This is a true environmental public health case study with names changed to ensure dissociation with any real persons living or dead.
When dealing with the environmental health implications of hazardous waste sites, a visit to the property is essential to understanding the potential for exposure of persons living and working in the vicinity.
Although one can “see” a site using an internet satellite mapping program and can even “street view” a property (assuming there is a street bordering the site), there is no substitute for a site visit for experiencing the lay of the land, evaluating the proximity of receptors, and visualizing the potential for human interaction with site-related materials via inhalation, ingestion, or dermal contact.
One of my more interesting site visits occurred on a warm, sunny day in late May 2001 when we travelled to evaluate a former landfill that had received polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) and chlorinated pesticides during the era before government regulation. Sampling data suggested that a large stream that ran along the property contained sediments with elevated levels of PCBs and that the water flowing from the site occasionally had an oily sheen on its surface.
Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect NEHA policy, endorsement, or action, and NEHA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.