccio 
West-Central Region 
Operations Division 

Ontario Ministry of Environment and Energy 
October 1997 



Acknowledgements 

The authors wish to express their appreciation to the following staff of the Ontario Ministry of 
Environinent and Energ>- for their contributions to this report and their guidance in its 
preparation; Jim Smith. Br\'an Leece, Pavel Muller and Caroline Thompson. Standards 
Development Branch: John Mayes. Neil Buonocore, Rick Day and Denis Corr. West-Central 
Region; Eric Reiner. Laborator>' Ser\'ices Branch; and Nick Karellas. Environmental Monitoring 
and Reporting Branch. We also wish to acknowledge the long hours and exemplar\- efforts of 
staff of the Ministn"s Laboratory-, the EMRB TAGA team, West-Central Regional Office and 
Hamilton District Office in obtaining and analysing a vast quantity- of air. water, soil, soot and 
vegetation samples, providing the critical data needed to assess the impacts of the Plastimet fire 
and ensuring timeh- responses during and after the fire. Thanks are also due to Environment 
Canada for providing dioxin analysis for many of the soil and vegetation samples. 



Contents 

Executive Summary iv 

Preamble - Purpose and Scope of this Report 1 

Section 1 - Description of the Fire Plume and the Area of Impact 1 

Section 2 - Air Quality 3 

2.1 General Description 3 

2.2 Benzene and Other VOCs 12 

2.2.1 Monitoring Description 12 

2.2.2 Monitoring Findings 12 

2.2.3 Standards/Guidelines and Interpretation 14 

2.2.4 Follow-up Advice 14 

2.3 Metals 14 

2.3.1 Monitoring Description 14 

2.3.2 Monitoring Findings 15 

2.3.3 Standards/Guidelines and Interpretation 15 

2.3.4 Follow-up Advice 17 

2.4 Dioxins/Furans 17 

2.4.1 Monitoring Description 17 

2.4.2 Monitoring Findings 17 

2.4.3 Standards/Guidelines and Interpretation 19 

2.4.4 Follow-up Advice 21 

2.5 Hydrogen Chloride 21 

2.5.1 Monitoring Description 21 

2.5.2 Monitoring Findings 21 

2.5.3 Standards/Guidelines and Interpretation 22 

2.5.4 Follow-up Advice 22 

2.6 PAHs 22 

2.6.1 Monitoring Description 22 

2.6.2 Monitoring Findings 22 

2.6.3 Standards/Guidelines and Interpretation 23 

2.6.4 Follow-up Advice 23 

2.7 PCBs 23 

2.7.1 Monitoring Description 23 

2.7.2 Monitoring Findings 24 

2.7.3 Standards/Guidelines and Interpretation 24 

2.7.4 Follow-up Advice 24 

2.8 Data from Network Stations 24 

Section 3 - Soot 26 

3.1 Definition 26 

3.2 Dioxins in Soot 26 

3.3 Metals in Soot 27 

-ii- 



Section 4 - Surface Water Quality and Aquatic Toxicity Testing 29 

4.1 Fate of Water at the Fire Site 29 

4.2 Monitoring Description 29 

4.3 Monitoring Findings and Comparison with Standards 29 

4.3.1 Site Runoff from the Fire 29 

4.3.2 Storm Sewer Outfalls to Hamilton Harbour 30 

4.3.3. Surface Water 30 

4.4 Aquatic Toxicity Tests (Bioassays) 41 

4.4. 1 Monitoring Description 41 

4.4.2 Monitoring Findings 41 

4.4.3 Standards/Guidelines/Benchmarks 42 

4.4.4 Interpretation 42 

4.4.5 Follow-up Advice 43 

4.5 Summary of Water Quality and Aquatic Toxicity Analyses 43 

Section 5 - Soil Quality and Phytotoxicity Studies 45 

5.1 Emergency Response Sampling - Soil Dioxin 46 

5.2 Emergency Response Sampling - Soil PAHs 46 

5.3 Emergency Response Sampling - Soil Metals 48 

5.4 Emergency Response Sampling - Vegetation Dioxin 51 

5.4.1 Street Tree Dioxin 51 

5.4.2 Street Tree PAH 53 

5.4.3 Street Tree Metals 55 

5.4.4 Vegetable Garden Dioxin 55 

5.4.5 Vegetable Garden PAH 55 

5.4.6 Lawn Grass Dioxin 59 

5.5 Community Response Sampling of Soil, Lawn Grass, and Vegetables 59 

5.6 Vegetation Injury 61 

5.7 Conclusions 65 

Section 6 - Dioxin Emission and Exposure Estimates 66 

6.1 Estimates of Total Dioxin Releases from the Plastimet Fire 66 

6.2 Dioxin Intake During the Fire 67 

6.3 Comparison of the Estimated Plastimet Fire Dioxin Exposures with Exposures 
associated with Known Adverse Effects in Humans 69 

6.4 Supplementary Data on Dioxins in Fires and Background Levels 71 

Section 7 - Outcome 72 

Appendix 1 - Derivation and Significance of the MOEE "Ontario Typical Range" Soil 

Guidelines 73 

Appendix 2 - Derivation and Significance of the MOEE Soil Remediation Criteria (Clean-up 

Guidelines) 74 



Executive Summary 

This report provides a compilation and interpretation of the environmental monitoring data 
regarding the July 1997 fire at the Plastimet Inc. plastics recycling facility in Hamilton, Ontario. 
The focus of this report is on the contaminant levels found in several environmental media at 
various times and locations during and after the fire, and on the potential risks of long-term 
adverse effects on the environment and on public health as a result of contaminants released by 
the fire. This report does not address aspects pertaining to the initial emergency response nor to 
occupational health. 

The fire began about 7:45 pm on Wednesday July 9*, 1997 and ended in the morning of Saturday 
July 12*. At least 400 tonnes of polyvinyl chloride plastic (PVC) v^ere consumed in the blaze, 
along with other materials on-site. A number of hazardous substances were emitted during the 
fire, directly to air and indirectly to water (runoff fi^om the site) and land (soot and other 
atmospheric deposition to soil, surfaces and vegetation). 

No long-term human or environmental health effects are expected to occur as a result of the 
Plastimet fire. This is consistent with public statements issued by the Hamilton- Wentworth 
Regional Health Department. Within days after the fire was extinguished, the substances tested 
for had returned to concentrations within or close to the normal urban background range for all 
media — air, water, soil (off-site) and vegetation — except where prior contamination of soil and 
storm sewer water existed. 

Hydrogen chloride (HCl), which forms hydrochloric acid in the lungs and if dissolved in water, is 
likely the cause of most of the acute health effects reported during the course of the fu-e including 
skin, throat and eye irritation. HCl would also have caused the metal corrosion reported in the 
area close to the fire. HCl was produced only while the fire was burning, and any that was 
produced was neutralised quickly by dilution with water and by reacting with naturally occurring 
alkaline material in soil. 

Other substances released by the fire, including dioxins. benzene, PAHs and metals, may cause 
health and/or environmental effects upon long-term, repeated exposure. Provincial standards 
such as Ambient Air Quality Criteria (AAQCs), Point-of-Impingement standards (POIs) and 
Provincial Water Quality Objectives (PWQOs) are designed to protect human and environmental 
health fi-om the long-term adverse effects of these substances. However, since exposure during 
the fire was of short duration, such effects are not expected to occur and the short-term 
exceedance of an AAQC, POI or PWQO for these substances is not cause for concern. 

Dioxins were of particular relevance as their production has been associated with PVC fires. 
Worst-case estimates suggest that the Canadian Tolerable Daily Intake (TDI) of dioxins and 
fiirans of 1 pg TEQ/kg body weight/day may have been exceeded for some people during the 
fire, but only if vegetables contaminated at the highest level found were consumed ever)' day. A 
more realistic exposure estimate suggests that the TDI may have been exceeded for some people 
for a single day only, primarily due to exposure to smoke. Given the marked drop off of dioxin 
levels in soot and on vegetation both with distance from the fire and over the week following the 
fire, it is unlikely that the TDI was exceeded for most people. Total maximum dioxin/furan 

-iv- 



exposure was 1/30* to 1/40* of the lowest reported exposure level associated with adverse 
effects in humans. 

A synopsis of the sample analyses and interpretation follows: 

Ail 

i*' During the course of the fire, concentrations of several volatile organic compounds 
(VOCs) in air in the vicinity were above normal including benzene, vinyl chloride, 
1,3 -butadiene, chlorobenzene, styrene, toluene and naphthalene. The only available 
provincial air standard or giiideline for VOCs exceeded during the fire was the half-hour 
point-of-impingement (POl) guideline for naphthalene. After the fire was extinguished, 
VOC concentrations dropped back to normal urban levels, except for xylene near the site 
which was nevertheless detected at a level well below the provincial standard. 

*•- The concentration of hydrogen chloride in the smoke during the fire was elevated, 
fi-equently in excess of the Ministry's half-hour POl guideline in the adjacent area. 
Elevated instantaneous readings were measured as far away as the mountain brow. 
Levels returned to normal soon after the fire was out. 

*•- The concentrations of the metals nickel, lead and chromium in the smoke in the vicinit>' 
of the fire were above normal during the fire, with some samples exceeding provincial 
ambient air quality criteria (AAQCs) and POIs. Samples taken at locations further 
dovmwind showed normal concentrations of metals, although these latter samples 
contained only brief downwind exposures. 

*•- Dioxin levels in air were higher than normal during the fire, exceeding the MOEE 
24-hour AAQC on the first day of the fire, but rapidly declined to normal Hamilton 
background levels after the fire was extinguished. 

»•• Polynuclear aromatic hydrocarbon (PAH) levels in the fire plume itself were quite high 
compared to the levels normally found in Hamilton air, however PAH levels further 
downwind at regular monitoring stations were normal and below the Ministry's 24-hour 
AAQC (for benzo[a]pyrene). PAH in air near the fire site declined to normal levels after 
the fire was extinguished. 

i*- Polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) were detected in air immediately adjacent to the fire 
(but within the plume), however these were at levels below the Ministry's 24-hour 
AAQC. 

*•• Because of the short duration of exposure, no long-term adverse health effec -e 

anticipated due to contaminants in air fi^om the fire. Many acute symptoms r -^ed by 
those exposed, e.g. skin irritation, eye irritation and sore throat, as well as inciaents of 
metal corrosion, are attributable to hydrogen chloride released during the fire. 



Soot 



Air contaminant levels during the fire were below the occupational health limits which 
are often used in emergency response situations to determine the risk of immediate 
adverse health effects. 



Soot deposited on surfaces was analysed for dioxins and metals. Dioxin levels in soot 
were far below established clean-up guidelines and posed no health threat to residents. 
Several metals were detected in soot samples taken from areas both near to and distant 
from the fire, including nickel, chromium, zinc, copper, manganese, vanadium, iron and 
lead. The latter, which was of greatest concern in terms of toxicity, was in fact not 
detected in soot sampled at the location that had the greatest amount of soot deposited by 
the fire. Conversely, the highest lead level was found in soot at an industrial site over two 
kilomefres away. ' 



Water 



Analyses were done on water from site runoff, storm sewers, sewer outfalls to Hamilton 
Harbour and in the harbour's Wellington St. slip. Levels of some metals, volatile organic 
chemicals and PAHs were high at times in the site runoff (fire-fighting water). The levels 
were lower in the storm sewer outfalls and still lower in Hamilton Harbour surface water, 
and they declined with time. 

Where detected in surface waters, most of these substances were present at low 
concentrations. The Provincial Water Quality Objective (PWQO) for the PAH 
phenanthrene was exceeded in Hamilton Harbour. Dioxins were also found, but at very 
low levels. Surface water in the Wellington St. slip also exceeded PWQOs for several 
metals after the fire, namely aluminum, cadmium, copper, lead, silver and zinc. By 
July 15th, concentrations of most of the 65 chemicals were within reported ranges for 
Hamilton Harbour and most were below their respective PWQOs. PWQOs provide 
protection to aquatic life over long term exposure; short term exposures resulting from 
the fire should not pose any long term threat to aquatic life in the harbour. Hamilton's 
drinking water, which is drawn from some distance out in Lake Ontario, was not affected. 

Aquatic bioassays demonstrated that the storm sewer water was lethal to aquatic life 
(rainbow trout and D. magna). However, there was no evidence offish being killed in 
Hamilton Harbour. Furthermore, storm sewer water sampled upsfream from the fire site 
was lethal to both test species, indicating that the toxicit\' was due to substances in the 
sewer unrelated to the fire. Lasting impacts from runoff from the fire are unlikely since 
most measured chemical concentrations are now back within reported normal ranges, and 
most are lower than PWQOs. 



Soil and Vegetation 

i^ The fire did not have a measurable impact on soil dioxin levels. All soil dioxin levels 
were within a range typical of an urban environment and substantially below the 
Ministry's health-based soil clean-up guideline. 

i*- Soil PAH contamination at one particular site is too high to be related to the fire, and is 
most likely due to historical contamination at that site. Marginally elevated soil PAH 
levels at two other sites near the fire site may be fire related. Marginally elevated levels 
of one PAH, phenanthrene, in street tree foliage at three sites are likely fire related. 

>*- The fire had no measurable impact on metal concentrations in soil and on vegetation. 

i*- The fire resulted in dioxin levels on street tree foliage that were between 2 and 3 times 
higher than normal for an Ontario urban community to a distance of about three 
residential blocks fi-om the fire site. The dioxin was present mostly as a surface deposit 
and was readily washed off by rain. After one week the highest foliar dioxin levels had 
been reduced to within the range typical of an urban environment. Dioxin levels on street 
tree foliage fell by more than 80% in the two weeks subsequent to the fire, confirming 
that most of the dioxin that landed on all types of vegetation was in the form of surface- 
deposited dust and soot, which readily washed off or rapidly photodegraded. 

i^ Sampling of residential gardens revealed no detectable dioxin (detection limit 1 pg/g) in 
vegetable produce in the areas of highest soil and tree foliage dioxin concentrations and 
in areas where soot fallout was documented. There was no relationship between dioxin 
levels in lawn grass and distance fi-om the fire site or areas of substantial soot fallout. 

»- The community response sampling of 20 residential properties conducted in August 
confirmed that one month after the fire there was no measurable residual dioxin 
contamination of soil and vegetation, including home garden produce. A health 
assessment by MOEE toxicologists concluded residential garden vegetables were safe to 
eat and that there is no health risk to children playing in backyards and parks. Normal use 
of property has not been affected. 



-Vll- 



Technical Report 
Plastimet Inc. Fire, Hamilton, Ontario, July 9-12, 1997 

Preamble - Purpose and Scope of this Report 

This report provides a compilation and interpretation of the envirorunental monitoring data 
regarding the July 1997 fire at the Plastimet Inc. plastics recycling facility in Hamilton, Ontario. 
The focus of this report is on the contaminant levels found in several environmental media at 
various times and locations during and after the fire, and on the potential risks of long-term 
adverse effects on the environment and on public health as a result of contaminants released by 
the fire. This report does not address aspects pertaining to the initial emergency response nor to 
occupational health. 



Section 1 - Description of the Fire Plume and the Area of Impact 

The fire at Plastimet Inc. in Hamihon began about 7:45 pm on Wednesday July 9^ and ended in 
the morning of Saturday July 12'''. Over this time period, the burning characteristics of the fire 
varied greatly. The burning characteristics can affect both the emission rates fi-om the fire and the 
area impacted by the plume. 

Initially the intensely burning fire resulted in a dense black cloud of smoke rising hundreds of 
metres mto the air. Light winds then transported the plume over the city. During this stage of the 
fire most of the smoke impinged upon a large area of downtown Hamilton and, when winds were 
fi-om the north, smoke reached areas on the escarpment. 

Due to the presence of a slow moving high pressure system over southern Ontario throughout the 
period of the fire, wind speeds were ver>^ light and the dhection of the winds varied over time 
and across the Hamilton area. During the nights when the clear skies resuhed m the formation of 
strong temperatiu-e inversions over the area, wind speeds were even lighter and the wind 
directions more variable than during the day. The strong night tune inversions also resulted in 
reduced rise of the plume fi-om the fire which increases the impacts closer to the fire site. 

The intensely burning stage of the fire lasted for over a day. Both a wind monitor near the 
harbour and a 90 m high meteorological tower in east Hamilton showed winds from the north or 
northeast on the evening of July 9*. However by midnight, the harbour monitor showed light 
winds from the w^est or southwest while the downtown tower still indicated light winds generally 
from the north. The plume could have impacted various parts of downtown and Hamilton 
Mountain over this night. 

On the early morning of July 10th the plume was still moving toward Hamilton Mountain, but 
then the winds changed to come from northeast to easterly directions. These wind directions 
persisted until late afternoon and resulted in impacts in western parts of the greater Hamilton 
area. In the late afternoon, the winds shifted to come from a generally westerly direction 
(northwest through southwest). These winds persisted through the evening and overnight with the 
wind speeds decreasing to low values by midnight. 



During that night, the temperature inversion coupled with decreased heating of the fire plume 
resulted in greatly reduced rise of the plume. The fumes were impacting immediately downwind 
of the fire by this time. For the remainder of the fire, the plume at the site was mixed over a much 
smaller height than during the intensely burning phase of the fire. Air monitoring results from 
this time to the end of the fire showed concentrations of various contaminants to be much larger 
near the fire site. 

Wind directions remained westerly until the morning of July 1 1"' when the data at the 
meteorological tower showed a swing to easterly winds off of the lake. The easterly wind 
directions occurred for about 8 hours replaced by a generally westerly flow in the late afternoon 
of July 1 1*. From the afternoon to the end of the fire, winds were from the southwest to 
northwest directions, affecting the local area east of the site. 

