Thursday, January 11, 2001
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Posted on: Thursday, January 11, 2001

More pesticide tests due for Village Park

By James Gonser
Advertiser Central Bureau

WAIPAHU — The Honolulu Board of Water Supply will conduct a new $120,000 water quality study for pesticides once used in the Village Park area, expanding on testing done in 1999 that did not find any contamination.

Erwin Kawata, laboratory director of the Board of Water Supply’s water quality section, said the decision was made after hearing community concerns.

"We have found nothing (in previous testing) so far, but the community has asked us if there is anything else and so we are expanding the work," Kawata said.

Preliminary work on the new study began in December, and residents were given details about it Tuesday night.

Some subdivision residents have long believed that pesticides and herbicides used by agricultural companies in and around their neighborhoods are to blame for numerous health problems.

In 1999 the board tested the water for more than 70 different compounds and found none of them to be present, Kawata said. Although the community was satisfied with the board’s efforts, he said, requests were made to test the water for any other compounds that could get into the groundwater.

A subsequent Department of Health report mailed to residents said that based on other studies, the incidence of birth defects in the area was not significantly higher than the state average, and the incidence of cancer was lower than it is statewide.

The report also said sampling of area soils found no elevated levels of chemicals linked to agricultural or military activities.

Dr. Robert Tardiff, an internationally recognized toxicology expert and head of a Washington-based research group, will develop an expanded list of pesticides to test for and the board will then send new samples to the Mainland.

"Once the list is completed, we will take it, test for those things." Kawata said.

"If something shows up, fine, we will let the people know. If nothing shows us, fine, we will let the people know."

The new testing is expected to take about a year.

In October 1999, a group of local and Mainland law firms sued several agricultural and chemical companies on behalf of Village Park residents.

Neither the state Department of Health nor the city Board of Water Supply is named in the suit.

"Residents continue to feel that there is something in the environment, so from a drinking water standpoint people have asked us to do more," Kawata said. "We are responding to the community’s request."

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