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Drinking Water Quality

Picture of water fountainDrinking water quality is an important public health issue since contamination in a single public water system can expose many people at once. People can be exposed to contaminants in drinking water not only by drinking the water, but also by eating foods prepared with the water, breathing water droplets or chemicals released from the water while showering, or absorbing chemicals through the skin while bathing. If a person is exposed to a high enough level of a contaminant, they may become ill. There are many types of health problems that can result from exposure to contaminants. The risk of developing a specific disease depends on many factors, including:

  • The specific contaminant
  • The level and potency of that contaminant
  • The way the contaminant enters the body (for example, drinking, breathing, and/or skin absorption)
  • The person's individual susceptibility
  • Sensitive people such as the elderly, children, and pregnant women are more likely to suffer health effects than the rest of the population

The majority of Americans are provided with high quality drinking water. There are approximately 170,000 public water systems in the United States. All public water systems have at least 15 service connections or serve at least 25 people per day for 60 days of the year. There are two types of public water systems:

  • Community water systems serve the same people year round. Most residences, including homes, apartments, and condos in cities, towns, and mobile home parks are served by community water systems.
  • Non-community water systems do not serve the same people year-round. Schools with their own systems and campgrounds are examples of non-community water systems.

The vast majority of people in the United States (263 million) receive their water from a community water system. While people also drink from non-community systems, community water systems provide the most risk to exposure from contaminants. Therefore, community water systems are the focus of this tracking project.

The Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection's (MassDEP) Drinking Water Program ensures that the drinking water delivered by community water systems in Massachusetts complies with national standards, or Maximum Contaminant Levels (MCL), set by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (U.S. EPA). There are water quality standards and monitoring requirements for over 90 contaminants. MassDEP may adopt or revise standards established by the U.S. EPA, or may adopt a more stringent standard or guideline based on an independent review of primary or secondary data. Public water suppliers determine compliance with drinking water standards by measuring the level of bacteria, various metals, and chemicals in drinking water to ensure safety and quality. If the level of contaminants exceeds drinking water standards established by the U.S. EPA or MassDEP, then the water supplier must notify the MassDEP and take corrective action.

Information on drinking water contaminants for Massachusetts community water systems is provided on this website. For a list of all Massachusetts community public water systems and the communities served, click here

The table below lists the contaminants for which information is available.

Available Information by Community Water System and Year

Available Information by Community Water System and Year
Contaminant
Regulatory Violations
Concentrations
Number of Residents Served
Arsenic
X
X
X
Atrazine
X
X
X
Di(2-ethylhexyl) phthalate (DEHP)
X
X
X
Disinfection Byproducts
X
X
X
Lead
Only exceedances of action levels, which do not represent violations
Exceedance level only
X
Nitrates
X
X
X
Tetracholorethene (PCE)
X
X
X
Tricholorethene (TCE)
X
X
X
Uranium
X
X
X

Arsenic

Arsenic is a toxic chemical that occurs naturally in the Earth's crust in soil, rocks, and minerals. Arsenic is also a byproduct of some agricultural and industrial activities. It is used with other chemicals to preserve wood as a pesticide for certain agricultural crops. Arsenic can enter the drinking water supply from natural sources in the Earth. It can also enter drinking water through discharge from industries where it is manufactured or used. Once it enters the environment, arsenic remains for a long time. There is wide variation in the levels of arsenic found in drinking water systems and private water supplies across the country.

Some people who drink water containing arsenic in excess of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's (U.S. EPA) Maximum Contaminant Level (MCL) over many years could experience skin damage or problems with their circulatory system, and may have an increased risk of getting cancer. The MCL for arsenic is 10ug/L.

Did You Know?
Naturally high concentrations of arsenic in the Earth’s crust occur in parts of the U.S. including areas of central Massachusetts.

Specific health effects of arsenic exposure may include:

  • Thickening and discoloration of the skin, stomach pain, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and liver effects
  • Cardiovascular, pulmonary, immunological, neurological (e.g., numbness and partial paralysis), and reproductive and endocrine (e.g., diabetes) effects
  • Cancer of the bladder, lung, skin, kidney, nasal passages, liver, and prostate

The majority of health risks from arsenic exposure in the United States are from long term exposures. Although short term exposures to high doses cause adverse effects in people, such exposures do not occur from public water supplies in the U.S. that comply with the arsenic Maximum Contaminant Level (MCL). A high dose is about a thousand times higher than the drinking water standard.