The rates at which contaminants from the fire would have been deposited on surfaces (i.e., 
homes, patio fiimiture etc.) depends on the amount of material released from the fire, the size of 
the particles to which the contaminants were attached and on the dispersion of the plume. All of 
these factors would have varied through the fire period as the burning characteristics of the fire 
changed. As indicated by the descriptions above of the areas impacted by the fumes, deposition 
could have occurred over a number of areas in Hamilton during the intensely burning portion of 
the fire. Any deposition that occurred from the morning of July 1 1^ until the end of the fire 
would have been much larger in the local fire area since the fumes were at ground level. 



Section 2 -Air Quality 

2.1 General Description 

The fire started at approximately 7:45 pm July 9,1997. Emergency personnel requested air 
monitoring by a Level 2 response team late that night, who commenced air sampling at midnight. 
The mobile TAGA "Pioneer" arrived in Hamilton at about 5:30 am on July 10^ and commenced 
hydrogen chloride (HCl) measurements at 6:40 am. On July 1 1''', tv\^o dedicated analysers for 
measuring nitrogen oxides (NO^, and carbon monoxide (CO) were installed in the Pioneer 
however the sampling results were not cause for concern. The mobile TAGA "Explorer" arrived 
in Hamilton at about 12:00 noon on July 10^ and commenced sampling and immediate anahsis 
for eight volatile organic compounds (VOCs) including vinyl chloride and benzene. Regional 
personnel employed the "Photovac" portable gas chromatograph to measure several VOC 
parameters, focussing on benzene. 

During the fire samplers were set out at fixed sites and sampled for PCB, dioxins/furans and 
particulates which were to be analysed for metals. 

Initially, colorimetric tubes were exposed down\\ind close to the fire. Cyanides, vinyl acetate and 
acid gases were non-detectable, although HCl was later to be measured. Carbon monoxide was 
measured at 3-4 ppm, and nitrogen oxides measured 2-3 ppm. 

Air monitoring sampling times are provided in Table 2.1. sampling location information is 
provided in Table 2.2. Air monitoring data are summarized in Table 2.3. 



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3 
—> 


3 
-3 







Table 2.2: 1 


1me and Location of Air Samples (other than TAG> 


\) 








Sample Information 


Field Sample 
ID 


Sample 
Description 


Sample 


Timing Infoimation 

Parameters Sampling 




Cross Referenc:e 
Sample ID # 


Sampling 


Location 


Analyzed For 


Date On Time 


29000 


_C44667-001_ 


PUF/Filter 

Cartridge 


Elgin/Kelly 
Ball Packaging 


^Dioxin/Furan_ 
PCB 


10/7/97 , 12pm-12pm 
11/7/97 5pm-7:50am 
12/7/97 7:50am-3pm 








Cartridge 


Ball Packaging 


PCB 






PUF/Filter 


17 Sawyer St 
1 7 Sawyer St 
17 Sawyer St. 


_Dioxin/Furan_ 

_Dioxin/Furan_ 

metals 

metals 

metals 

metals 

metals 

PAH 

PAH 

PAH 

PAH 

_Metals/PAH_ 

_Metals/PAH_ 

Metals/PAH 


11/7/97 5:30pm-7:45am i 
12/7/97 7:50am-2:40pm 
11/7/97 4:25pm-8:10pm i 
11/7/97 8:10pm-1 1:40pm 
11/7/97 1 1 :45pm-3:25am J 
12/7/97 3:25pm-7:35am 
12/7/97 7:40am-2:40pm 
_ 1 0/07/97_1 1 :30am-1 1 :30am_ 
^10/07/97 1 11:35am-11:35am_ 
10/07/97"^ 9:35am-9:35am 1 
10/07/97 9:38am-9:38am 
09/07/97 12pm-12pm ~^ 
09/07/97 12pm-12pm 






PUF/Filter 


Hivol 


Hivol 


17 Sawyer St 


( Hivol 


1 7 Sawyer St. 

17 Sawyer St 

1 7 Sawder St 

Elgin/Kelly 

Elgin/Kelly 

_Vickers/East18_ 

Buctianan Park 






Hivol 






Hivol 


29000 




Hivol 
PM10 
Hivol 
PM10 


23300 


29114 


29324 


29025 


Hivol 


Barton/Sanford 


29114 


Hivol 


^Vickers/Easti 8_^ 
Main West 


29118 




Hivol 


_09/07/97_ 
09/07/97 


12pm-12pm 


29122 




Hivol 
PM10 


Dundum Castle_ 

Buchanan Park 


_Metals/PAH_ 
Metals/PAH 


12pm-12pm 


29324 


09/07/97 


12pm-12pm 


POST FIRE 


; 














216770 


PUF/Filter 

Cartridge 

Cartridge 

PUF/Filter 


17 Sawyer St 

17 Sawyer St 

_Tracks,west side_ 
25 Sawyer St 


_Dioxin/Furan_ 
VOC 
VOC 


17/07/97 


1 :30 pm-1 :30 am 




216773 


_23/07/97 12:30pm-1 :30pm_^ 
_23/07/97T^12:30pm-1 :30pm ! 
J27I07I97__7:3Q am-7:30 pm_ 
,30/07/97 : 9:59am-1 0:29am 




216771 




216774 


Dioxin/Furan_ 
VOC 




216733 


Cartridge 

Cartridge 

Ptiotovac 


Site debris 




216734 


field blank 


VOC 


_30/07/97_ 

_30/07/97_ 

12/08/97^ 








Site debris 


VOC 


9:59am 






Photovac 


Ferguson City Yard 
Simcoe/trac:ks 


VOC 


10:53am-1 1:24am j 






Photovac 


VOC 


_22/08/97_^10:09am-1 1 :01am_ 
_13/08/97__8:45 am-8:45 pm_ 
_23/08/97^7:45 am-7:45 pm_ 
_05/09/97_|_8:30 am-3:30 pm_ 
^05/09/97_^8:30 am-1 :45 pm_ 
^12/09/97^7:00 am-12:00 am_ 
^15/09/97 i 3:30 pm-6:30 am_ 
^01/1 0/97^9:50am-1 0:20am_ 
_01 /1 0/97_1 0:35am-1 1 :05am_ 
_30/09/97_9:45 am-1 2:00 am_ 
02/10/97 : 12pm-12pm 
05/10/97 12pm-12pm 
08/10/97 12pm-12pm 
09/10/97 6:30 am-6:30 am 
08/10/97 2:05pm- 2:55pm 
08/10/97 2:00pm- 2:45pm 
08/10/97 1 12pm-12pm 
09/10/97 : 6:30 am-6:30 am 




216775 
216655 


PUF/Filter 

__PUF/Filter 

PUF/Filter 

Hivol 
^ PUF/Filter 

Hivol 

Cartridge 

Cartridge 


25 Sawyer St 

25 Sawyer St 

Ryco 

Ryco 

25 Sawyer St 

25 Sawyer St 


Dioxin/Furan 

^Dioxin/Furan_ 

_Dioxin/Furan_ 

Metals 




218155 




218035 




218154 


^Dioxin/Furan_^ 
Metals 




218012 




218030 


CNRA/ictoria 


VOC 




218032 


Simcoe/Victoria 


VOC 




218011 


Hivol 


Simcoe/Victoria_ 

Simcoe/Victoria_ 

Simcoe/Victoria_^ 

Simcoe/Victoria_^ 

Simcoe/Victoria 


Metals 
Metals 
Metals 




218010 


Hivol 


1 218012 


Hivol 
Hivol 
Hivol 




218012 


Metals 




218012 


Metals 




218025 


Cartridge 


CNRA/ictoria 


VOC 

VOC 

_Dioxin/Furan_ 

Dioxin/Furan , 




218026 


Cartridge 


Simcoe/Victoria 




218152 


PUF/Filter 


Simcoe/Victoria 




218151 


PUF/Filter 


Simcoe/Victoria 



10 



Table 2.3 - Plastimet Fire - Air Contaminants Monitoring Data Summai>- 



ContaminaDts 


Concentration Range 


No. of Samples 


VOCs 


Benzene 


0-82 [ig/vnf 


55 


Half-hours by TAGA 


Vinvl Chloride 


0-2.9 






1,3-Butadiene 


0-22 






Chlorobenzene 


0-18 






St\Tene 


0-55 






Toluene 


2-67 






Naphthalene 


0-46 




Instantaneous B>- 


Benzene 


0-827 ^ig'm-' 


12 


Photovac 








Hydrogen Chloride 


HCl 


28-700 ug/m-' 


32 


Half-hours by TAGA 








Hydrogen Chloride 


HCl 


53-930 |ig/m^ 


Approximately 20 


Instantaneous by 






hours of plume 


TAGA 






tracking 

(i.e.. monitoring 

while dri\-ing) 


Metals 


Vanadium 


0-10 ^g/m^ 


5 




Chromium 


0-5.7 






Manganese 


0.043-0.782 






Iron 


1.6-29.7 






Nickel 


0.005-6.4 






Copper 


0.044-1.2 






Lead 


0.03-10.1 






Zinc 


0.24-4.1 




Dioxins/Furans 




2.8-19.3 pgm-' 


3 


Polycyclic Aromatic 


Benzo[a]pyrene 


up to 354 ng/m^ 


2 


Hydrocarbons 








(in plume) 








Polvcvclic Aromatic 


Benzo[a]pyrene 


0.5-1.0 ng'm- 


4 


Hydrocarbons (at 








monitoring stations) 








PCBs (in plume) 




2-95 ng/m^ 


o 



11- 



2.2 Benzene and Other VOCs 

2.2.1 Monitoring Description 

VOC parameters such as benzene were measured by the TAG A "Explorer". These were primarily 
half hour measurements although some may have been less. The TAGA targeted the following 
compounds: benzene, vinyl chloride. 1,3-butadiene, chlorobenzene, hexane, styrene, toluene and 
naphthalene. The portable Photovac instnmient targeted benzene exclusively. This monitor 
samples for approximately 1 5 seconds and then analyses the grab sample. 

2.2.2 Monitoring Findings 

July 10 - Winds at the beginning of the event were northeast. The TAGA was set up downwind 
at Barton/Elgin and moved to several locations in the vicinity. Elevated levels of benzene up to 
54 \ig/m\ naphthalene up to 27 |ig/m^ vinyl chloride up to 2.1 |ig/m^ styrene up to 37 [ig/m^ and 
1,3-butadiene up to 22 |ig/m^ were detected. At the request of the fire department, air samples 
were taken inside the Hamilton- Wentworth Regional Detention Centre. These samples showed 
elevated concentrations of benzene up to 56 |ig/m\ vinyl chloride up to 1.7 [ig/m\ 1,3-butadiene 
up to 22 |ig/m% styrene up to 48 |ag/m\ toluene up to 44 |ig/m^ and naphthalene up to 36 ng/m\ 

July 1 1 - Winds were west, east ^theast and southwest on this day. The TAGA monitored 
mostly in the Victoria/Barton/T . - r area, but also took measurements as far east as Wentworth 
and Brant. Elevated levels of tne same parameters were measured. Benzene peaked at up to 
82 |ig/m% naphthalene up to 46 ^lg/m^ vinyl chloride up to 2.9 ^g/m\ styrene over 50 ng/m^ and 
1,3-butadiene up to 28 |ig/m\ The highest readings occurred at Victoria Ave. at 6-7 am. 

July 12 - The TAGA monitored in the vicinity of the fire (Wellington, Victoria, Burton, etc.). 

Two elevated samples were found similar to previous days, with benzene up to 49 |ig/m^ A 
sample inside the cardiac ward of General Hospital showed low levels mostly typical of indoor 
air. Monitoring concluded at noon. 

The portable Photovac monitor was used to take 12 samples on July 10-11 and gave results for 
benzene only. Samples were taken mostly close to the fire. Three consecutive samples on the 
morning of July 1 1 yielded concentrations of 827, 324 and 554 |ig/m\ 

VOC data fi-om sampling done after the fire, i.e. from July 17 through August 22, are provided in 
Table 2.4. 



12- 





■ 


Table 2.4: Post-Fire VOC S 

by adsorbent cartndge method exc 


>ampling Data 




1 


[ micrograms/cubic metre 


Samples are 

1997 


apt where noted by Phot 


3vac 






















17 Sawyer 
Jul 17-18 


Tracks. 80 m SW 17 Sawyer 
Jul 23 Jul 23 


Site Debns Site Debns 

_Jul 30 Jul 30 

Photovac 


Ferguson City yard 
Aug 12 


Simcoe/Wellingtorvtracks 
Aug 22 










24 hr 


_ 1/2 Hr_ 
Standard 


_downwirx]_ 
12 hours 


downwind upwind 


Photovac Ptxitovac 
50m dw 20m dw 


Photovac_ 
25m dw 


^Photovac 

15m dw 




Guideline 


1 hour 1 hour 


1/2 hour 


VINYL CHLORIDE 


1 


3 












1,3-8UTADIENE 










04 






ISOPRENE 






06 


0.1 1 0.2 


1.0 






1.1-OICHLOROETHENE 


35 


70 












DICHLOROMETHANE 


1765 


5300 


0,4 


5.5 0.6 


8.9 






1.1-DICHLOROETHANE 


















HEXANE 


12000 


35000 


105 


15.8 38 


7.0 








TRICHLOROMETHANE 


500 


1500 


01 


01 










1.2-DICHLOROETHANE 


400 

100000 


_1200_ 
300000^ 
1800_^ 


01 










CYCLOHEXANE 


1.8 


04 0.3 


0.5 






CARBON TETRACHLORIDE 

BENZENE 


600 


0.9 


0.2 05 


0.4 










44 


1.9 19 


9.1 8.9 


nd nd 


nd , 


, nd 


TRICHLOROETHYLENE 


28000 


_85000_ 

_350000 

2400 


01 








1,1.1 -TRICHLOROETHANE 
U-DICHLOROPROPANE 


115000 
2400 


0.6 


0.2 4 


0.5 
















TOLUENE 


2000 


_2000_ 


15.7 


3.1 8 3 


29 1 38.8 


38.3 ! 49.2 


29.2 


36.8 


1.1.2-TRICHLOROETHANE 
















1.2-OIBROMOETHANE 
















TETRACHLOROETHYLENE 
CHLOROBENZENE 


^4000_ 


_10OOO_ 


0.3 


0.1 i 0.2 


0.3 






0.2 


0.1 i 


0.4 nd 


nd nd 


nd 


nd 

nd 

nd 

nd 


ETHYLBEN2ENE 


4000 


4000 


14.2 


0.9 1 3.9 


26.2 18.9 


nd nd 


nd 


M.P-XYLENE 


2300 


_2300_ 
400 


34.2 


1.7 12 7 


5.3 nd 


nd nd 


nd 


STYRENE 


400 


38 


07 0.2 


73.8 460* 


nd - 12.2' 


nd 


O-XYLENE 


2300 


2300 


86 


0.6 3.2 


2.2 






1.1.2.2-TETRACHLOROETHANE_ 
a-PINENE 




















02 


0.1 4 


0.4 






1 .3.5-TRIMETHYLBEN2ENE 






24 


3 5 


0.6 nd 


nd nd 


nd 


nd 

nd 

nd 

nd 

nd 


1.2.4-TRIMETHYLBENZENE 

1.3-DICHLOROBEN2ENE 


_1000_ 


500_ 


64 


0.7 15 


2,0 nd 


nd nd 


nd 






nd 


nd nd 


nd 


1.4-0ICHL0R0BEN2ENE 






0.2 




nd 


nd nd 


nd 


1.2-DICHLOROBENZENE 










nd 


nd nd 


nd 


NAPHTHALENE 


225 


36 


1 4 


0.8 1 


4,0 






BROMODICHLOROMETHANE 
















CIS-1 .3-OICHLOROPROPENE 
















ACRYLONITRILE 


100 


300 
















dw -downwind 


nd-non-detea 












•- 0-xylene an 


d styrene co-elute by Photovac me 


thod- unable to distingui 


►h from each other. 




i 



13- 



2.2.3 Standards/Guidelines and Interpretation 

The VOC measured were well above normal for each parameter but no guidelines were 
exceeded, with one exception - the half-hour point-of-impingement guideline (POI) for 
naphthalene was exceeded in consecutive samples on the morning of July 1 1 on Victoria Ave. 
Some of the targeted VOC do not have environmental health guidelines. The levels of benzene 
were elevated. Routine 24-hour samples normally measure from 2-25 |ig/m^. The three high 
benzene readings measured by the Photovac were far above normal levels. 

The levels of 1,3-butadiene and vinyl chloride were much higher than normally seen. Both are 
rarely detected, if at all, by routine samples. The highest vinyl chloride measurements were just 
below the provincial standard. 

After the fire was out, VOC was measured on July 17-18 over a 12-hour period downwind at the 
Sawyer St. location. Concentrations were low or at normal levels, although some odour was still 
present. Benzene was measured at 4.4 ng/m\ toluene at 15.7 (ig/m\ xylenes 42.8 |ig/m^ Vinyl 
chloride and 1,3-butadiene were not detected. Upwind/downwind sampling was performed over 
one hour on July 23, and again showed low levels with no obvious downwind effect despite the 
continued presence of odours. 

On July 30, a cartridge sample was exposed directly on the site over fire debris and measured 
mainly normal VOC levels. Only toluene (29 [igjm^) and styrene (74 |ig/m^) levels were higher 
than normal. The Photovac instrument was also employed here and found levels similar to the 
cartridge for the ten parameters it was set up to measure. The Photovac was used again on 
August 12 and 22 at short distances downwind from the fire site (15-50 metres), and measured 
primarily toluene (up to 49 |iig/m^). 

On July 28, the TAGA van returned to the site and also measured low levels of seven VOCs 
including benzene. Only xylene levels were above normal, but far below the provincial standard. 



2.2.4 Follow-up Advice 

Health risks posed by these compounds are normally related to long term exposure/long term 
risk. It is unlikely that these brief exposures would cause long term effects. The levels of 
contaminants in local air during the fire were below the occupational health limits often used in 
emergency response situations to determine the risk of immediate adverse health effects. 



