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Vinyl chloride

Status: National drinking water standard exists

 

Vinyl chloride is a known human carcinogen used for production of polyvinyl chloride (PVC) plastics. Discharges from plastics manufacturing can contaminate drinking water with vinyl chloride. Read More.

Exposure to vinyl chloride increases the risk of cancer and can damage the liver and nervous system. The California public health goal of 0.05 parts per billion, set to protect against cancer, is 40 times lower than the amount allowed by the federal government, which is a Maximum Contaminant Level of 2 parts per billion.

Plastic pipes made of polyvinyl chloride (PVC) and chlorinated PVC (CPVC) are widely used for drinking water distribution lines and internal plumbing, raising concern about vinyl chloride contamination of drinking water. A study published in 2011 by Ryan Walter of Cornell University School of Civil and Environmental Engineering suggested that small amounts of vinyl chloride can leach from PVC pipes. Vinyl chloride can also form in the pipes as a result of water disinfection with chlorine.

In an assessment completed in 2000, California Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment stated that drinking water is not a significant source of exposure to vinyl chloride for the general population.

Click here to read more about carcinogenic VOCs.

2015:

FOUND
FOUND ABOVE HEALTH GUIDELINES

16

states detected

39

utilities detected

447,000

people served

16

states over health guideline

39

utilities over health guideline

447,000

people served over health guideline

Health concerns for vinyl chloride

Liver cancer

Harm to the liver

Change to the central nervous system

State and national drinking water standards and health guidelines

Health Guideline 0.05 ppb

The health guideline of 0.05 ppb for vinyl chloride 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.

ppb = parts per billion.

EPA Maximum Contaminant
Level (MCL) 2 ppb

The enforceable federal standard that defines the highest level of a contaminant allowed in drinking water.

ppb = parts per billion.

EPA Maximum Contaminant
Level Goal (MCLG)0 ppb

A non-enforceable federal health guideline. For cancer-causing chemicals, these health goals are typically set to zero.

ppb = parts per billion.

States reporting vinyl chloride in drinking water

UTILITIES REPORTING ABOVE HEALTH GUIDELINES UTILITIES WITH CONTAMINATION
State UtilitiesPeople Served UtilitiesPeople Served
Minnesota4113,3734113,373
New York260,925260,925
Kansas559,254559,254
Illinois536,730536,730
Ohio236,319236,319
Florida332,680332,680
North Carolina127,475127,475
Colorado226,250226,250
West Virginia323,440323,440
Wisconsin214,851214,851
Texas26,01226,012
Arkansas44,75344,753
Georgia12,92212,922
Arizona11,38511,385
Iowa15021502
Tennessee13081308
MORE
LESS

Utilities with the highest amounts of vinyl chloride, 2015

ALL UTILITIES
LARGE UTILITIES
UtilityLocationTestsAverage levelPeople served
Saint Louis ParkSt. Louis Park, MN4 of 42.03 ppb45,505
Charter Oak Water SupplyCharter Oak, IA1 of 11.70 ppb502
Kalamazoo*Kalamazoo, MI of 0ND0
Grand Junction*Grand Junction, CO1 of 11.20 ppb26,000
Redhill Water AssociationAlma, AR1 of 41.18 ppb475
Rison Waterworks*Rison, AR1 of 10.980 ppb1,365
City of KinstonKinston, NC2 of 80.825 ppb27,475
Candlewood Lakes P.o.a. WaterwSaulsbury, TN1 of 10.680 ppb308
The OaksPorter, TX1 of 10.600 ppb48
Marana Domestic Water Improvement District - DerringerMarana, AZ1 of 20.500 ppb1,385
Hoosick FallsHoosick Falls, NY1 of 30.500 ppb4,925
Riviera Beach Utility District*Riviera Beach, FL3 of 160.356 ppb31,500
Kewaunee WaterworksKewaunee, WI1 of 10.300 ppb2,951
Harris County Municipal Utility District 196*Houston, TX1 of 20.250 ppb5,964
LakelandAdel, GA1 of 30.200 ppb2,922
Walker Water AssociationMagnolia, AR2 of 80.193 ppb1,210
Weirton Area Water Board*Weirton, WV1 of 30.153 ppb22,694
Cedarburg L & W CommissionCedarburg, WI7 of 240.0963 ppb11,900
Spring Park*Spring Park, MN4 of 160.0894 ppb1,673
HempsteadHempstead, NY4 of 600.0810 ppb56,000

* 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 Vinyl chloride, but it likely has the contaminant in its water supply.

UtilityLocationTestsAverage levelPeople served
Saint Louis ParkSt. Louis Park, MN4 of 42.03 ppb45,505
Grand Junction*Grand Junction, CO1 of 11.20 ppb26,000
Kalamazoo*Kalamazoo, MI of 0ND0
City of KinstonKinston, NC2 of 80.825 ppb27,475
Riviera Beach Utility District*Riviera Beach, FL3 of 160.356 ppb31,500
Weirton Area Water Board*Weirton, WV1 of 30.153 ppb22,694
Cedarburg L & W CommissionCedarburg, WI7 of 240.0963 ppb11,900
HempsteadHempstead, NY4 of 600.0810 ppb56,000

* 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 Vinyl chloride, but it likely has the contaminant in its water supply.