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ATSDR Press Room

ATSDR Releases Health Consultation for Walter Coke Inc., North Birmingham, Alabama

Jefferson County, North Birmingham, Alabama

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

ATLANTA—The Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) is seeking public comment on a health consultation released today for the North Birmingham community. The health consultation is for Walter Coke, Inc., also known as the 35th Avenue Superfund site. ATSDR scientists will provide an overview of the health consultation and answer questions on February 19, 2013, at the Hudson K - Eight School located at 3300 F. L. Shuttlesworth Drive, Birmingham, AL 35207 starting at 6:00pm. ATSDR staff also will be available to talk with interested persons. Members of the media will have the opportunity to ask questions prior to the event, between 5:00-5:30pm.

This health consultation is limited to an assessment of 75 properties (yards, gardens, and schools) in the Collegeville, Harriman Park, and Fairmont communities sampled in 2005 and 2009 to determine if exposure to soils is a public health hazard for people who live or work in the area. Of the many contaminants analyzed, only arsenic and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons were detected above accepted health screening values.

Based on the analysis of the 2005 and 2009 soil data, ATSDR concluded that:

  • Past soil exposures to arsenic in sampled properties do not present a public health hazard, with the possible exception of a child with pica behavior eating a large amount of soil from the properties with the highest arsenic concentration. If this were to occur, the child could develop short-term health effects such as pain, nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea.
  • Past soil exposures to polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons in sampled properties around the site do not present a public health hazard.

Although past exposures do not present a public health hazard, ATSDR makes three recommendations to protect people from soil exposures.

  • Properties with the highest arsenic and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon levels should be remediated to decrease exposures to contaminated soil. Remediation is proposed for 16 residential properties and two school yards.
  • Community members should follow practices such as washing hands and garden produce and wiping shoes to reduce exposures to soil.
  • ATSDR should complete the review of site-specific air data to assess community exposures to airborne contaminants released from the site.

To read the health consultation visit:

Copies of the health consultation can also be reviewed during regular hours at the Harriman Park Recreational Center, 4347 F. L. Shuttlesworth Drive Birmingham AL.

ATSDR will accept public comments on this health consultation until March 22, 2013.  

Comments on the document must be made in writing and those received during the public comment period will be addressed in the final version. Comments (without the names of persons who submitted them) and ATSDR’s responses to the comments will appear in an appendix to the final health consultation. Names of those who submit comments will be subject to release should requests be made under the U.S. Freedom of Information Act.

Send comments to: ATSDR, or mail to:

ATSDR Records Center
Attn: Rolanda Morrison
Re: Community Soil Exposures: Walter Coke Inc. Site
4770 Buford Highway, NE (MS F-09)
Atlanta, Georgia 30341

For more information about the health consultation, community members can call 1-800-CDC-INFO (1-800-232-4636) and reference the Walter Coke, Inc., 35th Avenue Superfund site in North Birmingham.

ATSDR, a federal public health agency of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, evaluates the potential for adverse human health effects of exposure to hazardous substances in the environment.

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Related PHA & HC For this Press Release

Walter Coke Site, Inc.
-(a/k/a/ 35th Avenue Coke Site)
Document Date: 2/12/2013 - HC  [PDF - 428 KB]

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