2.3 Metals 

2.3.1 Monitoring Description 

Particulate samples were measured by a high volume sampler set up at 17 Sawyer St. (at ground 
level) close to the fire. Five samples were collected on July 11-12, mostly of 3- or 4-hour running 



14- 



time on regular glass fibre filters. The samples were analysed for a scan of 8 metals - vanadium, 
chromium, manganese, nickel, copper, lead and zinc. 



2.3.2 Monitoring Findings 

The monitoring data for metals in air are summarized on Table 2.5. 

It is unclear how much each sample was downwind of the fire as winds were mostly west to 
southwest and a nearby large industrial building would have affected \\ind currents. Nonetheless, 
metals concentrations were elevated for nickel, lead and chromium. Concentrations of these 
metals were the highest, and of the greatest health concern. Iron, manganese, copper, vanadium 
and zinc concentrations were not particularly elevated. The air flow rates through the sampler 
were not measurable and thus had to be estimated. As a result, the metals concentrations are not 
precise. 

2.3.3 Standards/Guidelines and Interpretation 

The 24 hr AAQC for nickel of 2 |ig/m' was exceeded twice and the POl once. The maximum 
was 6.4 |ig/m^. 

The 24 hr AAQC for lead of 2 |ig/m' was exceeded once as was the POl. The maximum was 
10.1 [ig/m\ 

The 24 hr AAQC for chromium of 1 .5 |ig/m^ was exceeded twice and the POl once. The 
maximum was 5.7 |ig/m\ 

The 24 hr AAQC for iron of 10 ^g/m^ was exceeded three times and the POl twice. Maximum 
was 29.7 |ig/m^. These standards relate to metallic iron. It is unlikely that emissions fiom the fire 
contained iron in this form. The iron levels measured are common to routine measurements in the 
city. 

The high volume (hivol) sampling network was operating for the full day on July 9. Five 
stations' filters with some potential to be downwind of the fire, at Bartoa'Sanford. the mountain 
and west end were analysed for metals. The concentrations all fell in the normal range of 
obser\'ations. It should be noted that these stations may ha\'e been impinged on by the fire for 
only an hour or two at most, out of their 24-hour running time. 



-15 





Table 2.5: 


Metals in Air 






! 1 










micrograms per cubic metre (ug/m3) ' 






Vanadium Chromium Manganese Iron* Nickel Copper Lead 


, Zinc 

Zn 


Cadmium_ 
Cd 




V Or 


Mn Fe Ni 


Cu 


Pb 






1 












Measured at 17 S 

4;25pm-8:10pm 


awyerSt It 


i 










July 11 


0.000 0.000 


0.043 1.635 


_0.005_ 


_0.200_ 


_0.956_ 


_1.130_ 




T" 






8: 10pm-1 1:40pm 


0.000 0.050 


0.091 


_4.113_ 


_0.090_ 


0.403 


2.808 


_1.630_ 




' 


i 




i 




' 11:45pm-3:25ain , 0.000 1.670 


0.303 


_12.184_ 


2.438 1.195 10.075 


_4.060_ 










July 12 


3:25anv7.35am 0.097 ' 5.663 


0.782 i 29.706 ' 6.398 0.127 1.616 


_1.400_ 




1 












7:40am-2:40pm 0.005 ' 0.170 


0.068 2.063 


0.198 0.044 


0.033 


_0.240_ 














Measured at 2902S-Barton/Sanford (TSP)^ 

12 pm -12 pm 0.016 0.126 






July 9 


0.353 ! 5.551 


,0.020 0.176 


0.083 














Measured at 29114- Wckers/East 18th fTSt 

12 pm -12 pm < 0.006 0.010 


'; 








July 9 


0.104 1.992 


_0.010_ 


_0.031_ 


0.026 








1 






Measured at 2911 

12 pm -12 pm 


8- Main West (TSP) 








July 9 


0.007 0.016 0.083 


1.761 0.012 


_0.347_ 


0.010 
















Measured at 29122- Dundum Castle (TSP)i I 1 








July 9 


12 pm -12 pm 


0.002 0.003 


0.061 i 1.435 


0.003 0.032 


0.002 


1 




1 












Measured at 29324- Buchanan Park Schoo 

12 pm -12 pm 0.003 0.008 


; (PM10) 








July 9 


0.050 0.972 


0.002 0.009 


0.019 




















Measured at Rye 

8:30am-1 :45pm 


}Gate 










Septs 


0.016 0.049 


0.340 2.900 0.019 


_0.053_ 


0.000 i 












Measured at 17 S 

3:30pm-6:30am 


awyerSt 


i ; 








Sept 15 


0.002 0.003 


0.034 ^ 0.800 


0.009 0.065 


0.010^ 




0.0005 




1 






1 




Measured at Vict 

9:45am-1 2:00am 


iria/Simeoe \ ! 










Sept 30 




! 








1 1 i ! 










Measured at Vieti 

12 pm -12 pm 


iria/Simcoe ' 










Oct 2 


0.004 0.023 t 0.210 


1.100 0.006 


_0.150_ 


0.000 








1 








Measured at Vict 

12 pm -12 pm 


3ria/Simcoe 1 




; 




Oct 5 


0.005 0.023 


0.036 0.800 0.000 0.078 

1 


0.000 


















Measured at Wet 

12 pm -12 pm 


iria/Simcoe ! 








Oct 8 


0.041 0.110 


0.550 7.600 


_0.039_ 


_0.110_ 


0.030 


















Measured at Wet 

6:30am-6:30am 


>n'a/S/mcoe 






1 




Oct 9 


0.018 0.047 


0.230 


_3.600_ 


0.015 0.130 


0.030 


















1/2 hr PCI 


5 5 ; 7.5 10* 


5 100 


10 ^ 


100 


5 












24hrAQC 2 ^ 1.5 2.5 4* ' 2 


50 5 


120 


2 


: i i i i 








•- standards are for metall 


c iron. \ 




i 














# Results are appr 


oximate l>ecause air flow h 


ad to be estim. 


rted at 45 CF 


M. 









-16 



2.3.4 Follow-up Advice 

There is probably some metals contamination from the particulate fallout in the immediate 
vicinity of the fire. The extent of this is not well known as only one sampling site was employed 
near the fire. 

The air quality results from the Plastimet Inc. fire indicate there should be no adverse long-term 
health effects resulting from exposure to metals. Please see Section 3 (Soot) and Section 5 (Soil 
and Phytotoxicity) for related information concerning the deposition of metals. 



2.4 Dioxins/Furans 

2.4.1 Monitoring Description 

Sampling for these contaminants was conducted with polyuxethane foam (PUF) and filter 
assemblies. Air is drawn through this assembly by a vacuum motor. Samples are normally run for 
24 hours, and one such sample did run in this standard fashion at the downtown Elgin/Kelly AQI 
station on July 10. Two other samples were taken on July 1 1 and 12 near the fire at 17 Sawyer St. 
(about 250 m northeast of the fire) at ground level. 

McMaster University Chemistry Professor Brian McCarry took a sample of air particulate from 
the column of smoke, about 1 m above groimd level on the roof of an industrial building across 
the street from the fire (about 1 00m northwest) using a modified Hi-Vol air sampler. The sampler 
ran from the afternoon of July 11 to the early morning of July 12. 



2.4.2 Monitoring Findings 

The monitoring data for dioxins and furans in air are summarized in Table 2.6. 

The Air Quality Index monitoring (AQI) station at Elgin/Kelly Sts. measured 19.3 pg'nf (total 
toxic equivalents -TEQ*). The SawyerA'^ictoria Sts. samples ran on Juh 11 - 1 2 for 1 5 hours and 
on the 12'*' for 7 hours in the early morning. The first sample was run briefly on the roof of an 
industrial building on Wellington St. adjacent to the fire, where heavy contamination of this 
sample appears to have spoiled it. That is, too much heavy particulate matter in the sample 
overloaded the laboratory anal>1ical equipment beyond quality control parameters. The July 12* 
sample measured 2.8 pg/m^ TEQ. 

Dr. McCarry's smoke plume sample contained about 1012 pg TEQ /m^. 



' TEQ (toxic equivalents), a way of expressing the toxicity of a mixture of dioxins and 
fiirans. 

-17- 













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Five days after the fire was out, a sample was taken on July 17-18 over a 12-hour period 
downwind at the Sawyer St. location. A level of 0.6 pg TEQ/m^ was measured. Air samples 
taken even later (on July 27, August 13 and August 23) at the Sa\\yer St. location measured only 
0.051, 0.017 and 0.025 pg TEQ/W. respectively. Concentrations of less than 0.1 pg TEQ/m^ are 
normally found at the AQI station. 



2.4.3 Standards/Guidelines and Interpretation 

An initial air sample started approximately four hours after the fire broke out and miming for 24 
hours showed dioxin levels higher than normal. The sample was taken at the Ministr.- of 
Environment and Energ\''s (MOEE) downtown air quality- station one kilometre southwest of the 
fire site. The first sample result indicated 19 picograms (pg) TEQ/m' in the smoke plume. 
While this is above the MOEE daily air quality guideline of 5 pg TEQ/m\ the amount of dioxin 
that may have been inhaled would nevertheless have been only 50% of the daily tolerable 
exposure limit for dioxins in air, water, soil, food and consimier products recommended by the 
federal government. 

Dioxin analyses of particulate material collected by Dr. B. McCarry of McMaster Umversit\' 
during most of Friday July 1 1*. 1997 indicates that dioxin levels on the roof of an industrial 
building adjacent to the fire averaged about 1000 pg TEQ m'. During this latter phase of the fire. 
Vkinds were predominantly out of the west and the main part of the plume was east of the fire site. 
Using the measurement on the roof of an industrial building on Wellington St. near the fire 
(about 10 m above ground) as a reference point, air dispersion modelling by R. Bloxam (MOEE) 
indicates that 24 hour average ground level concentrations ranging from about 650 pg TEQ/ m' at 
the building down to less than 50 pg TEQ ' m^ may have occurred out to about 2 km east and 
east-northeast of the fire site (see Figure 2.1). On July 1 1*. homes were evacuated east of the fire 
over to Victoria Avenue. East of the fire site at Victoria Ave., it is estimated that ground level 
concentrations were about 150 to 250 pg TEQ/m-\ Over the 1 to 2 km fiirther east of Victoria 
Ave. (where people were not evacuated), ground le\'el concentrations at the plume centreline 
would have dropped from this le\el down to less than 50 pg TEQ/ m^ So for this part of 
Hamilton (east of Victoria Ave., where the plume covered a sector east and east-northeast of the 
fire site), and for this period of the fire, the 50th percentile grotmd level concentration may have 
been about 125 pg TEQ/m^ ( 90* percentile - 225 pg TEQ/m^). 

The 1012 pg TEQ/m^ found in Dr. McCarry 's sample taken in the smoke plume on the roof of an 
industrial building just 100m northeast of the fire is similar to air concentrations measured near 
the open burning of large amounts of garbage. Considering the size of the fire and the presence of 
large amounts of PVC plastic involved, this concentration of dioxin in air close to the fire is 
consistent with the other dioxin levels found. WTiile exceeding the MOEE air qualit>- criterion, 
this sample was taken in a location that the public could not have been exposed to and at a time 
when the public had been evacuated from this area. A sample taken the follov-ing day at ground 
level at Sawyer St. showed the dioxin level had dropped to well below the MOEE air qualit\- 
criterion, as did a sample taken five days after the fu-e had been extinguished. 



19 



4798000 



Average concentrations for the 2nd Phase, 
in picograms per cubic metre. 




478400a 



478200& 



4780000 



582000 



586000 



590000 



594000 



598000 



602000 



Figure 2.1 - Contour plot of smoke plume for Friday July 11, 1997 (day 3). 

To recap MOEE air monitoring data, from Wednesday night and most of Thursday, the plume of 
smoke from the fire rose vertically for a few hundred metres and then dispersed. A 24 hour 
average air dioxin concentration of 19 pg TEQ/ m^ was measured about 1 km SW of the fire site 
on Thursday. Early on Friday, reduced fire heating combined with a nighttime temperature 
inversion resulted in the plume remaining near the ground. In the latter phase of the fire through 
Saturday, winds were out of the west most of the time. MOEE sampling during this phase of the 
fire was taken at Sawyer St. A sample taken on Saturday yielded 2.8 pg TEQ/ nf with a second 
heavily contaminated sample taken on Friday and Saturday which was unmeasurable. This 
second sample was run for a portion of the time on the roof of an industrial building near the fire. 
After the fire, an air level of 0.6 pg TEQ/ m^ was measured. 

Levels of dioxins in air in Hamilton declined dramatically after the fire was extinguished. The 
dioxin levels in the last series of air samples were normal backgroimd levels. MOEE ambient air 
monitoring data for Hamilton during 1991 to 1995 was about 0.08 pg TEQ/m^ on average, and 
ranged from 0.01 up to a maximum of 0.2 pg TEQ/m^ 



20- 



No adverse health effects are expected due to the fact that these guidelines are based on 
continuous life-time exposure. Estimates of total dioxin releases from the fire and estimates of 
human exposure via inhalation of smoke during the fire are provided in Section 6. 



2.4.4 Follow-up Advice 

The air quality results from the Plastimet Inc. fire in Hamilton indicate there should be no 
adverse long-term health effects resulting from exposure to dioxin. 



2.5 Hydrogen Chloride 

2.5.1 Monitoring Description 

HCl was measured by the TAGA "Pioneer" both by stationary half-hour measurements and by 
continuous plume tracking while the vehicle was in motion. 

2.5.2 Monitoring Findings 

Half-hour stationary measurements - HCl was measured at up to about 700 |ig/m\ half-hour 
average. This maximum occurred at BirgeAVellington on July 1 1 . An instantaneous peak of 
930 |ag/m^ occurred in this worst hour. Other elevated half-hour levels in the 250-500 |ig/m^ 
range occurred in the Ferrie, Victoria and Barton St. area from July 10 to the morning of July 12. 
High instantaneous readings in the 500-830 range occurred during these measurements. One 
excursion to Beach/Kenilworth Sts. showed a lower level there of 45 \iglm' (maximum 
instantaneous 1 75 |ig/m^) on July 1 1 . After the fire was out at 2:00 pm on the 12^^, the readings 
fell to less than 20 ^g/m^ 

Plume tracking - The TAGA Pioneer made several excursions, taking measurements while 
mobile. Measurements are approximately of 30-second duration in this mode and are considered 
"instantaneous" as mentioned above. On July 10, the van circled the BartonAVellington/Ferrie 
Sts. area and measured HCl readings of up to 720 |ag/m\ The van travelled up to the mountain on 
the morning of the 10* and made instantaneous measurements at the brow on Mountain Park 
Ave. Readings up to 300 |ig/m^ were observed. On July 1 1, measurements were made while 
mobile in the vicinity of the fire along Victoria, Ferrie, Wellington, Wentworth Sts., etc. 
Readings up to 690 \xglm' were observed closer to the fire. On July 12 in the afternoon after the 
fire was mostly out, instantaneous values were less than 20 |ig/m^ 

The TAGA returned to the fire site on July 29 and measured low levels of HCl, a half-hour 
maxim.um less than 2 |ag/m^ and a maximum instantaneous peak of only 3.4 |ig/m^ The van 
"fingerprinted" the odorous emissions and found the presence of aniline, some aromatics, and 
ketones at very low concentrations. Mercury was also measured at up to 4 ng/m\ which is a 
normal background level. 



-21- 



2.5.3 Standards/Guidelines and Interpretation 

The HCl objective is 100 |ig/m^ (half-hour POI). This level was frequently exceeded in the 
neighbourhood of the fire on the 10''', 11* and 12*. Continuous plume tracking showed elevated 
levels up to 300 |ig/m^ (instantaneous reading) on the mountain brow on the 10*. Measurements 
in the far east end of the city at Kenil worth were up to 175 |ig/m^ instantaneous and 45 [ig/m^ for 
a half hour on the 11*. However, HCl levels during the fire remained far below the occupational 
health limit (ceiling exposure value) of 7400 fig/m^ which is often used in emergency response 
situations to determine the likelihood of immediate adverse health effects. 



2.5.4 FoIIow-up Advice 

HCl would likely have been the cause of most of the acute health effects reported during the 
course of the fire including skin, throat and eye irritation. HCl would also have caused the metal 
corrosion reported in the area close to the fire. HCl was produced only while the fire was 
burning, and any that was produced was neutralised quickly by dilution with water and by 
reacting v^ith naturally occurring alkaline material in soil. 



2.6 PAHs 

2.6.1 Monitoring Description 

Twenty-four-hour filter samples were taken at two mountain stations and two concurrent samples 
at the Elgin/Kelly station on July 10-11. Two of these samples were PMIO (inhalable particulate) 
and the other two were total suspended particulates (TSP, a larger size range of particles). The 
regular hivol network was operating on July 9 for the full 24-hour period. The same five station 
filters chosen for metals analysis, were also analysed for polynuclear aromatic hydrocarbons 
(PAH), products of incomplete combustion which are associated with particulate matter. Regular 
network samples were also run for 24 hours at three sites in the eastern industrial zone, including 
at Station #29531, Hillyard St. on July 9*. A special continuous PAH monitor also operated at 
Stafion #291 13, Gertrude/Depew Sts. 

Respirable air particulate matter within the fire plume itself was sampled on July 1 1 and 12 by 
Dr. B. McCarry of McMaster University. PMIO samplers were installed on the northwest comer 
of the roof of an adjacent industrial building, about 10 m above ground level. Samples were 
taken from 5:30 pm to 10:30 pm on July 1 1 and from 10:30 pm to 3:00 am on July 11-12. 



