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Water Quality

In Ohio, many residents receive their drinking water from ground or surface water resources through private water systems such as wells, springs, ponds, rain water cisterns, and hauled water. The Ohio Department of Health (ODH) requires that the water provided from these systems be tested for a few basic contaminants upon completion of the private water systems construction, alteration or other activity under an open private water systems permit.  Once that open permit receives final approval from the local health district, property owners need to take special precautions to ensure the protection and maintenance during the life time of their private water systems. The required tests to approve a private water system permit are:

The Ohio Department of Health current microbiological standards for private water systems are summarized in the Microbiological Standards for Private Water Systems fact sheet.

In addition to these requirements, ODH has established drinking water standards for private water systems based on the federal drinking water standards for public water systems (Drinking Water Contaminants – Standards and Regulations - https://www.epa.gov/dwstandardsregulations).  These standards are to be used as a health standard to guide private water system owners on the potential health effects of exposure to different naturally-occurring and man-made constituents.

Testing for all the contaminants for the federal safe drinking water standards is expensive and not necessary for most systems. The Ohio Department of Health recommends that private water system owners test a few parameters such as total coliform bacteria, E. coli, nitrates and arsenic on a regular basis to maintain a record of water quality and identify any changes to the system or loss of water quality. Good records of water quality are important to prove if a private water system has been affected by a nearby land use activity.  Contact your local health district to learn what water samples they can collect.  The Ohio Environmental Protection Agency (Ohio EPA) certifies laboratories to perform water testing on drinking water, visit the Ohio EPA's website to find a current list of certified laboratories for testing drinking water.

Microbiological Contaminants

Total Coliform 

Total Coliform bacteria - Ohio Department of Health fact sheet

Escherichia coli (E. coli)

E. coli - Ohio Department of Health fact sheet

Cryptosporidium

Cryptosporidium - Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Drinking Water

Giardia

Giardia - Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Drinking Water

Harmful Algal Bloom (HAB) Cyanotoxins

Harmful algal blooms (HABs) are caused by cyanobacteria (sometimes called blue-green algae) that are bacteria that are naturally found in Ohio lakes, ponds, and slow-moving streams. Although many species of cyanobacteria and algae do not produce toxins, some species of cyanobacteria can cause Harmful Algal Blooms (HABs). The toxins produced by the HABs are referred to as cyanotoxins, some of them are neurotoxins (which affect the nervous system) and some of them are hepatotoxins (which affect the liver). These HAB cyanotoxins can potentially impact the health of people who come into contact with water where HABs are present in high numbers.

What are the Health Effects?

How do I know if my water is affected?

What are the Treatment Options?

Primary Pathogenic Microorganism

  • "Primary pathogenic microorganism" which can cause disease in otherwise healthy people with exposure and dose and includes but is not limited to escherichia coli, enterococci or coliphage;

Opportunistic pathogens

  • "Opportunistic pathogen" is a commonly occurring microorganism found in water wells or a rare microorganism that does not normally cause disease in otherwise healthy people but can cause disease in sensitive populations including immune compromised individuals, infants, and the elderly."

Inorganic Chemical Contaminants

Antimony

Arsenic

Arsenic occurs naturally in rocks and soil, water, air, and plants and animals.  It enters drinking water supplies from natural deposits in the earth or from agricultural and industrial practices.  Arsenic is odorless and tasteless.

What are the Drinking Water Standards?

The EPA has set the arsenic standard for drinking water at 0.01 mg/L or 10 parts per billion (ppb) to protect consumers served by public water systems from the effects of long-term, chronic exposure to arsenic. 

The Ohio Department of Health has adopted this standard as a non-enforceable health-based standard for private water systems.

What are the Health Effects?

What are the Treatment Options?

The treatment options, listed in the fact sheet below, are not enforceable by the Local Health Districts or the Ohio Department of Health. These are recommended options for private water systems owner.

