September 29, 2008 - A massive plume of pollution under acres of homes, roads and a golf course in central Las Vegas is the worst of 28 sites in the valley contaminated by the same chemical.
The gas-like mass of perchloroethylene, PCE, also known as tetrachloroethylene, or TCE, is emblematic of the intersection of older, less regulated Vegas — indeed, the entire nation — with a world of science that discovers dangers in commonplace practices of years past.
The chemical is widely used for metal degreasing as well as for dry cleaning fabrics. Inhalation of its fumes can cause neurological, liver and kidney problems, according to the EPA. Studies have found that prolonged exposure increases the risk of cancer. The EPA is currently reassessing its potential carcinogenicity.
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