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Drinking Water Quality Report


Massachusetts Water Resources Authority - Boston, MA


Serves 2,000,000 people - Test data available: 2004-2009

This drinking water quality report shows results of tests conducted by the water utility and provided to the Environmental Working Group (EWG) by the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection. It is part of EWG's national database that includes 47,667 drinking water utilities and 20 million test results. Water utilities nationwide detected more than 300 pollutants between 2004 and 2009. More than half of these chemicals are unregulated, legal in any amount. Despite this widespread contamination, the federal government invests few resources to protecting rivers, reservoirs, and groundwater from pollution in the first place. The information below summarizes test results for this utility and lists potential health concerns.

For more information from your water utility, please see their Consumer Confidence Report.

NOTE: MWRA reservoirs are well-protected and very few contaminants are ever found. During 2004 and early 2005, there were short-term high TTHM levels during a changeover in treatment. Since the change to ozone in July 2005, TTHM levels are now at all-time lows with averages of about 5-15 ppb.

 
This Drinking Water System
National Average
Exceed Health GuidelinesTests showing chemicals at concentrations above health guidelines established by federal and state health agencies. These guidelines are typically set at a levels that pose no significant health risk.
8 chemicals
4
Health Standard ExceedencesChemicals detected at concentrations above the legal limit, the Maximum Contaminant Level (MCLs) established by the U.S. EPA. Most MCLs are based on annual averages, so exceeding the MCL for one test does not necessarily indicate that the system is out of compliance.
2 chemicals
0.5
Pollutants FoundThe total number of contaminants detected since 2004, according to data provided by the state water agency.
17 chemicals
8
Tests ConductedThe total number of number of water quality tests conducted by water utilities and recorded in data provided by the state water agency.
2,734tests
420

Contaminants Exceeding Health Guidelines

ContaminantAverage/
Maximum
Result
Health Limit
Exceeded
Legal Limit
Exceeded

Testing History

-Tested      -Detected      -Over Health Guidelines      -Over Legal Limit*
Total trihalomethanes (TTHMs)Total trihalomethanes constitute the sum of four disinfection byproducts: chloroform, bromodichloromethane, dibromochloromethane, and bromoform.46.83 ppb
132 ppb
Yes
9.8 ppb
Yes
80 ppb
Total haloacetic acids (HAAs)Total haloacetic acids refers to the sum of the concentrations of five related disinfection byproducts in a water sample: dichloroacetic acid, trichloroacetic acid, monochloroacetic acid, monobromoacetic acid and dibromoacetic acid.23.63 ppb
71.65 ppb
Yes
0.7 ppb
Yes
60 ppb
ChloroformChloroform is a disinfection byproduct from the trihalomethane (THM) family, and is formed when chlorine, chloramines or other disinfectants react with organic and inorganic matter in water.15.54 ppb
62.4 ppb
Yes
5.7 ppb
No
80 ppb
BromodichloromethaneBromodichloromethane is a disinfection byproduct from the trihalomethane (THM) family, and is formed when chlorine, chloramines or other disinfectants react with organic and inorganic matter in water.3.74 ppb
8.02 ppb
Yes
MCLGA 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
No
80 ppb
DibromochloromethaneDibromochloromethane is a disinfection byproduct from the trihalomethane (THM) family, and is formed when chlorine, chloramines or other disinfectants react with organic and inorganic matter in water.0.27 ppb
0.64 ppb
Yes
0.4 ppb
No
80 ppb
RadonRadon is a radioactive breakdown product of radium and uranium in soil, rock and water; it is often present in groundwater.7.13 pCi/L
12.25 pCi/L
Yes
1.5 pCi/L
Legal at any levelThis is the Federal Limit. State Limits may be lower.
Radium-226Radium-226 is a radioactive element usually found around uranium deposits.0.07 pCi/L
0.08 pCi/L
Yes
MCLGA 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 pCi/L
No
5 pCi/L
Radium-228Radium-228 is a radioactive element usually found around uranium deposits.0.14 pCi/L
0.15 pCi/L
Yes
MCLGA 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 pCi/L
No
5 pCi/L
NOTE: Each dot in the above graph represents one month.
* Water utilities are noted as exceeding the legal limit if any test is above the maximum contaminant level (MCL). Most MCLs are based on annual averages so exceeding the MCL for one test does not necessarily indicate that the system is out of compliance.

