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Common City Water Contaminants

A Comprehensive List of Common Municipal Water Contaminants

by | Last updated Aug 3, 2020 | Published on Oct 22, 2018

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What's This About?

What’s actually in your city water? This article shows the regulations in regards to your city water and what can end up in it despite current regulations.

About 286 million Americans use and drink municipal water every day. Do you? Have you ever thought about what is in your water? There’s no way the water you drink every day could be unhealthy for you, right? What kind of contaminants can be in your water?

 

The Water Everyone Uses and Drinks

Municipal water, sometimes known as city water, is what most people in the U.S. use as their primary source of water in their homes. Because of this, municipalities collect, filter, and distribute thousands and thousands of gallons of water every day. In fact, Tennessee uses anywhere from 500 million to a billion gallons of water every day.

Due to the mass collection, filtration, and distribution of water, it would be costly to produce water that was high-quality and deliver that water to your home. Despite the many filtration challenges that would arise, much of America’s waterways are still galvanized iron pipe, maintaining high-quality through those would be nearly impossible.

With those considerations in mind, the EPA has set standards and regulations that municipalities must follow in regards to water quality, including water sample testing, etc.

There are two primary categories you should know about when it comes to the water you and your family drink, bathe in, wash with, use, and cook with every day. These two categories come straight from the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency), because the regulations and standards of municipal water is a federal matter.

The first category is contaminants that are known to exist and show up in municipal water that is regulated. And the second category is contaminants that are known to exist and show up in municipal water that is NOT regulated.

We believe it’s important to know what is in your water so keep reading. Just know once you have the knowledge, there is a solution. You can take control of your water.

About 286 million Americans use and drink municipal water every day. Do you? Have you ever thought about what is in your water? There’s no way the water you drink every day could be unhealthy for you, right? What kind of contaminants can be in your water?

Contaminants that are Regulated in Municipal Water

These regulations are called the National Primary Drinking Water Regulations (NPDWR), which are instituted and enforced by the EPA. According to the EPA, these are the primary standards and treatment techniques that protect public health by limiting the levels of contaminants in drinking water.

This is the National Primary Drinking Water Regulations document that anyone can find on the EPA website.

 

NPDWR Document Top

 

NPDWR Bottom

 

Information Regarding NPDWR:

MCL (mg/L) – Maximum Contaminant Level – The highest level of a contaminant that is allowed in drinking water under the NPDWR.

TT – Treatment Technique – A required process intended to reduce the level of a contaminant in the drinking water.

Public Health Goal or Maximum Contaminant Level Goal (MCLG) – This is the best case scenario on that particular contaminant level. Notice the MCLG is often different than the MCL.

Contaminants – This is a list of 88 contaminants that are regulated under the NPDWR. It includes disinfectants, disinfection byproducts, inorganic chemicals, microorganisms, organic chemicals, and radionuclides. These contaminants are present or expected to be present in public municipal water.

National Secondary Drinking Water Regulation – At the bottom of the NPDWR, a list of 15 contaminants is found under the name of the National Secondary Drinking Water Regulation. These regulations are non-enforceable guidelines that the EPA recommends to Municipalities but does not force them to adopt these standards.

Contaminants that are NOT Regulated in Municipal Water or the CCL 4

The Contaminant Candidate List 4, according to the EPA, “is a list of contaminants that are currently not subject to any proposed or promulgated national primary drinking water regulations, but are known or anticipated to occur in public water systems“.

There have been 4 iterations of the CCL, therefore the “CCL 4” is the 4th iteration.

Due to lack of mass filtration methods, pure cost of filtration, or there not being substantial enough evidence to be harmful to public health, these one-hundred and eleven contaminants are not regulated in any way.

The EPA states three criteria for a Contaminant to be put onto the NPDWR:

  • The contaminant may have an adverse effect on the health of persons;
  • The contaminant is known to occur or there is a substantial likelihood the contaminant will occur in public water systems with a frequency and at levels of public health concern;
  • In the sole judgment of the Administrator, regulation of the contaminant presents a meaningful opportunity for health risk reductions for persons served by public water systems.

