Lyne & McLachlan (1949): Influence of the first publication on groundwater contamination by trichloroethylene

Michael Rivett, S Feenstra, L Clark

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


The historical context and influence of the world's first published case of trichloroethene (TCE) contamination of groundwater by Lyne and McLachlan ( 1949) in The Analyst is established. Archive data and literature review, local reconnaissance, and consultation with relevant professionals were undertaken. Lyne and McLachlan were public analysts, officials authorized to provide certified ( chemical) analysis, responsible for several United Kingdom ( U. K.) local authority jurisdictions. They chiefly provided chemical analysis to support health risk assessments, particularly for foodstuffs. Their 1940s TCE-contaminated groundwater work appears isolated with no evidence of further related work by them. The influence of the publication was highly limited i.e., it was insignificant in contributing to the development of the general recognition of the solvents-in-groundwater problem. Although widely cited in 1950 to 1951 abstract listings, it was ( until recently) only cited subsequently in a 1957 German-language Austrian journal and in a 1961 United States ( U. S.) Federal Housing Administration report. The publication was essentially lost until the mid-1990s, when it began to be cited in U. S. legal cases. Overviews of development in awareness of the TCE-contamination in groundwater around the 1970s at local, national ( U. K.) and international levels indicates that Lyne and McLachlan did not trigger any general recognition of this problem in the scientific, engineering, or regulatory communities over the previous 30 years. The publication appears unknown in the U. K. until after 2000, and it is quite possible that Lyne and McLachlan themselves never truly appreciated the potential prescience of their early work on this now notorious groundwater contaminant.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)313-323
Number of pages11
JournalEnvironmental Forensic
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2006


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