Missouri Residents Are Angry Because They Weren’t Warned of TCE Contamination


Residents at Elmwood, MO in St. Louis County expressed justifiable anger upon learning that the Missouri Department of Natural Resources (DNR) has been aware of serious contamination of their water since an industrial spill in 1988 but has not told them about it until now.

The DNR has been working on the issue since at least 1994,  but residents who have been using the tainted water were not informed of the 1988 spill until August of 2012. The EPA has recently been called in to aid in the investigation. The investigation seems to be mainly concerned with who is responsible for the spill and, therefore, financially responsible for the cleanup. The current occupant of the building where the spill occurred was not the tenant at the time.

The contaminant in question is Trichloroethylene (TCE). It is most commonly used as a degreaser for metal parts.  It can lead to chronic disease and cancer.  Levels once considered safe are now considered unsafe.  Trichloroethene is a manufactured, volatile organic chemical. It has also been used as a paint stripper, adhesive solvent and as an ingredient in paints and varnishes. The chemical can affect the nervous system.

Ten homes in Elmwood were recently tested for TCE contamination and all ten tested positive. Three homes had elevated TCE levels.

Standard water treatment for removal of TCE is activated carbon filtration or reverse osmosis.

The moral: If you’ve been trusting regulatory authorities to assure that your home’s water is safe, it may be time to rethink this.  Every home supplied by a municipality should probably have a good, whole house carbon filter and a reverse osmosis or high quality carbon drinking water system.

More about the Elmwood TCE Issue.

More about TCE.