List of Common Contaminants

Category

Contaminant

EPA MCL
(mg/L)

Potential Health effects from
exposure above the MCL

Common sources of
contaminate in drinking water

SOC

Alachlor

0.002

Eye, liver, kidney or spleen problems; anemia; increased risk of cancer

Runoff from herbicide used on row crops.

SOC

Aldicarb

0.003

Immune system and neurological problems

Runoff from pesticide use

SOC

Aldicarb Sulfone

0.003

Immune system and neurological problems

Runoff from pesticide use

SOC

Aldicarb Sulfoxide

0.004

Immune system and neurological problems

Runoff from pesticide use

IOC

Alkalinity

n/a

High alkaline water has an objectionable taste

Alkalinity of water is a measure of how much acid it can neutralize.

RAD

Gross Alpha

15 pCi/L

Increased risk of cancer

Erosion of natural deposits of certain minerals that are radioactive and may emit a form of radiation known as alpha radiation

METAL

Aluminum

0.05-0.2

Possible link to Alzheimer’s Disease; Possible liver and kidney problems

Erosion of natural deposits; runoff from landfills and recycling facilities

METAL

Antimony

0.006

Increase in blood cholesterol; decrease in blood sugar.

Discharge from petroleum refineries; fire retardants; ceramics; electronics; solder.

METAL

Arsenic

0.010

Skin damage or problems with circulatory systems, and may have increased risk of getting cancer

Erosion of natural deposits; runoff from orchards, runoff from glass and electronics production waste.

SOC

Atrazine

0.003

Cardiovascular system or reproductive problems.

Runoff from herbicide used on row crops.

METAL

Barium

2

Increase in blood pressure

Discharge of drilling wastes; discharge from metal refineries; erosion of natural deposits

VOC

Benzene

0.005

Anemia; decrease in blood platelets; Increased risk of cancer

Discharge from factories; leaching from gas storage tanks and landfills

SOC

Benzo(a)pyrene (PAHs)

0.0002

Reproductive difficulties; increased risk of cancer

Leaching from linings of water storage tanks and distribution lines

METAL

Beryllium

0.004

Intestinal lesions

Discharge from metal refineries and
coal-burning factories; discharge from electrical, aerospace, and defense industries

RAD

Gross Beta

4 millirems
per year

Increased risk of cancer

Decay of natural and man-made deposits of certain minerals that are radioactive and may emit forms of radiation known as photons and beta radiation

METAL

Cadmium

0.005

Kidney damage

Corrosion of galvanized pipes; erosion of natural deposits; discharge from metal refineries; runoff from waste batteries and paints

METAL

Calcium

n/a

Calcium is a dietary mineral

Erosion of natural deposits

SOC

Carbofuran

0.04

Problems with blood, nervous system, or reproductive system

Leaching of soil fumigant used on
rice, alfalfa and other plants

VOC

Carbon Tetrachloride

0.005

Liver problems; increased risk of cancer

Discharge from chemical plants and other industrial activities

SOC

Chlordane

0.002

Liver or nervous system problems;
increased risk of cancer

Residue of banned termiticide

IOC

Chloride

250

Unpleasant taste

Discharge from industrial effluents, urban runoff from de-icing salt; erosion of natural deposits

VOC

Chlorobenzene

0.1

Liver or kidney problems

Discharge from chemical and Agricultural chemical factories.

METAL

Chromium (total)

0.1

Allergic dermatitis

Discharge from steel and pulp mills; erosion of natural deposits

METAL

Copper

Action
Level =
1.3

Short term exposure: Gastrointestinal distress. Long term exposure: Liver or kidney damage. People with Wilson’s Disease should consult their personal doctor if the amount of copper in their water exceeds the action level

Corrosion of household plumbing systems; erosion of natural deposits

IOC

Cyanide (as free cyanide)

0.2

Nerve damage or thyroid problems

Discharge from steel/metal factories; discharge from plastic and fertilizer factories

SOC

2,4-D

0.07

Kidney, liver, or adrenal gland problems

Runoff from herbicide used on row crops

SOC

Dalapon

0.2

Minor kidney changes

Runoff from herbicide use

SOC

1,2-Dibromo-3-
chloropropane (DBCP)

