Peter Dermody 6.18.14 Response to NYS Dept of Health Rebutting Their Pentachlorophenol Claims

Pam Miller 6.15.14 Response to NYS Dept of Health Rebutting Pentachlorophenol Claims

NYS Dept of Health Response to Dermody Report 6/6/14 on Pentachlorophenol

Peter Dermody, Hydrogeologist, Dermody Consulting Report on Soil Tests Taken From PSEG Utility Poles Leaching Into The Soil in East Hampton, New York

Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs) is an international environmental treaty signed in 2001 and effective since May 2004, that aims to eliminate or restrict the production and use of persistent organic pollutants They are currently researching pentachlorophenol and working to ban it globally. The US and Canada have been the two major countries fighting the ban because of their lumber lobbies.

Pamela Miller, founded Alaska Community Action on Toxics (ACAT) in 1997. She is a European American. Since 2000, ACAT has been awarded multiple federal grants for which Miller has been serving as team leader and, from 2005 through 2016, as Principal Investigator of a research team that includes faculty from four universities in Alaska and New York. These research projects rely on collaborative efforts with tribes in Alaska to address environmental health and justice issues. Miller is a leader in Coming Clean, a national network of groups concerned about chemicals policy reform, and in the Collaborative on Health and the Environment, an international partnership committed to strengthening the scientific and public dialogue on environmental factors linked to chronic disease and disability. She is one of the world’s foremost experts concerning the toxic pesticide lindane, serving two governmental organizations (United Nations and the North American Commission for Environmental Cooperation) to address international concerns about lindane. She was instrumental in prompting the 2006 decision by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to withdraw agricultural products containing lindane from the U.S., the 2010 decision by the same agency to phase out uses of endosulfan, and the 2011 decision by the United Nations Environment Programme to ban endosulfan worldwide under the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants. In 2012, she was elected as the only American on the Steering Committee for the International POPs Elimination Network. Miller is known for her work to prompt state, national, and international chemicals policy reform to protect environmental and human health in the Arctic. She was selected as a fellow for the Reach the Decision Makers program from the University of California San Francisco, Reproductive Health and Environment Program (2011); was invited to participate in an unprecedented White House Forum on Environmental Justice (2010); and selected to serve on an environmental justice advisory group for the Centers for Disease Control (2009-2010). In 2012, she received the Meritorious Service Award from the Board of Regents of the University of Alaska for her service to the community. In 2013, Miller was invited to serve on the board of directors for the Groundswell Fund. She holds a master’s degree in environmental science from Miami University, Oxford, Ohio (1981).


David O. Carpenter Prudent Public Policy For Electromagnetic Field Exposures, Director,
Institute For Health and the Environment, University of Albany, New York

David O. Carpenter Human Disease Resulting From Electromagnetic Fields, Director, Institute For Health and the Environment, University of Albany, New York

Dr. John Tanacredi’s response below to EPA’s statement that because they had recertified pentachlorophenol for utility pole and railroad tie use in 2008, it was not a problem to use it on utility poles despite the existence of toxic waste dripping from the poles into East Hampton’s soil.

Please note that all the information I noted in my email to Mr. Like on 24 April remains the same. The established ecotoxicological impact of this highly chlorinated hydrocarbon remains unchanged. Recertification of toxicants for specific uses and thresholds under the Toxic Substances Control Act, does not preclude their biochemical hazard or toxicity.

Dr. John Tanacredi, an ecologist, is one of the world’s leading experts on horsehoe crabs, (important for its extracts used to prevent post surgical infections), as was reported in The New Yorker, April 14, 2014. P 52, (Blue Bloods, by Ian Frazier). He is Director of the Center for Environmental Research and Coastal Oceans Monitoring (CERCOM), as well as a Professor of Earth and Environmental Studies at Molloy College.

“Please use this as my preliminary report on the ecological concerns of the East Hampton/PSE&G-LI power line issues with specific concerns for pentachlorophenol (penta) and its ecological concerns. I have read the PSE&G-LI environmental documents and feel that this projects’ alternative review was inadequate and that the use of a toxicant should have raised this to a Type I project requiring more detailed environmental assessment.

I also want to state here that I fully support the report prepared by Dermody Consulting (22 April 2014 ) regarding the utility poles installed in the Town of East Hampton and the full range of recommendations made in this report in response to the levels of penta associated with the aforementioned power line pole installation.

