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PA EPA RELEASES DRINKING WATER ADVISORY ON MTBE

Release Date: 12/12/97
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FOR RELEASE: FRIDAY, DECEMBER 12, 1997

EPA RELEASES DRINKING WATER ADVISORY ON MTBE

EPA has released an advisory to drinking water suppliers on methyl tertiary-butyl ether (MtBE), a gasoline additive used as an oxygenate in parts of the United States to reduce air pollution from automobiles. The advisory will provide public health protection if MtBE is detected in drinking water. MtBE has been found in a few drinking water sources, primarily in California, as a result of leaks from improperly-maintained underground fuel storage tanks. EPA’s drinking water advisory provides significant safety margins that meet or exceed safety margins incorporated into all agency standards. The advisory is set at the lower levels at which odor and taste can be detected. In general, EPA advises water suppliers to ensure that MtBE levels not exceed 20 to 40 micrograms per liter (20 to 40 parts per billion), a level most likely to avert unpleasant taste and odors. Recent air quality data indicate that the benefits of reducing air emissions from the use of MtBE in gasoline far exceed any known risks from the substance. EPA, other federal agencies and private entities will continue further research on MtBE and its public health and environmental effects. For additional information or copies of the drinking water advisory, call “Drinking Water Advisory: Consumer Acceptability and Health Effects Analysis on Methyl Tertiary-Butyl Ether (MtBE), the general public can call EPA’s Safe Drinking Water Hotline at
l-800-426-4791 or obtain it through the Internet at: http://www.epa.gov/OST/Tools.

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