2.6.2 Monitoring Findings 

On July 9, concenfrations of the PAH benzo[fl]pyrene at the five selected hivol stations all fell in 
the normal range of observations. The four ambient samples taken on July 10-11 at the three 
network stations on the mountain and downtown were all below the MOEE's 24-hour objective 



22 



for benzo[a]pyrene. The special continuous PAH monitor at Station #291 13, Gertrude/Depew 
Sts. appeared to measure one brief peak from the fire. 

Analysis of the samples that were taken within the plume was performed by staff of McMaster 
Universit}'. Their results revealed that the particulate matter was composed of 0.6% PAH by 
weight, a high proportion relative to the normal composition of airborne particles. Expressed in 
terms of loading of PAH to air during the fire, total PAH in the smoke plume was at a 
concentration of 4995 ng/m^ Benzo[a]pyrene was present at a concentration of 354 ng/m^ 



2.6.3 Standards/Guidelines and Interpretation 

The four ambient samples at the three network stations on the mountain and downtown on 
July 10-11 were all below the MOEE 24-hour objective for benzo[<3]pyrene of 1 . 1 ng/m^. The 
mountain stations were not downwind of the fire, but the downtown site was partially downwind. 
The benzo[c]pyrene concentrations were normal. The five selected stations' concentrations on 
July 9 all fell in the normal range of obser\'ations. It should be again be noted that these stations 
may have been impinged on by the fu'e for only an hour or two at most, out of their 24-hour 
running time. Of the regular network sampling done on July 9 for 24 hours at three sites in the 
eastern industrial zone, two sites had benzo[a]pyrene levels above the provincial objective 
however this was primarily a result of being downwind from the steel mills for most of the day. 

The levels of PAH in the plume as measured by McMaster Universit}' exceeded t>'pical levels for 
Hamilton air by 300- to 400-fold. The level of benzo[£?]pyrene in the plume exceeded the 
MOEE's 24-hour objective by over 300 times. If exposure was over a lifetime, levels this high 
could lead to an unacceptably increased risk of contracting lung cancer. However, these were 
levels in the plume, not in ambient air. Most people would not have been exposed to the peak 
PAH levels in the plume, but rather to lower levels outside of the plume or in indoor air, 
therefore any exposure of the public wotild have been of short duration. 



2.6.4 Follow-up Advice 

Levels of PAH in air and deposited on vegetation (see Section 5) declined to normal ambient 
levels after the fire was extinguished. Exposure to elevated PAH levels during the fire is not 
expected to lead to any long-term adverse health effects. 



2.7 PCBs 

2.7.1 Monitoring Description 

Sampling for these contaminants was conducted using adsorbent cartridges. Two samples were 
taken on the roof of an industrial building adjacent to the fire site about 10 metres above ground 
level on July 11-12, over 16- and 7-hour durations. 



23 



2.7.2 Monitoring Findings 

The first sample measured 94.7 ng PCB/m\ and the second 2 |ig/m^ . 

2.7.3 Standards/Guidelines and Interpretation 

The two samples were below the MOEE 24 hour objective of 150 ng/m^ The first sampler was 
downwind for most of the time. The second sampler appears to have been upwind as winds were 
mostly fi-om the east during its run. 

2.7.4 Follow-up Advice 

The health risks resulting fi-om this short-diaration exposure are minimal as the standard is based 
on lifetime exposure. 

2.8 Data from Network Stations 

During the initial stages the effects of the fire could be measured at several monitoring stations in 
the city. The only pollutant detected by the network monitoring stations was particulate matter, 
measured by the coefficient-of-haze (COH) tape samplers. The mountain station was downwind 
for most of the first day and recorded four "COH hours" with values between 41 and 47 on the 
Air Qualit>' Index (AQI) scale. Later, the downtown area was downwind and this is when the six 
or so hours of COH on the order of 35 on the AQI scale appeared (and when the dioxin sampling 
was being conducted). The Barton/Sanford Streets station recorded five elevated COH hours, at 
34-68 on the AQI scale. As the winds became west and southwest on the 11* and 12"', only 
Station #29531 on Hillyard St. showed significant impact from the fire. This station, which is 
about 1500 metres from the fire, recorded four elevated hourly COHs from 33 to 68 on the AQI 
scale. Of note, the continuous PMIO monitor showed levels of 132 and 156 jj.g/m'' during the 
initial "hif late on the evening of the 10*. 

Station #29561 on Homeside did not show significant COH peaks. The Beach Strip stations 
showed elevated levels of particulates but these could not be distinguished from regular 
industrial emissions. 

It should be noted that when the COHs were elevated at the Elgin/Kelly station, the continuous 
PMIO readings were low, but at the Hillyard station, there was elevated PMIO. This suggests that 
the particulates released were partially of respirable size. Carbon monoxide and nitrogen dioxide 
levels remained low during the "hits". 

The network of hivols/PMlOs (particulates, at 13 stations), VOC (at 5 stations) and PAHs (at 3 
stations) were running as normally scheduled on July 9*. The network of 1 1 dustfall jar samples 
(30 day exposures) will also be available for analysis if necessary. 



-24 



Temperature inversions were noted during the nights of July 9-10,10-11 and 11-12, due to 
nocturnal cooling. Each dissipated by mid-morning with the sunlight. 



25 



Section 3 - Soot 

3.1 Definition 

Soot is composed of fine carbon particles which are components of smoke, resuhing from the 
incomplete combustion of carbon-containing materials. The size of the particles is usually very 
small, 0. 1 fim or less. Although very small in size, when together in sufficient amounts these 
particles are visible to the human eye. Various chemicals may be present on the surface of the 
part:icles such as dioxins, PAHs and metals depending on what materials were burned. 

Exposure to soot particles would have been greatest during and immediately after the deposition 
of soot on outside surfaces. Rain and wind will displace some of the soot particles. 

People can be exposed to soot particles by breathing them in or. more importantly, by ingesting 
them, e.g. through hand-to-mouth contact or through eating backyard fruit and vegetables that 
have soot on their surfaces. Because ver>' young children (ages 1 to 4) often suck their fingers or 
put objects in their mouth, they will have the highest possibility for exposure. 

Exposure to the soot from any fire should be mirdmized. 



3.2 Dioxins in Soot 

Ministry staff collected and analysed several swipe samples of soot within I to 5 km of the fire. 
These results are summarized in Table 3.1 below. 

The levels of dioxin in soot-covered surfaces ranged from 0.1 to 2.9 nanograms TEQ/m" and 
were well below the acceptable limit of 25 ng TEQ/m% the level which Quebec and New York 
recognize as an acceptable clean-up value. The surfaces covered with soot were within 
acceptable limits for dioxin and posed no health threat to residents. 

Additional tests of soot deposited up to 5.5 km from the fire site showed levels of dioxins well 
below accepted clean-up guidelines, indicating no threat to health. 

As a precaution, the Regional Public Health Department advised residents living \\ithin 1 km of 
the fire site to not allow children to play on lawns on which soot was visible, and to wear gloves 
while using mild detergent to clean up garden ftimiture and other outdoor items on which soot 
was deposited. 

Estimates of human exposure via soot during and after the fire are provided in Section 6. 



-26 



Table 3.1 - Dioxins in Soot Samples 



Swipe/Swab Samples 


Results in total ng TEQ*/m^ 


Wellington St. - industrial building 


0.46 


Simcoe & Mary St. - front steps 


0.16 


Feme & Mary St.- car windshield 


0.36 


Strachan & Ferguson St. - cement block 





Victoria & Birge St. - dumpster 


2.9 


General Hospital - window 


0.74 


Shaw St. - industrial building 


0.79 


Emerald North - shed 


2.0 


Hamilton- Wentworth Correctional Centre 


0.10 


Walnut Forest - telephone switch box 


<0.31<» 


Upper Ottawa & Beaconfield St. - awning 


< 0.38 ♦ 


Princeton & Ottawa St. - vehicle 


<0.85<» 


East 19'*' & Upper Wentworth St.- vehicle 


2.7 


King & London St. - vehicle 


< 0.25 ♦ 


Main & London St. - vehicle 


<0.12<» 


Roslyn & King St. - composter 


< 0.72 ♦ 


Stewartdale & Dundonald St. - mailbox 


< 0.090 ♦ 



* "TEQ": 2,3, 7,8-TCDD toxic equivalent. 

♦ indicates that the sample results were lower than levels in the laboratory blank. 



3.3 Metals in Soot 

The MOEE laboratory has analysed 1 samples of soot for the presence of lead, cadmium, nickel, 
chromium, zinc, copper, manganese, vanadium and iron, which represents the analytical 
spectrum of metals carried out in a routine metals analysis. Metals are expected to be present in 
the soot from any building fires where metal is present. 

Analytical results confirmed the presence of some metals in the soot. Nickel, chromium, zinc, 
copper, manganese, vanadium and iron were detected in the soot samples. None of the samples 
contained detectable amounts of cadmium. Four of ten samples contained detectable amounts of 
lead. The highest lead level was found in a sample taken at an industrial "control" site located 



27- 



over 2 km from the fire. Lead and cadmium, the metals considered to be the most toxic in 
similar situations, were not detectable at the location that had the greatest amount of soot 
deposition. 

Due to the limitation of the analytical method, it is not possible to quantitatively assess the 
potential health impacts of the metals in soot. However, the presence of these metals in the soot, 
particularly lead, support the advice given by public health officials to minimize personal 
exposure to the soot. 

No numerical guidelines for metals in surface soot could be found from other jurisdictions or in 
the literature. 



28 



Section 4 - Surface Water Quality and Aquatic Toxicity Testing 

4.1 Fate of Water at the Fire Site 

Fire-fighting water either e\aporated or ran off. The site runoff went mainly to three different 
areas: 

• into the storm sewer and then into Hamihon Harbour \ia the Wellington St. slip, 

• into the sanitar\- sewer, treated at the Woodward Ave. Water Pollution Control 
Plant (UTCP), and released to Windermere Basin, 

• captured, trucked away and treated. 



4.2 Monitoring Description 

Chemical tests were conducted on: 1) runoff, 2) storm sewers. 3) storm sewer outfalls to 
Hamilton Harbour, and 4) the Wellington St. slip of Hamilton Harbour. Sanitan.' sewers were 
not sampled. Sample location information is given in Table 4.1. 

Chemical tests consisted of analyses for 19 metals. 25 volatile organic chemicals. 74 other 
organic chemicals (including polynuclear aromatic hydrocarbons or PAH), 9 general chemistr}', 
and a complex analysis for the 210 different dioxins and furans. Total number of analyses was 
over 1700. Most samples were analysed by MOEE Laborator." Ser\-ices Branch, but some irntial 
samples were analysed by the Regional Municipalit>' of Hamilton- Wentworth. 



4.3 Monitoring Findings and Comparison with Standards 

4.3.1 Site Runoff from the Fire 

Data are provided in Tables 4.2. 4.3. 4.4 and 4.5. 

Site runoff was sampled on two days only. Metal concentrations on Jul>' 10"" were ver>- high for 
1 1 metals: aluminiun. bariiun. cobalt, chromium, copper, iron, molybdenum, nickel, lead, 
vanadium and zinc. By July 1 1*. eight metals were still considered high, but their concentrations 
had declined by 2- to 23-fold with the largest declines shown by copper and lead. 

Volatile organic chemical concentrations {i.e.. benzene, toluene, ethylbenzene and x>'lene) were 
high on July 10* but had declined b>' about half or more by July 1 1*. 

Six PAH (pohnuclear aromatic hydrocarbons) concentrations were \er\' high in runoff: 
naphthalene. 1-dimethylnaphthalene, 2-dimethylnaphthalene. fluorene. phenanthrene. and 
anthracene. The presence of PAH in fire nmoff water is not surprising. Although these 
substances have ven.' low solubilit}', they are formed during incomplete combustion such as 

-29- 



occurred during the Plastimet fire. Phenols were also high, again probably released by the 
incomplete combustion of plastic. 

Dioxins. other products of incomplete combustion, were elevated in undiluted fire site runoff, 
reaching 210 picograms toxic equivalents per litre (TEQ/L). 



4.3.2 Storm Sewer Outfalls to Hamilton Harbour 

Provincial Water Quality Objectives (PWQOs) were used here as a benchmark for assessing 
chemical concentrations, even though they only apply to ambient surface waters, i.e. outside any 
regulatory mixing zones which may exist. 

Metal concentrations were 1 0- to 1 00-fold lower in the outfall than in the runoff, but exceeded 
their respective surface water PWQOs for copper, iron, lead, zinc and possibly aluminum. 

Volatile organic chemicals and solvents were not detected in the storm sewer outfall. 

PAHs were not present in the Wellington St. outfall. PAHs were found in outfall of the 
Woodward St. W^ater Pollution Control Plant at low concentrations. It is not possible to identify 
the fire as a source of these contaminants because PAHs also appear in the industrial inputs to the 
water pollution control plant. 



4.3.3. Surface Water 

Six metals exceeded Provincial Water Quality Objectives (PWQO) in the Wellington St. slip: 
aluminum, cadmium, copper, lead, silver and zinc. Iron was only slightly higher in one sample. 
Figure 4.1 below uses copper to illustrate the relationship over time amongst site runoff, storm 
sewer water, storm sewer outfall to the harbour and harbour water in the Wellington St. slip. 
These relationships were similar for most metals. 

Although metal concentrations were higher than normal in the Wellington St. slip, they never 
reached the high concentrations seen in site runoff nor in storm sewers near the site. Water from 
the Wellington St. slip was, however, acutely toxic to rainbow trout and Daphnia (see Section 
4.4 below, "Aquatic Toxicity Tests"), possibly due to the elevated metal concentrations. Four 
days after the fire, metal concentrations were within reported normal ranges for the harbour and 
below PWQO. Samples were no longer acutely toxic to trout or Daphnia. 

One PAH was detected above the PWQO on July 1 2'*'. Phenanthrene was detected at one 
location close to the storm sewer outfall and was not foimd on July IS"". Two phthalates 
(chemicals used as plasticizers) were found in samples taken in the slip at concentrations 
exceeding the PWQO. However, these compounds were only detected on July 1 5^ and were 
found in all samples, including the upstream storm sewer samples and the sample blanks. This 
suggests that laboratory materials or analytical equipment may have been the source of phthalates 
in the water samples. 

-30- 



Three samples were taken for dioxins from Wellington St. slip on July 12"". The sample nearest 
the outfall was somewhat elevated (5.5 pg/L TEQ), but the other two samples closer to the 
harbour had decreasing concentrations (0.6 and 0.01 pg/L TEQ). Although Canadian guidelines 
for dioxins and furans are still under development, U.S. guidance for the Great Lakes has set an 
ambient water qualit\' guideline for the protection of wildlife (the most sensitive use) of 
0.39 pg/L. Two of the three measurements exceeded this guideline, but it is expected that these 
exceedances were transient and would not have a significant impact on aquatic life or wildlife in 
and around the harbour. 

Similarly, lasting impacts from the other contaminants arising from the fire are unlikely and most 
chemicals are now lower than the PWQOs. The Regional Municipality of Hamilton- Wentworth 
is trying to determine the source of aquatic toxicity in the sewer water. 



Figure 4.1 - Waterborne copper 



100000 






o 



10000 -- 



1000 -- 



C 100 --- ^ 

o 
o 



10 



PWQO and 
"histoncal range 



H \ 1 1 1- 



H 1 H- 



H 1 1- 



09-Jul 10-Jul 11-Jul 12-Jul 13-Jul 14-Ju! 15-Jul 16-Jul 

date 



runoff 



A storm sewers o outfalls 



• surface 



31 



Table 4.1 - Water Sampling Information 



Sample ID 


Field ID 


Sample Description 


Sample Location 


Sampling 


Parameters 
Analysed 


Date 


Time 


1W 


D-1 


ire run-off pond 


*4W corner 


10-Jul 


00:20 


metals, VOC. MISA 19/20 


2W 


D-2 


fire run-off pond 


■"JE comer 


10-Jul 


00:25 


metals. VOC. MISA 19/20 


3W 


D-3 


5tonn sewer outfall 


lA/ellington Slip 


10-Jul 


00:30 


metals, VOC, phenol 


4W 


10A 


storm sewer 


lA/ellington & Picton 


10-Jul 


09:00 


metals, VOC, MISA 19/20 


5W 


10B 


storm sewer outfall 


lA/elllngton Slip 


10-Jul 


10:00 


metals, VOC, phenol 


5W 


IOC 


"ire run-off 


i/Vellington St at Simcoe 


10-Jul 


11:00 


metals, VOC, MISA 19/20 


7W 


10D 


storm sewer 


J/S of Fire-Wellington@ Birge 


10-Jul 


12:30 


metals, VOC. MISA 19/20 


5W 


10E 


Hamilton Harbour 


/Vellington Slip at mouth 


10-Jul 


13:15 


metals, VOC, MISA 19/20 


3W 


10F 


"ire run-off 


/Vellington St at Simcoe 


10-Jul 


15:00 


metals, VOC, MISA 19/20 


low 


11A 


jtonn sewer outfall 


/Vellington Slip 


11 -Jul 


07:30 


metals, VOC, phenol 


11W 


11B 


storm sewer 


g496 Wellington St. 