It should also be noted that penta research as a potential hormone mimicking chemical/endocrine disrupting chemical having impacts on wildlife, is a well-established ecotoxicological investigated area of science. Penta has been noted to have significant adverse affects on domestic animals and has been documented as causing numerous occupational illnesses and death in human health cases. Penta is an undesirable pollutant whose use patterns should be carefully regulated to avoid contamination of soil, water and food.

Larry Penny, retired Director of East Hampton Natural Resources and Environmental Protection, and co-author of East Hampton’s Water Management Plan, part of East Hampton’s Comprehensive Plan of 2005.

“Not only is the lavishly applied dosage of pentachlorophenol (PCP) a threat to any private residential water well in its path, the PCP treated poles are upgradient of three Suffolk County Water Authority well fields: one on the north side of Montauk Highway, one just east of East Hampton Town Hall where the big white tower ball is, and one north of the LIRR on the west side of Cranberry Hole—Promised Land Road. Moreover, three important water bodies may be subject to future contamination from southward groundwater flow: Georgica Pond on the west, Town Pond and Hook Pond on the east. The Scenic Area Of Local Significance north and south of Town Lane, as well as the Peconic Land Trust’s Quail Hill Farm at the Junction of Town Lane Road, the Balsam Farm on Town Line Road, and Stony Hill Tree Farm on the south side of Town Lane, all irrigate with well water which stands to be contaminated. Lastly two golf courses proximate to the treated poles use well water to irrigate and that water stands to be contaminated as well.

Mitchell Pally, CEO, Long Island Builders Institute Letter To Ralph Suozzi, Chairman of the LIPA Board of Trustees and David Daly, President of PSEGLI

The Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR), based in Atlanta, Georgia, is a federal public health agency of the U.S. Department of Health
CAS ID #: 87-86-5

ToxFAQsTM for Pentachlorophenol


September 2001

CAS#: 87-86-5

This fact sheet answers the most frequently asked health questions about pentachlorophenol. For more information, you may call the ATSDR Information Center at 1-800-232-4636. This fact sheet is one in a series of summaries about hazardous substances and their health effects. This information is important because this substance may harm you. The effects of exposure to any hazardous substance depend on the dose, the duration, how you are exposed, personal traits and habits, and whether other chemicals are present.


Pentachlorophenol is a manufactured chemical which is a restricted use pesticide and is used industrially as a wood preservative for utility poles, railroad ties, and wharf pilings. Exposure to high levels of pentachlorophenol can cause increases in body temperature, liver effects, damage to the immune system, reproductive effects, and developmental effects. This substance has been found in at least 313 of the 1,585 National Priorities List sites identified by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

What is pentachlorophenol?

Pentachlorophenol is a manufactured chemical that does not occur naturally. Pure pentachlorophenol exists as colorless crystals. Impure pentachlorophenol (the form usually found at hazardous waste sites) is dark gray to brown and exists as dust, beads, or flakes. Humans are usually exposed to impure pentachlorophenol (also called technical grade pentachlorophenol).

Pentachlorophenol was widely used as a pesticide and wood preservative. Since 1984, the purchase and use of pentachlorophenol has been restricted to certified applicators. It is no longer available to the general public. It is still used industrially as a wood preservative for utility poles, railroad ties, and wharf pilings.

What happens to pentachlorophenol when it enters the environment?

  • Pentachlorophenol can be found in the air, water, and soil. It enters the environment through evaporation from treated wood surfaces, industrial spills, and disposal at uncontrolled hazardous waste sites.
  • Pentachlorophenol is broken down by sunlight, other chemicals, and microorganisms to other chemicals within a couple of days to months.
  • Pentachlorophenol is found in fish and other foods, but tissue levels are usually low.

How might I be exposed to pentachlorophenol?

  • The general populations can be exposed to very low levels of pentachlorophenol in contaminated indoor and outdoor air, food, drinking water and soil.
  • People who work or live near a wood treatment facility or in the production of utility poles, railroad ties, or wharf pilings may be exposed to pentachlorophenol in the air or by coming in contact with the treated wood.
  • People living near hazardous waste sites may also be exposed to higher than usual levels of pentachlorophenol.

