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MY PRIVATE WELL HAS AN ODOR THAT RESEMBLES CHLOROFORM. WHAT IS THE CAUSE OF THIS?

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It is estimated that the concentration of chloroform in surface water is 0.1 ppb, the concentration in untreated ground water is 0.1 ppb, and the amount in soil is 0.1 ppb. Even though these levels seem low, much higher levels have been recorded. As much as 610 ppb was found in air at a municipal landfill and up to 88 ppb was found in treated municipal drinking water.

Drinking water derived from well water near a hazardous waste site contained 1,900 ppb, and ground water taken near a hazardous waste site also contained 1,900 ppb. Surface water containing 394 ppb has been found, and more than 0.13 ppb has been found in soil at hazardous waste sites. Chloroform has been found in the air from all areas of the United States and nearly all of the public drinking water supplies. We do not know how many areas have surface water, ground water, or soil that contains chloroform. The average amount of chloroform that you might be exposed to on a typical day by breathing air in various places ranges from 2 to 5 micrograms per day (ug/day) in rural areas, 6 to 200 ug/day in cities, and 80 to 2,200 ug/day in areas near major sources of the chemical. The estimated amount of chloroform you probably are exposed to in drinking water ranges from 4 to 88 ug/day.

We cannot estimate the amounts that you may be exposed to by eating food and coming into contact with water that has chloroform in it. Swimming in swimming pools allows chloroform to be absorbed through a person's skin. People who work at or near chemical plants and factories that make or use chloroform can be exposed to higher than normal amounts of chloroform. Higher exposures might occur in workers at drinking water treatment plants, waste water treatment plants, and paper and pulp mills. People who operate waste-burning equipment may also be exposed to higher than normal levels. The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) estimated that 95,778 individuals in the United States have had the potential for occupational exposure to chloroform.

If you suspect your drinking water my have chloroform pollution, there are some actions you can take. Your local board of health can help you determine whether you are exposed to chloroform exceeding regulatory standards. There is generally a fee associated with laboratory analysis.. For additional technical information and a review of current research, contact EPA's Safe Drinking Water Hotline at (800) 426-4791, or see the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry's (ATSDR) Toxicological Profile for Chloroform. Information about obtaining this profile is available by calling ATSDR's 24-hour Toxicology Information Service at (404) 639-6000 or by leaving a message on (800) 447-1544. To order toxicological profiles contact the National Technical Information Service at (800) 553-6847 or (707) 487-4650. There may be a fee for the profile.

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Related Articles:

Is It Safe to Drink The Water Directly from a Private Well?
Setting up your own well
The Protection of Water Quality in Bored and Dug Wells

 

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