Sunday, March 15, 2009

Trichloroethylene -Senator Hillary Clinton introduced in the Senate S.1911

Subject: Partial reprint from bulletin

VET TOXIC EXPOSURE – TCE: Trichloroethylene (TCE) is an excellent metal degreaser which was used by both industry and the military for many years without regard to sound environmental disposal practices. As a result an unknown number of veterans have been exposed to TCE, a known carcinogen. In 2003 the Air Force reported 1,400 military sites contaminated with TCE. The Marine Corps Times reported 22 military bases with contaminated TCE water in JUN 07. To confront this problem then Senator Hillary Clinton introduced in the Senate S.1911The TCE Reduction Act of 2008 (or the Toxic Chemical Exposure Reduction Act of 2008) in 2007. The bill never became law. Congressional sessions last two years, and at the end of each session all proposed bills that haven't passed are cleared from the books. Never reaching the floor for a vote, S.1911 expired at the end of the Congressional session. The Act would have amended the Safe Drinking Water Act to require the Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to:

· Publish a health advisory for trichloroethylene that fully protects, with an adequate margin of safety, the health of susceptible populations (including pregnant women, infants, and children), taking into consideration body weight, exposure patterns, and all routes of exposure.

· Promulgate a national primary drinking water regulation for trichloroethylene: (1) that is protective of susceptible populations; and (2) the maximum contaminant level of which is as close to the maximum contaminant level goal for trichloroethylene, and as protective of those susceptible populations, as is feasible.

· Require consumer confidence reports to disclose the presence of, and the potential health risks to susceptible populations from exposure to, trichloroethylene in drinking water.

· Publish a health advisory for trichloroethylene that fully protects the health of susceptible populations from vapor intrusion.

· Establish an integrated risk information system reference concentration of trichloroethylene vapor that is protective of susceptible populations; and

· Apply such reference concentration with respect to any potential vapor intrusion-related investigations or actions to protect public health with respect to trichloroethylene exposure carried out pursuant to the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act of 1980 and the Safe Drinking Water Act.

An effort is presently underway by The Veterans-For-Change (VFC) to get this bill reintroduced with an additional provision to make honorable discharged veterans who served at any military base on the EPA Superfund list (133 bases as of the latest count) eligible for the DVA “Presumptive Disability” umbrella when applying for VA disability compensation from exposure to TCE. There is medical support of the health effects of TCE exposure (including the EPA and the National Academy of Sciences). The VA presently denies disability claims of veterans without substantial supporting documentation, including an opinion from a medical doctor that the illness was “at least as likely as not” due to exposure to TCE in the military. For many veterans this is a "catch twenty-two situation." The military base they were stationed at was reported as having high levels of TCE. Their illness is one that can be caused by exposure to TCE. They can't work because of their disability. The VA requires "proof" that their disability including a medical opinion or nexus statement that links the illness to military service. A disabled and often unemployed veteran is unlikely to pay for a medical opinion and nexus statement from an expert medical specialist because of cost. A telephone call to a Southern California medical doctor and toxicologist showed that a short opinion letter (one typed page) would cost approximately $3,000.

The VA currently has four groups of veterans under the Presumptive Disability category. These include former POWs, Vietnam veterans (exposed to Agent Orange); atomic veterans (exposed to ionizing radiation); and Gulf War veterans. The addition of Presumptive Disability for diseases linked to TCE contamination would seem to fit the criteria of these existing Presumptive Disability categories. Veterans are encouraged to contact their legislators’ regarding reintroduction of a TCE Reduction Act and eliminate the need for an expensive medical nexus statement.. [Source: 22 Mar 09 ++]

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