TOMS RIVER – Two chemicals known to cause cancer and developmental abnormalities were found in wells belonging to private citizens.
The township engineer notified residents in the area of Windsor Avenue, Oceanic Drive and Peddie Street (near the lagoons north of Fischer Boulevard) who are on well water, not municipal water, that they may be affected. The New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection will be conducting testing for groundwater contamination.
So far, the township reported that most of the water tests came up negative, but some wells did test positive. As a result, the DEP is widening its search, since groundwater can spread.
The chemicals found were Trichloroethylene (TCE) and PCE (tetrachloroethylene). They are considered carcinogens and also impact development in fetuses.
TCE and PCE are man-made chemicals and were used in manufacturing, according to the Centers for Disease Control. TCE is a nonflammable colorless liquid. It was used as a solvent to remove grease from metal parts. It is also found in adhesives, paint removers, and spot removers. PCE is a nonflammable liquid. It is used in dry cleaning and to remove grease.
Federal agencies reported that exposure to the chemicals alone does not cause these diseases. However, the amount of the chemical, duration of exposure, and other factors such as your gender, age, body size, and existing health issues all factor into whether it will make you sick. Epidemiologists who study disease would also add that family history and other environmental exposures would factor into whether you could get sick.
The situation began last year, when a resident notified the town that their well tested positive for both chemicals. The township performed their own tests, there and at neighboring wells, and forwarded the information to the DEP, said Township Engineer Robert Chankalian.
The DEP reported back that they went to 41 wells. Of these, five tested positive, ten tested negative, and 26 residents did not give them access. They told the township that they will expand the area to another 42 wells that are several hundred feet from any positive hit.
In the past, some nearby wells had tested positive and had been hooked up to city water, the engineer said. This is the first time the chemicals were reported in this neighborhood.