Benzene
EPA Designation Regulated
EPA Classification Organic Chemicals
EPA Levels 1,2 zero MCLG (mg/L)
0.005 MCLG (mg/L)
Alternative Names none
Sources Discharge from factories; leaching from gas storage tanks and landfills
Benzene is a petroleum chemical that contaminates drinking water due to emissions from petroleum and chemical industries, leaching landfills and gas storage tanks.

Overview

Benzene, a volatile organic chemical, is a clear, colorless aromatic liquid. It is highly flammable. It is formed through natural processes, such as volcanoes and forest fires. It is also formed from industrial processes. Benzene is also a natural part of crude oil, gasoline and cigarette smoke.

Uses

The greatest use of benzene is as a building block for making plastics, rubber, resins and synthetic fabrics like nylon and polyester. Other uses include: as a solvent in printing, paints, dry cleaning, etc.

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.

EPA Data Source: Benzene

EPA Definitions:

1Maximum Contaminant Level Goal (MCLG) - The level of a contaminant in drinking water below which there is no known or expected risk to health. MCLGs allow for a margin of safety and are non-enforceable public health goals.

Maximum Contaminant Level (MCL) - The highest level of a contaminant that is allowed in drinking water. MCLs are set as close to MCLGs as feasible using the best available treatment technology and taking cost into consideration. MCLs are enforceable standards.

Maximum Residual Disinfectant Level Goal (MRDLG) - The level of a drinking water disinfectant below which there is no known or expected risk to health. MRDLGs do not reflect the benefits of the use of disinfectants to control microbial contaminants.

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

Maximum Residual Disinfectant Level (MRDL) - The highest level of a disinfectant allowed in drinking water. There is convincing evidence that addition of a disinfectant is necessary for control of microbial contaminants.

2 Units are in milligrams per liter (mg/L) unless otherwise noted. Milligrams per liter are equivalent to parts per million.