References and Additional Resources

Asbestos

Barium

Beryllium

Bromide

Bromide and chloride are both used as tracers to study water and solute transport through soils. They do not adsorb to negatively charged soil minerals, which allows them to move as fast as water through the soil.  The main difference between the two is that chloride is more ubiquitous in the soil than bromide. This is mainly due the higher concentration of chloride use in manures and fertilizers.  As the concentration of bromide is much less in soils, it is often the preferred tracer.  The purpose for testing for bromides prior to oil and gas drilling is to establish a base level to compare to levels found after the drilling process.

Cadmium

Calcium

Chloride

As ground water moves through bedrock or sand and gravel geologic deposits in the subsurface, it will dissolve different minerals and consitutents including chloride.   Chloride occurs naturally in ground water as a component of deposited salts in geologic formations.  The levels of chloride may vary in water wells depending on the type of rock the ground water moves through and how long the ground water is in contact with the rock and has the ability to dissolve minerals.  Deeper wells may have higher levels of chloride because the ground water has dissolved many of the natually occuring minerals over time.  Chloride levels in water wells that are higher than normal background levels may indicate that chloride has migrated into the ground water from other sources such as:

  • highway salt and salt storage areas,
    brines produced during oil and gas well drilling,
    sewage effluent,
    landfills,
    irrigation drainage,
    animal manure and fertilizers, and
    industrial waste.

The presence of chloride does not always mean the water is saline.  Water is considered saline when the total dissolved solids in the water reaches levels of 1000 mg/L and greater.  See the Total Dissolved Solids page for more information.

What are the Drinking Water Standards?

The USEPA has set a secondary maximum contaminant level (MCL) standard for drinking water at 250 mg/L or 250 ppm (parts per million).  Changes in taste, odor, and color may be evident when levels are greater than 250 ppm. 

The Ohio Department of Health has adopted this standard as a non-enforceable health-based standard for private water systems. 

The Ohio Department of Health has set a construction standard for the use of bentonite grout, during the construction of private wells, when the total dissolved solids in the water exceeds 1500 mg/L and chloride levels are 500 mg/L or greater as addressed in Ohio Administrative Code Rule 3701-28-09(G)(2)(c).  

The Total Dissolved Solids page will provide information about salinity (not to be confused with salt) and other inorganic chemicals such as carbonates, sulfates, nitrates, sodium, potassium, calcium, and magnesium.

What are the Health Effects?

There are no known health effects associated from chlorides.  Sodium, which is often associated with chloride, may be of concern with people suffering from heart or kidney disease.

What are the Treatment Options?

Effective treatment technologies include:

  • reverse osmosis,
    distillation, and
    ion exchange.

The treatment options, listed above, are not enforceable by the Local Health District or the Ohio Department of Health. These are recommended options for private water systems owners.

Additional Resources

Chromium

Copper

Cyanide

Fluoride

Hydrogen Sulfide

Iron

Iron is one of the most plentiful resources and accounts for 5 percent of the Earth’s crust.  As rainwater infiltrates the soil and underlying geologic formations it dissolves iron, causing it to seep into aquifers that serve as sources of groundwater for wells.  Iron can be a troublesome chemical in water supplies.  Iron is mainly present in water in two forms: either the soluble ferrous iron or the insoluble ferric iron. Soluble ferrous iron is found in groundwater, in anaerobic reservoirs, in dead-ends in water distribution systems, and in scale (hard mineral coatings) within pipes.  Water containing ferrous iron is clear and colorless because the iron is completely dissolved.  When soluble ferrous iron is exposed to oxygen or to a disinfectant during water treatment, it oxidizes, causing to the water to turn cloudy and forming a reddish brown substance (insoluble ferric iron).  Iron in groundwater, is often associated with other metals, such as manganese and arsenic.

Iron can combine with different naturally occurring organic acids, known as tannins. Tannins are natural organics produced by vegetation and can stain water a tea-color. In fact, the tannins in coffee or tea produce the brown color. When tea or coffee is made with water containing iron, the tannins react with the iron forming a black residue. Organic iron is a compound formed from an organic acid and iron. Organic iron and tannins are more frequently found in shallow wells, or wells under the influence of surface water. 

