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Permanent Link: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/IR00003117/00001
 Material Information
Title: Health Effects of Drinking Water Contaminants
Physical Description: Fact Sheet
Creator: Stewart, Judith C.
Publisher: University of Florida Cooperative Extension Service, Institute of Food and Agriculture Sciences, EDIS
Place of Publication: Gainesville, Fla.
Publication Date: 2001
 Notes
Acquisition: Collected for University of Florida's Institutional Repository by the UFIR Self-Submittal tool. Submitted by Melanie Mercer.
Publication Status: Published
General Note: "Published February 2001"
General Note: "SL161"
 Record Information
Source Institution: University of Florida Institutional Repository
Holding Location: University of Florida
Rights Management: All rights reserved by the submitter.
System ID: IR00003117:00001


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SL 161 Health Effects of Drinking Water Contaminants1 Judith C. Stewart, Ann T. Lemley, Sharon I. Hogan, Richard A. Weismiller, and Arthur G. Hornsby2 1. This document is SL161, a series of the Soil and Water Science Department, Florida Cooperative Extension Service, Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, University of Florida. Published February 2001 Please visit the EDIS Web site at http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu. 2. Judith C. Stewart, extension support aide, Ann T. Lemley, associate professor, College of Human Ecology, Cornell University, Sharon I. Hogan, communications consultant, and Richard A. Weismiller, soil and water resource specialist, Department of Agronomy, University of Maryland., Arthur G. Hornsby, professor, Soil and Water Science Department, Cooperative Extension Service, Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, University of Florida, Gainesville, 32611-0290. Originally written and produced in 1988, revised 1988-89, by Cornell University and the University of Maryland under the sponsorship of the USDA Extension Service. The Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences is an equal opportunity/affirmative action employer authorized to provide research, educational information and other services only to individuals and institutions that function without regard to race, color, sex, age, handicap, or national origin. For information on obtaining other extension publications, contact your county Cooperative Extension Service office. Florida Cooperative Extension Service/Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences/University of Florida/Christine Taylor Waddill, Dean. Chemical contaminants occur in drinking water supplies throughout the United States, ranging from barely detectable amounts to levels that could possibly threaten human health. Determining the health effects of these contaminants is difficult, especially since researchers are still learning how chemicals react in the body to damage cells and cause illness. Possible Chronic Health Effects Toxic doses of chemicals cause either acute or chronic health effects. An acute effect usually follows a large dose of a chemical and occurs almost immediately. Examples of acute health effects are nausea, lung irritation, skin rash, vomiting, dizziness and even death. The levels of chemicals in drinking water, however, are seldom high enough to cause acute health effects. They are more likely to cause chronic health effects that occur long after exposure to small amounts of a chemical. Examples of chronic health effects include cancer, birth defects, organ damage, disorders of the nervous system, and damage to the immune system. Evidence relating chronic health effects to specific drinking water contaminants is limited. In the absence of exact scientific information, scientists predict the likely adverse effects of chemicals in drinking water using laboratory animal studies and, when available, human data from clinical reports and epidemiological studies. The possible chronic health effects of the chemicals listed in this fact sheet are conservative estimates, rarely based on documented human health effects. Setting Standards In setting standards for drinking water contaminants, regulators estimate the concentration of a contaminant that a person can drink safely over a lifetime. These calculations are based on all available toxicological informarion and allow a generous safety margin. Table 1 lists contaminants currently regulated by U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) standards. The EPA standard for drinking water, the Maximum Contaminant Level (MCL), is the highest amount of a contaminant allowed in drinking water supplied by municipal water systems. The

