A cancer inquiry related to trichloroethylene contamination in Camdenton has now become a cancer study for Camden County. Participation in the study is being promoted to try to help get a better grasp of the possible impact on the people of this area.

Trichloroethylene was and is a commonly-used industrial solvent that is a “potential human health hazard for noncancer toxicity to the central nervous system, kidney, liver, immune system, male reproductive system, and the developing fetus,” according to a toxicological assessment of TCE published by the EPA in September 2011. It is “‘carcinogenic to humans’ by all routes of exposure.”

Three Superfund sites, identified in the 1990s, exist in the City of Camdenton from past dumping by a former manufacturer. These sites are overseen by the Missouri Department of Natural Resources and have been subject to renewed testing in recent years due to new concerns about the toxicity of TCE vapor intrusion in buildings in addition to previously known toxicity of TCE contamination of water. 

Camdenton’s off-line Mulberry Well and City Lagoon #3 and the now-defunct manufacturing plant at 221 Sunset Drive are the currently designated Superfund sites. Modine, Hamilton Sundstrand and the City of Camdenton are the official responsible parties for these sites and pay for testing at and around these locations.

With the renewed testing at residences in the area of the shuttered factory has come renewed interest from the community in contamination, and contamination at a fourth site was identified last year after actionable levels of TCE in subslab tests were recorded following a tip from a former factory worker. Negotiations between MDNR and potentially responsible parties for this site are still underway.

With stories of many former factory workers and city residents who have had cancer or who have died of cancer, a citizens committee, CITCAT, working with the Missouri Department of Natural Resources requested a cancer study. Camden County Presiding Commissioner Greg Hasty sits on CITCAT and contacted the Missouri Department of Health and Human Services, opening an inquiry.

Levels of kidney cancer, a cancer more highly relatable to TCE than others, were elevated enough that state health officials thought a study was warranted, according to CITCAT chairman James Gohagen. 

At this point, the study appears to simply entail filling out a one-page form with information such as name, address, type of cancer and physician who made the diagnosis. Forms may be picked up at the Camden County Commission Office in the administrative courthouse in Camdenton or by contacting CITCAT on their Facebook page, Camden County Contamination Board. The address to send completed forms to is listed on the form.

Any current or former Camden County resident who has cancer is encouraged to participate as well as next-of-kin of a resident who passed away of cancer.

The study is open until June 28, though an extension may be sought in order to get enough participants for the study to go forward.