 

This is the two documents containing the CCL 4, Chemical Contaminants and Microbial Contaminants that are not regulated.

Chemical Contaminants – CCL 4

Final CCL 4 Chemical Contaminants

(See original document here)

Substance Name
CASRN1
Use
1,1-Dichloroethane
75-34-3 It is an industrial solvent and an intermediate in the synthesis of other compounds.
1,1,1,2-Tetrachloroethane
630-20-6
It is an industrial solvent and used in the synthesis of other chlorinated compounds.
1,2,3-Trichloropropane
96-18-4
It is an industrial solvent, cleaning and degreasing agent as well as an intermediate in the synthesis of the other compounds.
1,3-Butadiene
106-99-0
It is used in the production of rubber and plastics.
1,4-Dioxane
123-91-1
It is used as a solvent for cellulose formulations, resins, oils, waxes and other organic substances. It is also used in wood pulping, textile processing, degreasing, in lacquers, paints, varnishes, and stains; and in paint and varnish removers.
17alpha-estradiol
57-91-0
It is an estrogenic hormone found in some pharmaceuticals.
1-Butanol
71-36-3
It is a solvent and used in production of other chemicals. compounds.  It is present in a number of commercial products such as perfumes.
2-Methoxyethanol
109-86-4
It is used in a number of consumer products, such as synthetic cosmetics, perfumes, fragrances, hair preparations, and skin lotions.
2-Propen-1-ol
107-18-6
It is used in the production of other chemicals.
3-Hydroxycarbofuran
16655-82-6
It is a pesticide degradate, the parent, carbofuran, is used as an insecticide.
4,4′-Methylenedianiline
101-77-9
It is used in the production of polyurethanes foams, glues, rubber and spandex fiber.
Acephate
30560-19-1
It is an insecticide.
Acetaldehyde
75-07-0
It is a disinfection byproduct from ozonation; it is used in the production of other chemicals.
Acetamide
60-35-5
It is used as a solvent and plasticizer.
Acetochlor
34256-82-1
It is an herbicide for weed control on agricultural crops.
Acetochlor ethanesulfonic acid (ESA)
187022-11-3
Acetochlor ESA is an environmental degradate of acetochlor.
Acetochlor oxanilic acid (OA)
184992-44-4
Acetochlor OA is an environmental degradate of acetochlor.
Acrolein
107-02-8
It is used as an aquatic herbicide, rodenticide and industrial chemical.
Alachlor ethanesulfonic acid (ESA)
142363-53-9
Alachlor ESA is an environmental degradate of the pesticide alachlor (an herbicide for weed control on agricultural crops).
Alachlor oxanilic acid (OA)
171262-17-2
Alachlor OA is an environmental degradate of alachlor.
alpha-Hexachlorocyclohexane
319-84-6
It is a component of benzene hexachloride (BHC) and was formerly used as an insecticide.
Aniline
62-53-3
It is used as an industrial chemical, as a solvent, in the synthesis of explosives, rubber products and in isocyanates.
Bensulide
741-58-2
It is an herbicide.
Benzyl chloride
100-44-7
It is used in the production of other substances, such as plastics, dyes, lubricants, gasoline and pharmaceuticals.
Butylated hydroxyanisole
25013-16-5
It is used as a food additive (antioxidant).
Captan
133-06-2
It is a fungicide.
Chlorate
14866-68-3
Chlorate compounds are used in agriculture as defoliants or desiccants and may occur in drinking water because of use of disinfectants such as chlorine dioxide and hypochlorites.
Chloromethane (Methyl chloride)
74-87-3
It is used as a foaming agent and in the production of other substances.
Clethodim
110429-62-4
It is an herbicide.
Cobalt
7440-48-4
It is a naturally-occurring element and was formerly used as cobaltous chloride in medicines and as a germicide. It is a part of the vitamin B12 molecule
Cumene hydroperoxide
80-15-9
It is used as a catalyst is used in the production of other substances.
Cyanotoxins
Not applicable.
Toxins naturally produced and released by cyanobacteria (“blue-green algae”). The group of cyanotoxins includes, but is not limited to: anatoxin-a, cylindrospermopsin, microcystins, and saxitoxin.
Dicrotophos
141-66-2
It is an insecticide.
Dimethipin
55290-64-7
It is an herbicide and plant growth regulator.
Diuron
330-54-1
It is an herbicide.
Equilenin
517-09-9
