SALISBURY, Md.- Residents of one Wicomico County community on Wednesday had a very real reason to be worried about their water and their health.
The Maryland Department of the Environment said that it found concerning levels of trichloroethene in approximately 25 homes in the Morris Mill Road area outside of Salisbury.
The department said that the TCE concentrations detected in the affected wells to date ranged from 0.64 micrograms per liter to 261.39 ug/L. TCE is a commonly-used industrial solvent.
MDE considers private well water with TCE concentrations greater than 2 ug/L to be unacceptable for human consumption, contact and showering/bathing because a lifetime exposure (30 years) to it has the possibility of causing cancer or health problems.
Kris Brown, who was notified about TCE in her water, spent the day emptying out her ice maker, her home-made orange juice and stocking her fridge with bottled water.
"The Wicomico County Health Department knocked on our door to test waters that there are possibly high levels of TCE, which is a volatile organic compound and just hearing those words is pretty scary," Brown said.
That is why officials spent the day leaving notices at some homes in the Morris Mill area letting people know about the recent discovery.
"Our concern right now is to get them on a safe drinking water supply," said Arthur O'Connell, chief of the MDE's Waste Management Administration's Superfund. "We have plans to either put carbon treatment units on the wells or to possibly even drill new wells or extend the water line to this area."
"We recommend that you use bottled water for cooking and drinking," O'Connell continued. "I can't tell you don't take a shower but you can certainly minimize that. Keep the window open and again this is not going to get corrected overnight and I realize that it's going to be a hardship for a number of people."
O'Connell said while some homes in the community showed concerning levels of TCE, other homes did not.
One of those homes belongs to Cheryl Thompsen.
She said even though she is not too worried, she is questioning how any of the substance ended up getting into her water.
"I don't really need the name of the person, but just knowing that the environmental agency is aware of who has done this and get whatever they need to stop doing whatever it is they are doing," Thompsen said.
Brown said it is a worry they will be around for a while.
"I'm taking it seriously because I'm a nurse and I know things that you need to worry about and anybody should be worried about even if you are a nurse or not," she said.
The Wicomico County Health Department will be holding a public informational meeting on Nov. 8 at 6 p.m. at the Fruitland City Hall.
The department encourages everyone concerned about the issue to come out to this meeting for any questions they may have.
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