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Health Effects of Drinking Water Contaminants 2 MCL is set as close to the Maximum Contaminant Level Goal (MCLG), which is a preliminary standard set but not enforced by the EPA. MCLGs are health goals based entirely on health effects, but MCLs also take into consideration the feasibility and cost of analysis and treatment of the regulated contaminant. Although often less stringent than the corresponding MCLG, the MCL is set to protect health. When there is no reliable method that is economically and technically feasible to measure a contaminant at particularly low concentrations, a Treatment Technique (TT) is set rather than an MCL. A treatment technique (TT) is an enforceable procedure or level of technological performance which public water systems must follow to ensure control of a contaminant. Treatment Techniques are listed in "Notes". Contaminants are regulated when they occur in drinking water supplies and, are expected to threaten public health and, can be detected in drinking water by current laboratory methods. The EPA will continue to set standards for many other drinking water contaminants not listed in this fact sheet which meet these criteria. Notes from EPA on Treatment Techniques: Treatment Technique An enforceable procedure or level of technical performance which public water systems must follow to ensure control of a contaminant. Units are in milligrams per Liter (mg/L) unless otherwise noted. MCLGs were not established before the 1986 Amendments to the Safe Drinking Water Act. Therefore, there is no MCLG for this contaminant. Lead and copper are regulated in a Treatment Technique which requires systems to take tap water samples at sites with lead pipes or copper pipes that have lead solder and/or are served by lead service lines. The action level which triggers water systems into taking treatment steps, if exceeded in more than 10% of tap water samples, is for copper: 1.3 mg/L, and for lead: 0.015mg/L. Each water system must certify, in writing, to the state (using third-party or manufacturer's certification) that when acrylamide and epichlorohydrin are used in drinking water systems, the combination (or product) of dose and monomer level does not exceed the levels specified, as follows: Acrylamide = 0.05% dosed at 1 mg/L (or equivalent), Epichlorohydrin = 0.01% dosed at 20 mg/L (or equivalent) The Surface Water Treatment Rule requires systems using surface water or ground water under the direct influence of surface water to (1) disinfect their water, and (2) filter their water to meet criteria for avoiding filtration so that the following contaminants are controlled at the following levels: Giardia lamblia: 99.9% killed/inactivated Viruses: 99.99% killed/inactivated Legionella: No limit, but EPA believes that if Giardia and viruses are inactivated, Legionella will also be controlled. Turbidity: At no time can turbidity (cloudiness of water) go above 5 nephelolometric turbidity units (NTU); systems that filter must ensure that the turbidity go no higher than 1 NTU (0.5 NTU for conventional or direct filtration) in at least 95% of the daily samples in any month. HPC: NO more than 500 bacterial colonies per milliliter. No more than 5.0% samples total coliformin a month. (For water systems that collect fewer than 40 routine samples per month, no more than one sample can be total coliform. Every sample that has total coliforms must be analyzed for fecal coliforms. There cannot be any fecal coliforms.

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Health Effects of Drinking Water Contaminants 3 Table 1. Contaminants currently regulated by U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) standards. Contaminant MCLG 1 (mg/L)4 MCL2 or TT3 (mg/L)4 Potential Health Effects from Ingestion of Water Sources of Contaminant in Drinking Water Inorganic Chemicals Antimony 0.006 0.006 Increase in blood cholesterol; decrease in blood glucose Discharge from petroleum refineries; fire retardants; ceramics; electronics; solder Arsenic none5 0.05 Skin damage; circulatory system problems; increased risk of cancer Discharge from semiconductor manufacturing; petroleum refining; wood preservatives; animal feed additives; herbicides; erosion of natural deposits Asbestos (fiber >10 micrometers) 7 million fibers per Liter (MFL) 7 MFL Increased risk of developing benign intestinal polyps Decay of asbestos cement in water mains; erosion of natural deposits Barium 2 2 Increase in blood pressure Discharge of drilling wastes; discharge from metal refineries; erosion of natural deposits Beryllium 0.004 0.004 Intestinal lesions Discharge from metal refineries and coalfactories; discharge from electrical, aerospace, and defense industries Cadmium 0.005 0.005 Kidney damage Corrosion of galvanized pipes; erosion of natural deposits; discharge from metal refineries; runoff from waste batteries and paints Chromium (total) 0.1 0.1 Some people who use water containing chromium well in excess of the MCL over many years could experience allergic dermatitis Discharge from steel and pulp mills; erosion of natural deposits Copper 1.3 Action Level=1.3; TT6 Short term exposure: Gastrointestinal distress. Corrosion of household plumbing systems; erosion of natural deposits; leaching from wood preservatives