It is an estrogenic hormone used in hormone replacement therapy.
Equilin
474-86-2
It is an estrogenic hormone and is used in hormone replacement therapy.
Erythromycin
114-07-8
It is used an antibiotic.
Estradiol (17-beta estradiol)
50-28-2
It is an isomer of estradiol found in some pharmaceuticals.
Estriol
50-27-1
It is a weak estrogenic hormone used in veterinary pharmaceuticals.
Estrone
53-16-7
It is a precursor of estradiol used in veterinary and human pharmaceuticals.
Ethinyl estradiol (17-alpha ethynyl estradiol)
57-63-6
It is an estrogenic hormone and is used in veterinary and human oral contraceptives.
Ethoprop
13194-48-4
It is an insecticide.
Ethylene glycol
107-21-1
It is used as antifreeze, in textile manufacturing and is a cancelled pesticide.
Ethylene oxide
75-21-8
It is a fungicidal and insecticidal fumigant.
Ethylene thiourea
96-45-7
It is used in the production of other substances, such as for vulcanizing polychloroprene (neoprene) and polyacrylate rubbers and is a metabolite of some fungicides.
Formaldehyde
50-00-0
It is an ozoneation disinfection byproduct, can occur naturally and has been used as a fungicide.
Germanium
7440-56-4
It is a naturally-occurring element and is commonly found as germanium dioxide in phosphors, transistors and diodes, and in electroplating. In some cases it has been sold as a dietary supplement.
HCFC-22
75-45-6
It is used as a refrigerant, as a low-temperature solvent, and in fluorocarbon resins, especially in tetrafluoroethylene polymers.
Halon 1011 (bromochloromethane) 74-97-5
It is used as a fire-extinguishing fluid and to suppress explosions, as well as a solvent in the manufacturing of some pesticides. May also occur as a disinfection by-product in drinking water.
Hexane
110-54-3
It is a component of gasoline and used as a solvent.
Hydrazine
302-01-2
It is used as an ingredient in the production of other substances, such as rocket propellants. It is also used in the production of plastics.
Manganese
7439-96-5
It is a naturally-occurring element used in a variety of applications including use in steel production to improve hardness, stiffness and strength.  It is an essential nutrient found in vitamin/mineral supplement and in fortified foods.
Mestranol
72-33-3
It is a precursor to ethinylestradiol used in veterinary and human pharmaceuticals.
Methamidophos
10265-92-6
It is an insecticide.
Methanol
67-56-1
It is used as an industrial solvent, a gasoline additive and as an anti-freeze ingredient.
Methyl bromide (bromomethane)
74-83-9
It has been used as a fumigant and fungicide.
Methyl tert-butyl ether (MTBE)
1634-04-4
It is used as an octane booster in gasoline, in the manufacturing of isobutene and as an extraction solvent.
Metolachlor
51218-45-2
It is an herbicide for weed control on agricultural crops.
Metolachlor ethanesulfonic acid (ESA)
171118-09-5
Metolachlor ESA is an environmental degradate of metolachlor.
Metolachlor oxanilic acid (OA)
152019-73-3
Metolachlor OA is an environmental degradate of metolachlor.
Molybdenum
7439-98-7
It is a naturally-occurring element and is commonly found as molybdenum trioxide.   It is used as a steel alloy.  It is an essential dietary nutrient found in foods and nutritional supplements.
Nitrobenzene
98-95-3
It is used in the production of aniline, and also as a solvent in the manufacturing of paints, shoe polishes, floor polishes, metal polishes, explosives, dyes, pesticides and drugs (such as acetaminophen).,
Nitroglycerin
55-63-0
It is used in the production of explosives, and in rocket propellants. It is also a pharmaceutical for the treatment of angina.
N-Methyl-2-pyrrolidone
872-50-4
It is a solvent in the chemical industry, and is used in the formulation of pharmaceuticals for oral and dermal delivery.
N-nitrosodiethylamine (NDEA)
55-18-5
It is a nitrosamine used as an additive in gasoline and in lubricants, as an antioxidant and as a stabilizer in plastics. It is formed in cured foods and during high temperature cooking of meats and fish, and may be a disinfection byproduct.
N-nitrosodimethylamine (NDMA)
62-75-9
