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General Populations Under Concern

Two public water supply systems use the Coal Grove wellfield: Coal Grove public water supply system and Hecla-Coal Grove system. The Coal Grove public water supply system has 1,440 service connections that serve an estimated 4,719 people. The Hecla-Coal Grove system has 270 service connections with an estimated 945 people [3]. In total, 5,664 people use water supplied from the Coal Grove’s wellfield.

Potential Health Hazards

Trichloroethylene (TCE) is a nonflammable, colorless liquid with a somewhat sweet odor and a sweet, burning taste. It is used mainly as a solvent to remove grease from metal parts, but it is also an ingredient in adhesives, paint removers, typewriter correction fluids, and spot removers. TCE dissolves little in water, but it can remain in groundwater for a long time. It quickly evaporates from surface water, so it is commonly found as a vapor in the air.

The potential exposure pathways from TCE contaminated water include drinking, swimming, or showing, and breathing air in and around the home. Some people who breath in moderate levels of TCE may have headaches or dizziness. People have reported health effects when exposed to the level of TCE at which its odor is noticeable (around 100 ppm). The level found in production well 2 was 20 ppb, below the level where health effects have been seen. Breathing large amounts of TCE for a long period may cause nerve, kidney, and liver damage. It is not certain whether people who drink water or breath air containing TCE are at higher risk of getting cancer or of having reproductive effects [4].

The Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA) has established national primary drinking water regulations in the form of MCLs. MCLs are enforceable drinking water regulations that are protective of public health to the extent feasible with current technology and involved costs. National primary drinking water regulations apply to all public water systems, including community water systems and transient and nontransient noncommunity water systems. The maximum contaminant level for TCE in drinking water is 5 parts per billion parts water (ppb). The MCL for vinyl chloride is 2 ppb. The MCL level represents a value that is considered to be protective of the health of current residents and future residents using the public water supplies from the Coal Grove’s wellfield. The level of TCE found in the water from production well 2 is about 20 ppb. Consumption of that level of water in the past should not result in short-term or long-term adverse health effects. Effects that may result from prolonged use of water containing 20 ppb are not well understood. Because the TCE level at the source location (on-site aquifer) was 557 ppb, potential exists for levels in production wells to increase.

A future problem associated with Tri-State Tank site and the Coal Grove wellfield is the potential increase in levels in production wells and the existence of vinyl chloride in the groundwater that could migrate to the production wells. Vinyl chloride is in the area where the TCE plume originates and will also result from the breakdown of TCE. Therefore, ODH anticipates that vinyl chloride levels in the wellfield are likely to increase. Vinyl chloride is listed by the Department of Health and Human Services as a known human carcinogen. Exposure to vinyl chloride should be minimized and avoided when possible because of its cancer-causing potential.

Childhood Health Initiative

The 1990 census showed that 9% of the Coal Grove’s population was six years old or younger, and 27% were 18 years old or younger; thus, the water supply would serve approximately 500 children six years old or younger and approximately 1,530 children of 18 years old or younger.

SAS and ATSDR recognize that children are more sensitive to exposure to some contaminants than adults. For that reason, we evaluate the public health implications for children exposed to contaminants at a site. In this case, children are at particular risk because of the potential exposure to the TCE breakdown product, vinyl chloride, in the groundwater.

Fetuses, infants, and young children are a subset of the population that are particularly sensitive to the effects of high doses of vinyl chloride. Vinyl chloride can cross the placenta and enter the blood of the fetus. Animal studies have shown that individuals exposed by inhalation prior to adolescence or during pregnancy may have an increased likelihood of developing cancer compared to adult animals exposed for similar periods. Some studies of the effects of age at exposure on the development of cancer have suggested there is an age-sensitive period of exposure to vinyl chloride. Other studies using pregnant animals have shown that vinyl chloride may cause an increased number of miscarriages early in pregnancy. It may also cause decreased weight and delayed skeletal development in fetuses [5].

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