What are VOC’s (volatile organic chemicals) and how do they contaminate CT drinking water?
VOC’s are a group of commonly used chemicals that evaporate, or volatilize, when exposed to air. Since they dissolve many other substances, VOC’s are widely used as cleaning and liquefying agents in fuels, degreasers, solvents, polishes, cosmetics, drugs, and dry cleaning solutions.
VOC’s are found at airports and service stations machine shops, print and paint shops, electronics and chemical plants, dry cleaning facilities, and in household products throughout CT. Some common VOC’s are trichloroethylene (TCE),tetrachloroethylene, trichloroethane, benzene, toluene, and xylenes.
When VOC’s are spilled or dumped in CT, a portion will evaporate, but some usually soaks into the ground. In soil, the VOC’s can be carried deeper with rainwater or melting snow. If they reach the water table, they can persist for years because the cool, dark, low-bacteria environment does not promote decomposition. If the VOC’s in the groundwater migrate to nearby wells, they can end up in your drinking water.
Several factors increase a well’s vulnerability to VOC contamination in Connecticut.
One – The distance between the well and the source or sources of contamination, many of the VOC contaminated wells are located near industrial or commercial areas, gas stations, landfills, or railroad tracks.
Two – The depth of the well casing, since contaminants seep from the ground surface, a shallow well will be affected sooner than a deep well.
Three – The local geology, areas with highly porous or “thin” soils and shallow depths to groundwater are most vulnerable. On the other hand, areas with thick layers of certain types of soil can absorb and significantly slow down the movement of some contaminants. This is particularly important because many organic chemicals can be broken down by soil bacteria if they are held near the ground surface long enough for the bacteria to work.
Groundwater typically moves very slowly, and it can sometimes take yeara for spilled contaminant to reach nearby wells. The time and distance contaminants must travel are extremely important because many wells which presently show no contamination may eventually become contaminated by spills that have already occurred. In other words, we won’t know the full impacts of the contamination we have already caused for many years to come. This is why we must continue to test our water supplies.
Exposure to VOCs can result in many adverse health effects depending on the type, level and length of exposure. Health problems in CT can range from minor ailments to major, long-term health complications including:
- Eye, nose and throat irritation
- Nausea and vomiting
- Asthma exacerbation
- Allergic skin reaction
- Memory impairment and loss of coordination
- Liver damage
- Kidney damage
- Central Nervous System damage
Keep your family safe. Schedule an appointment for a water testing today 888-558-1574. “Near me, in my area, in CT?” Yes!