This case takes place in Arkansas and involves a class of plaintiffs who claim that they were exposed to a number of hazardous chemicals through pervasive environmental pollution caused by the degradation of industrial waste in public landfills. The waste includes a range of volatile industrial solvents, adhesives, as well as heavy metals and other pollutants. The waste, which was trucked in under an agreement with neighboring townships to sell space in a municipal landfill, was unprotected by a soil layer or impermeable membrane and was exposed to the elements directly, causing the pollutants to be dispersed into the surrounding landscape and groundwater via the wind and rain. The list of substances includes volatile organic compounds that are known to cause damage to the nervous system, brain, kidneys, liver, immune system, male reproductive system and developing embryos and fetuses in humans. Chief among these substances is trichloroethylene, a common industrial solvent that is resistant to environmental remediation efforts due to its low solubility in water, which causes it to descend below the water table. Plaintiffs allege that the pollutants from the landfill were pervasive in the local geography, and that abnormal health issues experienced by the local population were a direct result of the negligent manner in which these chemicals were disposed of. A number of experts specialize in environmental engineering, soil chemistry and geophysics were retained for the case.
Question(s) For Expert Witness
- 1. Do you have experience with the effects/damages of trichloroethylene and other human carcinogens or chlorinated waste solvents?
- 2. Please tell us why you are qualified to serve as the expert witness on this issue
Expert Witness Response E-009959
I have worked with trichloroethylene in the context of experimental animal studies for 14 years. I have published several peer-reviewed journal articles on the effects of trichloroethylene on the immune system and brain during adult and developmental exposure. I have also published a book chapter and was co-editor of a book on the human health effects of trichloroethylene. I currently hold two NIH grants and two past NIH grants. I was also chosen to peer review the draft report on Carcinogens Monograph of Trichloroethylene for the US Department of Health and Human Services National Toxicology Program. I feel qualified to discuss the widespread ramifications on humans as a result of the introduction of trichloroethylene in their environment. As an additional note, disposal of trichloroethylene in this manner is patently negligent and illegal. Current regulations regarding trichloroethylene disposal dictate that it is eliminated via incineration after being mixed with a combustible fuel, and acid scrubbers are necessary to remove the halo acids produced by this process.
Expert Witness Response E-010002
I worked on a Special Panel, as a consultant to USEPA, to review their “Draft Trichloroethylene Health Risk Assessment: Synthesis and Characterization” in 2002. I am thoroughly familiar with volatile organic chemicals and their related toxicological consequences including carcinogenicity. I have organized and taught 24 Workshops on PBPK Modeling for Beginners all over the world since 1992, and the development/advancement of PBPK modeling in Toxicology was fundamentally based on the early work on chlorinated hydrocarbon solvents or volatile organic chemicals. Further, I am thoroughly familiar with the interwoven intricacies of multiple solvent exposures (i.e., chemical mixture toxicology) In this instance, it is the interactions among trichloroethylene and the multiple other contaminants that were released by the landfill site. I am able to discuss the widespread ramifications on humans as a result of the introduction of such pollutants to their environment.