The toxins present at the Gorham Manufacturing Site are of particular concern because they may put already vulnerable populations at additional risk. Children and young adults, like those attending Alvarez High School, are more vulnerable to toxins than adults. Furthermore, Providence residents are already exposed to higher environmental health risks than others in the state. According to a profile published by the Environmental Justice League of RI, these risks include higher rates of asthma, lead exposure, and obesity than other parts of the state. On the issue of lead poisoning, Providence Plan found that 1:6 Providence children under age 6 were exposed to lead in 2000. Statewide, 1:11 children under 6 were exposed to lead. Nationwide, this number was 1:25. These risks are unevenly distributed within the city based on racial, geographic, and economic factors; according to the EJLRI, “within the city, African-American children are three times as likely to be hospitalized for asthma and Hispanic children are twice as likely, as compared to White children.”
The special vulnerabilities of children and the high potential for exposure from multiple sources and pathways also warrant a cautious approach.
Community Letter to DEM from Robert Dorr
Substances of Concern:
perchloroethylene (PCE): an industrial solvent that has been linked to liver and kidney damage and is a known human carcinogen. Found in groundwater around Gorham site.
Trichloroethylene (TCE): another solvent and metal degreaser which is linked to unusual cancers of the kidneys, liver, cervix, and lymphatic systems. TCE is also found in the groundwater near the Gorham site.
lead: linked behavioral problems, learning differences, seizures, death.
ethylbenzene and xylene: industrial solvents that can cause respiratory irritation and neurological effects as well as kidney and liver damage over time
PCBs: banned by US Congress in 1979, PCBs are part of a class of organic pollutants known as endocrine disruptors, meaning they disrupt hormone functioning in the human body. PCBs can cause rashes, birth defects, and cancer in humans.
barium: barium compounds can be poisonous, affecting nervous system function in some individuals.
cadmium: classified as a probable human carcinogen, cadmium is known to cause kidney damage.
Image links to source- Providence Plan