Other Detected Contaminants

ContaminantAverage/
Maximum
Result
Health Limit
Exceeded
Legal Limit
Exceeded

Testing History

-Tested      -Detected      -Over Health Guidelines      -Over Legal Limit*
BromideBromide is a naturally occurring element found in surface waters and groundwater and contributes to the formation of toxic tap water disinfection byproducts.16.09 ppb
24.3 ppb
NoLegal at any levelThis is the Federal Limit. State Limits may be lower.
NitrateNitrate enters drinking water sources from fertilizer runoff, leaching septic tanks, and erosion of natural deposits; it is also emitted by chemical, petrochemical and metal-finishing industries.0.06 ppm
0.14 ppm
No
10 ppm
No
10 ppm
Barium (total)Barium is a mineral that enters drinking water through drilling and mining waste runoff, discharges from chemical industries and erosion of natural deposits.8.36 ppb
9.61 ppb
No
700 ppb
No
2000 ppb
CyanideCyanide is a chemical used in mining and steel/metal, plastic, and pesticide manufacturing; it is applied to roads as road salts, and small quantities occur naturally in some plants.2.71 ppb
68.3 ppb
No
80 ppb
No
200 ppb
AluminumAluminum is a metal released from metal refineries and mining operations.23.75 ppb
34 ppb
No
200 ppb
No
200 ppb
ManganeseManganese is a naturally occurring element released from mineral deposits as well as industrial use.4.25 ppb
8 ppb
No
50 ppb
No
50 ppb
NitriteNitrite is a chemical that enters water from fertilizer runoff, leaching septic tanks, and erosion of natural deposits.<0.01 ppm
<0.01 ppm
No
1 ppm
No
1 ppm
MTBEMTBE (methyl tert-butyl ether) is a fuel additive that had been used as an octane enhancer in unleaded gasoline; it contaminates groundwater due to spillage or leakage at gas stations, and has been banned or scheduled for phaseout in most states.0.16 ppb
1.55 ppb
No
13 ppb
Legal at any levelThis is the Federal Limit. State Limits may be lower.
HexachlorocyclopentadieneHexachlorocyclopentadiene is an industrial pollutant discharged from chemical factories.0.01 ppb
0.06 ppb
No
40 ppb
No
50 ppb
NOTE: Each dot in the above graph represents one month.
* Water utilities are noted as exceeding the legal limit if any test is above the maximum contaminant level (MCL). Most MCLs are based on annual averages so exceeding the MCL for one test does not necessarily indicate that the system is out of compliance.

