• Barbara Moran

    Barbara Moran, Senior Science Writer

    Barbara Moran is a science writer in Brookline, Mass. Profile

Comments & Discussion

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There are 32 comments on Toxic Legacy

    1. The locations where vinyl-lined pipes (the source of PCE contamination) were installed were based on the particular needs of the water companies. Mainly they were used to extend their water distribution systems to accommodate new houses and neighborhoods. Sometimes they were used to replace “old” pipes. This led to a very irregular contamination pattern which was an advantage for our research because it meant that exposed and unexposed people were quite similar in other respects.

  1. Very well-written story about a very dedicated application of science, aimed at a very important problem. Hats off to Ann for her work, and Barbara for the article.

  2. Hi,
    Can you say anything regarding the relevance of your work to potential household water supply contamination by hydraulic fracturing and its underground waste “disposal”?

    1. Both sources of contamination point to the vulnerability of our drinking water supplies and the need for close monitoring.

  3. Wonderfully written Barbara and an excellent way to e-meet one of my SPH colleagues – duly tweeted as “Epidemiology is a science of probabilities and estimates, maybes and maybe nots” fantastic line! Keep up the great work on both fronts.

  4. Thank you for sharing, Ann and Barbara.
    It seems the PCE pipe manufacturer(s) would have sold their products in other high growth housing markets. Is there a source the public can go to research other towns, neighborhoods, street, houses that might have installed the PCE water pipes?

    1. It does appear that the affected pipes were installed in communities undergoing development from the late 1960s through 1980. Anyone interested in finding out if vinyl-lined pipes were installed their town should contact the Massachusettts Department of Environmental Protection (MA DEP) or their local water company. According to a MA DEP report from 1980, 660 miles of vinyl-lined pipes were installed in 91 cities and towns.

    1. Point of entry systems that filter water as it enters a home work quite well to reduce/eliminate contaminants, including organic solvents like PCE. Point of use filters that attach to a single faucet are also fine but mitigate contaminants only at that location.

    1. The parents who were exposed to PCE as adults do not have higher rates of (secondary) infertility or miscarriage. We are planning to examine these health outcomes among the children born from 1969-1983 but have not yet done so. The children were, on average, 29 years old when they completed our study questionnaire. We won’t have good data on possible reproductive problems until we gather more data on the latter part of their reproductive years.

  5. Does filtering drinking water remove PCE? Do septic systems and garden and lawn irrigation just redistribute this monster chemical?

    1. Yes, filtering the water does remove this chemical. If it is present in the water coming into a home, there is no reason to think that it won’t be present in water coming out of the home, although some of the PCE will volatilize into the air.

  6. I lived in Gray Gables in Bourne in the 70’s and 80’s and I believe I participated in this study. I gave birth to two sons both of whom had birth defects, one minor and physical and the other neurological. He was bullied all through his school years. I moved away from Bourne in the early 90’s and back in the late 90’s to Falmouth. In 2005 I found that I had bladder cancer. I moved to Maine in 2015

  7. This is extremely interesting stuff, obviously…I do wonder–many of the risk-taking outcomes apparently associated with PCE exposure might also be correlated with socio-economic status. Do the studies take account of that?

  8. We did control for socio-economic status by taking into account the parent’s educational level and occupation. We also controlled for the mother’s behaviors during pregnancy, including alcoholic beverage consumption, cigarette smoking and marijuana use.

    1. We did not include Nantucket or Martha’s Vineyard in our research. According to a 1982 report from the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection, no vinyl-lined pipes were installed on Martha’s Vineyard and only 0.2 miles of the affected pipes were installed on Nantucket. From a scientific standpoint it did not make sense to include geographic areas with little population exposure.

  9. Great article. I’m grateful for the research continuing. Were there PCE water supply pipes in Chatham on Sears Point found in your findings? I lived off and on there as a child drinking the local water during the years listed. I live today with a particular blood condition and wonder if there is any connection. Please respond if you are able to. Thank you!

  10. That area of Chatham is downstream from vinyl-lined pipes that were installed in the late 1970s on Bridge Street and Stage Harbor Road. Thus, we believe that the area had a low level of PCE exposure.

  11. Thanks for your time and diligence on this! I’m very interested in Epidemiology as a public health nurse and family nurse Practitioner that studied occupational health.
    I’m wondering if there is anyway I can get involved with your studies?

    I also have a long time friend who is a hydrogeologist wiring on the Army/Air Force base cleaning up H2O plumes. I’m sure she finds your work fascinyas well! ;)

    Thanks and much confined success!
    Terry Russo FNP-C MSN

  12. Thank you for all your work. I grew up in Chatham on Cod Lane mid 1960s. My younger Sister Lori passed away from long cancer at age 41, 11 years ago. In my neighborhood, almost every home someone has cancer. Was my neighborhood using the toxic pipes? Its disturbing how many cancer cases in such a small area.
    Thank you.

  13. So informational. I grew up in Sagamore Beach, later to Bourne Village and attended Bourne Schools. I was Dx. With breast cancer at 52 yrs old, no family history. Gave birth to my sons in 1979 and 1983. Both had drug addiction and bipolar DO. And depression. Has anyone thought about pipes in the schools?

  14. My husband was a smoker but did drycleaning in the mid to late 1960’s in the navy aboard ships. He has severe emphysema and had colon rectal cancer 5 years ago. I am trying to find any info supporting perchloroethylene as the cause.

  15. Is there any link between PCE exposure and suicidal ideation? there seems to be strong correlation between substance abuse and suicide… so seems logical there could be a correlation between suicide and PCE. Also, is there anyway for the public to find out which addresses had the highest PCE exposure? I was born on cape cod and was likely exposed in utero, but would like to find out for sure.

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