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EWG's Tap Water Database — 2021 UPDATE

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Polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs)

Status: National drinking water standard exists

 

PCBs are synthetic chemicals banned in the U.S. since the 1970s because of their toxicity. PCBs contaminate water by leaching from landfills and hazardous waste clean-up sites. PCBs increase the risk of cancer. Read More.

Up until the late 1970s, PCBs were used widely as coolants and lubricants in transformers, capacitors and other electrical equipment. Currently, PCBs are widely detected in the general population. They build up and are stored in fatty tissues and fluids such as breast milk, and can be passed on to fetuses and infants during pregnancy and breast-feeding. In human epidemiological studies, PCBs have been associated with an elevated risk of breast and prostate cancers. Infants and children with higher PCB exposures during development score lower on measures of neurological function, ranging from decreased IQ scores to reduced hearing sensitivity. PCBs also affect hormones and damage the immune system.

2017-2019:

FOUND
FOUND ABOVE HEALTH GUIDELINES

3

states detected

31

utilities detected

421,000

people served

1

states over health guideline

5

utilities over health guideline

44,184

people served over health guideline

Health concerns for PCBs

Breast cancer

Prostate cancer

Harm to the brain and nervous system

Hormone disruption

Harm to the immune system

State and national drinking water standards and health guidelines

EWG Health Guideline 0.09 ppb

The EWG Health Guideline of 0.09 ppb for PCBs was defined by the California Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment as a public health goal, the level of a drinking water contaminant that does not pose a significant health risk. This health guideline protects against cancer.

EPA Maximum Contaminant
Level (MCL) 0.5 ppb

The legal limit for PCBs, established in 1991, was based on analytical detection limits at the time that the standard was set. This limit may not fully protect against the risk of cancer due to PCB exposure.

ppb = parts per billion

States reporting PCBs in drinking water

UTILITIES REPORTING ABOVE HEALTH GUIDELINES UTILITIES WITH CONTAMINATION
State UtilitiesPeople Served UtilitiesPeople Served
Florida0013292,918
Kentucky544,1841382,882
Indiana00544,798
MORE
LESS

Filtering technologies that reduce PCBs

carbon filter icon

Activated Carbon

reverse osmosis icon

Reverse Osmosis

Utilities with the highest amounts of PCBs, 2017-2019

ALL UTILITIES
LARGE UTILITIES
UtilityLocationTestsAverage levelPeople served
Sunny PinesJacksonville, FL9 of 110.378 ppb80
Colonial Water CompanyDover, MA1 of 10.230 ppb1,809
Salyersville Municipal Water*Salyersville, KY1 of 20.0600 ppb3,029
Magoffin County Water DistrictSalyersville, KY1 of 20.0600 ppb8,925
Grayson Utility Commission*Grayson, KY2 of 40.0600 ppb10,950
Louisa Water Department*Louisa, KY2 of 40.0575 ppb8,236
Jenkins Water System*Jenkins, KY1 of 30.0533 ppb2,609
Leadsville PsdElkins, WV1 of 140.0524 ppb1,539
Midland PsdElkins, WV1 of 140.0524 ppb3,155
Elkins City Of*Elkins, WV1 of 140.0524 ppb8,456
St. Lucie Mobile VillageIndiantown, FL1 of 20.0500 ppb750
Florida Pines Mobile Home ParkVenice, FL1 of 20.0380 ppb280
City of Port St. JoePort St. Joe, FL1 of 100.0370 ppb13,836
Prestonsburg City Utilities*Prestonsburg, KY1 of 40.0300 ppb20,368
Phoenix Property Owners AssociationDwarf, KY1 of 40.0300 ppb300
Knott County Water & Sewer District*Vicco, KY1 of 40.0300 ppb7,056
Martin Water DepartmentMartin, KY1 of 40.0300 ppb1,167
Deming Municipal Water SystemDeming, NM3 of 380.0253 ppb14,793
Decatur County Water CorporationGreensburg, IN1 of 40.0250 ppb2,902
Greensburg Municipal Water Works*Greensburg, IN1 of 40.0250 ppb12,000
Frostproof, City ofFrostproof, FL2 of 120.0183 ppb3,550
Jasper Municipal Water Utility*Jasper, IN1 of 80.0175 ppb16,983
Mulberry, City ofMulberry, FL2 of 90.0167 ppb3,780
Fern Crest Utilities Inc.Ft Lauderdale, FL1 of 70.0107 ppb3,123
Sunrise SouthwestFort Lauderdale, FL1 of 50.00580 ppb9,457
Miramar (East & West) PlantsMiramar, FL1 of 160.00481 ppb127,700
Old Bridge Village Mobile Home ParkNorth Fort Myers, FL1 of 250.00184 ppb1,000
Pine Lakes Mobile Home ParkN. Fort Myers, FL1 of 250.00184 ppb1,220
Town of Fort Myers Beach (beach Water)Fort Myers Beach, FL1 of 250.00184 ppb6,900
Gateway Services DistrictFort Myers, FL1 of 250.00184 ppb12,717
Lee County Utilities*Fort Myers, FL1 of 250.00184 ppb251,502
Mobile Manor Mobile Home ParkN. Fort Myers, FL1 of 250.00184 ppb482
Tamiami Village Mobile Home ParkN. Fort Myers, FL1 of 250.00184 ppb1,200

* This water utility supplies finished drinking water to at least one other water utility. The purchasing utility is not required to test for or report Polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), but it likely has the contaminant in its water supply.

UtilityLocationTestsAverage levelPeople served
Grayson Utility Commission*Grayson, KY2 of 40.0600 ppb10,950
City of Port St. JoePort St. Joe, FL1 of 100.0370 ppb13,836
Prestonsburg City Utilities*Prestonsburg, KY1 of 40.0300 ppb20,368
Deming Municipal Water SystemDeming, NM3 of 380.0253 ppb14,793
Greensburg Municipal Water Works*Greensburg, IN1 of 40.0250 ppb12,000
Jasper Municipal Water Utility*Jasper, IN1 of 80.0175 ppb16,983
Miramar (East & West) PlantsMiramar, FL1 of 160.00481 ppb127,700
Lee County Utilities*Fort Myers, FL1 of 250.00184 ppb251,502
Gateway Services DistrictFort Myers, FL1 of 250.00184 ppb12,717

* This water utility supplies finished drinking water to at least one other water utility. The purchasing utility is not required to test for or report Polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), but it likely has the contaminant in its water supply.