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Contaminants in 117 public wells across Kern County

By Kahtia Hall

July 26, 2016

Original Story: http://bakersfieldnow.com/news/health/contaminants-in-1117-public-wells-across-kern-county

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KBAK/KBFX) — The State Water Resources Board met with the public Tuesday to discuss plans to monitor the high levels of 1,2,3-TCP that have been found in public wells across Kern County. 

The cleaning solvent 1,2,3-TCP is also associated with pesticide products.

Back in the 1940s, Dow and Shell started to use this product as a fumigant. Even though, they had evidence it was harmful to humans, they continued to use it anyways. By the '90s, 1,2,3- TCP was banned, but by that time the toxin had found it's way into the groundwater.

Anything over 5 ppt is considered toxic, and currently there are 117 public wells across Kern County that have are over this limit of 1,2,3-TCPs.

Even though, high toxins have been found, water providers do not have to do anything about it. This carcinogen is can be absorbed through the drinking water or by breathing it in the home.

The State Water Resources Board met Tuesday to discuss plans to come up with a MCL, or maximum contaminant level, making an effort to regulate these toxins.

"When that is in place, water systems will have to test for that along with all the other chemicals that they test for. That will be part of their weekly, monthly or daily, in some instances, part of their reporting," said Andrew DiLuccia, spokesperson for the State Water Resources Board. 

If water providers exceed this level, they will be forced to put in treatment. One of the main kinds of treatment officials are looking at is called granulated active carbon. Diluccia said this kind of treatment has been used for decades and is cost-effective.

Residents living in the Arvin community say they have seen a high number of cancer-related deaths, and everyone Eyewitness News talked to links those deaths to the toxic water.

"I went back to Arvin five years ago, and ever since I moved back, just around my block, five ladies have passed away from cancer, and then there is three cancer survivors, and I always thought something is not right here ... something is not right," said Elizabeth Martinez, an Arvin resident.

No current cases have been linked to the contaminant. But, according to the State Water Resources Board, drinking high levels of 1,2,3-TCP over 70 years can increase risks of developing cancer.

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