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Cancer Survey

Help us create an inventory of the instance of cancer within the Water Gremlin exposure area. This information will help us determine if the cancer rates are higher than normal rates for similar populations.

This information will be kept private and will be used only to support Gremlin Health initiatives. We will not accept surveys from outside the MPCA defined exposure zone.

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Community cancer assessment in response to long-time exposure to perchlorate and trichloroethylene in drinking water

Abstract

In response to concerns about cancer stemming from drinking water contaminated with ammonium perchlorate and trichloroethylene, we assessed observed and expected numbers of new cancer cases for all sites combined and 16 cancer types in a California community (1988 to 1998). The numbers of observed cancer cases divided by expected numbers defined standardized incidence ratios (SIRs) and 99% confidence intervals (CI). No significant differences between observed and expected numbers were found for all cancers (SIR, 0.97; 99% CI, 0.93 to 1.02), thyroid cancer (SIR, 1.00; 99% CI, 0.63 to 1.47), or 11 other cancer types. Significantly fewer cases were observed than expected for cancer of the lung and bronchus (SIR, 0.71; 99% CI, 0.61 to 0.81) and the colon and rectum (SIR, 0.86; 0.74 to 0.99), whereas more cases were observed for uterine cancer (SIR, 1.35; 99% CI, 1.06 to 1.70) and skin melanoma (SIR, 1.42; 99% CI, 1.13 to 1.77). These findings did not identify a generalized cancer excess or thyroid cancer excess in this community.

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TCE and Multiple Myeloma

The Relationship between Multiple Myeloma and Occupational Exposure to Six Chlorinated Solvents

Objectives

Few studies have examined whether exposure to chlorinated solvents is associated with increased risk of multiple myeloma (MM). Using occupational exposure information, we evaluated associations between the risk of MM and exposure to six chlorinated solvents: 1,1,1-trichloroethane (TCA), trichloroethylene (TCE), methylene chloride (DCM), perchloroethylene (PCE), carbon tetrachloride, and chloroform.

Methods

MM cases were identified through cancer registries and controls were identified in the general population. In-person interviews obtained lifetime occupational histories and additional information on jobs with likely solvent exposure. We reviewed each job and assigned exposure metrics of probability, frequency, intensity, and confidence using job-exposure matrices modified by job-specific questionnaire information. We used logistic regression to estimate odds ratios (ORs) and 95% confidence intervals (CIs) for associations between MM and having ever been exposed to each, and any, chlorinated solvent and also analyzed whether associations varied by duration and cumulative exposure. We also considered all occupations that were given the lowest confidence scores as unexposed and repeated all analyses.

Results

Risk of MM was significantly elevated for subjects ever exposed to TCA (OR (95% CI): 1.8 (1.1–2.9)). Ever-exposure to TCE or DCM also entailed elevated, but not statistically significant, risks of MM; these became statistically significant when occupations that had low confidence scores were considered unexposed (TCE: 1.7 (1.0–2.7); DCM: 2.0 (1.2–3.2)). Increasing duration and cumulative exposure to TCE were associated with significantly increasing risk of MM when jobs given low confidence were considered unexposed. Increasing cumulative exposure to PCE was also associated with increasing MM risk. We observed non-significantly increased MM risks with exposure to chloroform; however, few subjects were exposed.

Conclusions

Evidence from this relatively large case-control study suggests that exposures to certain chlorinated solvents may be associated with increased incidence of MM; however, the study is limited by relatively low participation (52%) among controls.

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TCE an Pancreatic Cancer

Due to concerns about its toxicity, the use of trichloroethylene in the food and pharmaceutical industries has been banned in much of the world since the 1970. In Europe, legislation has forced the substitution of trichloroethylene in many processes due to the fact it has been classified as a carcinogen carrying an R45 risk phase, May cause cancer. The manufacture of trichloroethylene largely ceased after it was banned
by the Montreal Protocol in 1996. Environmental Health: A Global Access Science Source, published an article in October of 2006 entitled, “Mortality among US employees of a large computer manufacturing company: 1969-2201,” by Richard W. Clapp, the following statement is
made, “In comparison to the PMRs (Proportional Mortality Ratios), only the PCMRs for pancreatic cancer (PCMR = 126; 95%CI = 101, 157), kidney cancer (PCMR = 162; 95%CI = 124, 212), malignant melanoma of the skin (PCMR = 179; 95%CI = 131, 244), and brain and central nervous system cancer (PCMR = 166; 95%CI =129, 213) remained statistically significant.”

The Environmental Protection Agency released a final human health assessment for trichloroethylene Sept. 28, 2011, that for the first time classifies the widely used solvent as “carcinogenic to humans” by all routes of exposure; EPAʼs final assessment concluded that TCE is a mutagenic carcinogen. That means risk assessors will have to take into account that early life exposures to the solvent could increase the risk of
eventual cancer; EPAʼs classification of TCE is consistent with the World Health Organizationʼs classification of TCE as a probable human carcinogen and the U.S. National Toxicology Programʼs listing of it as “reasonable anticipated” to cause human cancer. The EPA reaffirmed their position on June 10, 2016, when they again stated, “TCE is carcinogenic to humans by all routes of exposure.”

