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Drinking Water Chemical Contamination

With our experience and expertise, we can help you with any type of chemical contamination you may have with your water. Below, you'll find detailed information on the EPA national drinking water standards, including possible adverse health effects and typical water treatment methods for each type of contaminant.


EPA National Drinking Water Standards

Primary Drinking Water Standards
Primary and secondary standards apply to public water systems that regularly serve 25 people or more or have at least 15 service connections. Primary standards are mandatory and enforceable. The maximum containment level (MCL) is set at a level at which no known or anticipated adverse health effects occur.


INORGANIC
Containment MCL (Mg/L) Source/Industrial Occurrence Health Effects Treatment
Antimony 0.006 Coal and ore mining, petroleum refining, paint and ink formulation, textile mills, explosives mfg., foundries timber product processing, iron and steel mfg. as a hardening alloy. Carcinogen. Irritation to eyes and skin tissue. Reverse osmosis, coagulation and filtration, distillation.
Arsenic *0.05 *USEPA to consider MCL between 0.002 to 0.02 mg/L Defoliants, soil sterilants, wood treatment compounds used in textile mills, paint and ink formulation, petroleum refining, porcelain enamiling, pharmaceutical manufacturing, ore mining and dressing, foundries and metals mfg. Malignant tumors of skin and lungs. Affects nervous system. Activated alumina, ion exchange, lime softening, RO, coagulation with filtration distillation.
Asbestos 7 MF/L Natural mineral deposits, insulation, fireproofing materials and cement pipe. Probable cause of cancer. Filtration, RO, distillation.
Barium 2.0 Natural forming ore as barite and witherite in GA, MO, AR, KY, CA, NV, Canada and Mexico. Affects nervous and circulatory systems. Ion exchange, lime softening, RO, distillation.
Beryllium 0.004 Natural ore in CO, ME, NH, SD and Canada. Nonferrous metals mfg. as a copper alloy, iron and steel mfg., ore and coal mining, textile mills, petroleum refining, paint and ink formulation. Carcinogen. Affects skin and lung tissues. RO, ion exchange, activated alumina, coagulation and filtration, lime softening, distillation.
Cadmium 0.005 Natural mineral deposits. Found in fungicides, batteries and paint enamels. Used in textile mills, timber product processing, petroleum refining, paint and ink formulation, rubber processing, ore mining and dressing, pharmaceutical manufacturing and foundries. Kidney disorders, bronchitis, anemia. Ion exchange, RO, coagulation with filtration, lime softening, distillation, corrosion control.
Chromium (total) 0.1 Natural mineral deposits. Used in leather, tanning, iron and steel manufacturing, coal mining, textile mills, gum and wood chemicals, pharmaceutical mfg., petroleum refining, rubber processing and foundries. Liver and kidney disorders. Affects skin and digestive system. Coagulation with filtration, ion exchange, lime softening, RO, distillation.
Copper 1.3 (action level) Formation occurs during corrosion of interior household and building pipes. Stomach and intestinal distress. Wilson's disease. Ion exchange, RO, distillation.
Cyanide 0.2 Leather tanning and finishing, iron and steel mfg., paint and ink formulation, extermination materials, explosives mfg. Nervous system, endocrine system. Chlorination, ion exchange, reverse osmosis.
Flouride 4.0 Natural forming material deposits, additive to public supply as fluorsilicic acid, sodium silicofluoride or sodium fluoride at a concentration of 1.0 mg/L. Fluorosis or mottling, a brown discoloration of the teeth. Ion exchange, RO, distillation, activated alumina.
Lead 0.015 (action level) Solder and other plumbing products, batteries, gasoline as tetraethyl lead. Used in explosives mfg., textile mills, petroleum refining, paint and ink formulation, rubber processing, porcelain enameling and foundries. Affects nervous and reproductive systems and kidneys. Causes hypertension. Ion exchange, RO, coagulation with filtration, distillation, corrosion control, carbon.
Mercury 0.002 Fungicides, batericides in antifouling paints and mildew-proofing preparations. Also found in thermometers and barometers. Used in coal mining, textile mills, timber product processing, petroleum refining, rubber processing, paint and ink formulation. Affects nervous system and kidneys. Granular activated carbon, lime softening, RO, coagulation with filtration and with powdered activated carbon, distillation.
Nitrate (as N) 10 Fertilization, sewage. Natural forming mineral deposits, feed-lot runoff. Methemoglobinemia (Blue Baby syndrome). Ion exchange, RO, distillation.
Nitrite (as N) 1.0 Fertilization, sewage. Natural forming mineral deposits, feed-lot runoff. Methemoglobinemia (Blue Baby syndrome). Ion exchange, RO, distillation.
Selenium 0.05 Natual mineral deposits. Commonly found as a trace element in animal feeds. Used in textile mills, timber processing, procelain enameling, pharmaceutical mfg. and foundries. Affects nervous system. Causes irritation to the mucous membrane and dermatitis. Distillation, lime softening, coagulation with filtration, RO, activated alumina.
Thallium 0.002 Pesticides, nonferrous metals as an alloy, photo electric applications, semi conductor processing, petroleum refining, paint and ink formulation. Skin irritation. Activated alumina, ion exchange, distillation.

