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ATSDR Press Room

Public Comments Sought on Public Health Assessment of the Maunabo Urbano Public Wells

Maunabo County, Maunabo, Puerto Rico

Monday, July 28, 2008

For Immediate Release: July 28, 2008

ATLANTA - The Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) is seeking public comments on the health assessment of the Maunabo Urbano Public Wells site located in Maunabo, Puerto Rico. The health assessment found that the Maunabo Urbano Public Wells pose no apparent health hazard to people who are served by the public water system.

The groundwater at the Maunabo Public Wells site is the main source of drinking water for the community of Maunabo, Puerto Rico. After reviewing existing data, ATSDR determined that the groundwater at the site is contaminated with three volatile organic compounds (VOCs): trichloroethylene3 (TCE), tetrachloroethylene 4 (PCE) and dichloroethene6 (DCE). VOCs are chemicals that contain carbon, evaporate easily at room temperature and are found in many commonly used substances such as gasoline and paint. ATSDR has determined that the concentration of these VOCs in the groundwater at the Maunabo Public Wells site was not sufficient to cause adverse health effects to area residents, including small children and pregnant women.

In this assessment, ATSDR evaluated PCE and DCE in the Maunabo Urbano Public Wells and the possible pathways of exposure to the population of Maunabo through the municipal water system maintained and run by the Puerto Rico Aqueduct and Sewer Authority (PRASA). ATSDR concluded that:

  1. In the past, the levels of PCE and DCE in the Maunabo Urbano Public Wells have at times been greater than the Maximum Contaminant Level (MCL) set by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).  However, these levels occurred only periodically and did not exceed ATSDR's health guidelines.
  2. The site is no apparent public health hazard at present and is not expected to be a hazard in the future.  Although people may have been exposed to PCE and DCE, the exposure concentrations were at levels that would not result in any adverse health effects.
  3. Even though a new filter bank has been installed to remove volatile organic compounds, no data has been provided by PRASA to ensure that the filters are working as planned.

After considering both the data and the concerns of area citizens regarding the organic contaminants found in the Maunabo Urbano Public Wells, ATSDR makes the following recommendations:

  1. EPA and PRASA should regularly monitor water quality downstream of the filters of Maunabo #1.
  2. PRASA should perform regular maintenance on the filter bank on Maunabo #1 to ensure that there is no VOC breakthrough.

Residents of Maunabo, Puerto Rico are encouraged to read the public health assessment and make comments during the month-long public comment period. A copy of the health assessment is located at:

Biblioteca Municipal (Municipal Library)
Calle Santiago Iglesias #1, Esq. Calle Munoz Rivera
Maunabo, Puerto Rico 00707

ATSDR will accept comments on the public health assessment through September 15, 2008. Comments on the health assessment must be made in writing. All comments received during the public comment period will be logged into the ATSDR administrative record for the health assessment and will appear in the final health assessment. Comments received (without the names of individuals who submitted them) and ATSDR's responses to these comments will appear in an appendix to the final public health assessment. Names of those who submit comments, however, will be subject to release in answer to requests made under the U.S. Freedom of Information Act (FOIA).

Mail comments to:

Records Center, ATSDR
ATTN: Maunabo Urbano Public Wells Groundwater Contamination Site
1600 Clifton Road, NE MS F-09
Atlanta, GA 30333

For more information about the public health assessment call Michael Brooks (770-488-0762), Maria Teran-Maciver (770-488-0720) or Artie Block (212-637-4307).

ATSDR, a federal public health agency of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, evaluates health effects of exposure to hazardous substances.


Members of the news media can request an interview by calling the NCEH/ATSDR Office of Communication at 770-488-0700.

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Related PHA & HC For this Press Release

Maunabo Urbano Public Wells
Document Date: 1/30/2009 - PHA  [PDF - 1025 KB]

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