TCE in Chicago wells.


Wells in Chicago seeing TCE contamination


CHICAGO — Numerous private water wells in the area are testing positive for trichloroethylene (TCE), a toxic chemical that is a common groundwater contaminant nationwide.

TCE became a public health and political issue here after hundreds of homeowners in unincorporated DuPage County discovered that their wells were tainted, the Chicago Tribune reported.

As a result, residents are facing costly decisions about getting alternative sources of drinking water. They also are asking questions about how TCE is getting into the water and why they

weren't made aware of it years ago, the newspaper said.

Gov. George Ryan last month initiated a task force to determine if more services or legislation are needed to help private well owners have a safe supply of drinking water.

Its first task is dealing with TCE contamination, said the article.

TCE is a metal degreaser and chemical used in paint thinners, spot removers, adhesives and other products.  Bill Ryan, geologist for the US Environmental Protection Agency's

(EPA) water division in Chicago, sad TCE is a persistent problem because the degreaser is used so widely in a variety of industrial and consumer applications, according to the Tribune. 

TCE was often discarded carelessly or spilled accidentally, seeping into groundwater. As a result, it became one of the most common groundwater contaminants, ranking among the top 20 national hazardous substances listed by the EPA.

Around the country, TCE has been found in 60 percent of the 1,430 federal Superfund Cleanup sites, including nine in Illinois, the article said.



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Edited from Tech Bank 1/28/02