New Jersey environmental and health officials will hold a meeting next week to discuss homes in Passaic County that have water wells contaminated with a dangerous chemical known to cause liver and kidney damage, and potentially birth defects.
North Haledon city officials, along with representatives from the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP), Passaic County Board of Health and the North Haledon Board of Health, will hold a public meeting regarding 23 private water wells that have carbon tetrachloride contamination exceeding the NJ State Ground Water Quality Standard of 1 part per billion. The contamination may affect even more homes as water testing continues.
Carbon tetrachloride does not occur naturally. It is a man made chemical used most commonly in the production of other chemicals, such as refrigerants; propellants for aerosol cans; solvents for oils, fats, lacquers, varnishes and resins; pesticides; cleaning fluids; dry cleaning agents and degreasers.
Other names for this chemical include carbon chloride, methane tetrachloride, perchloromethane, tetrachloroethane and benziform.
According to NorthJersey.com, the contamination was first discovered in April during a well water test for a property in a real estate transaction.
A notice was sent advising neighboring residents within 1000 feet of the contaminated well to test their water wells. So far, that testing has shown 22 more homes with dangerous levels of the chemical.
North Haledon officials then sent a letter to 300 additional residents within 2000 feet advising them to have their water tested too.
“In light of the fact that carbon tetrachloride contamination was discovered in your neighborhood, I urge you to have your water tested immediately,” Randy George, mayor of the North Haledon wrote in a letter to residents within 2000 feet of contaminated wells. “Please provide my office with a copy of the results of your test immediately.”
The NJDEP is investigating the cause of the contamination. The total number of water wells affected remains unknown at this time. There are no known spills of carbon tetrachloride in the area. It is also unknown how long the wells have been contaminated.
Respiratory or oral exposure to carbon tetrachloride affects the liver, kidneys and central nervous system (CNS) in humans. Exposure to high levels or long-term exposure causes liver and kidney damage. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) classifies carbon tetrachloride as a probable human carcinogen. Studies in animals have shown it to increase risk of liver cancer.
According to the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR), studies suggest that this chemical may cause birth defects in children of women exposed to this chemical during pregnancy.
Human symptoms of acute (short-term) inhalation or oral exposure to carbon tetrachloride include:
Residents with wells affected by carbon tetrachloride contamination may file a claim with the NJ Spill Fund.
The NJDEP will provide affected residents with a point-of-entry treatment (POET) system while the agency performs a cost assessment of maintaining the POET systems in the future versus extending a water line to affected residences.
The meeting is scheduled for 7:00pm on Monday, June 4 at the Eastern Christian High School located at 50 Oakwood Ave in North Haledon.