The primary sources of iron in drinking water are natural geologic sources as well as aging and corroding distribution systems and household pipes. Iron-based materials, such as cast iron and galvanized steel, have been widely used in our water distribution systems and household plumbing.

Iron Bacteria

Iron bacteria are organisms that consume iron to survive and, in the process, produce deposits of iron, and a reddish-brown or yellow slime called a “biofilm.” Iron bacteria are not harmful to humans, but can make an iron problem much worse. The slime can clog plumbing and cause an offensive odor. This slime or sludge is noticeable in the toilet tank when the lid is removed. Iron bacteria naturally occur in shallow soils and groundwater, and they may be introduced into a well or water system when it is constructed or repaired.

What are the Drinking Water Standards?

The US EPA has set a secondary maximum contaminant level (MCL) standard of 0.3 mg/L or 0.3 ppm (parts per million) iron in drinking water. Changes in taste, odor, and color may be evident when levels are greater than 0.3 ppm.

The Ohio Department of Health has adopted this standard as a non-enforceable health-based standard for private water systems.

What are the Health Effects?

Ingesting iron from drinking water is not directly associated with adverse health effects; although, trace impurities and microorganisms that are absorbed by iron solids may pose health concerns.  Iron is considered a secondary or aesthetic contaminant. Iron is an essential mineral for human health in small concentrations (iron deficiency can lead to anemia).

Iron bacteria, that may be associated with iron in water, are not a health problem.  Iron may present some concern if certain bacteria have entered a well, since some pathogenic (harmful) organisms require iron to grow, and the presence of iron particles makes elimination of the bacteria more difficult.

The effects associated with iron contamination can be grouped into two categories:

  • Aesthetic effects are undesirable tastes or odors. Iron in quantities greater than 0.3 milligrams per liter (mg/L) in drinking water can cause an unpleasant metallic taste and rusty color. Taste is a useful indicator of water quality even though taste-free water is not necessarily safe to drink. Taste is also an indicator of the effectiveness of different kinds of treatments that effectively remove iron from drinking water, such as water softening or reverse osmosis treatment systems. Elevated levels of iron in drinking water can also cause a rusty color that can stain laundry or household. Discolored water is one of the most frequent consumer complaints about drinking water.
  • Physical effects are damages to water equipment and reduced effectiveness of treatment for other contaminants that may present added costs to operations for water utilities. Corrosivity and staining related to corrosion not only affect the aesthetic quality of water, but may also result in distribution system problems. Among other things, corrosion of distribution system pipes can produce sediment or loose deposits that block water flow.

What are the Treatment Options?

Treatment of water containing iron depends on the form(s) of the iron present, the chemistry of the water, and the type of well and water system.

  • Clear-water iron is most commonly removed with a water softener. Manufacturers report that some units are capable of removing up to 10 mg/L, however 2 to 5 mg/L is a more common limit. A water softener is actually designed to remove hardness minerals like calcium and magnesium. Iron will plug the softener, and must be periodically removed from the softener resin by backwashing. Also, if the water hardness is low and the iron content high, or if the water system allows contact with air, such as occurs in an air-charged “galvanized” pressure tank, a softener will not work well.
  • Red-water iron can be removed in small quantities by a sediment filter, carbon filter, or water softener, but the treatment system will very quickly plug up. A more common treatment for red-water iron and clear-water iron in concentrations up to 10 or 15 mg/L is a manganese greensand filter, often referred to as an “iron filter.” Aeration (injecting air) or chemical oxidation (usually adding chlorine in the form of calcium or sodium hypochlorite) followed by filtration are options if iron levels exceed 10 mg/L.
  • Organic iron and tannins present special water treatment challenges. Organic iron and tannins can slow or prevent iron oxidation, so water softeners, aeration systems, and iron filters may not work well. Chemical oxidation followed by filtration may be an option.
  • Treatment options for elimination or reduction of iron bacteria include physical cleaning of the well followed by chemical disinfection, heat, and chemical treatment. The most common treatment is chlorination of the well and water system, however, this treatment option is often only temporary because the "slime" generated by iron bacteria provide protection to the bacteria and regrowth occurs in the borehole.  Studies have shown that chlorination may also stimulate regrowth of the bacteria that are not killed as a defense mechanism. Professional cleaning of the well by a knowledgeable, registered private water system contractor is recommended.  Iron bacteria need iron to survive. Eliminating the bacteria will not eliminate the iron - both well treatment for the bacteria, and water treatment for the iron will be needed.

