We have reviewed the results from analyses of the soil and ash samples. None of the soil samples had levels of contaminants that presented either an acute or chronic health hazard to public health.
TDEC did not find any volatile organic chemicals or polynuclear aromatic hydrocarbons in the ash samples. The ash does contain metals and radioactive materials. We compared the ash sample results with the level of metals and radioactivity in local soil. We reviewed toxicity information and compared the sample results for metals and radioactivity with the levels of each metal and radioactive material that impact human health. We also worked with the Tennessee Department of Health to determine the risk of the ash to public health.
First, the ash from the landfill presents a threat to human health when the ash dries and becomes airborne as dust. The inhalation risk to human health is due to the physical structure of the ash. It is mostly silica dioxide, iron oxide, aluminum oxide and magnesium oxide; the ash consists of very fine particles. If inhaled, the ash can be trapped in the lungs. As long as the ash is wet and covered, then the dust hazard is eliminated. For further information please refer to the Material Safety Data Sheet for Ash for Flyash.
After review of the metal analyses of the ash samples, the only metal at levels that present a health hazard is Arsenic. The ash contains, on average, 74 ppm Arsenic. The concentration of Arsenic in local soil is approximately 2 ppm. We have consulted with the Tennessee Department of Health and reviewed information from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency about the effect of Arsenic, at this level, on human health. The presence of Arsenic at 74 parts per million in the ash does not present an immediate (acute) threat to human health. TDEC and the Department of Health believe that, based on current sampling results, there should be no adverse health effects from accidentally and occasionally ingesting the ash. However, we encourage everyone to avoid contact with coal ash. If you do have contact with the ash, then practice good hygiene, especially washing your hands before eating. Remember, the metals are bound to the ash. Cleaning up the ash like you would clean up clinging mud will be effective in removing the hazard.
The Arsenic in the ash does not easily dissolve into water, so movement of Arsenic through ground water into local water wells is not likely. However, Environment and Conservation is testing wells in the area and is identifying wells that will be retested regularly over time, helping us to identify problems before anyone’s water well is impacted.
While TVA works to clean up the ash from this release under the oversight of the Department of Environment and Conservation, people should not go into areas where the ash is on the ground. The ash is being covered by grass or a ground cover to prevent it from becoming dust. Vehicles and equipment leaving the ash removal area will be washed to prevent ash from accumulating on local roads. For more information about the precautions the department has directed TVA to take to control dust, please visit the Air Monitoring Results page of this Web site.
Lab Results Worksheet - Jan. 6 & Jan. 7, 2009