0.0002

Reproductive difficulties; increased risk of cancer

Runoff/leaching from soil fumigant
used on soybeans, cotton, pineapples, and orchards

VOC

1,2-Dichlorobenzene

0.6

Liver, kidney, circulatory system problems

Discharge from industrial chemical factories

VOC

1,4-Dichlorobenzene

0.075

Anemia; liver, kidney or spleen damage; changes in blood

Discharge from industrial chemical factories

VOC

1,2-Dichloroethane

0.005

Increased risk of cancer

Discharge from industrial chemical factories

VOC

1,1-Dichloroethene

0.007

Liver problems

Discharge from industrial chemical factories

VOC

cis-1,2-Dichloroethene

0.07

Liver problems

Discharge from industrial chemical factories

VOC

trans-1,2-Dichloroethene

0.1

Liver problems

Discharge from industrial chemical factories

VOC

Methylene Chloride

0.005

Liver problems; increased risk of
cancer

Discharge from drug and chemical factories

VOC

1,2-Dichloropropane

0.005

Increased risk of cancer

Discharge from industrial chemical factories

SOC

bis(2-ethylhexyl)adipate

0.4

Weight loss, liver problems, or possible reproductive difficulties

Discharge from chemical factories

SOC

bis(2-ethylhexyl)phthalate

0.006

Reproductive difficulties; liver
problems; increased risk of cancer

Discharge from rubber and chemical factories

SOC

Dinoseb

0.007

Reproductive difficulties

Runoff from herbicide used on soybeans and vegetables

SOC

Diquat

0.02

Cataracts

Runoff from herbicide use

SOC

Endothall

0.1

Stomach and intestinal problems

Runoff from herbicide use

SOC

Endrin

0.002

Liver problems

Residue of banned insecticide

VOC

Ethylbenzene

0.7

Liver and kidney problems

Discharge from petroleum refineries

SOC

1,2-Dibromoethane (EDB)

0.00005

Problems with liver, stomach, reproductive system, or kidneys; increased risk of cancer

Discharge from petroleum refineries

IOC

Fluoride

2

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

SOC

Glyphosate

0.7

Kidney problems; reproductive problems

Runoff from herbicide use

DBP

Haloacetic acids (HAA5)

0.060

Increased risk of cancer

Byproduct of drinking water
disinfection

METAL

Hardness, Total

n/a

n/a

Erosion of natural deposits

SOC

Heptachlor

0.0004

Liver damage; increased risk of cancer

Residue of banned insecticides

SOC

Heptachlor epoxide

0.0002

Liver damage; increased risk of cancer

Breakdown product of Heptachlor

SOC

Hexachlorobenzene

0.001

Liver or kidney problems; reproductive difficulties: increased risk of cancer

Discharge from metal refineries and agricultural chemical factories

SOC

Hexachlorocyclopentadiene

0.05

Kidney or stomach problems

Discharge from chemical factories

METAL

Iron

0.3

Possible liver problems; unpleasant metalic taste

Erosion of natural deposits; corrosion from cast iron pipes or steel

METAL

Lead

Action
Level =
0.015

Infants and children: Delays in physical or mental development; children could show slight deficits in attention span and learning abilities; Adults: Kidney problems; high blood pressure

Corrosion of household plumbing
systems; erosion of natural deposits

SOC

Lindane

0.0002

Liver or kidney problems

Runoff from insecticide used on cattle, lumber and gardens

METAL

Magnesium

n/a

Magnesium is a dietary mineral

Erosion of natural deposits

METAL

Manganese

0.05

Neurological effects, infertility, muscle
pain, decreased emotion and change in activity level.

Erosion of natural deposits. Runoff from steel battary and ceramic factories.

METAL

Mercury (inorganic)

0.002

Kidney damage

Erosion of natural deposits; discharge
from refineries and factories; runoff from landfills and croplands

SOC

Methoxychlor

0.04

Reproductive difficulties

Runoff/leaching from insecticide used
on fruits, vegetables, alfalfa, livestock

VOC

Methyl tertiary butyl ether (MTBE)

n/a

Possible cancer risk

leaking gasoline storage tanks, pipelines and emissions

IOC

Nitrates, Total

10

Infants below the age of six months who drink water containing nitrate in excess of the MCL could become seriously ill and, if untreated, may die. Symptoms include shortness of breath and blue-baby syndrome.