References and Additional Resources

Lead

Magnesium

Manganese

Mercury

Nitrates

Nitrates (NO3) in drinking water usually originates from fertilizers or from animal or human wastes.  Nitrate concentrations in water tend to be highest in areas of intensive agriculture or where there is a high density of septic systems.

What are the Drinking Water Standards?

The USEPA has set the nitrate MCL (Maximum Contaminant Level) standard for drinking water at 10mg/L or 10 parts per million (ppm). 

The Ohio Department of Health has adopted this standard as a non-enforceable health-based standard for private water systems.  Ohio Administrative Code Rules 3701-28-03(S) and (U) require that nitrate are checked for all private water systems during the permit process.  A pre-test is required to determine the approximate level of nitrates in the drinking water.  Results less than 5 ppm do not require any action by the local health district, whereas results 5 ppm or greater require that a sample be collected and sent to a OEPA certified laboratory to be tested.  If the lab results are less than 10 ppm, no further action is required; but if the results are 10 ppm or greater, the local health district is required to provide the property owner information on the health risks of  nitrates and the treatment options.  Both documents are listed below in the next two sections.

What are the Health Effects?

ODH Bureau of Environmental Health's Health Assessment Section – Nitrate Fact Sheet

What are the Treatment Options?

Ohio Department of Health’s Bureau of Environmental Health – Nitrate Treatment Fact Sheet

Additional Resources

Selenium

Sodium

Sodium is the sixth most abundant element on Earth and is widely distributed in soils, plants, water and foods. It is essential to human life.  Many people use the word “salt” when they intend to refer to sodium or to sodium chloride. When a salt such as sodium chloride dissolves in water it breaks up into positively- and negatively-charged ions. Sodium chloride breaks up into sodium and chloride ions in water. Every water supply contains some sodium and chloride.   A major source of sodium in the natural waters is due to the weathering of rocks and soils.

The concentrations of sodium in groundwater are dependent on the local geological conditions and wastewater contamination. Saline intrusion, mineral deposits, sewage effluents, and salt used in road de-icing can all contribute significant quantities of sodium to water.  Domestic water softeners contribute to sodium in the drinking water by replacing the calcium and magnesium that make the water hard.  These levels, though, are insignificant compared to the sodium ingested in the normal human diet.

What are the Drinking Water Standards?

Sodium is included on the Drinking Water Contaminant Candidate List (CCL).  Sodium is currently not subject to any proposed or promulgated national primary drinking regulation (NPDWR).

What are the Treatment Options?

Water softeners are the most common source of sodium in home drinking water supplies.   If you are concerned about your water softener contributing to the sodium in your drinking water, talk with your doctor.  One way to reduce the sodium contributed by your water softener is to consider dedicating one or more cold water lines, for drinking purposes, by bypassing the water softener.

If a water softener is not installed or the cold water is already by-passing the water softener, you can consider:

  • Reverse Osmosis,
  • Distillation, or 
  • De-ionization

If salt water intrusion (high total dissolved solids) is the cause of the elevated sodium levels,  have a private water systems contractor inspect and evaluate your well to determine the source of the salt water.

What are the Health Effects?

A review of scientific data from U.S. EPA shows that the vast majority of sodium ingestion is from food rather than drinking water.  Sodium levels in drinking water from most water systems are unlikely to be a significant contribution to adverse health effects. 

A diet high in sodium intake has been identified as a risk factor for high blood pressure.  

References and Additional Resources  

Strontium

Strontium is a naturally occurring element found in air, rocks, soil, dust, coal, oil, and drinking water. Strontium has 16 known isotopes.  Naturally occurring strontium in ground water is not radioactive and is either referred to as stable strontium or strontium.  These strontium compounds are used in making ceramics and glass products, pyrotechnics, paint pigments, fluorescent lights, and medicines.  Other isotopes are radioactive and can be found in nuclear reactors, and are used in industry and medicine.

