Metheny and Bair described the plume model, as well as its implications to the Woburn trial and public health concerns, in two back-to-back presentations at the Geological Society of America meeting in Seattle on November 5.
In the first presentation, Metheny related the models month-by-month, 26-year predictions of how plumes of two industrial solvents, trichloroethene (TCE) and perchlorothene (PCE), traveled in the groundwater system from the five contaminated properties to wells G and H.
After Methenys talk, Bair described how they made monthly estimates of how much TCE and PCE was delivered through the city's water mains to residences and businesses in different parts of town.
In particular, Bair described how they linked results from the plume model to a water distribution model developed in 1990 by the late Peter Murphy, a former professor of engineering at the University of Massachusetts. Murphys model calculated the amount of water from wells G and H that was routed month-by-month to different parts of the city.
Linked together, the models form a powerful forensic tool, Bair said. With them, we can estimate a plausible range of TCE and PCE concentrations captured by wells G and H, determine how the contaminated water mixed with clean water from the six other city wells, and then estimate the amount of contaminants that were likely delivered to homes in Woburn," Bair explained.
Bair said that this type of forensic research is part of an emerging field known as medical geology.
With the expertise of epidemiologists and statisticians, this type of house-by-house, month-by-month chemical exposure history could lead to insightful findings. It is
Contact: Maura Metheny
Ohio State University