Chlorinated Solvents in Groundwater: Impact and Solution

There are a variety of uses for chlorinated solvents, including being used in metal cleaning and polyvinylchloride (PVC) products. However, these solvents are finding their way into various places where they do not belong. One common place of error is in groundwater. This blog will discuss the impact and the solutions to finding these solvents in groundwater.   

What are the impacts of chlorinated solvents?  

Exposure to chlorinated solvents can happen if contaminated groundwater is:  

  • Ingested   
  • Used to cook with  
  • Used to shower or swim in  
  • Used to water gardens  

When exposed to chlorinated solvents, the type of side effects that one will experience depends on what they were exposed to.   

If someone was exposed to Tetrachloroethene (PCE) or Trichloroethene (TCE) over a short period, they would experience dizziness. However, if exposed for multiple years, they then would experience harm to the following:  

  • Central nervous system  
  • Kidney  
  • Liver  
  • Immune System  

If exposed to large amounts of Dichloroethane (DCE) they would experience nausea and drowsiness. Exposure over long periods could lead to liver damage.   

After being exposed to vinyl chloride one may experience dizziness. Once exposed for a period of time one can experience harm to several functions, such as kidney and liver function,  

Solutions to chlorinated solvent contaminations  

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has recently released a revised plan for cleaning up chlorinated solvent contaminations. There are four treatment EPA approved methods effective at removing groundwater contaminants: 

  • Biological Treatments  
  • Chemical Treatments  
  • Physical Treatments  
  • Thermal Treatments  

Biological treatments involve adding or growing microorganisms that will clear away the contaminants. There are different types of treatments:  

  • Bioaugmentation  
  • Bioremediation  
  • Phytoremediation  

Chemical treatments use chemicals to convert hazardous contaminants into less toxic things. The different types of chemical treatments include:  

  • Chemical oxidation  
  • Chemical reduction  
  • Neutralization  

Physical treatments utilize the different physical properties of contaminants or the contaminated medium to separate the contamination from the medium. Different processes used in this treatment method include sparging and free product recovery.   

Lastly, thermal treatment uses heat to separate the contaminants from the medium, such as groundwater. Thermal treatments include:  

  • Electrical resistance heating   
  • Incineration  
  • Steam enhanced extraction  

Want to learn more?  

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