11 -Jul 


08:10 


metals, VOC, MISA 19/20 


12W 


lie 


storm sewer 


J/S of Fire-Wellington @ Birge 


11 -Jul 


09:00 


metals, MISA 19/20 


13W 


11D 


Ire run-off 


/Wellington St at Ferrie 


11 -Jul 


10:30 


metals, VOC. MISA 19/20 


14W 


11E 


ire run-off 


/Vellington St at Simcoe 


11 -Jul 


15:10 


metals, VOC. MISA 19/20 


15W 


rox-1 


storm sewer outfall 


/Vellington Slip 


11 -Jul 


11:30 


metals, toxicity 


16W 


rox-2 


stonm sewer 


Jpstream of Fire 


11 -Jul 


15:00 


metals, toxicity 


17W 


DIOX-1 


ire run-off 


/Vellington St at Ferrie 


11 -Jul 


12:15 


dioxins 


18W 


\MS-^ 


Hamilton Harbour 


/Vellington Slip-20m from sewer outfall 


11 -Jul 


12:20 


metals, VOC. MISA 19/20 


19W 


\NS-2 


Hamilton Harbour 


Wellington Slip-250m from sewer outfall 


11 -Jul 


12:35 


metals. VOC. MISA 19/20 


20W 


\NS-2 


Hamilton Harbour 


/Vellington Slip-500m from sewer outfall 


11 -Jul 


12:30 


metals, VOC. MISA 19/20 


21W 


\NS-^^ 


Hamilton Harbour 


/Vellington Slip-20m from sewer outfall 


12-Jul 


10:40 


metals. VOC. MISA 19/20 


?2W 


iA/S-12 


Hamilton Harbour 


/Vellington Slip-250m from sewer outfall 


12-Jul 


10:25 


metals. VOC. MISA 19/20 


23W 


iA/S-13 


Hamilton Harbour 


Wellington Slip-500m from sewer outfall 


12-Jul 


10:15 


metals. VOC, MISA 19/20 


MW 


iA/S-14 


/VPCP Effluent 


/Voodward WPCP Culvert 


12-Jul 


11:45 


metals. VOC, MISA 19/20 


15\N 


<B001 


Hamilton Harbour 


Mear 300-block, Beach Blvd. 


13-Jul 


11:45 


pH, solvent extraction* 


26W 


iA/S-21 


Hamilton Harbour 


/Vellington Slip-20m from sewer outfall 


15-Jul 


16:25 


metals, VOC, MISA 19/20 


17VJ 


\NS-22 


Hamilton Harbour 


/Vellington Slip-250m from sewer outfall 


15-Jul 


15:45 


metals. VOC. phthalales 


?8W 


i/VS-23 


Hamilton Harbour 


/Vellington Slip-500m from sewer outfall 


ISrJul 


15:15 


metals. VOC, phtalates, toxicity 


?9W 


iA/S-24 


storm sewer 


J/S of Fire-Wellington@ Birge 


15-Jul 


13:45 


metals, VOC. MISA 19/20. toxicity 


30W 


i/VS-25 


Hamilton Harbour 


/Vellington Slip-IOOm from sewer outfall 


15-Jul 


16:10 


metals. VOC. phthalales. toxicity 


31W 


15A 


jonded water, nw corner 


WV comer of site 


15-Jul 


10:50 


metals. VOC 


32W 


158 


stomn sewer 


J/S of Fire-Wellington@ Birge 


15-Jul 


13:00 


metals. VOC 


33W 


rox2 


storm sewer outfall 


/Vellinaton Slip 


15-Jul 


unknowr 


toxicity 



"U/S" = upstream 

"MISA 19/20" = aromatic base-neutrals (ABN), PAHs, phthalates 

* 25W: grab sample of harbour water, contained only a negligible quantity of natural 

silica and fats, not discussed further in text. 



32 



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4.4 Aquatic Toxicity Tests (Bioassays) 

4.4.1 Monitoring Description 

Standard acute lethalit\- tests were conducted on water samples collected from four sites near the 
fire location. Acute lethalit}' tests yield LC50 values which are defined as the concentration of 
material that results in 50% mortalit}' of the test species. The tests were conducted in the 
Ministr\"s aquatic toxicit>- laboratories in Etobicoke. In these tests, rainbow trout were exposed 
for a four-day period and Daphnia magna (water fleas, small planktonic crustaceans) were 
exposed for a two-day period. 

Two sewer water samples were collected July 1 1"". One was from a sewer at the intersection of 
Wellington St. and Birge St., upstream of the fire location. The other was dov-nstream of the fire 
location, in the sewer outfall to the Wellington St. Slip. On July 1 5* these sites were re-sampled 
and two more sites farther down the slip were sampled. 100 metres and 500 metres away from 
the sewer outfall. 



4.4.2 Monitoring Findings 

The LC50 toxicit}' test results are summarized below in Table 4.6. "NL" indicates that the 
sample was nonlethal as defined by the test procedure {i.e.. within the accepted control mortalit>' 
rate). ■'LC50 >100" means some animals died but not enough to calculate an LC50. A low LC50 
signifies high toxicity. 

Table 4.6 - Acute lethalit>^ of water samples collected near the fire location. 



Sampling 


Sampling date 
(1997) 


Sample toxi 


city (% vol./vol.) 


Comment on 


Location 


Daphnia 
2d-LC50 


Trout 
4d-LC50 


toxicity tests 


Wellington St. Sewer 
at Birge St. 


July 11 
July 15 


>100^ 
>100'' 


38 
43 


toxic sewer water 
toxic sewer water 


Wellington St. Sewer 
at its outfall to the 
Wellington St. Slip 


July 11 
July 15 


>100' 
NL 


93 

NL 


dilution of toxic 
sewer water 

nonlethal 
sewer water 


Wellington St. Slip 
at 100 m 


July 15 


NL 


NL 


nonlethal 
receiver 


Wellington St. Slip 
at 500 m 


July 15 


NL 


NL 


nonlethal 
receiver 


Notes: a: 2/72 dead; b: 


7/72 dead (probable toxicant ■ 


■ BOD); c; 9/72 dead (probable toxicant ■ 


• oil droplets) 



41- 



The results show that: 

1. The sewer samples upstream of the fire location were toxic to both test species, 
particularly trout; 

2. Toxic effects were generally lower or non-detectable in samples fi-om the Wellington 
Street slip, downstream of the fire location. 

3. The July 1 1'*' Wellington Street slip outfall sample was slightly more toxic to Daphnia 
than the upstream sewer sample. 



4.4.3 Standards/Guidelines/Benchmarks 

Toxicity test results are used to prove water pollution in legal proceedings based on: 

Fisheries Act 36(3) 

...deposit of a deleterious substance of any type in water firequented by fish... 

Ontario Water Resources Act 30 (1) 

...any material of any kind... that may impair the quality of the water of any... 

Environmental Protection Act 1 4( 1 ) 

...discharge of a contaminant into the natural environment... that causes or is likely to 
cause an adverse effect. 

Starting in 1996, Ontario's Clean Water Regulations (under the EPA) have limited toxic 
substances in the effluents discharged by nine industrial sectors. These regulations also set 
legally enforceable limits on whole effluent toxicity to aquatic life, as monitored by the two acute 
lethality tests, lopass the tests, at least 50% of the trout and at least 50% of the Daphnia must 
survive an exposure to an undiluted sample of effluent. In, anticipation of the regulations, 
significant improvements have been achieved in the quality of Ontario's industrial effluents. 
Toxicity monitoring indicates that most regulated dischargers now comply with the toxicity 
limits. Industrial effluent toxicity limits also are found in regulations under the federal Fisheries 
Act. 

None of the above regulatory limits or other uses of toxicity tests are applied by government 
agencies to control the quality of routine discharges to municipal sewers. 

4.4.4 Interpretation 

The impact of the fire on the toxicity to aquatic life was not as significant as the impact of the 
sewer itself Acute lethality could not be detected in the slip. Fish were observed living in the 
slip waters. The toxic effects observed in the sewer samples did not appear to extend into 
Hamilton Harbour. 

-42- 



The July 1 1* Wellington St. Slip sample contained oil droplets physically toxic to Daphnia. Oils 
are commonly found in waters from urban-industrial areas. Motor vehicles leak petro-chemicals 
onto road surfaces which drain into sewers. Marine shipping operations release oils directly into 
Hamilton Harbour waters. The presence of an oily substance in the Wellington Street Slip 
cannot be attributed directly to the fire. In addition, the combined effects of high ammonia and 
low dissolved oxygen in the storm sewer could have contributed to the toxicity in the rainbow- 
trout tests. 

Environmental samples are complex and variable mixtures that may have unanticipated toxicants 
and toxicant interactions. Toxicity tests help address these uncertainties because they are direct 
measures of the combined effects of all constituents. For some water samples Daphnia is the 
more sensitive species, for other samples trout is more sensitive. Test results for both species 
give information necessar)' for decisions about protecting water qualit}'. 

The toxicity tests are designed primarily to measure the direct effects of w-ater soluble substances 
such as zinc, ammonia, phenol, toluene and cyanide. Substances in this group may harm aquatic 
life when high concentrations are released to the environment. Some other contaminants such as 
dioxin pose an indirect threat because the)' can accumulate slowly through the food chain. The 
acute toxicity tests carmot be used to reach conclusions about the potential impacts that might be 
caused by substances such as dioxin. 



4.4.5 Follow-up Advice 

With regard to acute lethality concerns about the fire, site runoff is being collected and taken off- 
site for treatment. The Regional Municipalit>- of Hamilton- Wentworth is going to investigate the 
source and cause of the sewer water toxicit}'. With prior consultation, the Ministr\''s Standards 
Development Branch Aquatic Toxicology Section can test and report on further samples to assist 
in future investigations. 



4.5 Summary of Water Quality and Aquatic Toxicity Analyses 

Tests for more than 300 metals and organic chemicals (including 210 dioxins and furans) have 
been conducted on the fire runoff, storm sewer w'aters and water in the Wellington Street Slip of 
Hamilton Harbour. Some levels of metals, volatile organic chemicals and PAHs w^ere high in the 
site runoff (fire-fighting water). These contaminants were lower in outfalls and still lower in 
Hamilton Harbour surface water, and declined with time. 

^^^lere detected in surface waters, most of these substances were present at low concentrations. 
Results were compared to existing MOEE Provincial Water Qualit>' Objectives and one 
exceedance was found in Hamilton Harbour for the PAH phenanthrene, a product of combustion. 
Dioxins were also found, but at ver>' low levels. Surface water in the Wellington St. slip also 
exceeded Provincial Water Quality Objectives (PWQO) for several metals after the fire. By July 
15th, concentrations of most of the 65 chemicals were within reported ranges for Hamilton 
Harbour and most were within their respective PWQOs. These Objectives provide protection for 

- 43 - 



aquatic life from long term exposure and initial analyses indicate that the short term exposures 
resulting from the Plastimet fire should not pose any long-term threat to aquatic life in the 
harbour. Hamilton's drinking water, which is drawn from some distance out in Lake Ontario, 
was not affected. 

Based on laboratory bioassays, the runoff from the fire had some lethal effects on aquatic life. 
However, there was no evidence of a fish kill in Hamilton Harbour. Lasting impacts from runoff 
from the fire are unlikely since most measured chemical concentrations are now back within 
reported normal ranges, and most are lower than Provincial Water Quality Objectives. 



44- 



Section 5 - Soil Quality and Phytotoxicity Studies 

The Ministry's Ph\totoxicolog>^ Section conducted soil and vegetation investigations around the 
Plastimet fire site and elsewhere across Hamilton. Samples included soil from residential 
properties and parks, tree foliage, lawn grass, and garden produce from home vegetable gardens. 
All samples were analysed for dioxins, and some were also analysed for PAHs and metals. 

The phytotoxicology sampling was accomplished in two stages. The first stage was conducted 
from July 12 to July 22, 1997 as part of the Plastimet emergency response. As a result of on- 
going public concern regarding residual soil contamination and the impact of the fire on home 
vegetable gardens, additional soil, lawn grass, and vegetable samples were collected from 20 
residential properties across Hamilton. This second stage of sampling, undertaken after 
discussions with a communit>' committee, was conducted August 5, 6, and 7, 1997. The results 
from this community response part of the project is discussed separately in Section 5.5. 

The samples collected in stage two from the additional residential properties were analysed for 
dioxins by Environment Canada's laboratory in Ottawa. All other analyses were conducted by 
the MOEE's Laborator\' Services Branch. 

A summary of the Plastimet phytotoxicology sampling is provided in Table 5.1, below. 

Table 5.1: Phyto to xicolog\' Sample Summary 
Plastimet Fire - Hamilton 



Parameter 


Surface Soil 


Maple Tree Foliage 


Lawn Grass 


Home Garden 
Produce 


Number of Sites 
Sampled 


34 


15 


25 


28 


Number of 
Samples Collected 


34 


19 


25 


31 


Dates Sampled 


July 12, 15 
August 5, 6, 7 


July 12, 15,17 


July 22 
Augusts, 6 


July 17, 22 
Augusts, 6 


Samples Analysed 
for Metals 


Yes 

(17 tests/sample) 


Yes 

(18 tests/sample) 


No 


No 


Samples Analysed 
for PAHs 


Yes 
(16 tests/sample) 


Yes 
(16 tests/sample) 


Yes 

(16 tests/sample) 


Yes 

(16 test/sample) 


Samples Analysed 
for Dioxins 


Yes 
(25 tests/sample) 


Yes 
(25 tests/sample) 


Yes 
(25 tests/sample) 


Yes 

(25 tests/sample) 


Total Number of 
Analytical Tests 


1,972 


1,121 


1,025 


1,271 


Total Number of samples = 109 

Total Number of Analytical Tests = 5,389 



45- 



5.1 Emergency Response Sampling - Soil Dioxin 

Single samples of surface soil (0-5 cm depth) were collected from 13 sites on July 12 and 
July 14. All sample sites were publicly accessible and exposed to atmospheric fallout. Table 5.2 
summarizes the dioxin concentrations in surface soil. All soil dioxin data is expressed as pg/g 
(picograms per gram, or parts per trillion) 2,3,7,8-T4CDD toxic equivalents, or TEQ. Although 
all dioxin levels were within the range encountered in Ontario urban soil (normally up to 
130 pg/g) the two sites closest to the fu^e had the two highest concentrations, which were two to 
four times higher than levels elsewhere in the fire area. Site 1 (40 pg/g), immediately east of the 
fire site, is an undisturbed urban residential front yard. Site 7 (84 pg/g), i.miediately west of the 
fire site, is a small, open, undeveloped parkette adjacent to a rail spur. This property is currently 
owned by the City of Hamilton, but it was previously owned by TH«fe;B Railroad. The land use 
history of this site is unknown and disturbance is likely, and so the possibility of a previous 
dioxin source that is at least partially responsible for the elevated level (relative to nearby soil 
dioxin levels) cannot be ruled out. Dioxins were released by the fu^e, and emissions from the fu"e 
did impact the area around Sites 1 and 7, therefore some of the dioxin in the soil at these two 
sites may have originated from the fire. 

Dioxin is present in urban soil. In Ontario, in the absence of a known point source of dioxin 
emissions, soil dioxin concentrations in urban communities similar to Hamilton range from less 
than 1 pg/g to more than 100 pg/g TEQ. Therefore, even though the Plastimet fire cannot be 
ruled out as possibly contributing to soil dioxin levels at two of the 13 sample sites, even the 
highest soil dioxin concentrations are within the range normally encountered in Ontario urban 
soil and substantially below the health-based MOEE soil clean-up guideline of 1,000 pg TEQ/g. 
There is no background-based guideline for dioxins in urban Ontario soil. 



5.2 Emergency Response Sampling - Soil PAHs 

PAH is an acronym for polynuclear aromatic hydrocarbons. Like dioxins, PAHs are common in 
low concentrations in urban soil. Table 5.3 summarizes the soil PAH data from the 13 soil sites. 
The data in Table 5.3 are compared with two MOEE guidelines, which are located in the far right 
column of the table. The number in brackets is the OTR, or Ontario Typical Range guideline. 
This is a background-based guideline that represents the upper range of PAHs in Ontario urban 
parkland soil (see Appendix 1). The other number in the guideline colimm is the health-based 
soil clean-up guideline. The clean-up guideline is not a trigger level that when exceeded requires 
an automatic site remediation. It is used to guide the clean-up of contaminated commercial or 
industrial properties that are being sold for redevelopment to residential or park land use (see 
Appendix 2). 

Soil PAH concentrations above the OTR backgrovmd-based guideline were detected at Sites 1,3, 
7, and 8. Occasional and marginal exceedences of this guideline are not uncommon in older 
urban residential communities. PAHs can originate from coal ash and petroleum products, such 
as home heating oil, gasoline, and waste motor oil. The pyrene concentration at Site 1 slightly 
exceeded the soil clean-up guideline. 



46- 



Table 5.2: Hamilton Plastimet Fire Soil Dioxin Summary, 
Surface Soil 0-5 cm Depth, Sampled July 12, 1997 



Site 
Number 


Location 


pg/g -TEQ 


1 


Clark & Burton 


40 


2 


Mars & Wentworth 


6.7 


3 


West & Barton 


12 


4 


West &Evans 


6.7 


5 


Murray & Catharine 


4.3 


6 


Hughson & Robert 


5.7 


7 


Simcoe & Ferguson 


84 


8 


Burlington & Ferguson 


4.5 


9 


Rosslyn & Maple 


4.0 


10 


Gage Park, by Maplewood 


13 


11 


Cunningham Public School 


9.1 


12 


PotruffRd 


24 


13 


Gage Park, by Lawrence 


18 


14 


Stoney Creek 


not sampled 


15 


Jordan Harbour 


not sampled 


16 


Niagara-on-the-Lake 


not sampled 


All data are pg/g (parts per trillion), 2,3,7,8-T4CDD Toxic Equivalents, fresh weight, single 

samples. 

MOEE Residential Soil Clean-up Guideline = 1,000 pg/g TEQ. 



Dioxins in soil from other urban centres 

East Hamilton: Range 3.7 - 43 pg/g TEQ 
Scarborough: Range <1 - 80 pg/g TEQ 
Windsor: Range <1 - 131 pg/g TEQ 



47- 



In contrast, all 16 PAH compounds at Site 7 exceeded the OTR guideline and 7 compounds 
exceeded the clean-up guidelines. The PAH contamination at Site 7 is imquestionably related to 
a historical use of the property. Although PAHs were emitted from the fire and contaminated the 
runoff water from the fire sight, it is unlikely that the contamination at Site 7 is solely from the 
fire, as the levels for some of the PAHs were very substantially elevated (e.g., benzo(a)pyrene 
was more than 30 times the guideline) and the other sample sites at similar distances from the 
fire were not comparably contaminated. The soil PAH contamination at Site 7 is similar to the 
degree of contamination found at industrial work yards where roofing tar or coal tar has been 
stored or used. This is further evidence of site disturbance or historical soil contamination at Site 
7, and may relate to the highest soil dioxin concentration also being found at this site. 

