Trichloroethylene (TCE) Exposure in El Cajon

Are you concerned about possible TCE exposure or TCE contamination on your property that may have caused harm to you or your family?

The information presented here regarding exposure to TCE, or Trichloroethylene in the city of El Cajon, is important because exposure to TCE may harm you. TCE is a volatile metal-cleaning agent that can be hazardous to humans. Trichloroethylene is a colorless, volatile liquid. Liquid trichloroethylene evaporates trichloro- quickly into the air. It is nonflammable and has a sweet odor.

If you live in proximity to Ametek, in El Cajon, you may have been exposed to TCE. Ametek, located at 790 Greenfield Dr, El Cajon, CA 92021, and provider of components for aircraft and turbine engine builders, as well as precision integrated manufacturing for space, marine, and ground-based applications, dumped up to 7,000 gallons per month (for over 2 decades) of TCE into the ground. As a result, the area was contaminated with an array of toxic chemicals.

TCE Exposure in El Cajon

TCE Exposure in El Cajon
TCE Exposure in El Cajon

This problem made it to the court system in 2015 when a law suit was filed in San Diego Superior Court against Ametek, where it was revealed that for over 2 decades going back to 1963, Ametek (previously known as Straza) disposed of toxic chemicals into the ground that then leaked into groundwater. The facility is located within a few hundred feet of Magnolia Elementary School (650 Greenfield Dr., El Cajon, CA 92021) and several mobile home park communities and apartment complexes.

The lawsuit states that Ametek/Straza dumped gallons of toxic waste each month and that the children and teachers that attended and worked at Magnolia Elementary School were affected by this contamination.

Furthermore, in November of 2016, homeowners from the Starlight Mobile Home Park (351 E Bradley Ave, El Cajon, CA 92021) and Greenfield Mobile Home Estates (400 Greenfield Dr, El Cajon, CA 92021) were informed that the TCE vapors likely were oozing into their properties as well.

TCE is a chemical known to be hazardous to health, and manufacturing companies who use it in their processes should take measures to ensure people’s safety. In another incident of TCE exposure, 150 employees of the Navy’s SPAWAR facility in Old Town were moved to temporary offices to avoid exposure. As a chemical known to be particularly harmful to pregnant women, the Naval site required their female employees at this facility to relocate. However, in the case of Ametek, the people living near their facilities were not informed about the contamination until last year.

Heavy short-term exposure can slow down the central nervous system, causing drowsiness and headaches, and can irritate the eyes, skin and lungs. It also raises the risk of heart defects in developing fetuses.

Furthermore, when high amounts of TCE are inhaled over the long-term, more serious damage is caused. For example, high exposure to TCE may cause neurological disorders. Liver damage and even kidney cancer have been linked to TCE exposure in some studies.

The Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) issued a Public Health Statement summarizing the effects of exposure to TCE. In this document, they explain how you become exposed, and the effects of being exposed.

The ATSDR explained that just because an industrial plant releases a toxic waste, such as TCE, it does not mean people are exposed to it. You become exposed when you breathe, eat or drink the contaminant or when it touches your skin.

The ATSDR mentions that there are several main reasons TCE is used in manufacturing: to remove grease from metal parts, to make other chemicals, and as a solvent for oils, fats and waxes. This chemical is commonly used in the textile processing industry, in dry cleaning and as a component of lubricants, paint strippers, etc.

But how is it that TCE exposure can affect your health?

TCE can enter your body from the air, water, or soil. In the case of the citizens from El Cajon, TCE exposure came by air as a result of its release from trichloroethylene-contaminated groundwater.

According to the ATSDR, once TCE is in your blood the body tries to eliminate it, however, if more TCE is absorbed than the body can eliminate, then TCE or its products can be stored in your body fat. Once you’ve stopped absorbing TCE, then it will leave the fat. The more harmful effects of TCE happen when there is a prolonged exposure, as was the case in the people of El Cajon, since the company was dumping the chemical into the ground for over 2 decades.

Exposure to TCE right in the workplace may cause an autoimmune disease. It also has been linked to decreases in sex drive, reproductive hormone levels and sperm quality. Long-term exposure studies in animals have been mostly focused on how TCE can lead to cancer after ingesting it.

There is, however, strong evidence that exposure to TCE can cause kidney cancer in humans. There is also some indications that it can cause liver cancer and blood cancer. There is some evidence as well, that TCE may induce testicular cancer and lung tumors in mice.

Children and Trichloroethylene Exposure
It is not known whether children are more susceptible than adults to the effects of TCE. Some studies have indicated that there are harmful effects to the fetus if the mother is exposed. Problems such as spontaneous abortion, congenital heart defects, central nervous system defects can occur as a result of TCE exposure. However, these problems can be difficult to link directly to TCE because people that present these problems generally are also exposed to other chemicals.

In any case, exposure to TCE has been confirmed in the area of El Cajon where Ametek is located. If you live in the proximity, and you have had serious health issues, you might have a case. Contact our office immediately for a FREE consultation.

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