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Last Edited: 8/6/10

Chrome Crankshaft and J&S Chrome Plating, Bell Gardens - Public Health Activities

From 2001 to 2005, the California Department of Public Health--formerly California Department of Health Services (CDHS)--conducted evaluations of the public health implications from contamination at both the Chrome Crankshaft and J&S Plating facilities.

The sites 

The Chrome Crankshaft and J&S Chrome Plating sites operated as electroplating facilities from the late 1950s through the 1990s. The facilities are both closed. Due to ongoing community concerns, the Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC) requested assistance from CDHS to evaluate whether chemical emissions from Chrome Crankshaft and J&S Chrome Plating in Bell Gardens, Los Angeles County, posed a health risk to the community. The two facilities were located adjacent to the Suva Elementary and Intermediate Schools, which are within the Montebello Unified School District.

CDHS's involvement at the sites 

CDHS convened an advisory group of parents, school representatives, activists, and government agencies. With this group’s guidance and participation, CDHS staff reviewed drinking water quality, reviewed air modeling of historical releases from the facility, and assessed cancer rates for the area. CDHS also completed a health study to determine whether children who were exposed to chromium from the plating facility were more likely to have respiratory health problems. CDHS conducts its work under a cooperative agreement with the federal Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR).

Fact Sheet summaring CDHS's public health activities [1/03]

En Español: Boletín Informativo resumiendo las actividades de salud pública realizadas por CDHS [1/03]

Evaluation of exposure to drinking water 

In February 2001, CDHS and ATSDR released the final version of the public health assessment on water quality in the Bell Gardens area. Staff reviewed the water quality of the drinking water in the Bell Gardens area, which includes Suva Elementary and Intermediate schools. The city water system in Bell Gardens does not use any contaminated water, so no one has been exposed to site-related contamination in the drinking water.

Public Health Assessment: Water Quality in Bell Gardens [2/15/01]

Review of cancer rates

In January 2003, CDHS and ATSDR released a health consultation presenting results from a review of cancer rates for the Bell Gardens area. Staff looked at the number of people who got cancer in areas near the Chrome Crankshaft facility. The cancer records show that the number of children who developed cancer was not higher than expected. Also, the number of Hispanic men and women who got cancer was not more than expected. The results of the cancer review for white men and women in different areas varied, with some higher than expected. It is not possible to tell from this limited type of review whether specific exposures caused cancer. Without additional information, it is not possible to determine if the cancers were caused by exposure to chemicals from the facilities, by some other agent (such as cigarette smoking), or by something else.

Health Consultation: Review of Cancer Rates [1/24/03]

Evaluation of exposure to air releases

In December 2003, CDHS and ATSDR released an evaluation of air releases from Chrome Crankshaft and J&S Plating. In the report, CDHS concludes that historic (1963-1990) air releases of hexavalent chromium from the Chrome Crankshaft and J&S Plating facilities were not at levels that would cause noncancer health effects. However, during this time period, theoretical increased cancer risk estimations exceed current standards (greater than 1 additional cancer in 10,000 people), thus classifying the site as a past health hazard to the public. From 1991-1999, air releases of hexavalent chromium were substantially reduced and did not pose a health hazard to the public.

Public Health Assessment - Evaluation of Exposure to Aerial Emissions from Chrome Crankshaft Company and J&S Chrome Plating Company[12/03]

Summary of the Evaluation of Exposure to Aerial Emissions from Chrome Crankshaft Company and J&S Chrome Plating Company [12/03]

En Español: Resumen de la Evaluacion de Exposiciones a Escapes Ambientales Provenientes de Chrome Crankshaft y J&S Chrome Plating [12/03]

Health study on asthma in children

In April 2005, CDHS and ATSDR released the findings from a health study of schoolchildren. The plating shops released low levels of chemicals into the air and there were concerns that children may have had health problems from the emissions. CDHS conducted a health study among schoolchildren in the area designed to help find out if children had breathing problems because of chemicals in the air. The study found that the number of children with asthma in this community was similar to what has been reported for other communities. The study did not find that children who went to school near the chrome-plating shops were more likely to get asthma compared to children who attended other schools not near the facilities. However, studies like this are limited in what they can show. This study would not have shown if the children were only slightly more likely to get asthma than other children. It would only have been able to show if they were much more likely to get asthma.

Asthma and Related Respiratory Conditions Among Children: A Study Concerning Attending School near two Chromium Plating Facilities [1/05]

Fact Sheet summarizing the health study [4/05]

En Español: Boletín Informativo resumiendo el estudio de salud [4/05] 



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