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Contamination Creeped from Lab Animal Site

Residents in Hanover, New Hampshire, are concerned about pollution emanating from where Dartmouth College disposed of lab animals in the 1960s and 1970s, the Associated Press reports.

A plot on the college's Rennie Farm had been used to dump lab mice and other animals used in tracer experiments, but the AP says that few nearby residents knew of how the plot had been used until 2011 when the school began to clean it up. Dartmouth has removed 40 tons of carcasses and soil from the site, and discovered the presence of low-level radioactive materials and suspected carcinogens. One chemical, 1,4-dioxane, appears to have leached from the unlined pit into groundwater and contaminated the well of nearby homeowners at twice the state standard, the AP adds. The homeowners, the Higgins, attribute a number of their health issues, such as rashes, hair and skin loss, and dizziness, to this contamination.

According to the AP, Dartmouth has apologized and conducted testing of 110 other wells in the area. Though no others have tested positive, the school has offered 20 households bottled water. It is also building a system to capture and clean the groundwater there.

The Higgins and others, though, say Dartmouth could do more, including removing more soil or compensating residents for lost property values, the AP adds.