Public looks for link between diseases and south side contaminat - Tucson News Now

Public looks for link between diseases and south side contamination

Sunday's "teach-in" was meant for people worried about historic groundwater contamination on the south side (Source: Tucson News Now). Sunday's "teach-in" was meant for people worried about historic groundwater contamination on the south side (Source: Tucson News Now).
PIMA COUNTY, AZ (Tucson News Now) -

Health officials worked to keep people informed during a Community Teach-In on Sunday afternoon, August 27.

Experts fielded questions about past past contamination of groundwater on Tucson’s south side, as the public expressed their health concerns.

"Our technique and our ability to detect very, very small levels of contamination continues to improve every day," said Dr. Francisco Garcia, Pima County's Chief Medical Officer.

Panels of experts were lined up during various forums inside the Pima County Herbert K. Abrams Public Health Center on the south side of Tucson. Speakers included representatives from Tucson Water and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

The community forum was organized and hosted by the University of Arizona Mel and Enid Zuckerman College of Public Health.

But the people who showed up may never get the answers they are looking for, as the questions for the experts got deeply personal. They talked about past problems, that still exist to this day.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has named Tucson's south side, near the Tucson International Airport , a problem site since 1982, when the agency first recognized this location has severe pollution problems that need to be reversed.

"In general, people want to be able to link their particular health outcome, whether it's cancer, lupus, or whatever it is, to a history of exposure," Dr. Garcia said. "That's part of what we were trying to explain: Where is the limit of the science, in terms of being able to draw those kinds of conclusions?"

But Dr. Garcia believes Pima County and various health experts will likely never have the tools to connect the dots.

"Because these are really complex phenomena. Cancer isn't just caused by one thing. So it may have been the exposure, but it also may be in combination with my genetic risk, or in combination with my diet, or in combination of a lot of other things that together, cumulatively, add up to the development of cancer," he said.

"According to the EPA, between the 1940s and 1980s, the U.S. Air Force and Hughes Missile Systems Co. used products containing the toxic chemicals trichloroethylene (TCE) and 1,4-dioxane as industrial solvents and improperly disposed of the solvents by dumping them into unlined wells," a news release from the U of A College of Public Health stated.

You can learn more about water conservation and future projects on the Tucson Water website.

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