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Report: Chemical found in drinking water of several Minn. communities

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Keith Rapp pours filtered water into a filtered water bottle.
Keith Rapp, an east Twin Cities resident, pours filtered water into a filtered water bottle.
Judy Griesedieck for MPR News

An environmental watchdog says several Minnesota communities have a potentially harmful chemical in their drinking water. 

The Washington D.C.-based Environmental Working Group looked at data from 2010 though 2015, and found that the drinking water supplies in at least 15 Minnesota communities test positive for trichloroethylene, or TCE, though none exceed the federal limit of 5 parts per billion. 

TCE is linked to cancer and birth defects, among other things, and the Environmental Working Group argues that exposure to even small quantities can be harmful. 

The findings are part of a national assessment that looked at 321 public water systems in 36 states. The Environmental Working Group found that about half of those systems contained average annual levels of TCE that were above levels some health professions say is safe for infants and fetuses. 

Minnesota has a much stricter TCE limit at point four parts per billion, though it's not legally enforceable. The EWG report shows that four Minnesota communities - Edina, Bayport, Spring Park and Minnesota Veterans Home - slightly exceed the state suggested limit.

EWG found TCE tested at four parts per billion in Spring Grove in southeast Minnesota, though the report notes that the town took steps this year to lower TCE levels.