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Stillbirths and Placental Abruption Linked to Water Contamination

Michael Becker

There is evidence that pregnant women exposed to PCE (tetrachloroethylene) are more likely to have stillbirth and placental abruption. It can cause dizziness, sleepiness, confusion, headaches, and other problems. Specialized breathing tests can be conducted to determine exposure level. It can be removed from drinking water using GAC (granular activated carbon) cartridges.

What is PCE (tetrachloroethylene)?

PCE, also known as tetrachloroethene and perchloroethylene (PERC), is a clear, liquid chlorocarbon (chlorocarbons are chemical compounds which link carbons and chlorine; or carbon, chlorine and hydrogen). Its main use is as a dry cleaning liquid, but it has applications as a degreaser in automotive industries, and as a cleaner for fabrics.

Of course, it is suspected to be harmful, having been categorized as a Group 2A carcinogen. It can affect the central nervous system, and can penetrate the body through the skin or lungs. Some studies indicate that it may cause Parkinson’s disease. This substance is more heavily regulated than it was in decades past.

How does PCE Contaminate Drinking Water?

PCE gets into drinking water through aquifers, usually when it is improperly disposed of. PCE is very difficult to clean from drinking water—it is more difficult to remove than oil spills. As a result, these contaminants often affect communities for years, or even decades.

What are the Risks of PCE to Pregnancies?

A Massachusetts study recently compared 1,091 women who were exposed to PCE and 1,019 women who did not have PCE exposure. Exposed women were selected from an area where water contamination occurred from the 1960s to the 1980s through asbestos-lined cement pipes.

The results showed that nine percent of the pregnancies were complicated by placental problems—the PCE group was 2.38 times more likely to suffer from stillbirth, and 1.35 times as likely to experience a placental abruption. A placental abruption occurs when the placenta prematurely separates from the uterine wall, causing bleeding and interrupting the transfer of oxygen and nutrients to the baby. A stillbirth is usually defined as the death of a baby in the womb after 20 weeks

Contact Us

Placental abruption can cause a host of problems, including premature birth, brain injury, intellectual disability and death If you have questions about PCE contamination and its effects on your pregnancy and baby, contact us at (440) 252-4399, or send us your questions online.

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