It was formerly used in the production of rocket fuels, anti-oxidants and softeners for copolymers. It is formed in cured foods and during high temperature cooking. It may be a leachate from rubber gaskets and fittings and may form as a disinfection byproduct.
N-nitroso-di-n-propylamine (NDPA)
621-64-7
It is formed in cured foods and during high temperature cooking of meats and fish and may be a disinfection byproduct.  It is a contaminant in dinitrofluralin herbicides.
N-Nitrosodiphenylamine
86-30-6
It is used in the vulcanization of rubber and as an inhibitor of polymerization in the production of polystyrene. It may be a disinfection byproduct.
N-nitrosopyrrolidine (NPYR)
930-55-2
It is used in rubber production. It is formed in cured foods and during high temperature cooking of meats and fish and may be a disinfection byproduct.
Nonylphenol2
25154-52-3
The main use of nonylphenol is in the manufacture of nonylphenol ethoxylates, which have been used in a wide range of industrial applications and consumer products including laundry detergents, cleaners, degreasers, paints and coatings and other uses. Several other CASRNs are associated with nonyphenol due to varying chemical structures including: 104-40-5, 84852-15-3, 91672-41-2, and 139-84-4.
Norethindrone (19-Norethisterone)
68-22-4
Norethindrone is a synthetic hormone used in oral contraceptives and for hormone replacement therapy.
n-Propylbenzene
103-65-1
It is a constituent of asphalt and naptha and used in the manufacture of methyl styrene. It is a solvent for printing and dying of textiles.
o-Toluidine
95-53-4
It is used in the production of dyes, rubber, pharmaceuticals and pesticides.
Oxirane, methyl
75-56-9
It is an industrial chemical used in the production of other substances. It is a registered pesticide.
Oxydemeton-methyl
301-12-2
It is an insecticide.
Oxyfluorfen
42874-03-3
It is an herbicide.
Perfluorooctanesulfonic acid (PFOS)
1763-23-1
PFOS has been used to make carpets, leathers, textiles, fabrics for furniture, paper packaging, and other materials that are resistant to water, grease, or stains. It is also used in firefighting foams at airfields. Many of these uses have been phased out by its primary U.S. manufacturer; however, there are still some ongoing uses.
Perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA)
335-67-1
PFOA has been used to make carpets, leathers, textiles, fabrics for furniture, paper packaging, and other materials that are resistant to water, grease, or stains. It is also used in firefighting foams at airfields. Many of these uses are being phased out by U.S. manufacturers; however, there are still some ongoing uses.
Permethrin
52645-53-1
It is an insecticide.
Profenofos
41198-08-7
It is an insecticide and an acaricide.
Quinoline
91-22-5
It is a component of coal tars and used in the production of other substances, and as a pharmaceutical (anti-malarial).
RDX (Hexahydro-1,3,5-trinitro-1,3,5-triazine)
121-82-4
It is an explosive.
sec-Butylbenzene
135-98-8
It is used as a solvent for coatings in organic synthesis, as a plasticizer and in surfactants.
Tebuconazole
107534-96-3
It is a fungicide.
Tebufenozide
112410-23-8
It is insecticide.
Tellurium
13494-80-9
It is a naturally-occurring element and is commonly used as sodium tellurite in bacteriology and medicine.
Thiodicarb
59669-26-0
It is an insecticide.
Thiophanate-methyl
23564-05-8
It is a fungicide.
Toluene diisocyanate
26471-62-5
It is used in the manufacturing of plastics.
Tribufos
78-48-8
It is an insecticide and used as a cotton defoliant.
Triethylamine
121-44-8
It is used in the production of other substances, as a stabilizer in herbicides and pesticides, in consumer products, in photographic chemicals and in carpet cleaners.
Triphenyltin hydroxide (TPTH)
76-87-9
It is a pesticide.
Urethane
51-79-6
It is a paint and coating ingredient (polyurethanes).
Vanadium
7440-62-2
It is a naturally-occurring element.  Vanadium pentoxide is a catalyst for the production of other substances catalyst. It is sometimes an ingredient in mineral supplements but is not classified as an essential nutrient
Vinclozolin
50471-44-8
It is a fungicide.
Ziram
137-30-4
It is a fungicide.

