HEADQUARTERS 1436 U Street. NW, Suite 100 | Washington, DC 20009 | (202) 667-6982
CALIFORNIA OFFICE 2201 Broadway, Suite 308 | Oakland, CA 94612
MIDWEST OFFICE 103 E. 6th Street, Suite 201 | Ames, IA 50010
SACRAMENTO OFFICE 1107 9th Street, Suite 340 | Sacramento, CA 95814
National Drinking Water Database
National Drinking Water Database - Chemical Contaminants
Status: Unregulated - EPA has not established a maximum legal limit in tapwater for this contaminant.
Phenol is a widely used industrial chemical, an intermediate in chemical manufacturing and a disinfectant; it is also released from the decomposition of organic waste. [read more]
Phenols are chemicals that occur naturally and are also synthesized and used on an industrial scale. Phenols are found in nature in some foods and in human and animal wastes and decomposing organic material. Liquid phenol (also known as carbolic acid) is used as a disinfectant and in medicinal preparations (NJ Department of Health and Senior Services 2001c). Phenol ranks in the top 50 in production volumes for chemicals produced in the United States.
Headaches are reported frequently by those who have phenol in their drinking water. Human exposure to phenol has also been associated with increased risk of ischemic heart disease and interference with immune system function (Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) 2008c).
Phenol can cause gastrointestinal distress in humans when consumed in drinking water. In animal studies, phenol acts as a cancer promoter and probably a carcinogen (Integrated Risk Information System (IRIS) 2002b).
Annually, million of pounds of phenols are released into the environment, mostly from industries manufacturing plastics, chemicals, metals, stone/clay/glass and paper. The highest release levels were seen along the southeastern coast and around the Great Lakes (U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) 2009i).
Phenols Exposure by State
Water utilities in 1 states have reported detecting Phenols in treated tap water since 2004, according to EWG's analysis of water quality data supplied by state water agencies.
|State||Water Suppliers with Phenols contamination|
The Most Polluted Communities
15 water utilities reported detecting Phenols in tap water since 2004, according to EWG's analysis of water quality data supplied by state water agencies
Ranked by highest average Phenols level
|Rank||System||Population Served||Positive test results of total reported tests||Average Level|
|21,901||1 of 1||400 ppb|
|540||1 of 1||47.2 ppb|
Loves Park, IL
|22,476||1 of 1||40 ppb|
|1,649||1 of 1||35 ppb|
|5||Cedar Brook Estates Subdivision|
East Moline, IL
|206||1 of 1||16.9 ppb|
Hopkins Park, IL
|711||1 of 1||16 ppb|
|390||1 of 1||11.4 ppb|
|11,840||1 of 1||11.1 ppb|
Creve Coeur, IL
|141,000||1 of 2||11 ppb|
(0 to 22 ppb)
|1,200||1 of 1||10 ppb|
Health Based Limits for Phenols
|Lifetime health-based limit, non-cancer risk||Concentration of a chemical in drinking water that is not expected to cause any adverse, noncarcinogenic health effects for a lifetime of exposure. The Lifetime health-based limit (or Health Advisory, HA) is based on exposure for a a 70-kg adult consuming 2 liters of water per day. Source: U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.||2000 ppb|
|Children's health-based limit for 1-day exposure||Concentration of a chemical in drinking water that is not expected to cause any adverse, noncarcinogenic health effects for up to one day of exposure. The One-Day health-based limit (or Health Advisory, HA) is typically set to protect a 10-kg child consuming 1 liter of water per day. Source: U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.||6000 ppb|
|Children's health-based limit for 10-day exposure||Concentration of a chemical in drinking water that is not expected to cause any adverse, noncarcinogenic effects for up to ten days of exposure. The Ten-Day health-based limit (or Health Advisory, HA) is typically set to protect a 10-kg child consuming 1 liter of water per day. Source: U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.||6000 ppb|
|EPA Human Health Water Quality Criteria||Water quality criteria set by the US EPA provide guidance for states and tribes authorized to establish water quality standards under the Clean Water Act (CWA) to protect human health. These are non-enforceable standards based upon exposure by both drinking water and the contribution of water contamination to other consumed foods. Source: U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.||10000 ppb|
|Drinking Water Equivalent Level||A lifetime exposure concentration protective of adverse, noncarcinogenic health effects, that assumes all of the exposure to a contaminant is from drinking water. Source: U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.||11000 ppb|
Testing Summary for Phenols
|Are tests routinely required for Phenols by federal law?||No|
|Water suppliers reporting tests for Phenols (2004-2009):||1,991 of 47,576|
|Average testing rate for water supplier reporting tests (2004-2009):||0.2 per year|
Government, industry, academic studies and classifications
|government/industry list/academic study||appears on list as||classification(s)|
|government/industry list/academic study||reference|
"RTECS®" is a United States trademark owned and licensed under authority of the U.S. Government, by and through MDL Information Systems, Inc.