Because of the nature of the contamination at Site 7, and because the extent of the contamination 
is unknown, the City of Hamilton has erected a temporary fence around the area and two adjacent 
parkettes. Additional soil sampling from these open spaces, and residential properties in the 
vicinit>' of these parkettes, was conducted August 5 and 6, 1997. Because this contamination 
was not related to the Plastimet fure the results of this additional sampling will be reported 
separately. 



5.3 Emergency Response Sampling - Soil Metals 

Ten of the 13 soil sample sites were analysed for 17 common metals. These included beryllium 
(Be), magnesium (Mg), aluminum (Al), calcium (Ca). vanadium (V), chromium (Cr), manganese 
(Mn), iron (Fe), cobalt (Co), nickel (Ni), copper (Cu). zinc (Zn), molybdenum (Mo), cadmium 
(Cd), barium (Ba), lead (Pb), and strontium (Sr). Table 5.4 summarizes the soil metal results. 
The soil data are compared with the OTR and clean-up guidelines. 

Soil lead concentrations exceeding the health-based clean-up guideline occurred at 4 of 10 
sample sites. This is common in an urban environment and is related to decades of use of leaded 
gasoline and a recent downwards revision of the lead guideline based on subtle clinical health 
effects of environmental lead on children. By comparison, more than 50% of the residential 
properties in old urban communities in Toronto exceed the soil lead guideline. 

Nine of the 10 sample sites exceeded the OTR Zn guideline. Zinc was not identified as a 
contaminant from the fire, however, the Plastimet site was formerly a metal recycling/smelting 
facilit>', and there was a quantity of zinc oxide on site from previous industrial activit>'. 
Therefore, Zn was likely a significant historical emission from this facility and these historical 
emissions are likely the reason for the locally elevated soil Zn concentrations. Even though the 
Zn levels were consistently above background, they were still less than one half of the effects- 
based soil clean-up guideline. 

With the exception of Zn, which was not fire-related, there was no soil metal contamination 
gradient relative to the fire site. Soil metal concentrations were characteristic of an urban 
environment. The fire has not had a measurable impact on soil metal levels. 



48- 



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5.4 Emergency Response Sampling - Vegetation Dioxin 

Vegetation sampling included leaves from mature street trees, lawn grass from residential 
properties, and garden produce from residential vegetable gardens. In the initial emergency 
response phase of the sampling, leaves from mature street trees were sampled instead of garden 
produce for the following reasons. There are no guidelines for dioxin in vegetation, and the 
MOEE has no background data for dioxin in urban garden produce, whereas Ontario background 
data is available for dioxin in urban maple tree foliage. Also, the street trees in the communitv- 
affected by the fire were mature with large crowns that were very well exposed to the fire plume. 
In contrast, vegetable gardens are small and often sheltered from above and would have been less 
exposed to the fire plume. Finally, the street trees were well distributed, easy to find, and 
available for immediate sampling, whereas the gardens were not as well distributed, were much 
more difficult to find, and permission was required from the propert\' occupants to gain access to 
the property and acquire a sample. For these reasons it was felt that street tree foliage would 
provide a more reliable indicator of dioxin emissions from the fire, and the information could be 
obtained more quickly. Garden produce was scheduled for sampling and was conducted as part 
of the second phase of the emergency response. 



5.4.1 Street Tree Dioxin Emergency Response Sampling 

Dioxin analysis was conducted on leaves collected from 1 6 mature maple street trees close to the 
fu-e, from more distant sites where soot fallout was observed, and from control sites as far away 
as Niagara-on-the-Lake. Table 5.5 summarizes the tree foliage dioxin data. Sites 1, 2, and 7, all 
very close to the fire, had dioxin concentrations ranging from 20 to 32 pg/g TEQ. All other sites 
were less than about 3 pg/g. Dioxins are not considered to be ver>' mobile in soil and therefore 
not readily taken up by plants, and so it is unlikely that the elevated foliar dioxin is related to the 
elevated soil dioxin at two of the three sample sites (Sites 1 and 7). Soil dioxin did not 
contribute to the elevated foliar dioxin at Site 2, because the soil dioxin was not particularly high 
at this site. 

There is very little foliar dioxin data with which to compare the Hamilton fire results, and there 
are no foliar dioxin guidelines. Foliar dioxin data collected from urban Windsor for the Detroit 
incinerator study is the only comparable data. These levels averaged between 2 and 3 pg/g and 
ranged up to 11 pg/g. Most Hamilton sites were similar to Windsor, but the three sites in 
Hamilton close to the fire site had foliar dioxin concentrations that were two to three times higher 
than the highest levels in Windsor. This strongly suggests that the elevated dioxin levels at three 
sites in Hamilton were related to emissions from the fire. 

Table 5.6 summarizes foliar dioxin levels from the same trees at Sites 1 and 7 collected eight 
days after the fire (July 1 8) and after at least one hea\y rain event. The foliar dioxin levels were 
reduced about 80%. Washing the samples in the field had little effect at ftirther reducing tissue 
dioxin levels, indicating that most of the dioxin in the leaves from the first sampling on July 12 
immediately after the fire was likely adhering to dust and other fire particulate debris on the 
foliar surface and was not incorporated into the leaf tissue. This would be consistent with 
dioxin-contaminated particulate fallout from the fire, such as soot. 

-51 - 



Table 5.5: Hamilton Plastimet Fire Vegetation Dioxin Summary 

Street Tree Maple Foliage 

Samples Collected July 12, 1997 



Site 
Number 


Location 


pg/g -TEQ* 


1 


Clark & Burton 


32 


2 


Mars & Wentworth 


28 




West & Barton 


3.1 


4 


West &. Evans 


2.8 


5 


Murray & Catharine 


Trace (0.35)** 


6 


Hughson «& Robert 


Trace (0.51)** 


7 


Simcoe & Ferguson 


20 


8 


Burlington & Ferguson 


Not Detected (<1)** 


9 


Rosslyn & Maple 


1-4 


10 


Gage Park, by Maplewood 


Trace (0.38)** 


11 


Curmingham Public School 


Trace (0.23)** 


12 


PotruffRd 


Trace (0.13)** 


13 


Gage Park, by Lawrence 


Trace (0.93)** 


14 


Stoney Creek 


Trace (0.18)** 


15 


Jordan Harbour 


Not Detected (<1)** 


16 


Niagara-on-the-Lake 


Not Detected (<1)** 


*A11 data are pg/g (parts per trillion) 2,3,7,8-T4CDD Toxic Equivalents TEQ), fresh weight, 

single sample. 

** Detection limit is ~1 pg/g TEQ; "Trace" signifies a measurable trace amount, interpret value 

with caution (below method detection limit). 

There is no guideline for dioxin in foliage. 



For comparison with dioxins in maple foliage from other urban centres: 
Windsor: Range <1 to 11 pg/g TEQ 



-52 



Table 5.6: Dioxin Levels in Street Tree Foliage from the Sites with the Two Highest 
Concentrations: Before and After Rain, and with Additional Washing 



Location 


July 12 , 
1 Day After Fire 
No Rain 


July 18 

8 Days After Fire 

2 Rain Events 


Not Washed 


Washed 


Clark & Burton 


32 


8.8 
(73% Reduction) 


6.4 
(80% Reduction) 


Simcoe & Ferguson 


20 


4.0 
(80% Reduction) 


2.8 
(86% Reduction) 


All data are pg/g TEQ (= ppt TEQ) 



Based on calculations made from soot swipe samples in areas where soot fallout was 
documented, soot from the Plastimet fire could add up to as much as 20 pg TEQ/g of dioxin to 
street tree maple foliage dioxin levels. This would bring the post-rainfall July 1 8 foliar dioxin 
concentrations at Sites 1 and 7 (Table 5.6) from about 6 pg TEQ/g to about 26 pg TEQ/g, which 
is remarkably close to the actual pre-rainfall July 12 levels of betv\een 20 and 32 pg TEQ/g 
(Table 5.5). This is ftirther corroboration that the elevated foliar dioxin levels at sites close to the 
fire were fire-related and that most of the dioxin in the vegetation was present in the form of 
surface-deposited dust and soot. 



5.4.2 Street Tree PAH Emergency Response Sampling 

Table 5.7 summarizes the PAH results for maple foliage samples from 16 sample sites. There 
are no guidelines for PAHs in vegetation and there is ver>' little data from other Ontario urban 
sites with which to compare the Hamilton results. PAH concentrations are characteristically low 
in vegetation, mostly at the "W" (detection limit) or "T" (trace amount) levels. Anything above a 
"T" level usually indicates an ambient PAH source. Phenanthrene was the only compound that 
was elevated above a measurable trace concentration and this occurred only at Sites 1, 2, and 7, 
which are adjacent to the fire site. Like dioxins, PAHs are not readily taken up by plants, and so 
this marginal contamination in Hamilton likely reflects exposure to a recent ambient source. 
Because of the proximity of the three sample sites to the fire site, the elevated phenanthrene 
concentrations in maple foliage are likely associated with the fire. Similar phenanthrene levels 
occur in urban maple foliage in Welland at collection sites slightly distant from a known PAH 
sotirce. 



53 



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5.4.3 Street Tree Metals Emergency Response Sampling 

Table 5.8 summarizes the street tree metal results. There was no vegetation metal contamination 
gradient relative to the fire site. Vegetation metal concentrations were characteristic of an urban 
environment. Marginal exceedences of the manganese Upper Limit of Normal guideline for 
urban foliage at three sites were not fire-related. Manganese is a trace nutrient that is 
occasionally elevated in urban vegetation and is likely related to commercial fertilizer 
applications. The fire did not have a measurable impact on metal levels of urban street trees 



5.4.4 Vegetable Garden Dioxin Emergency Response Sampling 

On July 17 the first samples of leaf lettuce and tomato fruit were sampled from residential 
gardens closest to Sites 1 and 7, where the. highest dioxin levels were found in street tree leaves, 
and from a control garden in Ancaster. On July 22 five more gardens were sampled. Two of 
these gardens were in the immediate fire area, and two were from gardens at considerable 
distance from the fire site but which had heavy soot fallout. The fifth garden was another control 
site, this time from the Oakville area. All of these samples were split into washed and not- 
washed subsamples, to duplicate the washing process used by most gardeners in cleaning and 
preparing home grown vegetables for consumption. The dioxin concentrations from all 
vegetable produce samples from all locations were below the analytical detection limit (about 
1 pg/g TEQ). Even if soot-deposited dioxin resulted in detectable dioxin levels in produce 
elsewhere in the fire or soot fallout areas, the July 12 and July 17 sampling of contaminated street 
tree foliage clearly indicated that the dioxin levels can be substantially reduced by washing the 
tissue. In addition, the literature indicates that the half life of dioxin in vegetation is about 1 5 to 
20 days. This relatively rapid loss is associated with photodegradation (dioxin breaks down into 
non-toxic compounds when exposed to direct sunlight). The location of the sampled gardens is 
summarized in Table 5.9. 

Estimates of human exposure via leafy vegetables during and after the fire are provided in 
Section 6. 



5.4.5 Vegetable Garden PAH Emergency Response Sampling 

PAHs are not readily taken up by plants from contaminated soil and so PAHs are not usually 
detected in vegetable produce imless there is a nearby ambient PAH source. The PAH vegetable 
garden results are summarized in Table 5.10. A single PAH compound was detected in a single 
sample. A chard sample had a frace level (40 ng/g) of naphthalene. This level was so marginally 
elevated that the lab qualified the result with the comment a measurable trace amount, interpret 
with caution. — 



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Table 5.9: Results of Dioxin Analysis of Home Garden Produce. Plastimet Fire - Hamilton 
Samples Collected July 17 and July 22. 1997 



Site Number 
Location 


Date 
Collected 


Produce 
Type 


Dioxin 
Concentration* 


Site 17 

Burton & Emerald 


July 17 


Tomato Fruit 
not washed 


N.D. (<1) 


Site 17 

Burton & Emerald 


July 1 7 


Tomato Fruit 
washed 


N.D. (<1) 


Site 18 

Ferrie & Wellington 


July 1 7 


Leaf Lettuce 
not washed 


N.D. (<1) 


Site 18 

Ferrie & Wellington 


July 17 


Leaf Lettuce 
washed 


N.D. (<1) 


Site 20 

Mohawk & Upper Gage 


July 22 


Swiss Chard 
not washed 


N.D. (<1) 


Site 21 

Mountain Brow & Upper Ottawa 


July 22 


Leaf Lettuce 
not washed 


N.D. (<1) 


Site 22 

Gage & Carmon 


July 22 


Leaf Lettuce 
not washed 


N.D. (<1) 


Site 23 

Barton & Queen 


July 22 


Leaf Lettuce 
not washed 


N.D. (<1) 


Site 19 

Fidlers Green & HWT 403 

Ancaster Control 


July 17 


Leaf Lettuce 
washed 


N.D. (<1) 


Site 19 

Fidlers Green & HWY 403 

Ancaster Control 


July 17 


Leaf Lettuce 
not washed 


N.D. (<1) 


Site 24 

Walkers Line & New St 

Burlington Control 


July 22 


Leaf Lettuce 
not washed 


N.D. (<1) 


*pg/g (parts per trillion) fresh weight as 23 J.S-T^CDD To>ac Equivalents (TEQ) 

"N.D." = not detected (i.e.. below detection limit) 

Detection limit ~1 pg/'g TEQ 

There are no guidelines for dioxin in garden produce. 



57 





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5.4.6 Lawn Grass Dioxin Emergency Response Sampling 

At the request of the Medical Officer of Health lawn grass from residential properties was 
collected from 5 sites July 22, 1997. This request was made after the public meeting when it 
became apparent that dioxin in soot from the fire was easily washed off, and the soot that wasn't 
washed away via the storm sewers would likeh' end up on the surface of grass, which in turn 
could create an exposure pathway for children. 

The lawn grass dioxin results are summarized in Table 5.11. There are no guidelines for dioxin 
in urban lawn grass, and the MOEE has no Ontario background lawTi grass dioxin data with 
which to compare these results. The lawn grass dioxin concentrations were all ven.' low. ranging 
from to 0.05 pg TEQ/g. There was no relationship to either soot deposition or distance to the 
fire site. For example, Sites 20 and 21 both reported heaw soot fallout, which could lead to 
abundant soot wash-out onto the grass. However, one site had the highest and the other site had 
the lowest dioxin concentration. The two sites closest to the fire site and adjacent to the two 
highest street free dioxin concentrations had the next lowest dioxm levels. Although this is a 
very small data set, it illustrates that these extremely trace dioxin levels w-ere not likeh- related to 
the fire, or to soot wash-out subsequent to the fire. Even if the dioxin levels were fire-related, the 
dioxin is surface deposited and exposed to direct sunlight, therefore photodegradation would 
rapidly reduce the dioxin concentrations to non-detectable levels in from two to four weeks. 



5.5 Community Response Sampling of Soil, Lawn Grass, and Vegetables 

At the Community- Committee meeting of July 30. 1997, a strategy- was developed to deal with 
the issue of additional soil and vegetation sampling for concerned residents. One hundred and 
sixty two names were obtained from a sign up list at the public meeting held July 21. 1997, and 
from the Plastimet Fire Hot Line at the MOEE Hamilton District Office. Incomplete information 
and/or duplication of names on the two lists resulted in a final list comprised of 133 properties. 
The properties were plotted on a map and overlaid with the fire plume tracking data and reported 
soot fallout. Forty- properties were chosen to represent neighbourhoods relative to the plume 
characteristics. MOEE scientists took this information into the field August 5 and 6 and started 
at the top of the list of the 40 preselected properties and worked dow-nwards. If a property- met 
the sample criteria (1- had a vegetable garden, a lawn, and undisturbed soil, 2- the garden was not 
directly shaded, so it could have received soot fallout, 3 -the lawn and garden were adequately 
maintained, and 4- the resident confirmed that to the best of their knowledge organochlorine 
pesticides have not been used on the property) it was sampled. If all of these criteria w-ere not 
met the field crew- proceeded to the next property on the list. This process was continued imtil 20 
properties had been sampled. 

Single samples of lawn grass, surface soil (0-5 cm), and a leafy garden vegetable were collected 
from each of the 20 Hamilton properties, for a total of 60 samples. At the request of the mayor 
of Haldimand, a soil sample was also collected from the playground of Seneca Central School 
(school officials observed soot fallout in the school yard). All samples were analysed for dioxins 
and furans at the Environment Canada laboratory in Ottawa. Enough sample material was 



59- 



collected and stored at the MOEE Phytotoxicology laboratory to allow for PAH and metals 
analysis at a later date, if the community work group decides to proceed with that option. 

The results of the analysis are summarized in Table 5.12. Soil dioxin levels ranged from 
1 .37 pg/g TEQ to 28.2 pg/g TEQ. These levels are comparable to the results obtained from the 
independent sampling and analysis of Hamilton public green spaces conducted by members of 
the communit\- working group. The results are also consistent with soil dioxin levels in other 
Ontario urban communities, and well below the MOEE health-based clean-up guideline of 
1,000 pg/g TEQ. 

