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Vinyl Chloride – A Cancer-Causing Contaminant

Usually when the state steps in to legally enforce drinking water regulations, something is very wrong. When towns or municipalities are not following guidelines for water regulations, the state will sue them to clean up the water and find ways to provide safe drinking water to residents. Last month, this was the situation in Illinois according to an article published by the Chicago Tribune. The state finally stepped in to remove a cancer-causing chemical from the public drinking water in south suburban Sauk Village. But this is just one town affected by this cancer-causing chemical. How many other towns may have this same problem, but the levels are not high enough to do anything about it? News stories such as this need to create awareness and proactive decisions by residents in the United States. Waiting until something is found in your water, tested for, or exceeds limitations is dangerous. Some contaminants may not be as harmful, but in the case of vinyl chloride – it causes cancer.
Two portable air strippers are going to be used on a temporary basis to start reducing the level of vinyl chloride in the suburb’s well water system, state officials said. The two air strippers — which shoot air through the water to remove the toxic chemical — are being hooked up to the suburb’s highest producing well. Meanwhile, village officials are continuing to provide free bottled water to residents. But not only is this a temporary fix, plastic water bottles usually end up in landfills and the amount of plastic waste adding up is irresponsible and just as dangerous to our environment.  “The goal is to get all of the volatiles out,” said Maggie Carson, spokeswoman for the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency. The goal may seem on target, but village officials voted Thursday to bring in the air strippers themselves. That plan could have taken more than a month. Carson said the state moved to get it done faster and will most likely be paid back by Sauk Village.
According to the article, the state EPA warned residents that vinyl chloride levels in their drinking water had reached levels high enough to require the town take action and alert users. Vinyl chloride is a carcinogen and the federal EPA says there is no safe level of exposure to it. According to the federal EPA’s website, “Acute (short-term) exposure to high levels of vinyl chloride in air has resulted in central nervous system effects (CNS), such as dizziness, drowsiness, and headaches in humans. Chronic (long-term) exposure to vinyl chloride through inhalation and oral exposure in humans has resulted in liver damage. Cancer is a major concern from exposure to vinyl chloride via inhalation, as vinyl chloride exposure has been shown to increase the risk of a rare form of liver cancer in humans. EPA has classified vinyl chloride as a Group A, human carcinogen.”
When contaminants make the headlines, it should make residents in other areas cautious (but not panicked) about their drinking water. To reduce concern and contaminants, reverse osmosis systems like ours can provide safe drinking water. Our drinking water systems are easy to maintain, are eco-friendly, and affordable to homeowners. From washing your fruits and vegetables, to making ice cubes, drinking water with our reverse osmosis water filters has never been safer.