What are the Standards?

There are no federal standards for strontium; however, the USEPA has set three health advisories for strontium.

  1. Lifetime Health Advisory Level (Lifetime HAL) – 4 mg/L
  2. One-day Health Advisory Level (One-Day HAL) – 25 mg/L
  3. Ten-day Health Advisory Level (10-Day HAL) – 25 mg/L  

These are not regulatory levels or legally enforceable standards.

What are the Health Effects?

Ingestion of small amounts of strontium is not harmful.  

Excessive strontium intakes can alter bone mineralization, such as inhibiting the incorporation of calcium or replacing calcium, and cause bone deformities.  Ingestion of large amounts of strontium, coupled with a calcium poor diet during infancy and childhood can develop into a "strontium rickets."  Strontium-90 taken up by bone attacks bone marrow and soft tissues developing into anemia and leukemia.  Naturally occuring strontium is not a human carcinogen, whereas radioactive Strontrium-90 is.

What are the Treatment Options?

Effective treatment technologies include:

  • reverse osmosis, and
  • cation-exchange water softener system.

Additional Resources

Sulfur

Thallium

Organic Chemical Contaminants

Acrylamide

Alachlor

Altrazine

BTEX

BTEX is a common reference to a group of the following chemical compounds:

Benzene, Ethylbenzene, Toluene, and Xylene.

For information on BTEX click on the link below to access the ODH Bureau of Environmental Health’s Health Assessment fact sheet.

  • ODH Health Assessment Fact Sheet:  BTEX

References and Additional Resources:  

Benzene

Benzene, a volatile organic chemical, is a clear, colorless aromatic liquid that is highly flammable. Benzene is produced naturally by volcanoes and forest fires. Benzene is also a natural part of crude oil, gasoline and cigarette smoke.   Benzene is also formed from industrial processes and is used to make plastics, resins, synthetic fibers, rubber lubricants, dyes, detergents, drugs and pesticides.  Other uses include as a solvent in printing, paints, dry cleaning, etc.

The major sources of benzene in drinking water are discharge from factories or spills, and leaching from gas storage tanks and landfills.  Benzene can move long distances in groundwater.  It quickly evaporates from water or soil.

What are the Drinking Water Standards?

EPA has set an enforceable maximum contaminant level (MCL) regulation for benzene in public water supplies at 0.005 mg/L or 5 ppb (parts per billion).

The Ohio Department of Health has adopted this standard as a non-enforceable health-based standard for private water systems.

What are the Health Effects?

Some people who drink water containing benzene well in excess of the maximum contaminant level (MCL) for many years could experience anemia or a decrease in blood platelets, and may have an increased risk of getting cancer.

See the ODH Bureau of Environmental Health’s Health Assessment fact sheets on Benzene and BTEX for more information on the health effects of benzene exposure.

  • ODH Health Assessment Fact Sheet:  Benzene
  • ODH Health Assessment Fact Sheet:  BTEX

What are the Treatment Options?

Recommended treatments for private water systems:

The treatment options, listed above, are not enforceable by the local health district or the Ohio Department of Health. These are recommended options for private water systems owner.

References and Additional Resources:

Benzo(a)pyrene (PAHs) 

Carbofuran 

Carbon tetrachloride 

Chlordane  

Chlorobenzene

2,4-D

Dalapon

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

o-Dichlorobenzene

p-Dichlorobenzene

1,2-Dichloroethane

1,1-Dichloroethylene

cis-1,2-Dichloroethylene (DCE)

trans-1,2-Dichloroethylene (DCE)

Dichloromethane

1,2-Dichloropropane

Di(2-ethylhexyl) adipate

Di(2-ethylhexyl) phthalate

Dinoseb

Dioxin (2,3,7,8-TCDD)

Diquat

Endothall

Endrin

Epichlorohydrin

Ethylbenzene

Ethylbenzene is a colorless, flammable liquid with a sweet, gasoline-like odor that is naturally found in coal tar and petroleum.  Ethlybenzene is primarily (over 99 percent) used to make styrene. It is also used in manufactured products such as inks, pesticides, and paints. Other uses include a solvent, in fuels, and to make other chemicals.