The lawn grass dioxin levels ranged from 0.022 pg/g TEQ to 0.467 pg/g TEQ. The dioxin 
concentrations detected in vegetables ranged from 0.019 pg/g TEQ to 0.676 pg/g TEQ. The 
Environment Canada laboratory provided dioxin vegetation results to a lower detection limit and 
to a finer resolution then the MOEE dioxin laboratory, which analysed all the samples collected 
in July as part of the Plastimet emergency response. For example, the MOEE lab reported 
vegetable results to <lpg/g, whereas Environment Canada did not report a detection limit and 
calculated the dioxin TEQ to three decimal places. This is less a frmction of laboratory ability 
and more a ftinction of the way the TEQ is calculated. 

There is ver>- little data on dioxin levels in vegetables, there is almost none from Ontario urban 
home gardens. Ver>' limited information from Ontario rural locations suggests that dioxin 
vegetable levels are in the range of 0.05 to 0. 10 pg/g TEQ. The MOEE has dioxin data for tree 
foliage from rural and urban Ontario communities that suggests urban dioxin vegetation 
concentrations are, on average, about 1 times higher than rural levels. A similar concentration 
gradient exists for soil, that is urban soil has about 10 times or more dioxin that rural soil. This 
simply reflects the greater number of potential dioxin sources there are in an urban enviromnent 
and the effectiveness of vegetation in filtering material from the air. It is reasonable to assume 
that vegetable produce has a similar rural :urban concentration gradient, which suggests that home 
garden produce grown in an urban community may have up to about 1 pg/g TEQ. This is well 
vdthin the range of vegetable dioxin results obtained from the 20 residential properties. 

In the absence of dioxin vegetation guidelines another means of determining if the observed 
dioxin concentrations may be related to the Plastimet fire is to confirm a contamination gradient 
relative to the fire site or areas of heavy soot fallout. Even with the first set of soil and vegetation 
(grass and vegetable) results included with the data from the 20 residential properties there is no 
consistent pattern of contamination. The highest vegetable and the second highest lawn grass 
dioxin concentrations occurred at the sample site that is closest to the heavy industrial operations 
north of Burlington St. These industries, and other heavy manufacturing activities along the 
Hamilton waterfront, contribute to the dioxin loading in the tirban Hamilton airshed. 

These residential dioxin data were reviewed by health risk assessment scientists in the Ministry's 
Standards Development Branch. Using Health Canada national food intake factors for specific 
vegetable groups and assuming consumption of the highest dioxin levels, the additional dioxin 
intake is a ver\' small fraction of the reconmiended total daily intake. Consequently, there are no 
health concerns from exposure to the levels of dioxin found in Hamilton area vegetables or soil. 



-60 



5.6 Vegetation Injury 

Hydrogen chloride (HCl) was generated by the Plastimet fire. Vegetation injuiy characteristic of 
HCl gas was observed around the fire site on July 12 and 14. Although severe in nature, the 
injury was ver\' localized. It was bounded approximately by Ferguson Ave. N on the west, Ferrie 
St. E on the north, about halfway between Wellington St. N and Victoria Ave. N on the east, and 
extended only marginally below Birge St on the south. No vegetation injury- w^as observed on 
residential properties (including vegetable gardens) adjacent to the injmy zone. Samples were 
collected for storage and reference in the MOEE Phytotoxicology Herbarium. 

Hydrogen chloride gas is corrosive and reactive. It does not accumulate in vegetation, rather the 
gas enters through the leafs stomates and reacts immediately with the internal cellular tissue 
creating characteristic foliar burning symptoms. Although in chronic exposure situations HCl 
gas can cause plant mortality, most exposures are through accidental releases, such as the 
Plastimet fire. Under acute conditions, such as the fire, HCl injury can be very severe, but when 
the exposure is stopped the plants usually recover. 

Table 5.13 summarizes the species of vegetation that were observed to be injured by HCl. 



61 



Table 5.1 1 : Results of Dioxin Analysis of Lawn Grass, Plastimet Fire - Hamilton 
Samples Collected July 22, 1997 



Site Number 
Location 


Dioxin 
Concentration* 


Site 20 

Mohawk & Upper Gage 


not detected 


Site 21 

Mountain Brow & Upper Ottawa 


0.05 


Site 22 

Gage & Caimon 


0.01 


Site 23 

Barton & Queen 


0.01 


Site 24 

Walker's Line & New St 

Burlington Control 


not detected 


* Pg/g (parts per trillion) fresh weight as 2,3,7,8-T4CDD Toxic Equivalents (TEQ) 
There are no guidelines for dioxin in lawn grass. 



-62 



Table 5.12: Dioxin Concentrations in Soil, Lawn Grass, and Garden Vegetables in Hamilton. 
Plastimet Fire: Phase 2 Residential Property Sampling - August 5-8, 1997 



Propem- 
Co-ordinates 


Soil 


Lawn 
Grass 


Vegetable 


Vegetable 
Type 


Burlington St & Wellington St 


12.8 


0.078 


0.086 


Chard 


Catharine St & Burlington St 


5.61 


0.237 


0.093 


Beet 


Cranbrook Dr & Greendate Dr 


2.18 


0.037 


0.209 


Lettuce 


Deschene Ave & Lascombe St 


4.24 


0.077 


0.065 


Radicchio 


East 16*^ St & Concession St 


8.67 


0.084 


0.151 


Parsley 


Erindale Ave & Montrose Ave 


5.77 


0.022 


0.062 


Kale 


Fairleigh Cres & Cumberland Ave 


7.83 


0.226 


0.190 


Basil 


Hillcrest Ave & Dundum St 


28.2 


0.121 


0.270 


Chard 


Niagara St & Land St 


12.5 


0.354 


0.676 


Celery 


Hughson St & Strachan St 


13.0 


0.088 


0.034 


Radicchio 


Hughson St & Burlington St 


6.42 


0.036 


0.019 


Lettuce 


Longwood Rd & Deveon Place 


10.2 


0.191 


0.062 


Chard 


Nightingale St & Wentworth St 


4.96 


0.062 


0.280 


Mint 


Rosemont Ave & Bamesdale St 


13.0 


0.278 


^.072 


Basil 


Stirton St & Huron St 


9.43 


0.158 


0.099 


Celery 


Victoria Ave & Evans St 


16.5* 


0.278 


0.042 


Chard 


Mary St & Strachan St 


9.32 


0.176 


0.042 


Lettuce 


Simcoe St & Catherine St 


12.7 


0.042 


0.112 


Endive 


Murray St & John St 


7.04 


0.467 


0.132 


Basil 


West Ave & Robert St 


4.13 


0.058 


0.183 


Lettuce 


2 1 -Seneca Central School 
(Haldimand, Ont.) 


1.37 


Not Collected 


Not Collected 


Not Collected 


All concentrations are parts per trillion, 2,3,7,8-T4CDD toxic equivalents, fresh weight. 

Analysis conducted by Environment Canada (Ottawa) laboratory. 

Soil data rounded to three significant digits. 

MOEE Soil Clean-up Guideline for residential land use = 1.000 ppt. 

There are no guidelines for grass and vegetables. 

* mav be as much as 30% low due to poor recoverv of H^CDD. 



-63 



Table 5.13: Suminar>' of Vegetation Injur>' in the Vicinity of the Hamilton Plastimet Fire 



Species 


Scientific name 


Area Covered 


Simcoe at 
Wellington 


Railroad Ferguson 
to Wellington 


Railroad Simcoe to 
Wellington 


Feme E of 
Wellington 


Manitoba Maple 


Acer negundo 


S 


M-S 


S 




Norway Maple 


Acer platanoides 


M 




M 




Tree-of-Heaven 


Ailanthus altissima 




VS 


S 




Paper Birch 


Betula papyrifera 




VS 






Apple 


Mai us pumila 




S 






White Mulberry 


Moms alba 


T 






L-M 


Balsam Poplar 


Populus balsmifera 




S 






Multiflora Rose 


Rosa multiflora 




S 






American Elm 


Ulmus americana 




LM 






Common Milkweed 


Asclepias syriaca 


L 


VS 






Lamb's Quarters 


Chenopodium album 




VS 






Wild Carrot 


Daucus carota 


S 


VS 






Blueweed 


Echium vulgare 


S 








Hop 


Hamulus lupulus 


T 






T 


Motherwort 


Leonurus cardiaca 


L-M 




S 




Toadflax 


LJnaria vulgaris 


T-L 


VS 






Common Mallow 


Malva neglecta 






L 




Evening Primrose 


Oenothera biennis 


M 








Thicket Creeper 


Parthenocissus inserta 




L-M 


T 




Japanese Knotweed 


Polygonum cuspidatum 


L-M 








Curled Dock 


Rumex crispus 


L-M 








Bladder Campion 


Silene vulgaris 


T-L 




L 




Common Mullein 


Verbascum thapsus 








L-M 


Wild Grape 


Vitis riparia 




VS 




OK 


Silvery Cinquefoil 


Potentilla argentea 




VS 






Rough-fruited Cinquefoil 


Potentilla non/egica 


L 








Everlasting Pea 


Lathyms sativus 






L-M 




Black Medick 


Medicago lupulina 


L-M 








White Sweet Clover 


Melilotus alba 


L 


S 






White Clover 


Trifolium repens 


L 








Ragweed 


Ambrosia artemesilolia 


L 








Burdock 


Arctium minus 


L-M 




T 




Chickory 


Chichorium intybus 


L 








Bull Thistle 


Cirsium vulgare 


S 


VS 






Jerusalem Artichoke 


Helianthus tuberosus 






L-M 




Prickly Lettuce 


Lactuca seriola 


L-M 


VS 






Goat's-beard 


Tragopogon dubius 


M-S 








Aster sp. 


Aster sp. 


S 


VS 




S 


Heath Aster 


Virgulus ericoides 


M-S 








Goldenrod 


Solidago canadensis 


S 


VS 


S 




Field Horsetail 


Equisetum arvense 




s 






Orchard Grass 


Dactylis glomerata 


M 








Twitch Grass 


Elymus repens 


L-M 









64 



5.7 Conclusions 

The following conclusions can be drawn from the phytotoxicology sampling of the Plastimet fire 
in relation to its impact on the terrestrial environment. 

■ The fire has not had a measurable impact on soil dioxin levels. All soil dioxin levels 
were within a range t>'pical of an urban environment and substantially below the health- 
based soil clean-up guideline. 

■ The fire resulted in dioxin levels in street tree foliage that were between 2 and 3 times 
higher than normal for an Ontario urban community to a distance of about three 
residential blocks from the fire site. The dioxin was present mostly as a surface deposit 
and was readily washed off by rain. After 1 week the highest foliar dioxin levels had 
been reduced to within the range typical of an urban environment. 

■ Sampling of residential gardens revealed no detectable dioxin (<1 pg/g TEQ) in vegetable 
produce in the areas of highest soil and tree foliage dioxin concentrations and in areas 
where soot fallout was documented. 

■ Soil PAH contamination at Site 7 is too high to be related to the fire and is likely related 
to historical contamination at this site. Marginally elevated soil PAH levels at Sites 1 and 
3 may be fire related. 

■ Marginally elevated phenanthrene levels in street tree foliage at Sites 1, 2, and 7 are 
likely fire related. 

■ The fire had no measurable impact on soil and vegetation metal concentrations. 

■ There was no relationship between dioxin levels in lawn grass and distance from the fire 
site or areas of substantial soot fallout. 

■ Dioxin levels in vegetation (street tree foliage) fell by more than 80% in the two weeks 
subsequent to the fire, confirming that most of the dioxin that landed on vegetation of all 
types was in the form of surface deposited dust and soot, which readily washed off or 
rapidly photodegraded. 

■ The community response sampling of 20 residential properties conducted in August 
confirmed that one month after the fire there was no measurable residual dioxin 
contamination of soil and vegetation, including home garden produce. A health 
assessment by MOEE toxicologists concluded residential garden vegetables were safe to 
eat and that there is no health risk to children playing in backyards and parks. Normal 
use of propert)^ has not been affected. 



65 



I 



Section 6 - Dioxin Emission and Exposure Estimates 

This section provides estimates regarding the levels of dioxins released by the fire and of dioxin 
intake during the fire, as well as supplementar\' information on dioxins in various media, both 
"background" and after other fires. 

6.1 Estimates of Total Dioxin Releases from the Plastimet Fire 

The total dioxin released during the fire has been estimated using air dispersion back- 
calculations. The starting point for estimating an emission rate for the intensely burning phase of 
the fire (July 9th and 1 0th) was the 24-hour average concentration of 1 9 pg TEQ/m" measured on 
July 10th at the Elgin/Kelly AQI station. For the latter half of the fire, the plume was not rising 
very much and was impinging immediately downwind of the fire. A sample taken within the 
plume, fi-om the roof of an adjacent industrial building, by Dr. B. McCarry of McMaster 
University fi-om 5 pm on July 1 1th to 3 am on July 12th gave a concentration of 1000 pg 
TEQ/m''. This sample was used to estimate emissions of dioxins for the latter half of the fire. 

The dispersion calculations used hour by hour wind data from a dov\-ntown monitor to estimate 
the air concentration patterns for the two monitoring periods (i.e., 24 hours on July 10th and 10 
hours on July 1 1/1 2th). The back calculation gave dioxin emissions of about 10 g TEQ during 
the intensely burning phase of the fire (over a 28 hour period) and about 3 g TEQ during the later 
half of the fire (over a 30 hour period). 

Because the wind speeds were very light and the wind directions were variable, the number of 
hours that the Elgin/Kelly sample was exposed to fumes from the fire was uncertain. 
Correspondingly, the back calculation of the dioxin emission rates for the first portion of the fire 
has a large uncertaint>'. 

The dioxin sample taken from 8 am to 3 pm on July 12th at Sawyer St. downwind of the fire site, 
measured 2.8 pg TEQ/m*. The dioxin emission rate required to give such a concentration would 
be more than 100 times smaller than the estimate for the intensely burning portion of the fire. 

A range of emission estimates were obtained from the scientific literature. On the basis of 
statements that 200 to 400 tormes of PVC were burnt and using U.S. EPA emission factors for 
U.S. hospital incinerators (most of which have uncontrolled emissions, i.e., little or no air 
pollution control equipment, and bum a high percentage of plastics in the waste), simulated open 
burning of non-metallic automobile "fluff", shredded material from car interiors, belts and hoses, 
which is mainl)' plastic with some rubber components (material very similar to the recycled 
plastic at the Plastimet site), emissions are ranging from 0.6 to 29 g TEQ can be calculated. 

There are no official estimates of total dioxin emissions from all combustion sources for Canada. 
The 1994 U.S. EPA dioxin exposure estimate document quotes a central TEQ emission estimate 
for all U.S. sources of 9300 g / yr. A 1995 document by Cohen et. al., (CBNS, Queens College, 
New York) quotes a estimate for the total amount of dioxins deposited to the Great Lakes from 
sources in the U.S. and Canada as 42 g TEQ / yr (range 1 3 to 124 g TEQ / yr). 



66 



6.2 Dioxin Intake During the Fire 

Dioxin intakes were estimated by calculating intakes on a normal day (for example, on the day 
before the fire), the four days of the fire and the day after. Two levels of exposure were 
evaluated. The main one took into account information fi"om recent studies of personal exposures 
to airborne contaminants in Hamilton- Wentworth and is felt to be a more realistic exposure 
model. This realistic exposure model takes into account the fact that on a typical working day, 
most people are indoors either at home, in the workplace or in public buildings, stores, etc., for 
about 85% of the day. In addition, monitoring of airborne contaminants indicates that the indoor 
air concentration of pollutants emitted into outdoor air, like the fire, tends to be about half the 
outdoor air concentration. The realistic exposure model also assumes that people avoided contact 
with soot and did not eat backyard produce, consequently only the 50^ percentile values of 
measured or modelled concentrations for soot, vegetables, etc. were used. A second worst case 
exposure model was also used which assumed mainly outdoor exposure, consumption of 
unwashed leafy' vegetables and getting one's hands black with soot. This worst case exposure 
estimate uses either the maximum or 90**" percentile value of dioxin TEQ analysed in the air, 
soot, soil and vegetation. 

Smoke inhalation - It was assumed that the fire started 8pm Wed. July 9* (day 1), and 19 pg 
TEQ/m^ was inhaled until midnight of the following day (day 2). Based on the modelling 
described above, 125 pg TEQ/m^ or 225 pg TEQ/m^ was inhaled on day 3 until 6 am of day 4. 
On day 4 (when the fire was out), 2.8 pg TEQ/m^ was inhaled all day. On day 5, 0.6 pg TEQ/m^ 
(value found at this location one week later) was inhaled all day. Air was inhaled at 20 m^ / 70 
kg adult / day. 

Leafy vegetable consumption - It was assumed that leafy vegetables were consumed at 20 g/ 
adult /day (this is the Health Canada food intake factor for this food group) fi-om the middle of 
day 2 to the middle of day 4. The range of dioxin concentrations found on tree foliage sampled 
on day 4 and day 6 (after the fire was out) ranged from non detect to 32 pg TEQ / gram. The 50* 
percentile dioxin concentration on foliage was 0.45 pg TEQ / g (90'*' percentile - 24 pg TEQ / g). 
The use of this 90* percentile value as a surrogate for backyard leafy vegetables is a worst case 
estimate and assumes that unwashed leafy vegetables were eaten. This is unlikely to have 
occurred. All backyard vegetable samples taken a week later were non-detect. Consequently, 
dioxin intake estimates associated with leafy vegetable consumption may range from negligible 
to the worst case 90* percentile value. 

Soot exposure - It was assumed that people absorbed the dioxin on soots covering 200 cm^ of 
skin ( about the area of both palms of the hands) every day from midday on day 2. The soot 
concentrations found ranged from non detect to 2.9 ng TEQ / m' . The 50* percentile soot 
concentration was 0.1 ng TEQ / m" or 2 pg TEQ / 200 cm' (90* percentile - 1 .7 ng TEQ / m~ or 
34 pg TEQ / 200 cm^ ). 

