Joslyn Manufacturing & Supply Company Site, West Area

This web site provides general information about public health issues related to the Joslyn Manufacturing & Supply Company Site, West Area -- for people living on or near the site and others who may be interested. It does not provide a comprehensive discussion of all available technical information about the site, or all health issues that have been raised in connection with the site. More detailed information can be found in technical reports available from the Minnesota Department of Health and the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency Remediation Sites.

What is the history of the site?

The Joslyn Manufacturing and Supply Company 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. To the north, the site is bounded by railroad tracks, open space wetlands, and commercial/industrial properties with a residential neighborhood beyond. France Avenue and Highway 100 bound the site to the east with a residential neighborhood to the south, and Twin Lakes to the west. The part of the site called the West Area in this information sheet is a largely wooded area of about 10 acres on the west side of the site, next to Twin Lakes.

Wood-preserving operations were conducted at the site from the 1920's until 1980. Wastes from the operations were disposed of on the site. As a result, groundwater and soils are contaminated with pentachlorophenol (PCP) and polynuclear aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs). Polychlorinated dibenzo-p-dioxins and furans, common contaminants of PCP, have also been found in soils and groundwater. The entire site was listed on both the state and federal Superfund lists in 1983, but the majority of the site has been taken off the state Superfund list and is in the process of being taken off the federal list. This eastern portion of the site is currently undergoing commercial redevelopment under the oversight of the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency's (MPCA) Voluntary Investigation and Cleanup (VIC) program. The westernmost portion of the original site is still listed on the state and federal Superfund lists with the MPCA Superfund Program providing oversight of the ongoing investigation. The West Area is the focus of the Minnesota Department of Health's (MDH) most recent evaluation.

In 1998 the consultant for the Joslyn site developer conducted a broad sampling program to describe the remaining shallow soil contamination across the entire site, including the West Area. For the purposes of this sampling, the West Area was divided into several smaller areas. Concentrations of PCP and PAHs in surface soils that exceed MPCA health-based screening criteria were found in several of the smaller areas. Dioxins were detected in several of the samples at levels above various state and federal soil screening criteria as well. Additional sampling of surface soils, sediments, and surface water were done in 2000. The results confirmed that surface soils, sediments, and surface water in parts of the West Area are contaminated with PCP, PAHs, and dioxins at levels higher than soil screening criteria. No water or sediment samples were collected from Twin Lakes as a part of these recent investigations.

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Does the contamination pose any health risk?

In the past, people may have come into contact with contaminants in soils, sediments, or surface water in the West Area by walking, biking, or other activities. When people come into contact with contaminated soils or sediments, some of it may adhere to their skin where it may be absorbed or accidentally ingested. Such ingestion usually occurs from hand-to-mouth contact during eating or smoking. Inhalation of contaminated dusts is not believed to be a major exposure route for contaminants in the West Area because most of the contamination is in low-lying soils or sediments that are vegetated and often wet or frozen.

Dioxins are the main contaminant of concern in the West Area. Studies in animals have shown that long-term exposure to low levels of dioxins can affect the liver and may cause reproductive or developmental effects. Dioxin exposure may also affect the immune system. The dioxin 2,3,7,8-tetrachlorodibenzo-p-dioxin (TCDD) was recently listed as a "known human carcinogen" by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) based on studies in humans and animals exposed to high levels.

As a result of natural and man-made processes, dioxins are found nearly everywhere in the environment. Dioxins have been found in the fat tissue of people throughout the U.S., even people who have had no known exposure to dioxins. This indicates that exposure is widespread and may occur from food consumption. Foods containing animal fat, such as meat, fish, and dairy products are the most common dietary sources of dioxin. This happens because microscopic plants or animals take up dioxins in soils and sediments through direct contact or feeding. As larger organisms consume these organisms, dioxins move up the food chain and become concentrated in the tissues of larger animals and fish, especially in the fatty tissue.

Based on a review of available information, it appears that exposure to contaminated soil and sediments in the West Area may have occurred in the past. The extent of possible exposure is very difficult for MDH to evaluate. It does appear that the majority of activities that took place in the West Area occurred away from the areas of highest contamination, so most exposures were probably very low and adverse health effects unlikely. A review of cancer rates in Brooklyn Center and Crystal showed that cancer rates over the last 10 years are within the normal range.

The construction of a fence around most of the West Area as an interim response measure should limit future exposures to contaminated soil and sediment. MDH does not consider the fence a permanent solution because it does not address all potential routes of exposure, such as runoff from the West Area carrying the contaminants into Twin Lakes. The presence of dioxins in the West Area remains a significant concern for MDH. Due to the potential toxicity of these compounds and the fact that people are already exposed to them through their diet, MDH feels that exposure to dioxins from man-made sources such as the West Area should be minimized as much as possible.

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What does MDH recommend?

  1. People should respect the fence and keep out of the West Area. Signs have been posted on the fence around the West Area warning of the presence of contaminated soils and sediments.
  2. The discharge of storm water from the rest of the former Joslyn site or surrounding areas should be modified to avoid the transport and discharge of dissolved and particulate-bound contaminants from the West Area into surrounding wetlands and Twin Lakes.
  3. Additional soil samples should be collected to further characterize the horizontal and vertical extent of soil contamination in the West Area. This sampling should extend off the site to the south.
  4. To address human exposure concerns and minimize potential impacts to Twin Lakes, MDH recommends that all areas of contaminated soils be removed or adequately covered so that concentrations of PCP and PAHs are below recreational soil screening criteria, and total dioxin concentrations in surface soils are at or below 0.050 parts per billion (ppb) or, preferably, urban background concentrations.
  5. Sediment samples should be collected from Twin Lakes near former waste discharge areas as well as in potential human exposure areas.
  6. Representative samples of various fish species from Twin Lakes should be collected for analysis for dioxins and furans to determine if concentrations of these contaminants in the fish population could pose an unacceptable health hazard. Samples from other urban lakes may be needed for comparison since dioxins are ubiquitous in the environment.
  7. People who consume fish from Twin Lakes should follow the existing Fish Consumption Advice.
  8. The construction of fishing piers in Twin Lakes should be postponed until potential contamination in Twin Lakes can be properly assessed.
  9. Groundwater monitoring, pump out, treatment and oil recovery on the Joslyn re-development site should continue to ensure that any contaminated groundwater migrating from the West Area is contained and managed appropriately.

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Click map to enlarge

Map of Joslyn Site West Area Locations.

Health Consultation: Middle Twin Lake Fish Tissue Study, Joslyn Manufacturing and Supply Company Site, June 2006, is accessible from the links below:

Full Document: Middle Twin Lake Fish Tissue Study: Joslyn Manufacturing and Supply Company Site (PDF: 6,343KB/31pages)
or by section below
Text only: Middle Twin Lake Fish Tissue Study: Joslyn Manufacturing and Supply Company Site (PDF: 273KB/21pages)
Figures 1-2 (PDF: 4,197KB/2pages)
Figures 3-6 (PDF: 1,197KB/4pages)
Tables (PDF: 902KB/4pages)

Contact us: For questions or a paper copy of the public health reports listed on this page, please contact us.

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Updated Wednesday, 20-Mar-2013 14:15:50 CDT