Data Considerations

When reviewing and interpreting drinking water arsenic data, it is important to take into consideration the following:

  • The data presented are for public water systems only. Residents may have exposure to arsenic from private well water.
  • Exposure to arsenic in drinking water depends upon the concentration of arsenic in the drinking water and the amount of water consumed by the individual. Water consumption varies by such factors as climate and level of physical activity.
  • Many factors can affect whether exposure can lead to a health problem, including level of contamination, amount of water consumed, and the length of time water was contaminated. Some populations may be more susceptible to health problems following exposure, such as pregnant woman, children, and immune suppressed individuals.
  • This website provides a summary of drinking water violations by community. Consumer Confidence Reports on public drinking water quality are required to be provided annually to consumers. Your Community Water System should be contacted for this report, which will provide more detailed information on any specific water system violations.
  • Community Water Systems (CWSs) can serve areas substantially beyond the boundaries of the principal city/town. served
  • Multiple CWSs can serve the same city/town and multiple cities/towns can be served by a single.
  • For a list of all Massachusetts Community Water Systems and communities serverd, with attributes, click here (pdf).

For additional information, please read the FAQ.

Available Data on Water Quality Measures for Arsenic

Click the Maps and Tables button on this page to access the following measures for arsenic in your community. The most current available data will be shown. Be sure to check the site periodically as new data are added each year. To protect privacy, no information is shown that could identify an individual home or family.

  • Maximum arsenic concentration by number of Community Water Systems and year of testing
  • Mean arsenic concentration by number of Community Water Systems and year of testing
  • Maximum arsenic concentration by number of people served by the Community Water Systems and year of testing
  • Mean arsenic concentration by number of people served by the Community Water Systems and year of testing
  • Mean arsenic concentration by individual Community Water System or county and year of testing
  • Drinking water violations by Community Water System or community and year of violation

Atrazine

Atrazine is an odorless white powder that dissolves in water. It is widely used in the U.S. as an herbicide to control the spread of broadleaf and grassy weeds. It is used most in the Midwest on corn, sugarcane, and sorghum crops. Workers who handle the herbicide during production or farming application have the highest risk of exposure through breathing, direct skin contact and ingestion by eating or drinking.

The general public has limited exposure to atrazine. However, atrazine can wash from crops where it is sprayed and contaminate streams, rivers, lakes, and groundwater. People living on or near farms may be exposed if their drinking water source is contaminated with runoff from crops. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) classifies atrazine as a Restricted Use Product (RUP). This means that only certified users can purchase and use the chemical. For a list of registered users of atrazine in Massachusetts, click here.

Health effects caused by atrazine depend on a number of factors: duration (how long), dose (how much), and route (how you came into contact). Exposure to atrazine above the EPA Maximum Contaminant Level (MCL) of .003mg/L can affect the reproductive and cardiovascular systems. Specific short-term health effects include:

Did You Know?

Atrazine is one of the most commonly used herbicides in the U.S. and in the world.

  • Congestion of heart, lungs, and kidneys
  • Low blood pressure
  • Muscle spasms
  • Weight loss
  • Damage to adrenal glands

Health effects of long-term exposure to atrazine include:

  • Reduced fertility
  • Weight loss
  • Cardiovascular damage
  • Muscular degeneration

Available information is insufficient to conclude that atrazine causes cancer in humans. While there are limited data to suggest a link between atrazine and certain types of cancer, the EPA has classified atrazine as not likely to cause cancer in humans.

