Many environmental health issues were voiced through both the public comment process and ongoing meetings
with a coalition of community members and group representatives. The NJDHSS has and is continuing to
address some of the environmental health issues prevalent in Camden. The NJDHSS is completing a review of
cancer data for presentation to the community with modifications of its original protocol to incorporate com-
munity needs. The state is also developing educational materials for both residents and health care providers on
community environmental health issues of concern.
A health consultation is a written or oral response from ATSDR to a specific request for information about health
risks related to a specific site, chemical release, or hazardous material. It is a more limited response than a public
health assessment. To date, 237 documented health consultations have been conducted at 132 sites in New Jersey.
An example of a health consultation conducted in the state follows.
(Former) White Swan Laundry and Dry Cleaners In response to requests for assistance from the U.S.
Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and concerns from local school officials and community members in
Wall Township, ATSDR and NJDHSS conducted a series of health consultations to evaluate indoor air quality
in schools and private residences. Concerns were raised about possible inhalation exposures to chemicals found
in shallow groundwater
in the vicinity
of the former White Swan Laundry and
Dry Cleaners site.
ATSDR and NJDHSS were able
to determine normal background concentrations
of contaminants that are
both associated with the site and found in the environment from non-site sources. They were also able to
provide the EPA with a health interpretation of the levels measured in the schools and residences and interpret
individual results for residents. ATSDR and NJDHSS met publicly with concerned residents and parents on
several occasions and developed fact sheets
as they related specifically
to the site and
An exposure investigation is the collection and analysis of site-specific data to determine if populations have been
exposed to hazardous substances. Biologic sampling, personal monitoring, related environmental assessment, and
exposure-dose reconstruction are used to collect this information. ATSDR and state staff from New Jersey have
conducted several exposure investigations in the state, including those which supported the Dover Township
Childhood Cancer Investigation, and the Grand Street Mercury Investigation, which led to a public health
advisory (see below). The Grand Street Mercury exposure investigation collected both environmental and human
specimens. Mercury vapor was measured in air samples taken in the breathing zones of adults and children. Since
elemental mercury is excreted in urine, uptake of mercury through inhalation among the residents could be demon-
strated by laboratory analysis of urine for mercury. This did, in fact, occur, effectively demonstrating a completed
exposure pathway to mercury in a residential setting.
A public health advisory
is a statement
by ATSDR that
a substance released
into the environment
poses a significant risk to human health. It also includes recommended measures to reduce human exposure and
eliminate, or substantially mitigate, the significant risk. The advisory is issued to the EPA to inform them, state and
local officials, and the public about recommended actions.
ATSDR has issued four public health advisories in New Jersey. Following is an example of a public health advisory
issued in the state.
Grand Street Mercury In December 1995, the NJDHSS was contacted by the health officer for the city of
Hoboken regarding mercury in a condominium complex. Investigation by the NJDHSS and ATSDR revealed
that the building was formerly used in the manufacture of mercury vapor lamps, and that mercury vapors were
detectable throughout the 16 condominiums in the building. More significantly, an exposure investigation indi-
cated that 20 of the 29 residents and two workers, including five of the six children, were experiencing signifi-
cant mercury exposures; that is, urine mercury concentrations were higher than those permitted in occupational
settings. ATSDR issued a public health advisory within two weeks of the initial call by the local health officer,
who was then able to condemn the building. The EPA dissociated all residents from the building, which was later
listed on the NPL, and eventually torn down.