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Health Effects of Drinking Water Contaminants 4 Table 1. Contaminants currently regulated by U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) standards. Contaminant MCLG 1 (mg/L)4 MCL2 or TT3 (mg/L)4 Potential Health Effects from Ingestion of Water Sources of Contaminant in Drinking Water Long term exposure: Liver or kidney damage. Those with Wilson's Disease should consult their personal doctor if their water systems exceed the copper action level. Cyanide (as free cyanide) 0.2 0.2 Nerve damage or thyroid problems Discharge from steel/metal factories; discharge from plastic and fertilizer factories Fluoride 4 4 Bone disease (pain and tenderness of the bones); Children may get mottled teeth. Water additive which promotes strong teeth; erosion of natural deposits; discharge from fertilizer and aluminum factories Lead zero Action Level= Infants and children: Delays in physical or mental development. Corrosion of household plumbing systems; erosion of natural deposits 0.015; TT6 Adults: Kidney problems; high blood pressure Inorganic Mercury 0.002 0.002 Kidney damage Erosion of natural deposits; discharge from refineries and factories; runoff from landfills and cropland Nitrate (measured as Nitrogen) 10 10 "Blue baby syndrome" in infants under six months life threatening without immediate medical attention. Runoff from fertilizer use; leaching from septic tanks, sewage; erosion of natural deposits Symptoms: Infant looks blue and has shortness of breath. Nitrite (measured as Nitrogen) 1 1 "Blue baby syndrome" in infants under six months life threatening without immediate medical attention. Runoff from fertilizer use; leaching from septic tanks, sewage; erosion of natural deposits Symptoms: Infant looks blue and has shortness of breath. Selenium 0.05 0.05 Hair or fingernail loss; numbness in fingers or toes; circulatory problems Discharge from petroleum refineries; erosion of natural deposits; discharge from mines Thallium 0.0005 0.002 Hair loss; changes in blood; kidney, intestine, or liver problems Leaching from oresites; discharge from electronics, glass, and pharmaceutical companies

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Health Effects of Drinking Water Contaminants 5 Table 1. Contaminants currently regulated by U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) standards. Contaminant MCLG 1 (mg/L)4 MCL2 or TT3 (mg/L)4 Potential Health Effects from Ingestion of Water Sources of Contaminant in Drinking Water Organic Chemicals Acrylamide zero TT7 Nervous system or blood problems; increased risk of cancer Added to water during sewage/wastewater treatment Alachlor zero 0.002 Eye, liver, kidney or spleen problems; anemia; increased risk of cancer Runoff from herbicide used on row crops Atrazine 0.003 0.003 Cardiovascular system problems; reproductive difficulties Runoff from herbicide used on row crops Benzene zero 0.005 Anemia; decrease in blood platelets; increased risk of cancer Discharge from factories; leaching from gas storage tanks and landfills Benzo(a)pyrene zero 0.0002 Reproductive difficulties; increased risk of cancer Leaching from linings of water storage tanks and distribution lines Carbofuran 0.04 0.04 Problems with blood or nervous system; reproductive difficulties. Leaching of soil fumigant used on rice and alfalfa Carbon tetrachloride zero 0.005 Liver problems; increased risk of cancer Discharge from chemical plants and other industrial activities Chlordane zero 0.002 Liver or nervous system problems; increased risk of cancer Residue of banned termiticide Chlorobenzene 0.1 0.1 Liver or kidney problems Discharger from chemical and agricultural chemical factories 2,4-D 0.07 0.07 Kidney, liver, or adrenal gland problems Runoff from herbicide used on row crops Dalapon 0.2 0.2 Minor kidney changes Runoff from herbicide used on rights of way 1,2-Dibromo-3chloropropane (DBCP) zero 0.0002 Reproductive difficulties; increased risk of cancer Runoff/leaching from soil fumigant used on soybeans, cotton, pineapples, and orchards o-Dichlorobenzene 0.6 0.6 Liver, kidney, or circulatory system problems Discharge from industrial chemical factories

