Joslyn Manufacturing & Supply Company Site, West Area
The Joslyn Manufacturing and Supply Company Superfund site is an area of about 30 acres located in the City of Brooklyn Center, Minnesota, just northwest of the intersection of France Avenue and State Highway 100. For a map and site history, please see the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency’s webpage - Brooklyn Center: Joslyn Superfund Site.
Waste from wood-preserving activities was disposed of on the site. As a result, soil, sediment, and groundwater became contaminated with polynuclear aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), pentachlorophenol (PCP), and polychlorinated dibenzo-p-dioxins and furans (dioxins). The eastern portion of the site was redeveloped and removed from the Superfund list. The part of the site called the West Area is a largely wooded area of about 10 acres on the west side of the site, next to Middle Twin Lake. This portion still remains on state and federal Superfund lists.
MDH wrote three documents about the Joslyn site. The documents provide general information about public health issues related to the West Area of the site.
- Public Health Assessment: Joslyn Manufacturing and Supply Company Site, West Area Aug. 2002 (PDF)
- Health Consultation: Joslyn Manufacturing and Supply Company Site: Middle Twin Lake Fish Tissue Study June 2006 (PDF)
- Letter Health Consultation: Soil Dioxin Contamination Adjacent to Joslyn Superfund Site, April 2014 (PDF)
Does soil contamination at the site pose a health risk?
Dioxins are the main contaminant of concern in the West Area. According to the U.S. EPA, dioxins can cause cancer, reproductive and developmental problems, damage to the immune system, and can interfere with hormones.
Dioxins are found nearly everywhere in the environment. They have also been found in fat tissue of people throughout the U.S.; even people who have had no known exposure to dioxins. Most people are exposed to dioxins from food such as meat and dairy products that contain animal fat.
Most of the West Area is currently fenced to limit exposures to contaminated soil and sediment.
MDH concluded that in the past, people may have contacted contaminants in soils, sediments, or surface water in the West Area by walking, biking, or other activities. When people came into contact with contaminated soils or sediments, some contaminants may have stuck to skin and may have been absorbed or accidentally swallowed by hand-to-mouth contact during eating or smoking. Breathing in contaminated dusts was unlikely to have been a major exposure route for contaminants in the West Area because most contamination is in low-lying soils or sediments that are vegetated and often wet or frozen. It appears that the majority of activities that took place in the West Area in the past occurred away from the most contaminated areas, so most exposures were probably very low and adverse health effects are unlikely.
Are fish from Twin Lake safe to eat?
Fish from Twin Lake are safe to eat, but like most fish in Minnesota, they contain mercury. Global air pollution is the major source of mercury in Minnesota’s lakes and rivers. In addition to mercury, PFOS has also been found in fish in Twin Lake at levels that warrant advice to limit fish consumption. The fish consumption guidelines for Twin Lake contain information on the type and amount of fish that is safe for people to eat.
Are site contaminants (dioxin) in fish in Twin Lake?
MDH has looked at dioxin in fish tissue in Twin Lake due to concerns over the Joslyn site contamination and determined that dioxin in fish tissue in Middle Twin Lake does not differ significantly from dioxin in fish tissue in a sample of 58 lakes in Minnesota. Results from a U.S. EPA study of contaminants in fish from lakes across the U.S. indicate that dioxins are found in every fish tested. The levels of dioxins in the fish tested from Minnesota as part of this study are low overall and low in comparison to other areas of the country. MDH believes that the current fish consumption guidelines at Twin Lake are protective for dioxins.
What does MDH recommend?
MDH supports additional cleanup of the remaining soil contamination in the West Area to minimize potential exposure to dioxins and other contaminants.
People who eat fish from Twin Lake should follow the Minnesota fish consumption guidelines.
Site Assessment and Consultation Unit, 651-201-4897 or 800-657-3908,
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