ORGANIC
Containment MCL (Mg/L) Source/Industrial Occurrence Health Effects Treatment
Acrylamide TT Flocculents in sewage and wastewater treatment. Affects nervous system. Probable cause of cancer. Granular activated carbon.
Benzene 0.005 Used in fuels (leaking underground storage tanks). Used as a solvent in mfg. pharmaceuticals, plastics, pesticides and paints. Leukemia, anemia and possibly cancer. Granular activated carbon.
Carbon tetrachloride 0.005 Used as a cleanining agent and in mfg. of refrigerants, fumigants, propellants, resins, paint and ink formulation. Affects nervous system, liver and digestive system. Causes cancer. Granular activated carbon.
Dibromochloropropane (DBCP) 0.0002 Soil fumigant on soybeans, cotton; discontinued in 1977. Probable cause of cancer. Granular activated carbon.
Dichloromethane 0.005 Paint removers, solvent degreasing, aerosol sprays, fumigants, plastics mfg., photographic film, textile and leather coatings, foam products. Carcinogen. Granular activated carbon.
Di(ethylhexyl)adipate 0.4 Plasticizer and polymer production, lubricants. Probable cause of cancer. Granular activated carbon.
Di(ethylhexyl)phthalate 0.006 Plasticizer in resins and elastomers. Probable cause of cancer. Granular activated carbon.
p-Dichlorobenzene 0.075 Used in moth repellant, germicides, pesticides and soil fumigants. Affects nervous system, kidneys and liver. Probable cause of cancer. Granular activated carbon.
o-Dichlorobenzene 0.6 Used in mfg. of fumigants, insecticides, waxes, resins, rubber and asphalt. Affects lungs, liver and kidneys. Granular activated carbon.
1,2-Dichloroethane 0.005 Used in mfg. of gasoline, paint, varnish, metal degreasing and insecticide fumigants. Causes damage to kidneys and liver, can cause nausea. Granular activated carbon.
1,1-Dichloroethylene 0.007 Used in mfg. of dyes, plastics, perfumes, paints and adhesives. Affects kidneys and liver and can cause nausea. Granular activated carbon.
cis-1,2-Dichloroethylene 0.07 Used as an industrial solvent in mfg. of dyes, perfumes and lacquers. Affects liver and nervous and circulatory systems. Granular activated carbon.
trans-1,2-Dichloroethylene 0.1 Used as an industrial solvent in mfg. of dyes, perfumes, lacquers and rubber. Affects liver and nervous and circulatory systems. Granular activated carbon.
1,2-Dichloropropane 0.005 Used in insecticidal fumigants, dry cleaning fluids and in mfg. of resins, waxes and petroleum products. Affects lungs, liver and kidneys. Granular activated carbon.
Epichlorohydrin TT Epoxy resins and coatings. Flocculents used in treatment. Affects kidneys, liver and lungs. Probable cause of cancer. Granular activated carbon.
Ethylbenzene 0.7 Used in mfg. of gasoline, insecticides and asphalt. Affects nervous system, liver and kidneys. Granular activated carbon.
Ethylene dibromide (EDB) 0.00005 Used as gasoline additive and soil fumigant. Probable cause of cancer. Granular activated carbon.
Hexachlorobenzene 0.001 Fungicide/wood preservative. Digestive system, cancer. Granular activated carbon.
Hexachlorocyclopentadiene 0.05 Pesticides, fungicides, dyes and resins. Skin irritant, lungs and digestive system. Granular activated carbon.
PAHs Polynuclear Aromatic Hydrocarbons Benzo (a) Pyrene 0.0002 Coal and core processing, heat/power processing, shale refining. Cancer. Granular activated carbon.
Styrene 0.1 Used in mfg. of plastics, resins and foams. Affects nervous system, liver and kidneys. Granular activated carbon.
2,3,7,8-TC-DD (Dioxin) 3x10-8 Defoliants/herbicides. Carcinogen, mutagen, tetragen. Granular activated carbon.
Tetrachloroethylene (PCE) 0.005 Used in dry cleaning, degreasing, agent for metals, for mfg. rubber, waxes, paints and inks. Affects nervous system. Probable cause of cancer. Granular activated carbon.
Toluene 1.0 Used in gasoline, paints, thinners, lacquers and adhesives. Affects nervous system, liver and kidneys. Causes narcosis. Irritant to respiratory system. Granular activated carbon.
1,2,4-Trichlorobenzene 0.07 Insecticides, lubricants, dye processing, transformer fluid. Digestive system and lungs. Granular activated carbon.
1,1,1-Trichloroethane 0.2 Used in mfg. of pesticides, plastics and metals. Affects nervous system. Causes narcosis and probably cancer. Granular activated carbon.
1,1,2-Trichloroethane 0.005 Solvent used in oils, fats, waxes and resins, rubber processing. Immune system. Granular activated carbon.
Trichloroethylene 0.005 Used in dry cleaning and as a degreasing agent. Used in mfg. of rubber, paints, adhesives and resins, oils and fumigants. Irritant of body tissue. Affects nervous sytem. Probable cause of cancer. Granular activated carbon.
Total trihalomethanes (THMs), Chloroform, Bromoform, Bromodichloromethane, Dibromochloromethane 0.1 Formation occurs when water containing organic matter is treated with chlorine. Affects nervous system and muscles. Probable cause of cancer. Granular activated carbon.
Vinyl chloride 0.002 Used as a plastic adhesive and refrigerant, the main component of PVC pipe. Affects nervous system. Probable cause of cancer. Granular activated carbon.
Xylenes (total) 10 Used in mfg. of paint, ink, petroleum and detergents. Affects nervous system, kidneys, lungs, liver and mucous membranes. Granular activated carbon.

