Top scientists call on EPA to crack down on drinking-water pollutant

The solvent trichloroethylene (TCE) — the most common industrial pollutant in U.S. drinking water — poses a high risk of kidney cancer and other diseases, the National Research Council reported yesterday. The council said the U.S. EPA should get moving on a new risk assessment, which is expected to lead to new standards for allowable TCE levels. The EPA had indicated in 2001 that TCE was up to 40 percent more carcinogenic than previously thought — but the Pentagon, Energy Department, and NASA, wishing to avoid costly cleanup at TCE-tainted sites, accused EPA of inflating the risks. In light of the new NRC data, “It is no longer acceptable for the government and local polluters to claim that health risks associated with TCE are simply scientific theory when we know that they are compelling scientific fact,” said Rep. Maurice Hinchey (D-N.Y.). Said an EPA spokesflack, “Armed with the results from the NRC review, EPA will aggressively move forward.”