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Health Effects of Drinking Water Contaminants 6 Table 1. Contaminants currently regulated by U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) standards. Contaminant MCLG 1 (mg/L)4 MCL2 or TT3 (mg/L)4 Potential Health Effects from Ingestion of Water Sources of Contaminant in Drinking Water p-Dichlorobenzene 0.075 0.075 Anemia; liver, kidney or spleen damage; changes in blood Discharge from industrial chemical factories 1,2-Dichloroethane zero 0.005 Increased risk of cancer Discharge from industrial chemical factories 1-1-Dichloroethylene 0.007 0.007 Liver problems Discharge from industrial chemical factories cis-1,2-Dichloroethylene 0.07 0.07 Liver problems Discharge from industrial chemical factories trans-1,2-Dichloroethylene 0.1 0.1 Liver problems Discharge from industrial chemical factories Dichloromethane zero 0.005 Liver problems; increased risk of cancer Discharge from pharmaceutical and chemical factories 1-2-Dichloropropane zero 0.005 Increased risk of cancer Discharge from industrial chemical factories Di(2-ethylhexyl)adipate 0.4 0.4 General toxic effects or reproductive difficulties Leaching from PVC plumbing systems; discharge from chemical factories Di(2-ethylhexyl)phthalate zero 0.006 Reproductive difficulties; liver problems; increased risk of cancer Discharge from rubber and chemical factories Dinoseb 0.007 0.007 Reproductive difficulties Runoff from herbicide used on soybeans and vegetables Dioxin (2,3,7,8-TCDD) zero 3.0x10-8 Reproductive difficulties; increased risk of cancer Emissions from waste incineration and other combustion; discharge from chemical factories Diquat 0.02 0.02 Cataracts Runoff from herbicide use Endothall 0.1 0.1 Stomach and intestinal problems Runoff from herbicide use Endrin 0.002 0.002 Nervous system effects Residue of banned insecticide Epichlorohydrin zero TT7 Stomach problems; reproductive difficulties; increased risk of cancer Discharge from industrial chemical factories; added to water during treatment process Ethylbenzene 0.7 0.7 Liver or kidney problems Discharge from petroleum refineries

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Health Effects of Drinking Water Contaminants 7 Table 1. Contaminants currently regulated by U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) standards. Contaminant MCLG 1 (mg/L)4 MCL2 or TT3 (mg/L)4 Potential Health Effects from Ingestion of Water Sources of Contaminant in Drinking Water Ethelyne dibromide zero 0.00005 Stomach problems; reproductive difficulties; increased risk of cancer Discharge from petroleum refineries Glyphosate 0.7 0.7 Kidney problems; reproductive difficulties Runoff from herbicide use Heptachlor zero 0.0004 Liver damage; increased risk of cancer Residue of banned termiticide Heptachlor epoxide zero 0.0002 Liver damage; increased risk of cancer Breakdown of hepatachlor Hexachlorobenzene zero 0.001 Liver or kidney problems; reproductive difficulties; increased risk of cancer Discharge from metal refineries and agricultural chemical factories Hexachlorocyclopentadiene 0.05 0.05 Kidney or stomach problems Discharge from chemical factories Lindane 0.0002 0.0002 Liver or kidney problems Runoff/leaching from insecticide used on catttle, lumber, gardens Methoxychlor 0.04 0.04 Reproductive difficulties Runoff/leaching from insecticide used on fruits, vegetables, alfalfa, livestock Oxamyl (Vydate) 0.2 0.2 Slight nervous system effects Runoff/leaching from insecticide used on apples, potatoes, and tomatoes Polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) zero 0.0005 Skin changes; thymus gland problems; immune difficiencies; reproductive or nervous system difficulties; increased risk of cancer Runoff from landfils; discharge of waste chemicals Pentachlorophenol zero 0.001 Liver or kidney problems; increased risk of cancer Discharge from wood preserving factories Picloram 0.5 0.5 Liver problems Herbicide runoff Simazine 0.004 0.004 Problems with blood Herbicide runoff Styrene 0.1 0.1 Liver, kidney, and circulatory problems Discharge from rubber and plastic factories; leaching from landfills

