British Berkefeld Water Filters

MTBE  Filters

 

MTBE A BRIEF OVERVIEW

MTBE is an acronym for Methyl-tertiary-butyl-ether. It is a gasoline
additive that has been in wide use since the Clean Air Act of 1990
mandated that MTBE or other oxygenates be added to gasoline. Most oil
companies choose to use MTBE and according to the State of California's
paper entitled "Public Health Goal For Methyl-tertiary-butyl-ether in
Drinking Water" since 1997 it has become the second most heavily
produced chemical in the United States (roughly 16 gallons per capita is
produced each year)! According to Water officials interviewed on
60-Minutes, one cup of MTBE (about the same amount found in each
gallon of gasoline) can contaminate five million (5,000,000) gallons of
water and make it undrinkable. 

Unfortunately MTBE is now turning up in wells, underground aquifers,
lakes and reservoirs. 60-Minutes' Steve Kroft revealed that MTBE is now
the second most common water contaminant in the country. One internal
study conducted by Chevron discovered that MTBE had contaminated the
ground water at 80 percent of the sites the company tested. Remarkably,
there is no requirement that local governments, municipalities and water
providers to test for the presence of MTBE contamination. 

In March of 1996, the city of Santa Monica California discovered that
MTBE had contaminated 7 of its 11 wells. The water in these wells took
on a strong chemical odor and simply became undrinkable. The wells
were closed and today Santa Monica spends about $3 million dollars per
year to obtain water from the Colorado River. Since then, the state of
California has identified 10,000 sites where MTBE is present in
groundwater. MTBE has now been detected in the ground water of 49
states including major cities such as Atlanta, Albuquerque, Dallas,
Denver, Hartford, Las Vegas, Long Island and others. In South Lake
Tahoe, California MTBE was discovered in the lake, the groundwater and
in a dozen wells. One third of the city's water was shut down. They are
now suing 12 local gas stations, 12 major oil companies, and several
manufacturers of MTBE according to Victor Sher, an attorney
representing the city. 60-Minutes' Kroft conveyed that in New Jersey, it
has been found in 65 public drinking water supplies and in Long Island
New York, MTBE has leaked from more than 400 gasoline storage tanks
and is now being detected in more than 100 public water supplies.
Glennville, California had some of the highest levels of MTBE ever
recorded in drinking water. One well tested at 20,000 parts per billion,
1,000 times greater than the maximum level the EPA is now
recommending. Today, Glennville has become a virtual ghost town. 

Dr. Bernard Goldstein, a toxicologist and the director of the
Environmental and Occupational Health Sciences Institute in New Jersey
says, "anyone who looked at the chemical properties of MTBE would
have known it was going to pollute water". He explained that the oxygen
in MTBE makes it more soluble in water than almost anything else found
in gasoline. It moves rapidly in groundwater once it gets spilled. In a
report issued by Dr. Peter Garrett of the Maine Department of
Environmental Protection and two of his colleagues stated that "MTBE
moved further and faster in groundwater and was more difficult to clean
up than any other contaminate in gasoline". The problem is that MTBE
doesn't break down. Craig Perkins, director of public works for Santa
Monica stated "What we found was that it was behaving much differently
than contaminants that-that (sic) we had tracked in the past. It was
moving through the-the (sic) groundwater into the wells much more
quickly. On one of our wells, the-it (sic) essentially doubled within
one-week period". 

A 1987 EPA memo states "Known cases of drinking water contamination
have been reported in four states, affecting 20,000 people. It's possible
that this problem could rapidly mushroom due to leaking underground
storage tanks. The problem of groundwater contamination will increase as
the proportion of MTBE in gasoline increases." The Clean Air Act of
1990, which mandated the use of oxygenated fuel additives, was passed
three years later. Bob Perciasepe, an assistant administrator of the EPA
told 60-Minutes "any optimism anybody had that we could manage the
potential problem has not come to fruition, and before this becomes a
national crisis, before this gets worse, we need to change the way we
make clean-burning gasoline". 

MTBE, can cause water to take on a chemical odor similar to that of
turpentine or paint thinner. A study conducted in Italy on lab animals
showed that ingesting high doses of MTBE caused leukemia, lymphoma
and testicular cancer. MTBE has not been adequately tested for toxicity
in humans and scientific data on the human health effects of MTBE in
drinking water is sadly lacking.
                   

 MTBE  Filters

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Pueblo, Colo. USA. 81003
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