PCE (perchloroethylene or tetrachloroethylene) was the main contaminant. The maximum level detected in drinking water was 215 parts per billion (ppb) in February 1985. The source of contamination was ABC One-Hour Cleaners, an off-base dry cleaning firm. The most contaminated wells were shut down in February 1985. Water modeling that ATSDR conducted for PCE complete. PCE concentration exceeded the current limit of 5 ppb in drinking water at the Tarawa Terrace water treatment plant for 346 months during November 1957-February 1987.
Trichloroethylene (TCE) was the main contaminant. The maximum level detected in drinking water was 1,400 ppb in May 1982. The current limit for TCE in drinking water is 5 ppb. Other contaminants detected included DCE (trans 1,2-dichloroethylene), PCE, and benzene. DCE was detected at a maximum of 407 ppb in January 1985. There were multiple sources of contamination including leaking underground storage tanks and waste disposal sites. The most contaminated wells were shut down by February 1985. The water modeling is ongoing. Currently, it is unknown when contamination of some Hadnot Point wells began, but it may have begun as early as the late 1940s or early 1950s. When the water modeling is completed, the dates when the system was contaminated will be determined.
TCE and PCE are chemicals that are used in dry cleaning and in cleaning metal parts of machines. VOCs are volatile organic compounds. They are a group of chemicals that generally include solvents and fuels that evaporate easily. TCE and PCE are examples of VOCs.
Occupational exposures to TCE have been linked to:
- Several adult cancers including kidney cancer, liver cancer, cervical cancer, and non-Hodgkin's lymphoma;
- Liver and kidney damage;
- Impaired immune system function and scleroderma;
- Neurological effects such as Parkinsonism, memory loss, attention deficit, and delayed reaction time; and
- Skin disorders.
TCE-contaminated drinking water has been linked to:
- Childhood leukemia in two studies;
- Non-Hodgkin's lymphoma in one study;
- Deficits in specific neurobehavioral tests in one study (drinking water was contaminated with a mixture of VOCs including TCE and PCE);
- Neural tube defects and cleft lip and palate in one study;
- Heart defects in one study;
- Fetal death in one study; and
- Infants small for gestational age in two studies.
The level of TCE in drinking water that may cause cancer or other health problems is not known.
Occupational exposures to PCE have been linked to:
- Several adult cancers including esophageal cancer, lung cancer, bladder cancer, pancreatic cancer, cervical cancer, and non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma;
- Kidney damage;
- Miscarriages, and;
- Neurological effects such as memory loss, attention deficit, and delayed reaction time.
PCE-contaminated drinking water has been linked to:
- Several adult cancers in one study at Cape Cod MA, including bladder cancer, leukemia, breast cancer, lung cancer, and rectal cancer;
- Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma in one study in northern NJ; and
- Oral clefts in one study.
The level of PCE in drinking water that may cause cancer or other health problems is not known.
Benzene is a colorless liquid with a sweet odor that evaporates into the air very quickly and dissolves slightly in water.
Some industries use benzene to make other chemicals which are used to make plastics, resins, and nylon and synthetic fibers. Benzene is also used to make some types of rubbers, lubricants, dyes, detergents, drugs, and pesticides. Natural sources of benzene include volcanoes and forest fires. Benzene is also a natural part of crude oil, gasoline, and cigarette smoke.
Occupational exposure to benzene has been linked to acute myeloid leukemia (
- Acute lymphocytic leukemia;
- Chronic lymphocytic leukemia;
- Multiple myeloma;
- Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma;
- Aplastic anemia; and
- Spontaneous abortion
but the link is less certain for these diseases.
The level of benzene in drinking water that may cause cancer or other health problems is not known.