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Industrial cleaner contaminates water supply

Quebec City public health officials say there needs to be more long term studies to determine whether there is a di...


Quebec City public health officials say there needs to be more long term studies to determine whether there is a direct link between cancer in the residents of Shannon, a town to the northwest of Quebec City, and the high levels of trichloroethylene (TCE) found in ground water. Earlier this month the mayor of Shannon had said that the health department’s statistics indicated there was a link between ground water contamination from a military base near the town and cancer among the town’s residents over the past 15 years.
Three times the acceptable level of trichloroethylene (TCE) was found in wells near Canadian Forces Base Valcartier in Shannon in 2000. TCE is a volatile solvent used for degreasing and cleaning industrial and automobile metal parts. Canada’s Department of National Defence initially discovered high levels of TCE in the aquifer under the Valcartier garrison in 1997 and began investigating. Two independent studies found TCE below the military land and on adjacent property.
Last year, the Minister of National Defence provided $19 million to the municipality of Shannon to build a new aqueduct water supply for the homes affected.
Health Canada and the Federal Provincial Territorial Committee on Drinking Water are revising the Canadian guideline for TCE in drinking water. It is proposed that recommended levels should be lowered from 0.05 mg/L to 0.005 mg/L.A December 11, 2003 press release from Health Canada website said: “recent studies suggest a possible link between long term exposure to high levels of TCE and cancer.”