Ford finds vinyl chloride after first tests in Livonia

Michael Martinez
The Detroit News

Ford Motor Co. said testing in a neighborhood around its Livonia Transmission Plant for vinyl chloride in groundwater will continue after it found the potentially cancer-causing chemical in a few expected locations.

The Dearborn automaker last month began testing for vinyl chloride after samples were found seven feet or more underground, which the company says poses no health risk to residents. Ford has also said drinking water — which is taken from the city of Detroit and the Great Lakes Water Authority — is not at risk.

One area, north of Boston Post, contained 9 parts per billion about 12-15 feet below ground. Another site, north of the west end of Standish, contained 3 ppb 16-19 feet below ground. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency sets a limit of 2 parts per billion in drinking water.

The automaker said it will continue to test the area, working with the city of Livonia and Michigan Department of Environmental Quality.

According to the International Agency for Research on Cancer, vinyl chloride is known to cause cancers in humans. Studies have found elevated risks of liver, brain and lymphatic tumors. It also can cause liver damage and birth defects.

Ford said the contamination came from trichloroethylene, a chemical used at the plant as a degreasing parts cleaner until the 1980s. That broke down into the hazardous chemical vinyl chloride, which Ford found in groundwater at the plant this summer while upgrading the plant.

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