Notes

1Chemical Abstract Service Registration Number (CASRN#) – Chemical abstract service registry numbers are used in reference works, databases, and regulatory compliance documents by many organizations around the world to identify substances with a standardized name.

2 Due to varying chemical structures, there are several other CASRNs associated with nonylphenol in addition to 25154-52-3, including: 104-40-5, 84852-15-3, 91672-41-2, and 139-84-4. The CASRN provided by the nominator was selected for CCL 4, and the additional possible CASRNs are delineated here.

 

Microbial Contaminants – CCL 4

Final CCL 4 Microbial Contaminants

(See original document here)

Microbial Contaminant Name
Type
Diseases and Infections
Adenovirus
Virus
Respiratory illness and occasionally gastrointestinal illness.
Caliciviruses
Virus (includes Norovirus)
Mild self-limiting gastrointestinal illness.
Campylobacter jejuni
Bacteria
Mild self-limiting gastrointestinal illness.
Enterovirus
Viruses including polioviruses, coxsackieviruses and echoviruses
Mild respiratory illness.
Escherichia coli (0157)
Bacteria
Gastrointestinal illness and kidney failure.
Helicobacter pylori
Bacteria
Found in the environment capable of colonizing human gut that can cause ulcers and cancer.
Hepatitis A virus
Virus
Liver disease and jaundice.
Legionella pneumophila
Bacteria
Found in the environment including hot water systems causing lung diseases when inhaled.
Mycobacterium avium
Bacteria
Lung infection in those with underlying lung disease, and disseminated infection in the severely immuno compromised.
Naegleria fowleri
Protozoan
Parasite found in shallow, warm surface and ground water causing primary amebic meningoencephalitis.
Salmonella enterica
Bacteria
Mild self-limiting gastrointestinal illness.
Shigella sonnei
Bacteria
Mild self-limiting gastrointestinal illness and bloody diarrhea.

 

To reiterate, the two lists above are the Common Contaminant List 4 by the EPA. These are contaminants that are known or anticipated to occur in public water systems, but are currently not regulated at all.

 

Municipal Water Testing

Municipalities do not test their water with live results, they take samples and test those samples. So that means even with the contaminants that they do test for, the sample they acquired might be okay, but other contaminated water just went by without them having any way to know, and that water ends up in your home.

 

What is the Solution?

Municipalities do a great job at what is required of them. They provide water that meets the standards and requirements placed on them by the EPA. To provide high-quality water all the way into your home is implausible, with today’s technology and how the municipalities are set up, it can’t happen.

The only solution to having high-quality water throughout your home is individual water purification and filtration, for whole-house water and for drinking water. Or to get a whole new water source, like rainwater harvesting.

Want to Learn More About Water Purification & Filtration?

For Homeowners & Homebuilders in Knoxville, Nashville, Asheville, Chattanooga, Lexington, and surrounding areas.

Check out our complete guide to water purification & filtration.

PerfectWater

We Help People Take Control of Their Water.

This is one of the ways we are trying to help homeowners and homebuilders across the United States take control of their water. Don’t hesitate to reach out if you have any questions or would like to learn more.

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