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National Drinking Water Database
Trichloroethylene in Maine
Trichloroethylene is used to remove grease from fabricated metal parts and in the production of some textiles; this pollutant comes from metal degreasing sites, metal finishing and rubber processing industries. [read more]
Trichloroethylene is a solvent primarily used to remove grease from metal parts such as steel pipes and car parts and accessories. Additionally, trichloroethylene is used in the production of some textiles, for example, wool fabrics (U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) 2002n, 2009b).
In the home, trichloroethylene may be found in common household products such as paint remover and stripper, adhesive, spot remover, and rug-cleaning fluid (Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) 1997c; National Toxicology Program (NTP) 2002a). Trichloroethylene is a High Production Volume (HPV) chemical, with over 300 million pounds produced in the U.S. annually (Hazardous Substances Data Bank (HSDB) 2003g; USEPA 1990a, 2002n).
Polluted industrial effluents and improper disposal of trichloroethylene in landfills have been the main causes of groundwater contamination with this chemical (World Health Organization (WHO) 2004a). Major environmental releases and drinking water contamination with trichloroethylene are primarily due to discharges from metal degreasing plants. Wastewater from metal finishing, paint and ink formulation, electrical/electronic components, and rubber processing industries also may contain trichloroethylene. Every year, U.S. industrial facilities release millions of pounds of trichloroethylene into the environment (USEPA 2009i). Trichloroethylene used in domestic and industrial products further contributes to environmental pollution.
Drinking water contaminant fact sheets written by EPA note that long-term exposure to trichloroethylene in drinking water at levels above the maximum contaminant level (MCL) of five parts per billion (ppb) may cause cancer and liver damage (USEPA 2009b). Trichloroethylene contaminated drinking water has also been linked with birth defects and leukemia in people (Costas 2002; ATSDR 2003a). The types of birth defects linked to TCE included cardiac defects, neural tube defects and oral clefts, a type of congenital deformity caused by abnormal facial development (Bove 2002).
The National Toxicology Program (NTP) classifies TCE as "reasonably anticipated" to be a human carcinogen. In laboratory rats or mice, TCE causes tumors of the liver, lung, blood, kidney and testes, and possibly causes leukemia. Occupational exposure to trichloroethylene has been linked with liver cancer, kidney cancer, non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, and to a lesser extent, prostate cancer, multiple myeloma and cervical cancer (National Toxicology Program (NTP) 2002a). Other effects reported in animal studies include damage to the kidney and severe adverse developmental effects such as heart malformations (ATSDR 1997c; Johnson 1998). Trichloroethylene has been also linked to autoimmune-related effects in laboratory animals and in people (Cooper 2009).
According to the National Human Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES III), approximately 10 percent of the population has detectable levels of trichloroethylene in their blood (NTP 2002a).
The Most Polluted Communities in Maine
4 water utilities reported detecting Trichloroethylene in tap water since 2004, according to EWG's analysis of water quality data supplied by state water agencies
Ranked by highest average Trichloroethylene level
|Rank||System||Population Served||Positive test results of total reported tests||Average Level|
|1||Highpine Mobile Home Court|
|130||8 of 17||0.75 ppb|
(0 to 2.9 ppb)
|2||Downeast Correctional Facility|
|176||14 of 17||0.47 ppb|
(0 to 0.62 ppb)
|3||Homestead Estates Mhp|
|125||1 of 4||0.2 ppb|
(0 to 0.8 ppb)
|4||Sanford Water District|
|15,000||6 of 34||0.06 ppb|
(0 to 0.71 ppb)
Health Based Limits for Trichloroethylene
|Maximum Contaminant Limit Goal (MCLG)||A non-enforceable health goal that is set at a level at which no known or anticipated adverse effect on the health of persons occurs and which allows an adequate margin of safety. Source: U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.||0 ppb|
|EPA Human Health Water Quality Criteria||Water quality criteria set by the US EPA provide guidance for states and tribes authorized to establish water quality standards under the Clean Water Act (CWA) to protect human health. These are non-enforceable standards based upon exposure by both drinking water and the contribution of water contamination to other consumed foods. Source: U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.||0.03 ppb|
|California Public Health Goals||Defined by the State of California Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA) as the level of contaminant that is allowed in drinking water. For acutely toxic substances, levels are set at which scientific evidence indicates that no known or anticipated adverse effects on health will occur, plus an adequate margin-of safety. PHGs for carcinogens or other substances which can cause chronic disease shall be based solely on health effects without regard to cost impacts and shall be set at levels which OEHHA has determined do not pose any significant risk to health.||1.7 ppb|
|One in one million (10-6) Cancer Risk||The concentration of a chemical in drinking water corresponding to an excess estimated lifetime cancer risk of 1 in 1,000,000. Source: U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.||3 ppb|
|Maximum Contaminant Limit (MCL)||The enforceable standard which defines the highest level of a contaminant that is allowed in drinking water. MCLs are set as close to health-based limits (Maximum Contaminant Level Goals, or MCLGs) as feasible using the best available analytical and treatment technologies and taking cost into consideration. Source: U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.||5 ppb|
|Drinking Water Equivalent Level||A lifetime exposure concentration protective of adverse, noncarcinogenic health effects, that assumes all of the exposure to a contaminant is from drinking water. Source: U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.||200 ppb|
|One in ten thousand (10-4) Cancer Risk||The concentration of a chemical in drinking water corresponding to an excess estimated lifetime cancer risk of 1 in 10,000. Source: U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.||300 ppb|
Violation Summary for Trichloroethylene in Maine
Data from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency includes the following violations of federal standards in Maine since 2004
|Violation Type||Number of Violations|
|Failure to monitor regularly||13|