What’s in the water?

Chemical found in California’s aquifers is more harmful than originally thought

A recent study has concluded an industrial solvent responsible for groundwater contamination across the United States is more harmful to humans than originally was believed.

The study, conducted by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, has confirmed a connection between trichloroethylene (TCE) and myriad health issues including kidney and liver cancer, lymphoma and neurological damage, according to media sources. Dangerous levels of TCE have been discovered in plumes underneath California’s Camp Pendleton and Edwards Air Force Base as well as beneath the San Fernando and San Gabriel valleys, home to several contaminated Superfund sites.

The current federal standard for TCE in drinking water is five parts per billion, which may be revised in order to ramp up cleanup of various Superfund sites and aquifers supplying water to millions of Californians.

Among its numerous uses since the early 1920s, TCE has been used as a solvent to decaffeinate coffee beans, an anesthetic, a surgical disinfectant and a dry-cleaning solvent.