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National Drinking Water Database
1,2-Dibromo-3-chloropropane (DBCP) in Massachusetts
1,2-Dibromo-3-chloropropane is a persistent pesticide and groundwater contaminant associated with male sterility and severe reproductive toxicity; historically used as a soil fumigant on bananas and pineapples; banned by EPA in early 1980s. [read more]
1,2-Dibromo-3-chloropropane (DBCP) is an industrial chemical and a pesticide banned by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) from use in the U.S. because it has been strongly linked with serious reproductive problems in male workers (National Toxicology Program (NTP) 2002a).
Contamination of drinking water with DBCP is due to runoff from soil fumigant used on soybeans, cotton, bananas, pineapples and orchards, as well as industrial releases from the solvent recovery industry. DBCP breaks down very slowly in the environment, with half-life estimates ranging from 38 to 141 years. Agriculturally-applied DBCP easily leaches into groundwater and can still be found in wells even though it has not been produced commercially for over two decades (Clark 2004; USEPA 2009b). In 2001, 16 percent of wells sampled in the state of California had detectable levels of DBCP (California Environmental Protection Agency 2001b).
The most sensitive health finding in workers exposed to DBCP are effects on reproduction. More specifically, it has been strongly linked with infertility, testicular damage and altered sex ratio (fewer male births) in babies born to DBCP exposed fathers. An estimated 20 to 25 percent of male Costa Rican banana crop workers were permanently sterilized following occupational exposure to DBCP (Thrupp 1991). Other signs of DBCP exposure in people include tiredness, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, central nervous system depression and eye, skin and respiratory tract irritation. Very high exposures can lead to death (California Environmental Protection Agency 1999c).
DBCP is classified as "reasonably anticipated to be a human carcinogen" according the National Toxicology Program and a "probable human carcinogen" by EPA because it is known to cause cancer in laboratory animals, but has not been adequately studied in people (NTP 2002a; USEPA 2002a). In rats or mice, DBCP causes tumors of the nasal cavity, tongue, adrenal gland, pharynx and lung following inhalation exposure (NTP 2002a).
The Most Polluted Communities in Massachusetts
1 water utilities reported detecting 1,2-Dibromo-3-chloropropane (DBCP) in tap water since 2004, according to EWG's analysis of water quality data supplied by state water agencies
Ranked by highest average 1,2-Dibromo-3-chloropropane (DBCP) level
|Rank||System||Population Served||Positive test results of total reported tests||Average Level|
|1||Plymouth Water Department|
|42,375||2 of 27||< 0.01 ppb|
(0 to 0.02 ppb)
Health Based Limits for 1,2-Dibromo-3-chloropropane (DBCP)
|Maximum Contaminant Limit Goal (MCLG)||A non-enforceable health goal that is set at a level at which no known or anticipated adverse effect on the health of persons occurs and which allows an adequate margin of safety. Source: U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.||0 ppb|
|California Public Health Goals||Defined by the State of California Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA) as the level of contaminant that is allowed in drinking water. For acutely toxic substances, levels are set at which scientific evidence indicates that no known or anticipated adverse effects on health will occur, plus an adequate margin-of safety. PHGs for carcinogens or other substances which can cause chronic disease shall be based solely on health effects without regard to cost impacts and shall be set at levels which OEHHA has determined do not pose any significant risk to health.||<0.01 ppb|
|One in one million (10-6) Cancer Risk||The concentration of a chemical in drinking water corresponding to an excess estimated lifetime cancer risk of 1 in 1,000,000. Source: U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.||0.03 ppb|
|Maximum Contaminant Limit (MCL)||The enforceable standard which defines the highest level of a contaminant that is allowed in drinking water. MCLs are set as close to health-based limits (Maximum Contaminant Level Goals, or MCLGs) as feasible using the best available analytical and treatment technologies and taking cost into consideration. Source: U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.||0.2 ppb|
|One in ten thousand (10-4) Cancer Risk||The concentration of a chemical in drinking water corresponding to an excess estimated lifetime cancer risk of 1 in 10,000. Source: U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.||3 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.||50 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.||200 ppb|
Violation Summary for 1,2-Dibromo-3-chloropropane (DBCP) in Massachusetts
Data from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency includes the following violations of federal standards in Massachusetts since 2004
|Violation Type||Number of Violations|
|Failure to monitor regularly||29|