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
Tetrachloroethylene (PCE) is a solvent used in dry cleaning, textile processing and metal degreasing. Because its use often occurs in uncontrolled occupational settings, PCE is a common contaminant of drinking water supplies and Superfund sites. While there is evidence that PCE adversely impacts birth outcomes, the published literature is small and has weaknesses that hamper firm conclusions. This project is a population-based case-control study designed to overcome these limitations. The study is testing the hypothesis that prenatal exposure to PCE-contaminated drinking water increases the risk of birth defects and stillbirths among offspring of women from Massachusetts and Rhode Island.
Over the past year, Aschengrau, Ph.D., and her team completed all data collection activities and the resultant data have been cleaned and prepared for analysis. Aschengrau’s team also published several manuscripts describing the risks of placental dysfunction disorders, polycystic ovary syndrome, and head injuries following early life exposure to tetrachloroethylene-contaminated drinking water and presented abstracts on their findings at the American Congress of Epidemiology. Aschengrau also gave an invited lecture on Superfund research at the Canadian Society for Epidemiology and Biostatistics Patterns of Health Symposium in Winnipeg, Manitoba.
Recent findings from this project suggest that early life exposure to PCE does not increase the risk of polycystic vary syndrome of head injuries. These findings continue to provide a sound scientific basis for future risk assessments and drinking water regulations that protect the health of pregnant women and their developing fetuses.