Thousands of Hacienda Heights residents who were warned last week that they shouldn't drink their tap water are now being told, in effect, to go ahead and drink.
State Health Director Kenneth W. Kizer is writing nearly 5,300 Hacienda Heights households to advise residents that his agency "does not believe any health effects are likely to occur" from consuming water that contains traces of the industrial chemical dichloroethylene (DCE), a spokesman said Saturday.
Kizer hopes to "allay any unreasonable fears" that may have resulted from an earlier letter advising use of bottled water for drinking and cooking until the end of October, when a new deep well is expected to be operational, said spokesman Peter Weisser.
The earlier letter, sent by the San Gabriel Valley Water Co. at the behest of officials in a local state Health Department office, prompted scores of calls from concerned residents.
Causes Cancer in Animals
DCE, used as a solvent and in the making of plastics, has been found to cause tumors in laboratory animals, health officials say.
Kizer's new notice stresses that the level of DCE in the supply is such that short-term exposure should cause no ill effects. Kizer says that a person would have to consume two quarts of the tainted water daily for 70 years to face potential harm.
Kizer also notes that the Environmental Protection Agency has proposed a new safety threshold for DCE of 7 parts per billion--or 35 times the existing threshold of .2 parts per billion.
Health inspectors last April had discovered DCE traces ranging from .3 to 8.2 parts per billion in the San Gabriel Valley Water Co. supply. Some wells were shut and water from other wells was diluted.