What scientists have learned about these toxins and their effects
a quick visit to any of the links on this page will show, there is a great
deal that is known about the substances which have been used over the last
century in industrial environments. There is considerable continuing investigation
into how these chemicals work and interact, how they can be identified and
measured, and how they can be removed.
Much research remains to be done. The most glaring gap in our knowledge is how these materials affect humans exposed to them over long periods of time. OSHA and other agencies have drafted or developed standards for exposure to fairly high concentrations over short periods of time, as would be faced by workers in an industrial setting. Far less has been done to determine scientifically what these standards should be for exposure to lower amounts in "long-term" settings such as the home.
For an easily-digested overview of the toxins found on South Hill, the report presented by Cornell's EAS/BEE class studying the issues is a good place to start. There are discussions of the toxicology of TCE, geology, hydrology, and TCE transport through bedrock, soil and air.
One of the more comprehensive government documents is the National Toxicology Program Report on Carcinogens, Eleventh Edition; U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The section on TCE is here. Information on the availability of "Background Documents" for the NTP Report on Carcinogens is here.
National Academy of Science (NAS) National Research Council (NRC) Report on TCE
The long-awaited report was released to the public on Thursday, July 27, 2006. At 379 pages, it is not easily or quickly digested, but there are summaries, excerpts, and some news reports now available. With thanks to Neil Fischbein (TCEblog) and to Debra Hall (Hopewell Junction Citizens for Clean Water & Clean Air) , here are some useful links:
A PDF version of the full report is here.
Newer articles and reports can be found at the TCEblog site as they are received.