Federal agency determines contamination thresholds | TahoeDailyTribune.com

Federal agency determines contamination thresholds

A public health goal of 13 parts per billion has been established in California for the controversial fuel additive MTBE. While taste and odor thresholds and advisory levels have existed, this is the first time a state or federal agency has established a level exclusively based on public health considerations.

California’s Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment adopted the goal last week.

MTBE – methyl tertiary butyl ether – is a gasoline additive comprising significant portions of California gasoline. It is classified by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency as a possible cancer-causing agent and has a turpentine-like taste and odor. At low levels, MTBE-contaminated water is undrinkable.

No maximum contaminant level, MCL, has been established for the additive. However, California recently adopted a secondary MCL – for taste and odor standards – at 5 parts of the additive per billion parts water.

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