PESTICIDES
Containment MCL (Mg/L) Source/Industrial Occurrence Health Effects Treatment
Aldicarb
Aldicarb
Sulfone
Aldicarb
Sulfoxide
Carbofuran
Chlordane
Endrin
Heptachlorepoxide
Lindane
Methoxychlor
Toxaphene
0.003
0.002
0.004
0.04
0.002
0.04
0.002
0.002
0.0004
0.0002
0.04
0.003
Insecticides for cotton, potatoes, corn and alfalfa. Also used fumigants. Heptachlor epoxide converts to epoxide by soil and water organisms. Affects nervous system, respiratory system, liver and kidneys. Causes anemia, leukemia. Probable cuase of cancer. Granular activated carbon.
HERBICIDES
Alachlor
Atrazine
Dalapon
Dinoseb
Diquat
Endothall
Glyphosate
Oxamyl (vydate)
Picloram
Simazine
2,4-D
Pentachlorophenol
2,4,5-TP (Silvex)
0.002
0.003
0.2
0.007
0.02
0.1
0.7
0.2
0.5
0.004
0.07
0.001
0.05
Herbicides used for corn, soybeans, sugar cane and wheat. Pentachlorophenol was also used as a wood preservative. Affects nervous and reproductive systems, respiratory system, liver, heart and kidneys. Causes anesthesia. Probable cause of cancer. Granular activated carbon.
Polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) 0.0005 Used in electrical transformers. Affects skin and liver. Causes nausea. Probable cause of cancer. Granular activated carbon.
MICROBIOLOGICAL
Total coliform <1 colony/100mL Raw sewage/septic tanks. Leakage, animal feces. Affects digestive tract. Presence in water may indicate possible presence of other bacteria. Chlorination UV irradiation, distillation.
Giardia lamblia zero Human and animal fecal matter. Stomach cramps, intestinal distress (Giardiasis). Filtration chlorination, UV radiation, distillation.
Legionella zero Found in water aerosols such as vegetable misters. Causes Legionnairesi disease, Pontiac fever. Filtration chlorination, UV radiation.
Turbidity 0.5 NTU 1.0 NTU Erosion, runoff and discharges. Interferes with disinfection. Filtration, distillation, granular activated carbon, RO.
RADIONULIDES
Alpha emitters 15 pCi/L Radioactive waste and uranium deposits. Probable cause of cancer. Affects skeletal tissue, bone sarcomas, head sarcomas. RO, ion exchange, lime softening at a high pH.
Beta particle emitters 4 mrem/year Radioactive waste and preservatives. Probable cause of cancer. Affects skeletal tissue, bone sarcomas, head sarcomas. RO, ion exchange, lime softening at a high pH.
Radium 226 Radium 228 Uranium 5 pCi/L 5 pCi/L 0.02 mg/L Radioactive waste and naturally occurring geological deposits. Probable cause of cancer. Affects skeletal tissue, bone sarcomas, head sarcomas. RO, ion exchange, lime softening at a high pH.
SECONDARY DRINKING WATER STANDARDS