Data Considerations

When reviewing and interpreting drinking water atrazine data, it is important to take into consideration the following:

  • The data presented are for public water systems only. Residents may have exposure to atrazine from private well water.
  • Exposure to atrazine in drinking water depends upon the concentration of atrazine in the drinking water and the amount of water consumed by the individual. Water consumption varies by such factors as climate and level of physical activity.
  • Many factors can affect whether exposure can lead to a health problem, including level of contamination, amount of water consumed, and the length of time water was contaminated. Some populations may be more susceptible to health problems following exposure, such as pregnant woman, children, and immune suppressed individuals.
  • This website provides a summary of drinking water violations by community. Consumer Confidence Reports on public drinking water quality are required to be provided annually to consumers. Your Community Water System should be contacted for this report, which will provide more detailed information on any specific water system violations.
  • Community Water Systems (CWSs) can serve areas substantially beyond the boundaries of the principal city/town served.
  • Multiple CWSs can serve the same city/town and multiple cities/towns can be served by a single.
  • For a list of all Massachusetts Community Water Systems and the communities served, click here (pdf).

For additional information, please read the FAQ.

Available Data on Water Quality Measures for Atrazine

Click the Maps and Tables button on this page to access the following measures for atrazine in your community. The most current available data will be shown. Be sure to check the site periodically as new data are added each year. To protect privacy, no information is shown that could identify an individual home or family.

  • Maximum atrazine concentration by number of Community Water Systems and year of testing
  • Mean atrazine concentration by number of Community Water Systems and year of testing
  • Maximum atrazine concentration by number of people served by the Community Water Systems and year of testing
  • Mean atrazine concentration by number of people served by the Community Water Systems and year of testing
  • Mean atrazine concentration by individual Community Water System or county and year of testing
  • Drinking water violations by Community Water System or community and year of violation

Di(2-ethylhexyl) Phthalate (DEHP)

Di(2-ethylhexyl) phthalate (DEHP) is a manufactured chemical that is added to plastics and polymers such as  PVC, rubber, cellulose, and styrene to make them softer and more flexible. It is a colorless, odorless liquid and is present in many plastic products such as shower curtains, garden hoses, medical tubing, and some toys.

Did You Know?
DEHP evaporates slowly in air and dissolves slowly in water, so exposure is not common. However, wells near waste sites may have higher levels of contamination with higher levels of exposure if used as a drinking water source.

DEHP is found everywhere in the environment due to its widespread use in plastics. However, it is not thought to be toxic at the low levels usually found in the environment. While exposure to DEHP is typically very low, it can increase by drinking contaminated water. The primary source of DEHP in drinking water is through discharge from rubber and chemical factories. Water systems located near waste sites for these factories are at highest risk of contamination with DEHP.

Exposure to DEHP above the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Maximum Contaminant Level (MCL) can have negative health effects. The majority of these health effects are caused by high levels of exposure or exposure over a prolonged period of time. At normal low levels in the environment, DEHP is not believed to cause any adverse health effects. People who drink water contaminated with DEHP for many years may experience problems with their liver, kidneys, thyroid hormone, or reproductive systems. There may also be reproductive or developmental effects in the children of women who are highly exposed while pregnant or breast-feeding, particularly male offspring.  There is some evidence that high exposures to DEHP may be associated with asthma in children. DEHP may also cause an increased risk of developing cancer at high level exposures.

Note: Several studies have shown associations between DEHP exposure and human health effects, but no causal link has yet been established and data are still limited. Consequently, data on health effects of DEHP exposure come primarily from animal studies.

Data Considerations

When reviewing and interpreting drinking water DEHP data, it is important to take into consideration the following:

  • The data presented are for public water systems only.  Residents may have exposure to DEHP from private well water.
  • Exposure to DEHP in drinking water depends upon the concentration of DEHP in the drinking water and the amount of water consumed by the individual. Water consumption varies by such factors as climate and level of physical activity.
  • Many factors can affect whether exposure can lead to a health problem, including level of contamination, amount of water consumed, and the length of time water was contaminated.  Some populations may be more susceptible to health problems following exposure, such as pregnant woman, children, and immune suppressed individuals.
  • This website provides a summary of drinking water violations by community.  Consumer Confidence Reports on public drinking water quality are required to be provided annually to consumers.  Your Community Water System should be contacted for this report, which will provide more detailed information on any specific water system violations.
  • Community Water Systems (CWSs) can serve areas substantially beyond the boundaries of the principal city/town served.
  • Multiple CWSs can serve the same city/town and multiple cities/towns can be served by a single.
  • For a list of all Massachusetts Community Water Systems and communities served, click here (pdf).Adobe PDF Icon

For additional information, please read the FAQ.

