Superfund Research Program
Early Life Exposure to Tetrachloroethylene (PCE)-Contaminated Drinking Water and Social Stressors may Interact to Increase the Risk of Substance Use Later in Life
This retrospective cohort study is testing the hypothesis that tetrachloroethylene (also known as PCE) found in the distribution systems of public drinking water supplies in Cape Cod, Massachusetts, is associated with disorders of reproduction and development. The study is:
- identifying a cohort of approximately 2,200 Cape Cod children and their families who were exposed to PCE-contaminated drinking water during the period 1969-1983 and a comparable group of unexposed families;
- tracing cohort mothers and sending them a self-administered mail questionnaire to obtain information on reproductive and developmental abnormalities, residential water use, confounding variables and residential histories;
- verifying reports of abnormalities by record review;
- estimating exposure to PCE-contaminated drinking water using an exposure model and geographic information system;
- calculating the relative risk of each adverse outcome in relation to PCE exposure while controlling for confounding variables;
- validating the accuracy of the exposure assessment model and identifying variables important to the model's performance; and
- developing a dose model for PCE exposure that takes into account behavioral variables.
The last two aims were not included in the original proposal. In addition, two changes were made to the original study design because of reductions in the budget. First, a mailed self-administered questionnaire will be used instead of telephone interviews to collect data from mothers, and second, the buccal swab collection has been eliminated.
As itemized below, administrative and substantive tasks have occurred during Year 1 in the areas of project staffing, purchasing equipment and supplies, obtaining the necessary approvals to conduct the study, identifying exposed and unexposed residences, obtaining birth records, identifying study subjects, developing the questionnaire, and designing the validation study.
- Obtained necessary approvals from the 24AB/11B Review Committee of the Massachusetts Department of Public Health, the Massachusetts Department of Public Health Human Research Review Committee, and the Institutional Review Board at Boston Medical Center.
- Composed job descriptions and obtained approval to fill the positions of Project Manager and Research Assistant. Hired individuals for the Project Manager and Research Assistant positions.
- Held meetings with co-investigators and the project manager to provide study background, discuss plans, develop questionnaire items, and assess progress.
- Obtained necessary equipment and supplies including one personal computer, voter registration lists, and telephone books.
- Updated literature review on health effects of PCE and other solvents, drinking water consumption patterns, consumer uses of PCE and risk factors for the reproductive and developmental outcomes under study.
- Reviewed questionnaires from relevant studies and surveys for standard and validated ways of ascertaining accurate information on the outcomes and confounders under study.
- Began developing questionnaire with co-investigator Dr. Thomas Mangione and his staff. We anticipate that the questionnaire will be ready for pre-testing by March, 2001.
- Used the BU GIS to identify all exposed and unexposed residences in the eight- town study area. This information is being cross-matched with the maternal address on the birth certificates in order to identify exposed and unexposed members of the study population.
- Developed data tables for birth certificates and tracing data, data entry screens, data entry checking forms, tracing forms, and data entry and tracing methods
- Identified and photocopied approximately 1,000 birth records from women who resided in the study towns in 1969.
- Designed validation study to evaluate the accuracy of the exposure assessment model.