The Hunters Point Naval Shipyard (HPNS) is a federal Superfund site located on the historic Hunters Point promontory extending east into San Francisco Bay. It is adjacent to a densely populated neighborhood home to San Francisco’s largest childhood population. HPNS is a “Super Superfund Site” — one of the most contaminated properties on the federal Superfund list, assigned an EPA Hazard Index of 100 for ground water migration. The Parcel E-2 federal Superfund site occupies the southern shoreline. In 2016 the EPA designated Yosemite Slough a federal Superfund site HPNS drains into…like a toilet that does not flush!

On the Hunters Point Naval Shipyard!

In the latest chapter of “The Superfund Saga”, HP Biomonitoring scientists detect four signature shipyard toxins in South Basin neighbors. The discovery began in July of 2019, when a family of four underwent urine toxicological screening that detected four chemicals in elevated concentrations. Those chemicals are Arsenic…Gadolinium…Manganese…and Vanadium. All four are chemicals or radionuclides of concern documented to be present in soils, landfills, groundwater and laboratory drains at the Hunters Point Naval Shipyard.

Vanadium is a nutrient element that plays a role in normal human physiology but, when inhaled in toxic concentrations, irritates the nasal mucosa causing headaches and nosebleeds. Two members of the family reported headaches and nosebleeds. Vanadium is an alpha emitter used in the production of high speed steel tools. It has the shipyards fingerprints on it!

But if this was a crime scene investigation in a community wide poisoning, Gadolinium would be a prime suspect…and Gadolinium has the shipyards SIGNATURE ON IT! Gadolinium is used in neutron shielding of nuclear reactors and in nuclear propulsion systems. Gadolinium has been detected in a cluster of HP Biomonitoring screenings concentrated in the South Basin region of the Hunters Point Naval Shipyard.

Gadolinium is a gamma emitting radionuclide documented in the shipyards Historical Radiological Assessment to be a potential Radionuclide of Concern or ROC.

Due to FDA “black box” warnings, Gadolinium is used infrequently in contrast agents to enhance head and neck tumor detection and in high risk women who require MRI breast screening. The FDA warned of risks linked to Gadolinium use in MRI scans in 2018, after a series of lawsuits determined it can deposit in the brain and body for months and is associated with a rare kidney disease called nephrogenic systemic fibrosis.

None of the HP Biomonitoring screenings in which Gadolinium has been detected in toxic ranges are in residents documented to have undergone recent MRI scans using Gadolinium based contrast agents, but two screenings in the Arsenic/Gadolinium/Manganese/South Basin cluster are residents diagnosed with cancerous and non-cancerous tumors. Thus, Gadolinium retention syndrome remains a possibility. The presence of Gadolinium in concentrations 20 times greater than maximum allowable levels combined with the additive and cumulative effects of three simultaneously detected toxins clearly warrants further investigation and environmental remediation.

The Executive Summary of the National Health Research report: The Health Risks of MRI’s with Gadolinium — Based Contrast Agents concludes:

“There is growing concern as well about gadolinium in the environment…there is a lack of data about the effects of lifelong exposure to low levels of gadolinium from the environment, particularly with exposures during critical periods of life, especially in utero or early childhood.”

Do these three urine toxicology screens look alike to you? They shouldn’t! They are from people of different ages and skin colors…yellow…black…and white. They share the same gender but range in educational attainment and professional careers. What they have in common are several irrefutable facts:

The Hunters Point Community Biomonitoring Program conducted a subpopulation analysis on a cluster, identified by pattern recognition, in which four elements were simultaneously detected in toxic concentrations.The elements were Arsenic…Gadolinium…Manganese…and Vanadium.

What all three urine toxicology screens have in common is that they belong to a cluster of nine screenings in which at least three of the four elements were detected in potentially toxic ranges.

More significantly, the cluster of nine urine screenings were mapped and determined to be concentrated in the shipyard’s South Basin region.

All four elements were detected in concentrations above reference range in this South Basin neighbor:

All four elements are documented by the EPA and the Navy to be chemicals and radionuclides of concern at the Hunters Point Naval Shipyard — “across the pond” from the South Basin.

HP Biomonitoring designates the group of nine screenings the Arsenic/Gadolinium/Manganese/Vanadium South Basin Cluster. It includes all screenings conducted and retrospectively analyzed as a subpopulation using simple entry criteria. All screenings are conducted on residents and workers within a one mile radius of HPNS.

To be entered into the cluster, three of the four elements must be detected in concentrations higher than allowable for the normal population. Using that criteria, nine urine screenings emerged. Seven of the screenings belong to neighbors and workers in the South Basin region. All four elements were detected in elevated concentrations in a South Basin homeowner.

Two urine screenings in the cluster belong to Hunters Point homeowners near Palou— the main entry to the shipyards NRDL laboratory campus on Crisp Road. They include a young man who moved from Chinatown to Hunters Point at age five and developed childhood asthma. He now lives adjacent to and works on the shipyard and has a body burden of toxic chemicals detected in his urine screening higher than many long term residents screened in their 60’s!

The most significant fact, however, is that associated health effects are evident in the Arsenic/Gadolinium/Manganese/Vanadium cluster. Health effects that include cardiopulmonary, immune and metabolic diseases, cancerous and non cancerous tumors. Inorganic arsenic is the most significant chemical contaminant in drinking water globally. The International Agency for Research on Cancer classified arsenic as carcinogenic in humans causing cancers of the skin, lungs and bladder. Arsenic impacts child health and infant mortality and has been linked to mortality due to multiple cancers, lung disease, heart attacks and kidney failure along with negative impacts on cognitive development, intelligence and memory.

“The greatest threat to public health from arsenic originates from contaminated groundwater.” World Health Organization

A future role for human biomonitoring in “reverse engineering” environmental remediation is evident. It is a groundbreaking role that will advance environmental public health at the intersection of personalized and population medicine and broaden our understanding of environmental determinants of health.

The establishment of the Hunters Point Community Toxic Registry will offer safe tracking of the findings of the Hunters Point Community Biomonitoring Program in a scientific format designed to archive, analyze and retrieve registry data tracked to identify adverse health effects linked to environmental and occupational exposures.

Medical Director - Golden State MD Health & Wellness. UCSF/Stanford Author & Researcher. PI HP Biomonitoring. Certified Clinical Nutritionist. PoliticoMD!

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