Quick Facts About MTBE
March 5, 2001
- Methyl Tertiary Butyl Ether (MTBE) is used as a fuel additive in reformulated gasoline to lower vehicle emissions.
- Eighteen states now have areas required to use reformulated gasoline containing MTBE to lower smog levels.
- More than 1 billion gallons of MTBE are used annually in gasoline produced in the United States.
- MTBE is considered by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) as a potential cause of cancer in humans.
- MTBE has been shown to cause cancer in laboratory animals at the same dosage rates as benzene, a proven human carcinogen.
- EPA has issued a drinking water advisory of 20 to 40 parts per billion for MTBE in drinking water.
- MTBE makes water taste and smell like turpentine at low-level concentrations.
- MTBE is capable of contaminating water 50 times faster than other components of gasoline.
- Leaking fuel tanks, accidental fuel spills, and motorized recreational
watercraft are some of the ways MTBE gains access to drinking water sources.
- The American Chemical Society has stated as many as one third of U.S. community water supplies may be contaminated with MTBE.
- One tenth of a gallon of MTBE is enough to contaminate 13 million gallons of drinking water.
- Traditional methods for removal of hydrocarbons from water sources will not work to remove MTBE.
- Cleaning MTBE-contaminated water supplies in the US could cost billions of dollars.
- MTBE contamination has already forced closure of drinking water supplies in states including New York, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, North Carolina, Maine, Rhode Island, and California.