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USGS VOC's in USDW and Child Cancer

From: Glenn G Patterson <gpatter@usgs.gov>
To: Donald Sutherland <donaldsutherland-iso14000@worldnet.att.net>
Date: Tuesday, September 07, 1999 2:58 PM
Subject: Re: inquiry pertaining to VOC's in ground water

Generally, anything that can cause cancer in adults can cause
cancer in children.  Children are considered more susceptible
to cancer because their cells are multiplying more rapidly than
those of adults.  As I said, however, health effects research is
outside the purview of the USGS; for more specific information,
it would be good to contact the EPA.  They have a whole office
dedicated to environmental threats to children's health.  See
their web page at:


Good luck!

Donald Sutherland wrote:
Thank you so much for your though and prompt response to my inquiries.
 You said some VOCs have been shown to cause cancer.  Does that mean some
 VOCs can cause cancer in children?
 Best Wishes,
 Donald Sutherland
 Member of the Society of Environmental Journalists
 -----Original Message-----
 From: Glenn G Patterson <gpatter@usgs.gov>
 To: donaldsutherland-iso14000@worldnet.att.net
 Date: Tuesday, September 07, 1999 12:12 PM
 Subject: Re: inquiry pertaining to VOC's in ground water
Thank you for your inquiry to the U.S. Geological Survey.
In response to your questions:

1.  VOC's in underground sources of drinking water are a
concern for NAWQA because some VOC's, such as solvents,
fuels, fuel additives, and disinfection byproducts, are
frequently detected in ground water; many VOC's have been
identified as having carcinogenic or other adverse health
effects; and drinking is one of the significant uses of
ground water.  While NAWQA was not designed specifically
to address drinking water sources, much of the ambient
occurrence data collected by NAWQA do reflect conditions
in drinking-water aquifers.  One of the goals of NAWQA is
to determine, within the 50 study units, the distribution
of many VOC's in shallow and moderately deep aquifers, and
to relate that distribution to other factors such as
land use, population density, geology, soils, and climate.

Recognizing the significance of this issue, the NAWQA program
managers have initiated a new project, in cooperation with
the American Water Works Association, to address VOC's in
drinking-water aquifers in greater detail.  The NAWQA VOC
National Synthesis group, headed by John Zogorski
jszogors@usgs.gov), is analyzing VOC's in samples from drinking-
water aquifers nationwide.  For further information, please contact
John Zorgorski.

2.  Some VOC's have been shown to cause cancer.  Health-effects
research, however, is not directly within the purview of the
USGS.  For this type of information, we urge you to contact
the Environmental Protection Agency, the National Cancer Institute,
and academic researchers.

3.  The USGS does not determine maximum contaminant levels; we
are more concerned with determining occurrence.  The regulatory
function is performed by the Environmental Protection Agency.
They have a National Center for Environmental Assessment that
deals with risk and exposure analysis and consumption models.
You can contact them at 202-564-3322.

While we do not determine MCL's, we do make decisions regarding
what detection level to use in our analytical work related to
the occurrence of VOC's.  In general, NAWQA strives for the
lowest detection level technically feasible, given the constraints
of the large-scale national program.  Our detection and reporting
levels are well below the MCL's, and are below the levels used by
most other labs.

For a look at the VOC data collected and analyzed so far in the
NAWQA program, please see this web page:


We hope this information is useful to you.

donaldsutherland-iso14000@worldnet.att.net wrote:

 Dear NAWQA,
I am researching volatile organic compounds (VOCs)in underground sources
of drinking water (USDW).

Why are VOCs a concern for NAWQA in USDW?

 Do VOCs cause cancer and do VOCs cause cancer in child?

What model for consumption is used by the USGS NAWQA Program in
determining maximum contaminant levels (MCLs) for VOCs in USDW?

Thank you for your prompt response to my inquiries.

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Glenn G. Patterson, Hydrologist    E-mail: gpatter@usgs.gov
U. S. Geological Survey, WRD    Voice:  (703) 648-6876
412 National Center         Fax:    (703) 648-5722
Reston, VA 20192            www: http://water.usgs.gov
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