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Plastic in your tap water can impair your color vision and cause other permanent eye problems.
When a research team assessed visual functioning among a group of people born between 1969 and 1983 to parents residing in eight towns in the Cape Cod region of Massachusetts, they found a variety of health problems. The towns all had the chemical solvent tetrachloroethylene (PCE) in their drinking water because of pipes outfitted with a vinyl liner that was improperly cured. Previous studies led by Ann Aschengrau, professor of epidemiology at Boston University School of Public Health (BUSPH), have found associations between PCE exposure and cancer, as well as reproductive and developmental outcomes. Increases in the risks of breast cancer and certain birth defects were seen in the team’s prior studies.
In testing vision, Aschengrau and colleagues found that people exposed to PCE made more major errors in color discrimination than those not exposed. The levels of color confusion were greatest among people with high exposure levels.
PCE previously has been implicated in deficiencies in color discrimination, mainly among adults who encounter the toxin in the workplace. The new study is the first to assess “the associations between prenatal and early childhood exposure to PCE and adult vision,” Aschengrau says. The findings suggest that “the effects of early life PCE-exposure on color discrimination may be irreversible.”