Contaminants Not Detected - 109 chemicals

1,1,1,2-Tetrachloroethane, 1,1,1-Trichloroethane, 1,1,2,2-Tetrachloroethane, 1,1,2-Trichloroethane, 1,1-Dichloroethane, 1,1-Dichloroethylene, 1,1-Dichloropropene, 1,2 Dibromo-3-chloropropane (DBCP), 1,2,3-Trichlorobenzene, 1,2,3-Trichloropropane, 1,2,4-Trichlorobenzene, 1,2,4-Trimethylbenzene, 1,2-Dichloroethane, 1,2-Dichloropropane, 1,3,5-Trimethylbenzene, 1,3-Dichloropropane, 1,3-Dichloropropene, 2,2-Dichloropropane, 2,4,5-TP (Silvex), 2,4-d, 3-Hydroxycarbofuran, Alachlor (Lasso), Aldicarb, Aldicarb sulfone, Aldicarb sulfoxide, Aldrin, Antimony (total), Aroclor 1016, Aroclor 1221, Aroclor 1232, Aroclor 1242, Aroclor 1248, Aroclor 1254, Aroclor 1260, Arsenic (total), Atrazine, Benzene, Benzo[a]pyrene, Beryllium (total), Bromate, Bromobenzene, Bromochloromethane, Bromoform, Bromomethane, Butachlor, Cadmium (total), Carbaryl, Carbofuran, Carbon tetrachloride, Chlordane, Chloroethane, Chloromethane, Chromium (total), cis-1,2-Dichloroethylene, Copper, Dalapon, Di(2-Ethylhexyl) adipate, Di(2-ethylhexyl) phthalate, Dibromomethane, Dicamba, Dichlorodifluoromethane, Dichloromethane (methylene chloride), Dieldrin, Dinoseb, Endrin, Ethylbenzene, Ethylene dibromide (EDB), Heptachlor, Heptachlor epoxide, Hexachlorobenzene (HCB), Hexachlorobutadiene, Isopropylbenzene, Lindane, m-Dichlorobenzene, Mercury (total inorganic), Methomyl, Methoxychlor, Metolachlor, Metribuzin, Monochlorobenzene (Chlorobenzene), n-Butylbenzene, n-Propylbenzene, Naphthalene, o-Chlorotoluene, o-Dichlorobenzene, Oxamyl (Vydate), p-Chlorotoluene, p-Dichlorobenzene, p-Isopropyltoluene, p-Xylene, Pentachlorophenol, Perchlorate, Picloram, Propachlor, sec-Butylbenzene, Selenium (total), Silver (total), Simazine, Styrene, tert-Butylbenzene, Tetrachloroethylene, Thallium (total), Toluene, Toxaphene, trans-1,2-Dichloroethylene, Trichloroethylene, Trichlorofluoromethane, Vinyl chloride, Xylenes (total)

Pollution Summary

17Total Contaminants Detected (2004 - 2009)

Aluminum, Bromide, Barium (total), Cyanide, Manganese, Nitrate, Nitrite, Hexachlorocyclopentadiene, MTBE, Total haloacetic acids (HAAs), Chloroform, Bromodichloromethane, Dibromochloromethane, Total trihalomethanes (TTHMs), Radon, Radium-226, Radium-228

3Agricultural Pollutants
(pesticides, fertilizer, factory farms)

Cyanide, Nitrate, Nitrite

4Sprawl and Urban Pollutants
(road runoff, lawn pesticides, human waste)

Cyanide, Nitrate, Nitrite, MTBE

11Industrial Pollutants

Aluminum, Bromide, Barium (total), Cyanide, Manganese, Nitrate, Nitrite, Hexachlorocyclopentadiene, MTBE, Radium-226, Radium-228

5Water Treatment and Distribution Byproducts
(pipes and fixtures, treatment chemicals and byproducts)

Total trihalomethanes (TTHMs), Total haloacetic acids (HAAs), Chloroform, Bromodichloromethane, Dibromochloromethane

10Naturally Occurring
(naturally present but increased for lands denuded by sprawl, agriculture, or industrial development)

Nitrate, Barium (total), Manganese, Radium-228, Radium-226, Aluminum, Nitrite, Radon, Bromide, Cyanide

3Unregulated Contaminants
EPA has not established a maximum legal limit in tapwater for these contaminants

Bromide, MTBE, Radon

EPA Violation Summary

No violations were reported for this system since 2004.

Information on violations is drawn directly from EPA's national violations database in the Agency's Safe Drinking Water Information System. Analyses by others have raised questions about the quality of the information in EPA's database. For the purposes of this investigation, EWG is not showing below or including in our analyses, those violations for individual water suppliers that occurred on days for which the total number of violations assigned by EPA to that water supplier was greater than 20. This criteria was based on common characteristics of incorrect violations data as identified by water utilities, from a review of EPA's violations data by several hundred utilities prior to the release of EWG's investigation.