Secondary standards are not health related and are not enforceable. The suggested maximum containment level (SMCL) is set at a level which will not adversely affect the public welfare.
Containment MCL (Mg/L) Source/Industrial Occurrence Health Effects Treatment
Aluminum 0.05 to 0.2 Natural forming mineral. Discoloration of water. Ion exchange, RO, distillation.
Chloride 250 Natural forming mineral, seawater, sedimentary rocks. Taste, corrosion of pipes, toxic to plants. Ion exchange, RO, distillation.
Color 15 TCU Natural metallic ions, humus, peat, plankton, geological deposits. Aesthetic, staining. Filtration, granular activated carbon, chlorination.
Corrosivity Non-corrosive High dissolved oxygen, CO2, chloride, sulfate, low pH. Aesthetic, can leach contaminants into water such as lead, copper, etc. Neutralization filters.
Fluoride 2 Natural forming mineral, additive to public water supply. Dental fluorosis. Ion exchange, RO, distillation, activated alumina.
Foaming agents 0.5 Detergents, fertilizer, pesticides, herbicides. Aesthetic. Carbon filtration, distillation.
Iron 0.3 Naturally occurring, igneous and sandstone rocks, corrosion of plumbing materials. Taste, staining, scaling, discoloration of water. Ion exchange, chlorination/filtration, distillation.
Manganese 0.05 Naturally occurring, metamorphic and sedimentary rocks, industrial contaminant. Taste, staining, scaling, discoloration of water. Ion exchange, chlorination/filtration, distillation.
Odor 3 TON Biological sources, naturally occurring from algae, bacteria, sulfur, organic compounds. Aesthetic, if from H2S, may cause stains and be corrosive. Chlorination, carbon filtration.
pH 6.5 to 8.5 Carbonates, bicarbonates, carbon dioxide, industrial contaminants. Corrosivity of water, staining. Neutralization.
Silver 0.1 Natural mineral deposits, battery manufacturing, plating, medical and pharmaceutical manufacturing. Argyria (discoloration of skin). Ion exchange, RO, distillation.
Sulfate 250 Naturally occurring, gypsum, mine and industrial wastes. Taste, laxative effects. Ion exchange, RO, distillation.
Total dissolved solids (TDS) 500 Naturally occurring, dissolved minerals. Taste, corrosivity, limits effectiveness of soap and detergents. RO, distillation.
Zinc 5.0 Corrsion of plumbing materials, industrial contamination. Taste. Ion exchange, RO, distillation.

LEGEND
* Proposed
MCL maximum containment level
MF/L million fibers per liter
mg/L milligrams per liter
mrem millirem per year
NTU nephelometric turbidity units
pCi/L pico Curies per liters
SMCL suggested maximum containment level
TCU total color units
TON total odor number
TT treatment technique required
RO reverse osmosis