The Hidden Danger to Vision

The Hidden Danger to Vision

Image courtesy of Mister GC at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of Mister GC at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

There are so many complex chemicals used in the modern world that it is almost inevitable that there will be health hazards from at least some, and a recent report shows the hidden danger to vision of exposure, especially early in life, to the chemical solvent tetrachloroethylene, also known apparently as PCE. The chemical is an organic solvent and widely used in dry cleaning, despite the statement by the International Agency for Research on Cancer classifying it as a carcinogen. There is believed to be widespread contamination of soil and water with this chemical and it is alarming to read reports such as this one which refer to long-term vision impairments associated with it. 

The Hidden Danger to Vision

It reads:

 “A new study led by Boston University School of Public Health (BUSPH) researchers has found that people exposed to higher levels of PCE from gestation through age 5 exhibited poorer color-discrimination abilities than unexposed people. The study, published July 11 in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives, recommends further investigation into the visual impairments associated with PCE exposure.”

“The research team assessed visual functioning among a group of people born between 1969 and 1983 to parents residing in eight towns in the Cape Cod region of Massachusetts. The towns all had PCE in their drinking water because of pipes outfitted with a vinyl liner that was improperly cured. Previous studies led by Ann Aschengrau, professor of epidemiology at BUSPH, have found associations between PCE exposure and cancer, as well as reproductive and developmental outcomes. Increases in the risks of breast cancer and certain birth defects were seen in the team’s prior studies.”

“PCE is a known neurotoxin that was used to apply the vinyl liner of some drinking water pipes. Surveys have estimated that more than 600 miles of such pipes were installed in nearly 100 cities and towns in Massachusetts, mainly during the 1970s. Exposure to PCE from drinking water occurs by direct ingestion, dermal exposure during bathing, and by inhalation during showering, bathing and other household uses.”

Tetrachloroethylene is still widely used apparently in the dry cleaning industry, and also to degrease metal components. Once it has entered water supplies anywhere it leaches into the soil and remains as a contaminant which is building up gradually in amounts in our drinking water. The hidden danger to vision and general health of contaminating chemicals in water supplies is of real concern because normal cleansing and processing procedures do not seem to remove them, and they are adding to our risk of cancer from environmental factors.

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