We often take for granted the safety of surroundings. Toxic chemicals associated with dangerous health risks are often lurking in our water, home products, and even in our children's toys.
Last year, researches at the Boston University School of Public Health released a study in the Environmental Health journal on the health effects of the chemical tetrachloroethlene, also known as perchloroethylene or PCE.
Between the 1960's and 1980's, over 600 miles of pipelines were contaminated with the neurotoxin, unbeknownst, a fact that went unknown to residents for over 30 years. Health experts at Boston University wanted to see if there was a connection between exposure to TCE and adult risky behavior—like drug use—later in life.
PCE used to be a part of the vinyl liner that was used in pipes for drinking water. Though PCE is no longer used in those kinds of pipes today, it is still commonly used in dry cleaning, spot remover, water repellent, wood cleaner, and metal degreasing solutions. Its use in industrial products often causes it to leak into ground water systems and mix into drinking water.
The Environmental Protection Agency classified PCE as a “likely human carcinogen”, meaning it can cause cancer. It can also harm the nervous system, impact visual memory, and damage color vision and the ability to process information. PCE evaporates in the air and has a sweet odor. When inhaled it can cause headaches, difficulties with muscle coordination, and problems with the nervous system.
Individuals cane be exposed to PCE in the water by directly ingesting the water, by taking baths or showers in the water and absorbing the chemical through the skin, or by inhaling the chemical in steam or in products like spot removers, dry cleaning solutions, and water repellents.
The researchers of the study found that children of women who had high exposure to PCE while pregnant were about 1.6 times more likely to use illegal drugs as teenagers or adults. Individuals that had high exposure to the chemical were also 30% to 60% more likely to smoke or drink.
This was the first study of its kind to look at long-term effects of PCE exposure. PCE continues to be used as a common commercial chemical, so the risk of exposure remains high. The researchers of the study noted that every year in the United States, over 650,000 workers are exposed to PCE.
If you have been exposed to PCE in your water supply, through products, or through your work environment, you need to contact a personal injury attorney. Individuals exposed to PCE can file claims even if they have not suffered any noticeable injuries; fear of a future injury is admissible.
Toxic chemicals are used in many common products these days, allowing for dangerous exposure and health problems in workers who use these chemicals, individuals who use the products, and unsuspecting residents who use contaminated groundwater.
If you think you have suffered exposure to a dangerous chemical, contact a personal injury attorney today.