For years, those living near the former CTS Corporation on Mills Gap Road in Asheville have complained of foul smelling tap water, contaminated ground water, and health problems neighbors believe are caused by the dumping of the dangerous solvent TCE. Despite the documented pollution, no clean-up has occurred, and CTS refuses to accept responsibility.
Wisconsin’s governor signed a bill into law yesterday that bans the dangerous chemical bisphenol-A (BPA) in all cups sold in Wisconsin for children three years and younger. The ban will cover baby bottles, sippy cups and other similar products used by young children. Many studies have found that BPA is an endocrine-disrupter in animals, including early sexual maturation, altered development of the mammary gland and decreased sperm production in offspring.
A recent FDA announcement indicated “some concern” about how BPA may affect babies and children. The federal agency has now put $30 million aside for additional research studies over the next 2 years. Last year, a Harvard study found that participants who drank for one week from the popular polycarbonate (hard plastic) bottles, commonly used as water and baby bottles, had a 66% increase of BPA in their urine. The study concluded that BPA is leached from the container into the blood stream in sufficient quantities to show up in the urine.
The dangerous chemical has already been banned in Minnesota, Connecticut, the city of Chicago, and three counties in New York. Legislation to ban BPA in childrens’ products is currently pending in Washington, Maryland, Massachusetts, Missouri, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Pennsylvania, Vermont and Washington, D.C. Canada was the first country to pass a nationwide ban of BPA. The North Carolina Legislature should take steps to protect all North Carolina children from BPA because children do not get to chose the type of container from which they drink.
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Trichloroethylene (TCE) is a clear, non-flammable solvent with a sweet smell that is commonly used as an industrial solvent for cleaning electronic components. This chemical was widely used by CTS of Asheville at the Mills Gap Road facility in south Asheville until the plant closed in 1986. The company did not properly contain and/or dispose of the cancer causing chemical and now much of the drinkable ground water in the communities surrounding the facitily are dangerously polluted.
In 1999, one family that lived near the CTS site noticed a foul-smelling oily substance in the spring that supplied their drinking water. EPA testing of that water showed that it contained 21,000 parts per billion (ppb) of tri-chloroethylene. That level of contamination is 4,200 times the EPA allowable limit for drinking water. Two members of that family suffer from brain tumors they believe were caused by their exposure to TCE.
Recent water testing in the area indicates that the TCE contamination is increasing and spreading. One Mills Gap Road property owner’s water had 21,000 ppb of TCE in 1999, but now her water has a TCE level of 35,000 ppb. From an enviromental standpoint, that is a huge increase.
The EPA has ordered CTS of Asheville to clean-up the site, but so far all they have done is install a TCE soil-vapor extracting device in the most contaminated section of the property. The residents of this area are justifiably concerned about their health and their property values, but the local government has done little to support them. As a result, some residents are considering taking legal action.