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Water/Waste Processing e-News / Drinking Water

Kansas state officials investigate Wichita groundwater contamination

April 22, 2014
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The Kansas Department of Health and Environment (KDHE) is investigating groundwater contamination detected in Wichita. Officials have tracked the chemical that taints the water -- tetrachloroethylene (PCE) -- to the former Four Seasons Dry Cleaners, KDHE announced.

PCE is a volatile organic chemical, most often used in dry cleaning. The chemical is potentially dangerous to public health and could contaminate private drinking water wells in the area. While officials are still working on dealing with the issue, the KDHE issued a new map of the affected area, based on the latest testing results. As the investigation continues these areas may change, the regulator said.

According to the KDHE, exposure to PCE over a prolonged period of time is associated with a higher risk of developing certain types of cancer. This risk increases in line with the degree, frequency and length of time of the exposure.

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Several areas in Wichita have been advised to avoid using drinking water coming from their usual sources, since the concentration of PCE has been found to be above safety levels. Residents in these areas have been connected to other mains, or have been provided with point-of-entry carbon filtration systems where that was not possible. Residents in areas where PCE contamination is below the KDHE determined level, but higher than the level determined as safe by the EPA, are receiving bottled water.

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