Department, Health Officials Launch Investigation into Presence of Chemical in Harford Subdivision’s Wells

Press Release

Maryland Department of the Environment

Media Contacts

Julie Oberg
(410) 537-3010

Richard McIntire
(410) 537-3012
(410) 716-8784-Pager

Department, Health Officials Launch Investigation into Presence of Chemical in Harford Subdivision’s Wells

BALTIMORE, MD (October 18, 2005) – An investigation is underway to determine how a commonly used chemical compound contaminated drinking water wells in a Harford County community, the Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE) reports.

While testing domestic drinking water wells in an unrelated matter, MDE discovered trichloroethylene/trichloroethene (TCE) in wells along Titan Terrace in the Glenn Estates subdivision in Havre de Grace. To date, MDE has determined that TCE, and its constituents, above acceptable levels, have impacted six domestic wells. TCE’s Maximum Contaminant Level (MCL) is 5 parts per billion, set by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for drinking water. Several additional wells have also been found with lower levels that do not exceed the MCL. No source for the contamination has been identified, but MDE is continuing its investigation to identify the probable source.

TCE, a probable carcinogen, is a non-flammable, 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 is often present in the environment at low levels. Individuals who use TCE-contaminated water in their homes over many years may have an increased risk of cancer. Drinking water with levels below the MCL presents minimal health risks.

MDE, in cooperation with Harford County Environmental Health officials, is testing additional wells in the area to determine the extent of the problem while the investigation continues. MDE notified impacted homeowners via telephone in recent weeks and is arranging to provide bottled drinking water and install carbon filtration units as an interim measure for those wells that exceeded the MCL.

Those seeking more information may call MDE toll free in Maryland at (800) 633-6101, ext. 3493 or the Harford County Health Department at 443-643-0322 or 443-643-0321

 

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