Residents seeking answers on TCE issue by Ray Martin

By  | November 4, 2010 | 2 Comments | Filed under: Bishop Street Health Study/Registry

This ran in the Cambridge Times………. comments invited below

Residents living in a Preston neighbourhood contaminated with Trichloroethylene (TCE) have answers to the questions they raised five months ago, but they weren’t the answers some were hoping for.

On Tuesday, Waterloo Region Health officials staged a pair of two-hour public meetings at the Cambridge Hotel and Conference Centre to provide the results of a study conducted by the Ontario Agency for Health Protection and Promotion.

Agency spokesman Dr. Ray Copes made a lengthy presentation for the 80 residents in attendance during the first meeting. He explained the risks, but said there is a minimal additional risk of developing cancer.

“In a community of 1,500 there will be .0015 addition cancer cases,” he said.

“It’s one in million.”

Since last June’s public meeting, Copes’ team of researchers has examined the data collected and compared it with a number of studies that looked at the risk of developing cancer by factory workers who worked with TCE on a daily basis.

There are conflicting results among the workplace TCE studies, which is further compounded by different levels of contamination in the Bishop Street neighbourhood.

“It’s like trying to find a needle in a haystack,” Copes told the residents.

Residents Debbie Vitez and Donna Stewart were less than impressed with the study findings. In addition to the statistical work done and the studies reviewed, they believe that before the report is completed at the end of November researchers should also canvas the 500 homes in the neighbourhood to hear how people are doing.

“Going door to door wouldn’t make things an better,” Copes said.

“We’re here to fix the problem. That’s one of the best ways to show a level of respect for residents that we can provide.”

Stewart, who is battling cancer, had hoped the study would bring some measure of closure to the community. Stewart said that without including stories from residents the study is incomplete.

“It’s very distressing to have grown up in this neighbourhood, to be sick and bewildered, and have a sense nobody is keeping score. Nobody cares?”

Regional Coun. Jane Brewer, who lost a daughter to cancer, said she never once thought about it being caused by TCE levels in her former home off Coronation Boulevard.

“We’ve read everything we could find since and found its more about genetics than anything,” she said.

Dr. Hsiu-Li Wang, Waterloo Region’s associate medical officer of health, told residents, “The plume itself is actually shrinking in size because of the remedial actions.”

However, further testing will be undertaken this winter and an additional 200 homes on the periphery of the plume are being added to the testing.

Wang told the Times there are two reasons for expanding the testing area.

“We want to know exactly where the outer boundary of the contaminated area is and it’s because of the new provincial guidelines,” she said.

In September, the province implemented new stricter guidelines, which lowered the level of TCE deemed acceptable.

During the meeting, Copes explained the new guidelines and said changes would have little effect on the study’s results.

Although the region is broadening its net for testing this winter, Wang said she is not expecting to find any further homes affected.

The study results can be found on the region’s website at www.regionwaterloo.on.ca under public health.

http://www.cambridgetimes.ca/news/local/article/897464–residents-seeking-answers-on-tce-issue

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2 Responses to Residents seeking answers on TCE issue by Ray Martin

  1. m_boilard@sympatico.ca'
    m. boilard November 4, 2010 at 11:39 am

    This is ridiculous:
    “Since last June’s public meeting, Copes’ team of researchers has examined the data collected and compared it with a number of studies that looked at the risk of developing cancer by factory workers who worked with TCE on a daily basis.”

    Again…The data they collected was of the wrong circumstances. Work related exposures are ‘acute and short term’ (direct and with special ventilation) where as a neighbourhood over a historic plume is ‘chronic low-level’ exposure (vapour intrusion) over extended periods of time (25yrs?). A good study would include a number of similar neighbourhoods (and there are plenty in Ontario) against an equal number of neighbourhoods that do not live above a pume.

  2. blueeyeschar@hotmail.com'
    Charleen Bellefeuille November 5, 2010 at 8:59 pm

    This is ridiculous you know it was found in my sister’s house; they tore her home apart to get rid of the chemical. Why would they do that if they didn’t know it was deadly?

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