Available Data on Water Quality Measures for DEHP

Click the Maps and Tables button on this page to access the following measures for DEHP in your community. The most current available data will be shown. Be sure to check the site periodically as new data are added each year. To protect privacy, no information is shown that could identify an individual home or family.

  • Maximum DEHP concentration by number of Community Water Systems and year of testing
  • Mean DEHP concentration by number of Community Water Systems and year of testing
  • Maximum DEHP concentration by number of people served by the Community Water Systems and year of testing
  • Mean DEHP concentration by number of people served by the Community Water Systems and year of testing
  • Mean DEHP concentration by individual Community Water System, county, and year of testing
  • Drinking water violations by Community Water System, community, and year of violation

Disinfection Byproducts

Before it is treated, public drinking water may contain viruses and bacteria that can cause illness, such as gastrointestinal disorders or diarrhea. Public water suppliers disinfect drinking water to kill these viruses and bacteria. Chlorine is the most commonly used disinfectant, sometimes used with other disinfectants, such as ozone, chloramine, chlorine dioxide, and ultraviolet light.

Did You Know?
Some Community Water Systems use monochloramine as a primary or secondary drinking water disinfectant instead of chlorine, which may produce fewer of the type of DBPs which are regulated.

Disinfection byproducts (DBPs) are a family of chemicals that include Total Trihalomethanes and Haloacetic Acids. DBPs are formed when chlorine-based disinfectants react with naturally occurring organic matter and other substances in the source water. The levels of DBPs depend upon the nature of the source water, the type of treatment to remove particles and organic matter, and the type and concentration of disinfectant.

The risk of illness from DBPs is much lower than the risk of illness from drinking most surface water and some groundwater sources that have not been disinfected. The major health risks from DBPs are from long-term exposures.

When people consume water containing high levels of DBPs over many years, their risk of developing bladder cancer increases. Other health effects that may be associated with exposure to DBPs include rectal and colon cancer. Adverse developmental and reproductive effects associated with exposure to DBPs during pregnancy are a concern. These links have been studied with mixed results; however, the weight of evidence of the health effects data suggests a potential association.

Data Considerations

When reviewing and interpreting drinking water disinfection byproducts data, it is important to take into consideration the following:

  • The data presented are for public water systems only. Residents may have exposure to disinfection byproducts from private well water.
  • Exposure to disinfection byproducts in drinking water depends upon the concentration of disinfection byproducts in the drinking water and the amount of water consumed by the individual. Water consumption varies by such factors as climate and level of physical activity.
  • Many factors can affect whether exposure can lead to a health problem, including level of contamination, amount of water consumed, and the length of time water was contaminated. Some populations may be more susceptible to health problems following exposure, such as pregnant woman, children, and immune suppressed individuals.
  • This website provides a summary of drinking water violations by community. Consumer Confidence Reports on public drinking water quality are required to be provided annually to consumers. Your Community Water System should be contacted for this report, which will provide more detailed information on any specific water system violations.
  • Community Water Systems (CWSs) can serve areas substantially beyond the boundaries of the principal city/town served.
  • Multiple CWSs can serve the same city/town and multiple cities/towns can be served by a single.
  • For a list of all Massachusetts Community Water Systems and communities served, click here (pdf).

For additional information, please read the FAQ.

Available Data on Water Quality Measures for Disinfection Byproducts

Click the Maps and Tables button on this page to access the following measures for disinfection byproducts in your community. The most current available data will be shown. Be sure to check the site periodically as new data are added each year. To protect privacy, no information is shown that could identify an individual home or family.

  • Maximum disinfection byproduct concentrations by number of Community Water Systems and year of testing.
  • Mean disinfection byproduct concentrations by number of Community Water Systems and year of testing
  • Maximum disinfection byproduct concentrations by number of people served by the Community Water Systems and year of testing
  • Mean disinfection byproduct concentrations by number of people served by the Community Water Systems and year of testing
  • Mean disinfection byproduct concentrations by individual Community Water System or county and year of testing
  • Drinking water violations by Community Water System or community and year of violation

Lead

Lead is a naturally-occurring bluish-gray metal found in small amounts in the earth's crust. Lead can be found in all parts of our environment. Much of it comes from human activities including burning fossil fuels, mining, and manufacturing.