How can pentachlorophenol affect my health?

Studies in workers show that exposure to high levels of pentachlorophenol can cause the cells in the body to produce excess heat. When this occurs, a person may experience a very high fever, profuse sweating, and difficulty breathing. The body temperature can increase to dangerous levels, causing injury to various organs and tissues, and even death. Liver effects and damage to the immune system have also been observed in humans exposed to high levels of pentachlorophenol for a long time. Damage to the thyroid and reproductive system has been observed in laboratory animals exposed to high doses of pentachlorophenol. Some of the harmful effects of pentachlorophenol are caused by the other chemicals present in technical grade pentachlorophenol.

How likely is pentachlorophenol to cause cancer?

Some studies have found an increase in cancer risk in workers exposed to high levels of technical grade pentachlorophenol for a long time, but other studies have not found this. Increases in liver, adrenal gland, and nasal tumors have been found in laboratory animals exposed to high doses of pentachlorophenol.

The EPA has determined that pentachlorophenol is a probable human carcinogen and the International Agency for Cancer Research (IARC) considers it possibly carcinogenic to humans.

How can pentachlorophenol affect children?

Infants who were exposed to diapers and bedding which was accidentally contaminated with pentachlorophenol had high fevers, a large amount of sweating, difficulty breathing, and harmful effects on the nervous system and liver, and some died. Although these effects are similar to effects seen in adults exposed to pentachlorophenol, we do not know whether children and adults differ in their susceptibility to pentachlorophenol.

We do not know if exposure to pentachlorophenol will result in birth defects or other developmental effects in people. Death, low body weights, decreased growth, and skeletal effects have been observed in laboratory animals exposed to high levels of pentachlorophenol during development.

How can families reduce the risk of exposure to pentachlorophenol?

Pentachlorophenol was a widely used pesticide for a long time. Today its use is restricted and it can only be used by certified applicators. You may have old containers of pesticides in your attic, basement, or garage that contain pentachlorophenol. Removing these old containers will reduce your family’s risk of exposure to pentachlorophenol.

If you live near utility poles and railroad tracks, you should prevent your children from playing, climbing, or sitting on them especially in the hot summer months.

Though pentachlorophenol has been found in some food, its levels are low. You can minimize the risk of your family’s exposure by peeling and thoroughly washing fruits and vegetables before cooking.

Children should avoid playing in soils near hazardous waste sites where pentachlorophenol may have been discarded.

Is there a medical test to show whether I’ve been exposed to pentachlorophenol?

Tests are available to measure pentachlorophenol and its breakdown product in blood, urine, and body tissues. These tests cannot be performed in the doctor’s office because they require the use of special equipment. Because pentachlorophenol leaves the body fairly quickly, these tests are best for finding exposures that occurred within the last several days. These tests do not tell you how much pentachlorophenol you have been exposed to and cannot be used to predict the occurrence, nature, or severity of toxic effects.

Has the federal government made recommendations to protect human health?

The EPA has set a limit for drinking water of 1 part of pentachlorophenol per billion parts of water (1 ppb).

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has set a limit of 0.5 milligrams of pentachlorophenol per cubic meter of workplace air (0.5 mg/m3) for 8 hour shifts and 40 hour work weeks.


Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR). 2001. Toxicological Profile for Pentachlorophenol. Update. Atlanta, GA: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Public Health Service.

Where can I get more information?

If you have questions or concerns, please contact your community or state health or environmental quality department or:

For more information, contact:
Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry
Division of Toxicology and Human Health Sciences
1600 Clifton Road NE, Mailstop F-57
Atlanta, GA 30333
Phone: 1-800-CDC-INFO · 888-232-6348 (TTY)
Fax: 1-770-488-4178
Email: [email protected]

ATSDR can also tell you the location of occupational and environmental health clinics. These clinics specialize in recognizing, evaluating, and treating illnesses resulting from exposure to hazardous substances.

Information line and technical assistance:
Phone: 888-422-8737
FAX: (770)-488-4178

To order toxicological profiles, contact:
National Technical Information Service
5285 Port Royal Road
Springfield, VA 22161
Phone: 800-553-6847 or 703-605-6000


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The information contained here was correct at the time of publication. Please check with the appropriate agency for any changes to the regulations or guidelines cited.