Background - Canadian estimates of daily intakes from normal background levels of dioxin in 
air, water, food, soil and consumer products of people living near the Great Lakes (like 
Hamilton) - about 2.5 to 2.8 pg TEQ/ kg / day. 



-67 



Table 6.1 below shows realistic and worst case estimates of daily intakes during the fire. The 
realistic estimates are also illustrated in Figure 6. 1 . These estimates assume that the person 
absorbed all the dioxin that they were exposed to (this is an exaggeration since dioxins are not 
absorbed well). People who remained indoors, did not eat leafy backyard vegetables and who 
avoided soot exposure clearly had substantially lower exposures. These estimates suggest that the 
recommended Canadian Tolerable Daily Intake of 1 pg TEQ / kg body weight /day may have 
been exceeded (about two-fold) for some people during the fire on day 3. Given the marked drop 
in dioxin levels in soot and on vegetation both with distance from the fire and in the week 
following the fire, it is unlikely that this TDI was exceeded for most people during the fire. 

Table 6.1 - Estimates of Personal Dioxin Intakes during the Plastimet Fire 



Day 


Realistic Exposure 


Worst case exposure 


pg TEQ / kg body weight /day 


Day before the fire 


2.8 (0.3)* 


2.8(0.3)* 


Day 1 


3.6 (0.4) 


4.2 (0.4) 


Day 2 


6.1 (0.6) 


12(1.2) 


Day 3 


23.5 (2.4) 


74.5 (7.5) 


Day 4 


8.3 (0.8) 


23.4(2.3) 


Day 5 


2.9 (0.3) 


3.5 (0.4) 


* ratio of esfimated exposure to the Canadian Tolerable Daily Intake of 10 pg TEQ / kg body 
weight /daN- 



Plastimet Fire - Daily Dioxin Intake 

^^ Realistic case - Not-evacuated zone 


>,20- 

CD 
T3 

^ 10 

LU '" 

1- 
O) 

°- 5 - 
- 














Soot 

Rary vegetables 

Smoke 

Background 






































































^^ 








^_ 


Day 3 


■ 




Day-1 


Dayl 


M 

Day 2 


Day 4 


Day 5 



Figure 6.1 - Realistic-Case Estimates of Daily Dioxin Intake 

-68- 



The maximum estimated daily intake (worst case) could have been about seven to eight times 
higher than the TDI, or about a weeks exposure in one or more days. Given that normal daily 
exposure is less than one third of the TDI on a year round basis, getting one week's exposure 
o\er a few days of the year is not anticipated to have any long term effect on dioxin body burden 
(this is the amount of dioxin retained by the body) or health. In fact, the worst case exposure only 
would have increased the body burden by less than two percent. It should be noted that the TDI 
has a 1 00-fold safet\- factor. 

To illustrate the relationship between one's daily exposure rate and its effect on one's body 
burden, it might help to think of a small drip of water into a large rain barrel (Figure 6.2). This 
barrel also has a small leak to represent the amoimt of dioxins that we eliminate every day. Our 
body burden is about 6 ng TEQ / kg body weight (a recent Canadian estimate of the dioxin body 
burden for people living near the Great Lakes - like Hamilton) or about 420 ng TEQ per average 
adult. We can think of this as 420 gallons in the barrel (this would fill a barrel 4 ft wide to a 
height of 6 ft). Our normal daily intake of 2.8 pg TEQ / kg is about 0.2 ng TEQ / average adult or 
about 4 cups of water dripping into the barrel every day. If we assume that it takes about 9 years 
for one half the dioxin coming into our bodies to be eliminated (this is called the half life) then 
the daily amount of dioxin that we lose each day is about 0.1 ng TEQ / average adult or about 2 
cups of water dripping out of the barrel. This would be the situation before and after the fire and 
for most of the year. In the case of the realistic assessment, the daily intake on day 3 may have 
risen to 23.5 pg TEQ or about 1.65 ng / average adult or about 33 cups (about 1 and a half 
gallons - 1 gallon = 20 cups). The addition of this 1 .65 ng TEQ to the 420 ng TEQ is less than a 
half of a percent increase and would be lost from the body burden in 2 to 3 weeks. For the worst 
case situation, the daily intake on day 3 may have risen to 74.5 pg TEQ / kg or about 5.2 ng TEQ 
/ average adult. This worst case intake is equivalent to 104 cups (just over 5 gallons). The 
addition of 5.2 ng TEQ to the 420 ng TEQ is just over a one percent increase and would be lost 
from the bodv burden in about 2 months. 



6.3 Comparison of the Estimated Plastimet Fire Dioxin Exposures with Exposures 
associated with Known Adverse Effects in Humans 

There are a number of reports of illness in people exposed to dioxins accidentally or 
occupationally or through consuming contaminated diets. Some of these studies cannot be used 
because dioxin levels were not measured at the time of the incident even if they were measured 
many years later. In other cases, the effect of dioxin in the exposure is complicated by the 
presence of high levels of PCBs or other chemicals at the same time. Adverse health effects in 
humans may be immediate (brought on by a sudden increase in dioxin exposure usually over a 
short time period - examples are, a skin disorder called chloracne and disturbances of blood 
chemistry) or chronic (due to prolonged exposure to elevated levels of dioxin - examples are 
cancer, diabetes, reproductive and child development problems). For this comparison, 
information on human dioxin levels associated with the Seveso incident in Italy (Pocarelli et al., 
1991) and the Times Beach contamination in Missouri (Andrews et al., 1989) was used. Using a 
recent Canadian estimate of the dioxin body burden for people living near the Great Lakes (about 
6 ng TEQ / kg body weight - the estimated intake of dioxins during the fire would only have 
increased the body burden by two percent) and the lowest measured body burden of dioxin in 

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people who developed chloracne at Seveso or Times Beach (about 165 to 240 ng TEQ / kg body 
weight), it can seen that the body burden related to normal daily exposure including exposure to 
this fire is still at least l/30th to l/40th the lowest short term exposure associated with an adverse 
human health effect. 

To relate daily intakes or exposures to body burden, one has to estimate how the body burden 
changes as the daily intake changes. To do this, one has to estimate the buildup of dioxin in the 
body at the same time that dioxins are being eliminated. The body burden is the dynamic balance 
between these two processes. Body burdens were calculated using first order kinetics for dioxin 
buildup and a half life of nine years to account for dioxin elimination (the half life is the time it 
takes for one half of the dioxin present at the beginning of the time period to be eliminated). The 
current body burden was used as a starting point. In order for residents to accumulate body 
burdens of dioxins associated with health effects, the maximum worst case exposure rate (about 
seven times the TDI) would have to be maintained ever\' day for seven years. At the maximum 
realistic exposure rate (about two times the TDI), exposure would have to occur every day for 
over 36 years to achieve this body burden. 



4 cups in 



1 gallon = 20 
cups 




420 gallons 



• 2 cups out 



Figure 6.2 -. Illustration of dioxin intake, body burden and dioxin elimination. 



70 



6.4 Supplementary Data on Dioxins in Fires and Background Levels 

The information on dioxin levels found in fires shown in Table 6.2 below indicates that while the 
dioxin levels in smoke and soot arising from the Plastimet fire were many times higher than 
normal everyday exposures. The dioxin levels were consistent with a large PVC fire or open 
burning of a large garbage pile. 



Table 6.2 - Dioxin Levels in Various Fires & Background 



Medium 


Location / Situation 


Levels 


Attribution 


Air 


Plastimet (July 9 - 18, 1997) 


0.59tol9pgTEQ/m^ 


this report 


Air 


Wood stoves (in chimney) 


19to214pgTEQ/m' 


German and Danish 
studies 


Air 


Large public bonfires (U.K.) - 
about 200 m away 


0.6 to 16pgTEQ/m' 


Dykeetal., 1997 


Air 


Large open landfill fires 
(Finland) 


51 to427pgTEQ/m' 


Ruokojarvi et al., 
1995 


Air 


Tobacco smoke (mainstream) 


108to2143pgTEQ/m' 


German and 
Japanese studies 


Air 
(background) 


Windsor (1989- 1992) 


Mean: 0.23 pg TEQ / m' 

Range: 0.012 to 1.73 pgTEQ/m' 


MOEE 1994 


Air 
(background) 


Hamilton (1991- 1995) 


Mean: 0.079 pg TEQ / m' 

Range: 0.013 to 0.194 pg TEQ / m' 


MOEE unpublished 


Vegetation 
(background) 


Plastimet (July 9 - 18,1997) 


non detect to 32 pg TEQ / g 


this report 


Vegetation 
(background) 


Windsor - urban foliage 


0.32 to 1 1 pg TEQ / g 


MOEE unpublished 


Soot 


Plastimet (July 9 - 18, 1997) 


non detect to 2.9 ng TEQ/ m^ 


this report 


Soot 


Large PVC warehouse fu-e 
(Sweden, 1987) - 200 m to 
1 .5 km away 


1.4 to 20 ng TEQ/ m^ 


Marklund et al., 
1989 


Soot / Soil 


Toronto street sweepings 


1.3 to 179 pg TEQ /g 


City of Toronto, 
1987 


Soil 
(background) 


Windsor - urban soil 


0.1 to 131 pg TEQ/ g 


MOEE unpublished 


Soil 
(background) 


Urban soils in Ontario and 
U.S. Midwest 


0.1 to79pgTEQ/g 


Birmingham 1990 



71 



Section 7 - Outcome 

It is unlikely that any adverse effects on human or environmental health will occur in the long 
term as a result of the Plastimet fire. This is consistent with public statements issued by the 
Hamilton- Wentworth Regional Health Department. Within days after the fire was extinguished, 
the substances tested for had returned to concentrations within or close to the normal urban 
backgroimd range in all media ~ air, water, soil (off-site) and vegetation ~ except where prior 
soil and storm sewer water contamination existed. 

Hydrogen chloride (HCl), which forms hydrochloric acid in the lungs and if dissolved in water, 
would likely have been the cause of most of the acute health effects reported during the course of 
the fire including skin, throat and eye irritation. HCl would also have caused the metal corrosion 
reported in the area close to the fire. HCl was produced only while the fire was burning, and any 
that was produced was neutralised quickly by dilution with water and by reacting with naturally 
occurring alkaline material in soil. Other substances such as dioxins, benzene and PAHs may 
cause health effects upon long-term exposure, however exposure during the fu-e was of short 
duration. 

Based on laboratory bioassays, the water runoff from the fire had some lethal effects on aquatic 
life. However, there was no evidence offish kills in Hamilton Harbour. Lasting impacts ft-om 
the runoff from the fire are unlikely since most measured chemical concentrations returned to 
levels within normal reported ranges, and most are lower than Provincial Water Quality 
Objectives. 

The community response sampling of 20 residential properties conducted in August confirmed 
that one month after the fire there was no measurable residual dioxin contamination of soil and 
vegetation, including home garden produce. A health assessment by MOEE toxicologists 
concluded that residential garden vegetables were safe to eat and that there is no health risk to 
children playing in back>'ards and parks. Normal use of property has not been affected. 



-72- 



Appendix 1 
Derivation and Significance of the MOEE "Ontario Typical Range" Soil Guidelines 

The MOEE "Ontario Typical Range" (OTR) guidelines are being developed to assist in interpreting analytical data and 
evaluating source-related impacts on the terrestrial environment. The OTRs are used to determine if the level of a 
chemical parameter in soil, plants, moss bags, or snow is significantly greater than the normal background range. An 
exceedence of the OTR^g {the OTRgg is the actual guideline number) may indicate the presence of a potential point 
source of contamination. 

The OTR^jg represents the expected range of concentrations of chemical parameters in surface soil, plants, moss bags, 
and snow from areas in Ontario not subjected to the influence of known point sources of pollution. The OTR^g 
represents 97.5 percent of the data in the OTR distribution. This is equivalent to the mean plus two standard 
deviations, which is similar to the previous MOEE "Upper Limit of Normal" (ULN) guidelines. In other words, 98 out 
of every 100 background samples should be lower than the OTR^g. 

The OTR^g may vary between land use categories even in the absence of a point source of pollution because of natural 
variation and the amount and type of human activity, both past and present. Therefore, OTRs are being developed for 
several land use categories. The three main land use categories are Rural. New Urban, and Old Urban. Urban is 
defined as an area that has municipal water and sewage services. Old Urban is any area that has been developed as an 
urban area for more than 40 years. Rural is all other areas. These major land use categories are further broken into 
three subcategories; Parkland (which includes greenbelts and woodlands). Residential, and Industrial (which includes 
heavv' industry, commercial properties such as malls, and transportation rights-of-way). Rural also includes an 
Agricultural category. 

The OTR guidelines apply only to samples collected using standard MOEE sampling, sample preparation, and 
analytical protocols. Because the background data were collected in Ontario, the OTRs represent Ontario 
enviroimiental conditions. 

The OTRs are not the only means by which results are interpreted. Data interpretation should involve reviewing results 
from control samples, examining all the survey data for evidence of a pattern of contamination relative to the suspected 
source, and where available, comparison with effects-based guidelines. The OTRs are particularly useful where there 
is uncertainty regarding local background concentrations and/or insufficient samples were collected to determine a 
contamination gradient. OTRs are also used to determine where in the anticipated range a result falls. This can 
identify a potential concern even when a result falls within the guideline. For example, if all of the results from a 
survey are close to the OTR^g this could indicate that the local environment has been contaminated above the 
anticipated average, and therefore the pollution source should be more closely monitored. 

The OTRs identify a range of chemical parameters resulting from natural variation and normal human activit}-. As a 
result, it must be stressed that values falling within a specific OTR,g should not be considered as acceptable or 
desirable levels; nor does the OTR,g imply toxicity to plants, animals or humans. Rather, the OTRjg is a level which, 
if exceeded, prompts fiirther investigation on a case by case basis to determine the significance, if any, of the above 
normal concentration. Incidental, isolated or spurious exceedences of an OTR^g do not necessarily indicate a need for 
regulatory or abatement activity. However, repeated and/or extensive exceedences of an OTR«g that appears to be 
related to a potential pollution source does indicate the need for a thorough evaluation of the regulatory or abatement 
program. 

The OTR^g supersedes the ph\lotoxicology ULN guideline. The OTR program is on-going. The number of OTRs will 
be continuously updated as sampling is completed for the various land use categories and sample types. For more 
information on these guidelines please refer to Ontario Typical Range of Chemical Parameters in Soil, Vegetation, 
Moss Bags, and Sno^^■. MOEE Report Number HCB-151-3512-93, PIES # 2792, ISBN 0-778-1979-1. 



Appendix 2 
Derivation and Significance of the MOEE Soil Remediation Criteria (Clean-up Guidelines) 

The MOEE Soil Remediation Criteria have been developed to provide guidance in cleaning up contaminated soil. They are 
not action levels, in that an exceedence of one or more of the criteria does not automatically mean that a clean-up must be 
conducted. A site clean-up may be conducted when a contaminated propert>' is sold and/or the land use is changed. For 
example, the owner of an industrial property who plans to sell his/her land to a developer who intends to build residential 
homes can use the Remediation Criteria to clean up the soil to meet the residential land use criteria. This will allow the site 
to be reused for residential land-use without concern for adverse effects. 

When contamination is found at a site where a change in land-use is not planned, the criteria may be used to assist in making 
decisions about adverse effects and the need for remediation. This is different from the previously described situation where 
a decision to change the land-use has already been made and the level of remediation required to rule out the potential for 
adverse effects is established by the new land use. Decisions on the need to undertake remedial action when the criteria are 
exceeded, and where the land use is not changing, require consideration of factors such as: 

► the demonstrated presence or likelihood of an adverse effect (on and off property); 

► an understanding of the type of protection provided by the criteria gained through knowledge of the exposure 
pathways and receptors which were considered in the development of the criteria, and through understanding how 
that combination of pathways and receptors relate to those which could be found at the site; 

► an understanding of the relationship between dose and health response for sensitive receptors from all exposure 
pathways, including the safet>' and uncertaint\- factors that have been used in the development of the criteria; 

► an understanding of the environmental characteristics of the contaminants and of the site conditions that could 
influence the migration of the contaminants and how this effects their exposure and response characteristics. 

In each case, the decision to undertake or not undertake site remediation should entail all of these factors plus any additional 
factors specific to the site in question. When the decision is made that remedial action is needed, the criteria can be used as 
clean-up targets. If these criteria are unacceptable to the proponent undertaking the remediation, they have an option to 
develop local back-ground-based criteria or conduct a site specific risk assessment. 

The Soil Remediation Criteria are effects-based concentrations set to protect against the potential for adverse effects to 
human health, ecological health, and the natural environment, whichever is the most sensitive. By protecting the most 
sensitive parameter the rest of the environment is protected by default. There are different Soil Remediation Criteria for soil 
texture, soil depth, and ground water use. The criteria have also been established so that there w ill not be a potential for 
adverse effects through contaminant transfer from soil to indoor air. from ground water or surface water through release of 
volatile gases, from leaching of contaminants in soil to ground water, or from ground water discharge to surface water. 
However, use of these criteria may not ensure that corrosive, explosive, or unstable soil conditions will be eliminated. 

The Soil Remediation Criteria were developed from published U.S. EPA and Ontario environmental data bases. Currently 
there are criteria for about 25 inorganic elements and about 90 organic compounds. Criteria were developed only if there 
were sufficient, defendable. effects-based data on the potential to cause an adverse effect. All of the criteria address human 
health and aquatic toxicitv , but terrestrial ecological toxicit>' information was not available for all elements or compounds. 
The development of Soil Remediation Criteria is a continuous program, and criteria for more elements and compounds will 
be developed as additional environmental data become available. Similarly, new information could result in future 
modifications to the existing criteria. 

For more information on the Remediation Criteria please refer to the Guideline for Use at Contaminated Sites in Ontario. 
Revised December 1996, Ontario Ministry of Environment and Energy, PIBS # 3161E0I, ISBN 0-7778-5905-X.