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Health Effects of Drinking Water Contaminants 8 Table 1. Contaminants currently regulated by U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) standards. Contaminant MCLG 1 (mg/L)4 MCL2 or TT3 (mg/L)4 Potential Health Effects from Ingestion of Water Sources of Contaminant in Drinking Water Tetrachloroethylene zero 0.005 Liver problems; increased risk of cancer Discharge from factories and dry cleaners Toluene 1 1 Nervous system, kidney, or liver problems Discharge from petroleum factories Total Trihalomethanes (TTHMs) none5 0.1 Liver, kidney or central nervous system problems; increased risk of cancer Byproduct of drinking water disinfection Toxaphene zero 0.003 Kidney, liver, or thyroid problems; increased risk of cancer Runoff/leaching from insecticide used on cotton and cattle 2,4,5-TP(Silvex) 0.05 0.05 Liver problems Residue of banned herbicide 1,2,4-Trichlorobenzene 0.07 0.07 Changes in adrenal glands Discharge from textile finishing factories 1,1,1-Trichloroethane 0.2 0.2 Liver, nervous system, or circulatory problems Discharge from metal degreasing sites and other factories 1,1,2-Trichloroethane 0.003 0.005 Liver, kidney, or immune system problems Discharge from industrial chemical factories Trichloroethylene zero 0.005 Liver problems; increased risk of cancer Discharge from petroleum refineries Vinyl chloride zero 0.002 Increased risk of cancer Leaching from PVC pipes; discharge from plastic factories Xylenes (total) 10 10 Nervous system damage Discharge from petroleum factories; discharge from chemical factories Radionuclides Beta particles and photon emitters none5 4 millirems per year Increased risk of cancer Decay of natural and mandeposits Gross alpha particle activity none5 15 picocuries per Liter (pCi/L) Increased risk of cancer Erosion of natural deposits Radium 226 and Radium 228 (combined) none5 5 pCi/L Increased risk of cancer Erosion of natural deposits

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Health Effects of Drinking Water Contaminants 9 Table 1. Contaminants currently regulated by U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) standards. Contaminant MCLG 1 (mg/L)4 MCL2 or TT3 (mg/L)4 Potential Health Effects from Ingestion of Water Sources of Contaminant in Drinking Water Microorganisms Giardia lamblia zero TT8 Giardiasis, a gastroenteric disease Human and animal fecal waste Heterotrophic plate count N/A TT8 HPC has no health effects, but can indicate how effective treatment is at controlling microorganisms. n/a Legionella zero TT8 Legionnaire's Disease, commonly known as pneumonia9 Found naturally in water; multiplies in heating systems Total Coliforms (including fecal coliform and E. Coli) zero 5.0%9 Used as an indicator that other potentially harmful bacteria may be present10 Human and animal fecal waste Turbidity N/A TT8 Turbidity has no health effects but can interfere with disinfection and provide a medium for microbial growth. It may indicate the presence of microbes. Soil runoff Viruses (enteric) zero TT8 Gastroenteric disease (e.g. diarrhea, vomiting, cramps) Human and animal fecal waste.