Runoff from fertilizer use; leaching from septic tanks, sewage; erosion of natural deposits

SOC

Oxamyl (Vydate)

0.2

Slight nervous system effects

Runoff from insecticide used on
apples, potatoes, and tomatoes

SOC

Pentachlorophenol

0.001

Liver or kidney problems; increased risk of cancer

Discharge from wood preserving factories

IOC

pH

n/a

High or low pH can cause the water to taste or smell bad.

pH is a figure expressing the acidity or alkalinity of water with a scale of 1 to 14 on which 7 is neutral, lower values are more acidic and higher numbers are more alkaline or basic.

SOC

Picloram

0.5

Liver problems

Runoff from herbicide use

SOC

PCBs (total)

0.0005

Skin changes; thymus gland problems; immune deficiencies; reproductive or nervous system difficulties; increased risk of cancer

Runoff from landfills; discharge of
waste chemicals; used in electrical transformers

METAL

Potassium

n/a

Increased risk of hyperkalemia

Erosion of natural deposits

RAD

Radium 226 and 228

5 pCi/L

Increased risk of cancer

Erosion of natural deposits

METAL

Selenium

0.05

Hair or fingernail loss; numbness in fingers or toes; circulatory problems

Discharge from petroleum refineries;
erosion of natural deposits; discharge from mines

METAL

Silver

0.1

Skin discoloration; graying of the white part of the eye

Erosion of natural deposits

SOC

Simazine

0.004

Problems with blood

Runoff from herbicide use

METAL

Sodium

n/a

Increase risk of high blood pressure; Unpleasant taste

Erosion of natural deposits

IOC

Sulfate

250

Unpleasant taste and odor

Erosion of natural deposits

SOC

Styrene

0.1

Liver, kidney & circulatory system problems

Discharge from rubber and plastic factories; leaching from landfills

VOC

Tetrachloroethylene

0.005

Liver problems; increased risk of cancer

Discharge from factories and dry cleaners

METAL

Thallium

0.002

Hair loss; changes in blood; kidney, intestine, or liver problems

Leaching from ore-processing sites; discharge from electronics, glass, and drug factories

VOC

Toluene

1

Nervous system, kidney, or liver problems

Discharge from petroleum factories; or underground gasoline tanks

MICRO

Total Coliform
(includes E. coli)

zero presence

Indicate whether potentially harmful bacteria may be present

Coliforms are naturally present in the
environment.

DBP

Total Trihalomethanes
(TTHMs)

0.080

Liver, kidney or central nervous system problems; increased risk of cancer

Byproduct of drinking water disinfection

SOC

Toxaphene

0.003

Kidney, liver & thyroid problems; increased risk of cancer

Runoff/leaching from insecticide used on cotton and cattle.

SOC

2,4,5-TP (Silvex)

0.05

Liver problems

Residue of banned herbicide

VOC

1,2,4-Trichlorobenzene

0.07

Changes in adrenal glands

Discharge from textile finishing factories

VOC

1,1,1-Trichloroethane

0.2

Liver, nervous system, or circulatory problems

Discharge from metal degreasing sites
and other factories

VOC

1,1,2-Trichloroethane

0.005

Liver, kidney, or immune system problems

Discharge from industrial chemical
factories

VOC

Trichloroethene

0.005

Liver problems; increased risk of cancer

Discharge from metal degreasing sites
and other factories

IOC

Turbidity

n/a

Turbidity is a measure of the cloudiness of water. It is used to indicate water quality and filtration effectiveness. Turbid water can cause short term symptoms such as nausea, cramps, diarrhea, and associated headaches.

Soil erosion and runoff and discharges

VOC

Vinyl chloride

0.002

Increased risk of cancer

Leaching from PVC pipes; discharge from plastic factories

VOC

Xylenes (total)

10

Nervous system damage

Discharge from petroleum factories and chemical factories

METAL

Zinc

5

Metallic taste

Erosion of natural deposits