Remove MTBE from Your Well Water

The issue of MTBE contamination in our groundwater has been gaining traction in recent years, but many people are still not aware of the problem. In this article, we will explore what MTBE is, how it affects our water supply and how we can remove it from our well water.

What is MTBE?green-elixir-1441964

Around four decades ago, many cities were grappling with the issue of air pollution and smog that was caused by an increase in vehicular traffic. One of the solutions adopted was to add methyl tertiary butyl ether (MTBE) to the gasoline supply. This colorless liquid made the fuel burn more efficiently and was effective in reducing the amount of air pollution. The solving of one problem, created a different problem, the MTBE found its way into our groundwater, and many states banned its use altogether.

How Did MTBE Get into the Groundwater?

Some of the MTBE leaked into the soil from spills that were caused when refueling lawn mowers and cars on land. Other water sources were contaminated through fuel spills on boats in rivers and lakes. The worst source was the underground gasoline storage tanks that are found at every gas station. MTBE is highly soluble in water, it degrades very slowly, once it leaks into water or soil, it can be quickly carried throughout the entire water system.

What are the Health Effects of MTBE?

When a drinking water supply is contaminated with MTBE is causes a fruity yet chemical or turpentine like taste to be imparted. This can be detected by some people even if the concentration is a little as 40 parts per billion. Some studies carried out on MTBE exposure have suggested that very high levels of the chemical (actually more than can be ingested) could cause health issues, such as liver and kidney damage, stomach irritation and nervous systems problems. Some agencies do consider MTBE to be a carcinogen, but at this time the American Cancer Society has not categorized it as such, and the EPA have not set a health based standard for the chemical.

What Homeowners Need to Know About MTBE:

MTBE is rarely used as a gasoline additive these days, and it has been mostly replaced by ethanol. Despite this, MTBE is still out there, and the possible health consequences have not been fully researched at this time. Removing a high contamination of MTBE can be carried out by using two step process, the first stage gets rid of the bulk of the contaminants and the second refines the filtration process. Activated carbon is commonly used because it has a large surface area and large quantities of contaminants can be removed easily.

If you’re concerned about MTBE or other contaminants in your water supply, contact a local qualified water professional. There are many modern water treatment and filtration system available that can deal with all kinds of water quality issues. Always make sure that you chose a professional that is fully WQA certified to ensure that meet and even exceed water industry standards.

By Mark Williams (NicMar President Mark Williams holds degrees in Applied Science and Industrial Thermodynamics, along with Agricultural Mechanization and Systems Engineering from Ohio State University.  He also holds the highest possible industry ranking, being WQA (Water Quality Association) LEVEL 6 Certified.)

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Nicmar Water
999 Baltimore Road York SpringsPA17372 USA 
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