The IARC Working Group on the Evaluation of Carcinogenic Risk to Humans. Trichloroethylene, Tetrachloroethylene, and Some Other Chlorinated Agents, Lyon (FR): International Agency for Research on Cancer; 2014 made the following statements: Trichloroethylene was considered by previous IARC Working Groups in 1979, 1987, and New data have since become available, and these have been taken into
consideration in the present evaluation. Under Other Sites it states: “A significantly increased risk of death from cancer of the pancreas was found in black females with a low or medium level of exposure to trichloroethylene, and in white females with a low or high level of exposure, and in white males with a medium level of exposure.”
The molecular alterations in pancreatic carcinogenesis can occur either spontaneously or as the result of a mutagenic carcinogen. TCE has been classified by the EPA as a mutagenic carcinogen. As discussed above in an article entitled “Risk of Pancreatic Cancer in Workers Exposed to Chlorinated Hydrocarbon Solvents and Related
Compounds: A Metal Analysis,” Journal of Epidemiology, vol 153, issue 9 2001:841-850 it was stated, “One case-control study found an association between organochlorine levels and K-ras mutations in pancreatic cancer.”

The International Agency for Research on Cancer, 1995, stated the following: trichloroethylene is a probable carcinogen to humans based on limited human evidence and sufficient animal evidence.” In this monograph, under mutations in protooncogenes in tumors from trichloroethylene-treated animals it was stated, “H-ras
and K-ras mutations each contributed to 4% to the total in treated mice.
The molecular alterations induced by mutagenic carcinogens like TCE regarding the genesis of pancreatic carcinoma are as follows: Kras, Kras (chromosome 12p) is the most frequently altered oncogene in pancreatic cancer, with activating point mutations being present in 90%-95% of cases. CDKN2A. The CDKN2A gene (chromosome 9p) is
inactivated in 95% of pancreatic cancers, making it the most frequently inactivated tumor suppressor gene in these tumors. SMAD4. The SMAD4 tumor suppressor gene (chromosome 18q) is inactivated in 55% of pancreatic cancers. TP53. Inactivation of the TP53 tumor suppressor gene (chromosome 17p) occurs in 70%-75% of pancreatic
cancers. DNA Methylation Abnormalities. Several DNA methylation abnormalities also occur in pancreatic cancer.

Dangers of TCE

“The exposures to TCE that these communities suffered should never have happened,” said Minnesota Pollution Control  Agency (MPCA) Commissioner Laura Bishop. “We know this penalty will be small consolation to those who may face increased health risks because they lived near the facility. Still, it is one of the largest environmental penalties in the state’s history, and sends a strong signal of the agency’s expectations.”

TCE is an industrial solvent that is used in some industries and is found in some household products such as adhesives, paint and stain removers, and parts cleaners. Usually it’s in a liquid form, but it is highly volatile, meaning it easily becomes airborne. When it does, the emissions must be properly controlled or they can be harmful to breathe. Water Gremlin used TCE to coat metal parts. The facility’s air permit required pollution control equipment to keep emissions to allowable levels.

In January 2019 an ongoing MPCA investigation discovered the company had not reported that the pollution control equipment had not been operating at its required levels. As a result, TCE was emitted from the facility at levels that may pose a risk to human health over an area extending up to 1.5 miles from the facility. According to MDH, elevated TCE exposures may increase the risk of birth defects and certain types of cancers.

When the MPCA discovered the full extent of the violations in January, the agency demanded that Water Gremlin voluntarily shut down the TCE portion of their operation; the company complied. Bishop said the quick resolution of the investigation and large penalty show the seriousness of the violations.

“The great majority of Minnesota businesses live up to the terms of their emissions permits,” said Bishop. “The lapses in management and pollution control at Water Gremlin are the exception, not the rule in Minnesota.”

The penalty agreement allows Water Gremlin to restart the production line that was the source of the problem — but they must use an alternative, less toxic product than TCE. The company also agreed to place air monitors on all four sides of the property, at their expense, so the community and MPCA can be assured that all emissions are within health limits.

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Water Gremlin: trichloroethylene (TCE) area of concern

The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) and the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) are investigating possible community exposures to an industrial solvent used by a manufacturer in White Bear Township.

Water Gremlin, Inc. at 4400 Otter Lake Road in White Bear Township, makes fishing sinkers and battery terminal posts. In January 2019, the MPCA learned that the facility was releasing trichloroethylene from its manufacturing process into the air at levels above health guidelines. The MPCA requested the company to shut down the TCE production line on January 14, 2019, which they did the same day. This action stopped the TCE emissions, and that part of the facility will remain shut down as long as necessary to protect public health.

The following map contains the area of exposure.

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