CAMDENTON, Mo. – The Missouri Department of Natural Resources and Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services met with Camdenton residents Tuesday night to address whether past activities at a manufacturing plant are affecting their health.
The DNR has been monitoring the neighborhood around an old plant in west Camdenton for the known carcinogen trichloroethylene, or TCE.
Long term exposure to TCE can cause immune system issues as well as liver and kidney cancers.
The three different companies that owned the now defunct plant over the last few decades used TCE as a metal degreaser. The last owner was Modine Heat Transfer Inc., which left town in 2012.
TCE has long been a concern for Camdenton residents living near this site, as high levels of TCE were blamed for the closure of a city well near the plant in the late 1990’s.
DNR officials said the plant has been tested several times since 2003 for TCE, and things checked out fine.
However, DNR officials and health department officials said scientific understanding of TCE and exposure to it have advanced significantly over the years.
The DNR said in 2015, sample results showed TCE concentrations in the the indoor air of the plant were above EPA’s regional screening level for industrial air.
TCE concentrations in the sub-slab soil gas were “extremely high,” above EPA residential and commercial screening levels.
These levels generated concern about vapor intrusion, which occurs when chemicals evaporate out of soil or groundwater and enter the air in resident’s homes.
Testing of about a dozen area homes in December did not turn up levels of TCE that are believe to pose a short-term or long-term health risk.
“The levels that we’ve seen are pretty low,” said Michelle Hartman, who works with the health department in its bureau of environmental epidemiology. “They’re not above the levels that we would say that an action needs to be taken to protect public health, and again that’s why we’re here, to protect public health.”
DNR officials said the homes around the site will be sampled four times this year to determine if TCE levels pose a threat.
At this time, officials do not believe residents have to worry about indoor air quality or the groundwater.