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Groundwater contaminants

Pure water contains nothing but the essential chemical elements of water. Drinking water usually carries a certain amount of minerals, which it acquires from its source, treatment, storage, distribution, and household plumbing conditions. These minerals and elements generally occur at very low levels and do not pose a significant risk to health. For more information click on Drinking Water Standards.

A wide variety of chemicals and compounds can become groundwater contaminants if discharged to the subsurface environment. They are inorganic compounds, organic and synthetic compounds, such as pesticides, and other contaminants. Because drinking water systems get their water from groundwater (and SW) sources, once the source becomes contaminated, the drinking water can also become contaminated.

The following table shows the primary and secondary water contaminants, divided in inorganic and organic elements.

For every substance the Maximum Contaminant Level (MCL) is quoted: that is the maximum permissible level of a contaminant in water that is delivered to any user of a public water system. It is based on scientific research, which concludes that greater concentrations could cause health problems in humans. [7]

Inorganic

MCL

Source

Primary

[mg/l]

Agricultural

Residential

Industrial

Natural

Antimony

0.005

X

X

Arsenic

0.050

X

X

Asbestos

7 million fibers per liter applies to fiber lengths of 10 microns or greater

X

X

Barium

2.000

X

X

X

X

Beryllium

0.004

X

X

Cadmium

0.005

X

X

X

X

Chromium

0.100

X

X

X

Copper

1.300

X

X

X

Cyanide

0.200

X

X

Fluoride

4.000

X

X

Lead

0.150

X

X

Mercury

0.002

X

X

X

X

Nickel

0.100

X

X

X

Nitrate

10.000

X

X

X

Nitrite

1.000

X

X

X

Selenium

0.050

X

X

X

X

Thallium

0.002

X

Secondary

Alluminum

0.05 to 0.2

X

X

X

X

Chlorine

250.000

X

X

X

X

Iron

0.300

X

X

Manganese

0.050

X

X

Silver

0.100

X

X

Sodium

20.000

X

X

X

Sulfate

250.000

X

X

X

X

Zinc

5.000

X

X

Organic

MCL

Source

VOC

[mg/l]

Agricultural

Residential

Industrial

Natural

Benzene

0.005

X

X

Carbon Tetrachloride

0.005

X

X

Cis-1,2-Dichlorethylene

0.070

X

1,2-Dicholoethane

0.005

X

X

1.,1-Dichloroethylene

0.007

X

Dichloromethane

0.005

X

1,2-Dichlorophane

0005

X

X

Ethylbenzene

0.700

X

X

Monochlorobenzene

0.100

X

X

O-Dichlorobenzene

0.600

X

O-,M-,P- Xylene

10.000

X

X

Para-Dichlorobenzene

0.075

X

Styrene

0.100

X

Trans-1,2,-Dichloroethylene

0.100

X

Tetrachloroethylene

0.005

X

Toluene

1.000

X

1,2,4-Trychlorobenzene

0.070

X

X

1,1,1-Trichloroethane

0.200

X

1,1,2-Trichloroethane

0.005

X

Trichloroethylene

0.005

X

Vynil-chloride

0.002

X

SOC

Alachor

0.002

X

Atrazine

0.003

X

Benzo(a)pyrene

0.0002

X

Carbofuran

0.04

X

Chlorodane

0.0002

X

Dalapon

0.2

X

Dibrochloropropane (DBCP)

0.0002

X

2,4-Dichlorophenoxyacetic Acid

0.07

X

Di(2-ethylhexyl)-Adipate

0.4

X

X

Di(2-ethylhexyl)-Phthalate

0.06

X

X

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

0.00000003

X

Ethylene Dibromide (EDB)

0.00005

X

X

Dinoseb

0.007

X

Diquat

0.02

X

Encothall

0.1

X

Endrin

0.002

X

Glyphosate

0.7

X

Heptachlor

0.0004

X

Heptachlor Epoxide

0.0002

X

Hexachlorobenzene

0.001

X

Hexachlorocyclo-Pentadiene

0.05

X

Lindane

0.0002

X

Methoxychlor

0.04

X

X

Oxymyl(vydate)

0.2

X

Pentachlorophenol

0.001

X

X

Picloram

0.5

X

Polychlorinated Biphenyls (PCBs)

0.0005

X

Simazine

0.004

X

X

Silvex 2,4,5-TP

0.05

X

Toxaphene

0.003

X

Find more information about the four major groundwater contaminants: seawater intrusions, nitrates, arsenic, iron.

For more information check the following pages: groundwater contamination, quality, source of groundwater pollution, reducing groundwater contamination.

Click here for definitions concerning groundwater, or to learn more about its properties, its origin and quantities, its sources in Europe.



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