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Unsafe levels of toxic vapors found in 17 of 26 Como area homes

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Testing that shows potentially dangerous vapors in the Como neighborhood in Minneapolis has prompted residents to consider a class-action lawsuit to address their concerns.

FOX 9 reports that 17 of the 26 homes that have completed testing for trichloroethylene (TCE) have levels that are above the safety threshold set by the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency. The station said that five homes had levels low enough to need no further action and samples taken from 4 additional homes must be retested. Preliminary tests had revealed the presence of the chemical in the area.

General Mills used the industrial solvent between the 1940s and 1960s and dumped it into a pool on site, which was standard at the time. The chemicals are thought to have polluted the groundwater and the soil. The Star Tribune reported that prolonged, substantial exposure to the chemical has been linked to certain cancers and birth defects.

In October, residents were told it is possible for vapors to seep into basements or foundation cracks. The MPCA recommends installing a ventilation system to remove the potentially hazardous vapors in homes that show high levels. General Mills has offered to cover the cost of testing and installation of required ventilation systems.

Residents are consulting with an attorney about pursuing a class-action lawsuit to address health and property values.

"What disclosures does he need to make? Who will want to buy his house?" attorney Gordon Rudd said of one homeowner."What is this going to do to the ability to sell his house and for what amount?"

On Saturday, the lead investigator for Erin Brockovich's foundation will be in town to speak to neighborhood residents.

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