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The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) sampled stormwater in 16 cities and metropolitan areas that are required to obtain permits to discharge stormwater from their municipal storm-sewer system into surface water. Concentrations of 62 volatile organic compounds (VOCs), including methyl tert-butyl ether (MTBE) and BTEX (benzene, toluene, ethylbenzene, and total xylene) compounds, were measured in 592 stormwater samples collected in these cities and metropolitan areas from 1991 through 1995. MTBE was the seventh most frequently detected VOC in municipal stormwater. In decreasing order, the most frequently detected VOCs were toluene, total xylene, chloroform, total trimethylbenzene, tetrachloroethene, and naphthalene. MTBE was detected in 6.9 percent (41 of 592) of stormwater samples collected. When detected, concentrations of MTBE ranged from 0.2 to 8.7 micrograms per liter (??g/L), with a median of 1.5 ??g/L. All detections of MTBE were less than the lower limit of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's (USEPA) draft drinking water lifetime health advisory (20 ??g/L). Eighty-three percent of all detections of MTBE in stonnwater were in samples collected during October through March of each year (1991-95), which corresponds with the expected seasonal use of oxygenated gasoline in areas where carbon monoxide exceeds established air-quality standards. The median concentration of MTBE and benzene for all samples was statistically different and higher in samples collected during October through March than samples collected during April through September. Sixty-six percent of all MTBE: detections occurred with BTEX compounds, and a proportionate increase in concentrations was found when these compounds occurred together. Detected concentrations of toluene and total xylene ranged from 0.2 to 6.6 ??g/L and 0.2 to 15 ??g/L with median concentrations of 0.3 and 0.4 ??g/L, respectively.
Additional Publication Details
Occurrence of the gasoline oxygenate MTBE and BTEX compounds in municipal stormwater in the United States, 1991-95
ACS Division of Environmental Chemistry, Preprints