Trichloroethylene, or TCE, is a colorless liquid mainly used as a solvent to remove grease from metal parts. It has been found in drinking water in many parts of the United States as a result of the manufacture, use, and disposal of this chemical.
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People can be exposed to TCE by drinking or showering in contaminated water. Additionally, where it is produced employees can also inhale TCE vapors.
The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) allows up to 0.005 milligrams of TCE per liter, or 5 parts of TCE per billion of water. This is referred to as the maximum contaminant level (MCL).
TCE has been found in a total of 32 private drinking water wells in the easternmost part of Broad Run Farms. The maximum TCE concentration found in these wells was 0.11 milligrams per liter. There is no evidence of groundwater contamination with TCE in any of the 49 other wells tested over the past 15 years just west of these properties, or in any of our county's public drinking water supplies. Broad Run Farms is located between Route 7 and the Potomac River, bordered on the west by Broad Run and on the east by the Hidden Lane landfill and the CountrySide community.
Although it is not known for sure, the most likely source of the TCE contamination is the Hidden Lane landfill, located between Broad Run Farms and CountrySide.
In 1989, wells were tested in response to concerns about contamination from the Hidden Lane landfill and 2 showed evidence of TCE Since then, five wells were discovered to be contaminated with TCE as part of Loudoun County's requirement for testing new wells for contaminants and the remaining 25 were found as a result of our current testing.
Most studies of trichloroethylene’s health effects have involved people exposed to much higher levels of TCE than has been found in Broad Run Farms. Although there is some dispute over TCE's adverse health effects, there is evidence that low level exposure to TCE over a long period may increase the chances of liver and kidney problems, including cancer. Higher levels of TCE, such as that seen in employees exposed to TCE at work, have also been associated with disorders of the nervous, immune and endocrine systems, as well as with developmental problems.
There are no reports of adverse reproductive effects in people exposed to TCE in their workplace. No increased incidence of congenital malformations has been detected in babies born to mothers occupationally exposed to TCE and fetal toxicity has not been observed in experimental animals. In a few studies there is a suggestion of increased incidence of leukemia and heart defects in children whose mothers consumed water with high levels of TCE The levels, though, were many times higher than found in Loudoun and the water in these studies were contaminated with several other chemicals as well.
TCE does not accumulate or build up in plants so it is unlikely that any significant amount of TCE would be present in the vegetables grown in the vegetable gardens. Additionally, the levels of TCE found in wells are not expected to cause harmful effects in cats and dogs; TCE levels causing cancer and other health effects in experimental animals were several folds higher than the levels found in wells in Loudoun County.
The Health Department offered free well water testing to the owners of properties in the eastern part of Broad Run Farms. Of the 81 properties that took advantage of the free testing or shared their private test results, 32 wells showed some level of some level of contamination with TCE, with 17 at or above the EPA’s maximum contaminant level of greater than 05 milligrams per liter. Based on these test results, the Health Department strongly recommends that properties on both sides of Red Rose Drive as well as those in the easternmost part of Youngs Cliff Road install whole house filtration systems effective at removing TCE. The Health Department would like all residents in the testing area to consider installing a whole house water filtration device.
The Health Department is conducting quarterly sampling for TCE at four properties at the perimeter of the sampling area. The purpose of this sampling is to give the county more information as to whether or not the contamination is expanding beyond the previously sampled areas.
TCE at levels detected so far in the wells is not anticipated to absorb through the skin or through inhalation of vapors in sufficient amounts to cause adverse effects. Therefore, taking showers, swimming, and washing dishes poses a minimal risk to human health. To be on the safe side, though, the Health Department recommends installing a whole-house aeration and granular activated carbon filtration device if your well is found to contain TCE Additionally, if you have specific health conditions that warrant extra caution, you may wish to consult your health care provider to discuss whether an alternate source of drinking water is recommended such as bottled water.
Yes. Your water is safe to consume and use. Your water is a public water supply that is delivered to you by the Loudoun County Sanitation Authority. Its source is either the Goose Creek Reservoir or the Potomac River. This water is tested, filtered and treated prior to delivery to you. The water supply is regulated by the Virginia Department of Health and the United States Environmental Protection Agency. The water is tested for a variety of contaminants including trichloroethylene. The impacted water in Broad Run Farms comes from private wells on each property.
You can get more information by emailing the Health Department or calling 703-777-0234.