Ethylbenzene can enter the environment at refineries during the production, transport and processing of petroleum.  It can also enter the environment when oil, gas and coal are burned, after an accidental spill or a leak during storage or burial at a waste site.  Ethylbenzene is commonly found in air as a result of automobile emissions and found indoors during the use of tobacco and other consumer finished goods such as cleaning products and paints. Ethylbenzene breaks down in air to less harmful chemicals within about three days.

Ethylbenzene is not commonly found in drinking water. However, sometimes it is present in residential drinking water wells near landfills, waste sites or leaking underground fuel storage tanks. Ethylbenzene is not commonly found in soil. When present, it is broken down by soil bacteria.

What are the Drinking Water Standards?

EPA has set this level of protection based on the best available science to prevent potential health problems. EPA has set an enforceable maximum contaminant level (MCL) regulation for ethylbenzene in public water supplies at 0.7 mg/L or 700 ppb (parts per billion). 

The Ohio Department of Health has adopted this standard as a non-enforceable health-based standard for private water systems.

What are the Health Effects?

Exposure to ethylbenzene is mainly through breathing contaminated air.  Exposure to ethylbenzene may occur through skin contact with the substance during the use of household or workplace products.  Exposure to ethylbenzene can also occur by breathing cigarette smoke or by ingesting food or water contaminated with the substance.  Ethylbenzene does not usually accumulate in the body. It is rapidly broken down in the liver to non-toxic compounds which leaves the body in the urine within two days. Small amounts may also leave the body through the lungs and feces.

Ethylbenzene is toxic when ingested or inhaled. Exposure to ethylbenzene vapors may cause mild irritation of the eyes, mucous membranes and skin. It may also cause headaches and fatigue.  Repeated and prolonged contact may cause redness and blistering of skin.  Ethylbenzene may cause swelling and bleeding in the lungs.

The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) has classified ethylbenzene as possibly carcinogenic to humans.  The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has not determined whether exposure to elevated levels of ethylbenzene causes cancer.

See the ODH Bureau of Environmental Health’s Health Assessment fact sheet on BTEX for more information on the health effects of ethylbenzene exposure.

  • ODH Health Assessment Fact Sheet: BTEX

What are the Treatment Options?

Recommended treatments for private water systems:

The treatment options, listed above, are not enforceable by the local health district or the Ohio Department of Health. These are recommended options for private water systems owner.

References and Additional Resources:

Ethylene dibromide

Glyphosate

Heptachlor

Heptachlor epoxide

Hexachlorobenzene

Hexachlorocyclopentadiene

Lindane

US EPA

Methoxychlor

US EPA

ATSDR

Oxamyl (Vydate)

US EPA

Polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs)

US EPA

ATSDR

Pentachlorophenol

US EPA

ATSDR

Per- and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances (PFAS/C8)

Picloram

US EPA

ATSDR

Simazine

US EPA

Styrene

US EPA

ATSDR

Tetrachloroethylene (PCE)

US EPA

ATSDR

ODH

Toluene

Toluene is a clear, colorless liquid with a distinctive smell that occurs naturally in crude oil. It is produced in the process of making gasoline and other fuels from crude oil, in making coke from coal, and as a by-product in the manufacture of styrene.

Toluene is used in oil refining and the manufacturing of paints, lacquers, explosives (TNT) and glues. In homes, toluene may be found in paint thinners, paint brush cleaners, nail polish, glues, inks, and stain removers. Toluene is also found in car exhaust and the smoke from cigarettes.

Toluene is disposed of at hazardous waste sites as used solvent or at landfills where it is present in discarded paints, paint thinners, and fingernail polish.  When toluene is spilled on the ground or improperly disposed, it can seep into soil and contaminate nearby wells and streams. Toluene can remain unchanged for a long time in soil or water that is not in contact with air.

What are the Drinking Water Standards?

