Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

42 Million Americans Use Groundwater Vulnerable To Contamination By Volatile Organic Compounds

Date:
October 29, 1999
Source:
American Chemical Society
Summary:
Researchers with the U.S. Geological Survey estimate that 42 million Americans use groundwater vulnerable to low-level contamination by volatile organic compounds (VOCs). The estimate is based on the first nationwide assessment of untreated groundwater aquifers, which found VOC levels in excess of federal drinking water criteria in about 6 percent of urban wells and 1.5 percent of rural wells. The amount of human exposure to the VOCs is uncertain, according to the researchers.

Researchers with the U.S. Geological Survey estimate that 42 million Americans use groundwater vulnerable to low-level contamination by volatile organic compounds (VOCs). The estimate is based on the first nationwide assessment of untreated groundwater aquifers, which found VOC levels in excess of federal drinking water criteria in about 6 percent of urban wells and 1.5 percent of rural wells. The amount of human exposure to the VOCs is uncertain, according to the researchers.

The research, involving water samples collected between 1985-1995 from nearly 3,000 wells throughout the United States, will be published Oct. 29 in the web edition of the journal Environmental Science & Technology. The report is scheduled to appear in the Dec. 1 print edition of the peer-reviewed journal, which is published by the American Chemical Society, the world's largest scientific society.

Researchers examined water quality of many of the nation's principal aquifers as part of the study, according to the report's lead author Paul Squillace, a research hydrologist with the U.S. Geological Survey office in Rapid City, S.D. The sampled wells were primarily located along the east and west coasts, and in the central United States.

"The samples were collected to represent the groundwater quality in the aquifer and not the water quality at the tap," says Squillace. "This resource assessment is the first national scale assessment of [untreated] drinking water aquifers," he claims. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency requires states to routinely monitor the quality of treated water.

The study concludes that people in the eastern half of the United States are more likely to live in areas where groundwater contains VOCs than people in the western half of the country. It also found that people living in more populated areas, the northeast and the west coast, were most likely to use groundwater containing VOCs. "The larger the population density, the greater the detection frequency of VOCs in the aquifers," notes Squillace.

"Among all wells, untreated groundwater in urban areas was four times more likely to exceed a drinking-water criterion than untreated groundwater in rural areas," according to the report.

Chlorination of public water, the most common treatment method, generally does not reduce VOC contamination, says Squillace. However, he notes, treatment facilities routinely monitor for VOCs and must use other treatment methods, such as aeration, if levels get above allowable limits. Such is not the case with private wells, he adds.

Volatile organic compounds are found in a variety of products, including gasoline, paints, plastics and solvents. The gasoline additive MTBE (methyl tert-butyl ether) and solvent compounds were "among the most frequently detected VOCs in urban and rural areas," according to the report.

"VOCs can be important environmental contaminants because many are mobile, persistent and toxic," the report points out. "The U.S. EPA has established maximum contaminant levels in drinking water for 27 VOCs because of human health concerns," it adds.

The VOCs detected in aquifers commonly are mixtures of several compounds. "Because current health criteria are based on exposure to a single [VOC] contaminant, the health implications of these mixtures are not known," Squillace emphasizes.

How much actual human exposure there might be to VOCs in aquifers is "uncertain," says Squillace. But, since so many people obtain their water from aquifers, "monitoring and proactive protection of these aquifers would seem prudent," he says.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by American Chemical Society. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

American Chemical Society. "42 Million Americans Use Groundwater Vulnerable To Contamination By Volatile Organic Compounds." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 29 October 1999. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/1999/10/991029071030.htm>.
American Chemical Society. (1999, October 29). 42 Million Americans Use Groundwater Vulnerable To Contamination By Volatile Organic Compounds. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 26, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/1999/10/991029071030.htm
American Chemical Society. "42 Million Americans Use Groundwater Vulnerable To Contamination By Volatile Organic Compounds." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/1999/10/991029071030.htm (accessed July 26, 2014).

Share This




More Earth & Climate News

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Virginia Governor Tours Tornado Aftermath

Virginia Governor Tours Tornado Aftermath

AP (July 25, 2014) Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe toured the Cherrystone Family Camping and RV Resort on the Chesapeake Bay today, a day after it was hit by a tornado. The storm claimed two lives and injured dozens of others. (July 25) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Europe's Highest Train Turns 80 in French Pyrenees

Europe's Highest Train Turns 80 in French Pyrenees

AFP (July 25, 2014) Europe's highest train, the little train of Artouste in the French Pyrenees, celebrates its 80th birthday. Duration: 01:05 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Goma Cheese Brings Whiff of New Hope to DRC

Goma Cheese Brings Whiff of New Hope to DRC

Reuters - Business Video Online (July 24, 2014) The eastern region of the Democratic Republic of Congo, mainly known for conflict and instability, is an unlikely place for the production of fine cheese. But a farm in the village of Masisi, in North Kivu is slowly transforming perceptions of the area. Known simply as Goma cheese, the Congolese version of Dutch gouda has gained popularity through out the region. Ciara Sutton reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Bill Gates: Health, Agriculture Key to Africa's Development

Bill Gates: Health, Agriculture Key to Africa's Development

AFP (July 24, 2014) Health and agriculture development are key if African countries are to overcome poverty and grow, US software billionaire Bill Gates said Thursday, as he received an honourary degree in Ethiopia. Duration: 00:36 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins