Experts to probe Bishop Street health concerns

By  | May 18, 2010 | 0 Comments | Filed under: About Trichloroethylene (TCE)

This ran on the KW Record… comments invited below

May 17, 2010

CAMBRIDGE — Experts want to hear from residents concerned about their health, in a neighbourhood contaminated by industrial vapours.

Almost 500 homes near Bishop Street North were affected when an industrial solvent called trichloroethylene seeped into groundwater and degraded air quality inside their homes. A $20-million corporate cleanup is underway by Northstar Aerospace and GE Canada.

On June 1, the public is invited to pose questions to experts from the Ontario Agency for Health Protection and Promotion, charged with protecting and promoting the health of Ontarians.

The agency intends to hear from residents at the sessions, gather their health questions and respond at a later date.

The regional public health department contends neighbourhood health risks are very low. Residents have been told a health study would not have a large enough population for meaningful conclusions. But some residents say that’s not good enough.

The June 1 sessions are “meant to be a first step in a dialogue specifically related to health investigations as requested by the residents,” according to a regional report.

Sessions will be held at the Sussex room in the Cambridge Hotel and Conference Centre at 700 Hespeler Rd. Two sessions are from 3:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.

The provincial agency provides scientific and technical support for evidence-based health decisions.

Ontario recently slashed its threshold for exposure to the solvent in indoor air, based on cancer guidelines out of California that use animal studies to calculate human cancer risks.

The safest threshold, below which no action is required, is rated a one-in-a-million risk of getting cancer over a lifetime of 70 years. Currently, up to 436 homes exceed the safest threshold. But only 56 homes are contaminated enough to be assessed for remediation that may include air-cleaning equipment.

Most homes have vapour levels that require annual monitoring under the latest guidelines.



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