plant emissions periodically could have reached
into consideration specific exposures to the
concentrations that exceed the current National
Nuiqsut community. In 2001, ATSDR released a
Ambient Air Quality Standards. Because data
health consultation that reviewed data from fish
to assess possible exposures are not available,
sampled near the former Umiat Air Force Station
exposures to these emissions were categorized as
in 1997 and 1998. The health consultation focused
an indeterminate public health hazard.
harvest fish in or near the Umiat site. Because
ATSDR identified several possible current
of the small quantity of fish, ATSDR determined
exposure pathways. Four of these were categorized
as no apparent health hazard: contaminants in
the Umiat site were not occurring at frequencies
on-post or off-post drinking water supplies; on-
considered a current public health problem.
post surface soil and Chena River surface water or
Therefore, ATSDR concluded in the 2001 health
sediment; lead-based paint in on-post housing; and
consultation that current Colville River fish
hazards in on-post housing, administrative, and
public health concern.
ATSDR categorized current exposure
As part of the 2001 health consultation, ATSDR
associated with buried radiologic material as no
recommended that additional sampling be
public health hazard.
conducted to better characterize the nature and
ATSDR categorized current exposure to
To address this issue, 70 burbot were collected
fish as an indeterminate public health hazard
from the Colville River near Umiat and Nuiqsut.
because insufficient sampling data are available
Burbot are the most numerous resident predatory
to determine whether concentrations of metals
fish in the river, and the species is actively sought
exist in the river at levels that could indicate a
and eaten by the subsistence population.
public health hazard for fish consumers. ATSDR
In a health consultation released in November
recommends considering additional sampling
2003, ATSDR reviewed and evaluated potential
for the Chena River to determine whether the
exposures to the Nuiqsut community, which relies
one arsenic sampling event was representative
on fish from the Colville River. ATSDR recognizes
chronic contamination or a random occurrence.
that the use of these fish has high cultural and
The Army is scheduled to reevaluate the sampling
nutritional significance. To help the community
needs for the river in 2005; the need for additional
weigh information about potential risk in terms of
will be considered
at that time.
their personal values, the health consultation also
During visits to the site, ATSDR was concerned
presents information about the benefits of eating
that children could enter the underground corridor
system (utilidors). The post's Department of Public
ATSDR reviewed and evaluated four potential
Works will replace the unlocked utilidor lids with
exposure scenarios: eating fish from the river
new lids to prevent children from entering utilidors
every day for 70 years, eating whole burbot in high
and to maintain worker safety.
quantities 4 months of the year, eating burbot livers
A health consultation is a written or oral response
4 months of the year, and eating several burbot
from ATSDR to a specific request for information
livers in one sitting.
about health risks related to a specific site, chemical
Although PCBs, dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane
release, or hazardous material. A health consultation is
(DDT), and DDT derivatives were detected in
a more limited response than a public health assess-
fish collected from multiple areas of the river, the
ment is. Sixty health consultations have been devel-
levels were low, and exposures to those levels
oped at 39 sites in Alaska, including the following
are not expected to cause harmful health effects.
Thus, ATSDR determined that the fish are safe
Umiat Air Force Station--A Nuiqsut community
to eat at all four exposure levels: conservative
member asked ATSDR to evaluate fish data
chronic exposure from eating a high quantity of
collected from the Colville River in 2001, taking
fish (up to almost a pound) from the river every