Contamination and Pollution - 11 of 22

Contamination and Pollution FAQs - 22 Found

Is MTBE in drinking water?

Yes, but in small amounts. In addition to USGS studies of ambient groundwater, USGS is conducting focused studies to assess MTBE concentrations associated with drinking-water supplies. In cooperation with EPA's Office of Ground Water and Drinking Water, USGS examined data on finished drinking water from selected communities in 12 states in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic Regions. The data show that MTBE was detected in 9 percent of the community water systems. Consistent with USGS studies of ambient groundwater, concentrations were low; less than 1 percent exceeded the EPA consumer advisory concentration.


USGS conducted a study of VOCs in groundwater and drinking-water supply wells. Findings were consistent with previous NAWQA studies. Specifically, MTBE has been detected in low concentrations, and less than 1 percent of the samples exceed the EPA consumer advisory concentration. Another study, which includes samples of both surface-water and ground-water sources for drinking water, shows that MTBE was detected more frequently in surface-water samples (14 percent) than in ground-water samples (5 percent). This finding can be explained, in part, by the inclusion of many samples from large rivers and reservoirs that are associated with substantial use of recreational watercraft. Older models of watercraft motors are known to release a fraction of non-combusted gasoline to water. Increased occurrence of MTBE in large community water systems is also reported in this study.

Tags: Groundwater, Rivers, Water, Health, Measurement, Streams, Chemistry