MDCH Releases Public Health Consultation For Allegan County Golf Course

Contact: T.J. Bucholz (517) 241-2112
Agency: Community Health

March 18, 2005

Contaminated groundwater from an Allegan County golf course poses no apparent public health hazard to surrounding residents, according to a Michigan Department of Community Health (MDCH) Public Health Consultation.

The MDCH Public Health Consultation for the property has concluded that trichloroethylene (TCE) entering surface waters from contaminated groundwater is not hazardous, but TCE vapors that may enter the air of future houses built over the groundwater plume continue to pose an indeterminate hazard.

Officials pointed out, however, that the investigation did not include soil testing for arsenic. The arsenic contamination of the soil on the former Miro Golf Course still needs to be addressed by the property owner, with Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) oversight.

The former Miro Golf Course is located in the City of the Village of Douglas in Allegan County. The site is located immediately west of a facility that has historically released TCE to the environment, resulting in contamination of the groundwater, which flows under Miro.

The golf course was formerly a peach orchard and horticultural use of arsenical pesticides at the orchard resulted in high levels of arsenic in the soil.

In a 2003 health consultation of the site, MDCH recommended further study of the site to determine the potential for exposure to TCE. DEQ arranged for a Remedial Investigation to be conducted. The results of that investigation specified the location of the contaminated groundwater plume and the concentrations found in the groundwater and local surface waters.

Few residential properties currently exist above the groundwater plume. Future development might result in TCE vapors entering subsurface soils from the groundwater and migrating into indoor air through cracks in the building foundation. Remediation of the groundwater and proactive construction activities should reduce any risk of exposure.

The TCE entering local surface waters, such as Wick’s Creek and Kalamazoo Lake, pose no public health risk because the degree of exposure to these waters is not expected to be sufficient to cause harm.

MDCH invites the public to view the Public Health Consultation at the Douglas village office, 86 West Center Street, Douglas, at the Saugatuck-Douglas District Library, or on the Department website at http://www.michigan.gov/mdch-toxics (under Health Assessments and Related Documents).

Questions on the Public Health Consultation may be addressed to Christina Bush, Toxicologist, Michigan Department of Community Health, Division of Environmental and Occupational Epidemiology, P.O. Box 30195, Lansing, MI 48909. Ms. Bush’s e-mail address is bushcr@michigan.gov. People may also call the Division’s toll-free telephone number, 1-800-648-6942 (1-800-MI-TOXIC).

The Michigan Department of Community Health Division of Environmental and Occupational Epidemiology conducted the Public Health Consultation for Continental Aluminum Corporation under a cooperative agreement with the federal Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR). Information concerning the human health effects of exposure to environmental contaminants such as TCE and arsenic can be found on the ATSDR web page at http://www.atsdr.cdc.gov/toxfaq.html.