Recently the North Carolina State Department of Environment and Natural Resources discovered it may have reason to test groundwater near a gas station whose tanks, they suspected, may have started leaking. While they didn’t find the chemicals they expected, they certainly did find chemicals in the water.

They found tetrachloroethylene in a family’s well water in Randolph County, North Carolina.

Staley, NC — When the North Carolina State Department of Environment and Natural Resources tested neighborhood well water in Randolph County, they were looking for petroleum leaks from a run down gas station, but they didn’t find any. What they did stumble upon was another dangerous chemical. A chemical used for either dry cleaning or cleaning grease off of auto parts.

“Every time I go to wash my hands, I just think, what more damage is that going to do to my body?” says Andrea Falk. The dangerous chemical, tetrachloroethylene, was found her homes well water weeks ago. She says ever since she got her letter from the state about her bad water, she’s been paranoid, “It said that there was a dangerous amount of the tetrachloroethylene. It said don’t use it for any household uses including dishwashing, clothes washing, bathing yourself, drinking, brushing teeth and flushing the toilet. I mean you can’t use it at all. There is no usable water in this house.”

Wayne Jones, the environmental health supervisor for Randolph County said the state notified him of the chemical and this week a second test confirmed the contamination of the dangerous substance, ” It’s a very nasty chemical, but it takes a long time to be classified as a known carcinogen and there has just not been that much testing. But it is a pretty nasty chemical that is suspected to be a carcinogen.”

But Falk has been using it the past four years, and now she’s beginning to question her change in skin and hair. “You kind of wonder, is it the house? Is it the water?,” she says, “We are a small little community here. We’re out in the middle of nowhere. There might be 20, 40 families right in this area. Who knows how far it could be affected.”

The Randolph County Health Department is working with state agencies to investigate this contamination because they don’t know where the source of the chemical is or how far it’s reach extends.

July 1, 2008 is the first time North Carolina started it’s state-wide well water testing. If your well was tested before this date, the Randolph County Health Department says it isn’t likely the water was tested for this chemical. ( source )

What is Tetrachloroethylene?

According to Wikipedia, “Tetrachloroethylene is an excellent solvent for organic materials. Otherwise it is volatile, highly stable, and nonflammable. For these reasons, it is widely used in dry cleaning. Usually as a mixture with other chlorocarbons, it is also used to degrease metal parts in the automotive and other metalworking industries. It appears in a few consumer products including paint strippers and spot removers.” ( source )

If you suspect that your well water may contain unwanted contaminants like tetrachloroethylene, at-home drinking water test kits such as the WaterSafe All-In-One and the SenSafe Water Quality Test Kit will not test for anything beyond the basic water quality parameters. You will need to seek assistance from a certified water testing laboratory such as National Testing Laboratories.

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