EPA has set an enforceable maximum contaminant level (MCL) regulation for toluene in public water supplies at 1 mg/L or 1000 ppb (parts per billion).

The Ohio Department of Health has adopted this standard as a non-enforceable health-based standard for private water systems.

What are the Health Effects?

Some people who drink water containing toluene well in excess of the maximum contaminant level (MCL) for many years could experience problems with their nervous system, kidneys or liver.

Studies indicate that toluene does not cause cancer.

See the ODH Bureau of Environmental Health’s Health Assessment fact sheet on BTEX for more information on the health effects of toluene exposure.

  • ODH Health Assessment Fact Sheet: BTEX 

What are the Treatment Options?

Recommended treatments for private water systems:

The treatment options, listed above, are not enforceable by the Local Health District or the Ohio Department of Health. These are recommended options for private water systems owner.

References and Additional Resources:    

Toxaphene

US EPA

ATSDR

2,4,5-TP (Silvex)

US EPA

ATSDR

1,2,4-Trichlorobenzene

US EPA

ATSDR

1,1,1-Trichloroethane

US EPA

ATSDR

1,1,2-Trichloroethane

US EPA

ATSDR

Trichloroethylene (TCE)

US EPA

ATSDR

ODH

Vinyl chloride 

US EPA

ATSDR

Xylene

Xylene is a clear, light-colored or colorless, flammable liquid with a distinctive sweet odor that occurs naturally in petroleum and coal tar.  Xylene is used as a solvent and in the printing, rubber, and leather industries.  It is used widely as a cleaning agent, a paint thinner, in paints and varnishes, glues, and pesticides.  Xylene can be found in small amounts in airplane fuel and gasoline.

The major sources of xylenes in drinking water are discharge from petroleum and chemical factories.   Xylenes are used an indicator to determine if drinking water contamination has occurred from gasoline spills or leaks.  Xylenes biodegrade and move slowly in groundwater.

What are the Drinking Water Standards?

EPA has set this level of protection based on the best available science to prevent potential health problems. EPA has set an enforceable maximum contaminant level (MCL) regulation for xylenes in public water supplies at 10 mg/L or 10,000 ppb (parts per billion).

The Ohio Department of Health has adopted this standard as a non-enforceable health-based standard for private water systems.

What are the Health Effects?

Acute exposure at levels above the MCL of xylene can potentially cause disturbances in the central nervous system, such as changes in cognitive abilities, balance, and coordination.  Long-term exposures at levels above the MCL of xylene have the potential to cause damage to the central nervous system, liver and kidneys.  There is inadequate evidence to state whether or not xylenes have the potential to cause cancer from lifetime exposures in drinking water.

See the ODH Bureau of Environmental Health’s Health Assessment fact sheet on BTEX for more information on the health effects of xylene exposure.

  • ODH Health Assessment Fact Sheet: BTEX

What are the Treatment Options?

Recommended treatments for private water systems:

The treatment options, listed above, are not enforceable by the Local Health District or the Ohio Department of Health.  These are recommended options for private water systems owner.

References and Additional Resources:

Radionuclides

Alpha particles

Beta particles and photon emitters

Radium 226 and Radium 228 (combined)

Radon

Uranium

Other Parameters

Water properties and measurements that can be used to assess drinking water aesthetic quality in private water systems supplies.

Alkalinity

Hardness

pH

Sediment

Specific Conductivity

Tannins

Total Dissolved Solids

Turbidity and Total Suspended Solids

Natural and Man-made Events

Drought

Flood Events

Geothermal Systems Guidance

Oil and Gas Drilling

Power Outages

Salt Storage Guidance


Laboratories certified to conduct water testing for private water systems

The private water system rules (Ohio Administrative Code Chapter 3701-28) require water samples collected from private water systems to be analyzed by laboratory certified by either the Ohio Department of Health (ODH) or the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency (OEPA) for system approval after new construction, alteration or repair. The department recommends that all water samples collected from private water systems for real estate transactions, or consumer information also be analyzed at a certified laboratory to ensure that proper procedures and water analysis methods are used to protect public health.