Lead has many different uses. It has been used in paint, batteries, ammunition, metal products (solder and pipes), and devices to shield X-rays. There are also minor amounts in brass plumbing fixtures. Because of health concerns, lead from paints and ceramic products, caulking, and pipe solder has been dramatically reduced in recent years. The United States began to phase out lead as an additive in gasoline in 1975.

Did You Know?
In Massachusetts, all children must be tested for lead in the blood at least one time every year until they are three years old.

Although the main sources of exposure to lead are ingesting paint chips and inhaling lead dust, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (U.S. EPA) estimates that 10 to 20 percent of human exposure to lead may come from lead in drinking water. For infants and children, exposure to high levels of lead in drinking water can result in delays in physical or mental development. For adults, it can result in kidney problems or high blood pressure. Infants who consume mostly mixed formula can receive 40 to 60 percent of their exposure to lead from drinking water. The health effects of lead are most severe for infants and children.

Typically, lead enters into drinking water after leaving the local treatment plant or your well. That is, the source of lead in your home's water is most likely from pipes or solder in your home's own plumbing. The most common cause is corrosion, a reaction between the water and the lead in the pipes or solder. Dissolved oxygen, low pH (acidity), and low mineral content in water are common causes of corrosion.

Data Considerations

When reviewing and interpreting drinking water lead data, it is important to take into consideration the following:

  • The data presented are for public water systems only.  Residents may have exposure to lead from private well water.
  • Exposure to lead in drinking water depends upon the concentration of lead in the drinking water and the amount of water consumed by the individual. Water consumption varies by such factors as climate and level of physical activity.
  • Many factors can affect whether exposure can lead to a health problem, including level of contamination, amount of water consumed, and the length of time water was contaminated.  Some populations may be more susceptible to health problems following exposure, such as pregnant woman, children, and immune suppressed individuals.
  • This website provides a summary of drinking water exceedances by community.  Consumer Confidence Reports on public drinking water quality are required to be provided annually to consumers.  Your Community Water System should be contacted for this report, which will provide more detailed information on any specific water system exceedances for lead.
  • Community Water Systems (CWSs) can serve areas substantially beyond the boundaries of the principal city/town served.
  • Multiple CWSs can serve the same city/town and multiple cities/towns can be served by a single.
  • For a list of all Massachusetts Community Water Systems and communities served, click here (pdf).

For additional information, please read the FAQ.

Available Data on Water Quality Measures for Lead Exceedance

Click the Maps and Tables button on this page to access the following measure for lead in drinking water in your community. The most current available data will be shown. Be sure to check the site periodically as new data are added each year. To protect privacy, no information is shown that could identify an individual home or family.

  • Drinking water exceedances by Community Water System or community and year of exceedance

Nitrates

Nitrates and nitrites are nitrogen-oxygen molecules that occur naturally at low levels in water. Nitrate is most often used as a fertilizer. Nitrate is more commonly found at higher levels than nitrite, particularly in areas where nitrogen-based fertilizers are used. Once taken into the body, nitrates are converted into nitrites. Nitrates are not normally dangerous to human health unless they are reduced to nitrites.

Nitrates and nitrites can enter drinking water from nitrate-containing fertilizers, sewage and septic tanks, and decaying natural material such as human waste, livestock manure, and decaying plants. Nitrate is very soluble in water and moves easily through the soil. Nitrates and nitrites are likely to remain in water until taken up by plants or consumed by other organisms.

Did You Know?
Animal pens and compost piles should be located far away from private wells in an area where runoff from rainwater will not contaminate the well water.

High levels of nitrates in drinking water can cause serious illness and sometimes death. Infants are more prone to the effects of nitrate exposure due to the change of nitrate to nitrite by the body, which can interfere with the oxygen-carrying capacity of the child's blood. This can be an acute condition in which health deteriorates rapidly over a period of days. Symptoms include shortness of breath and blueness of the skin.

Long term exposures to nitrates and nitrites above the drinking water standard, or Maximum Contaminant Level (MCL) have the potential to cause:

  • Frequent urination
  • Increased starchy deposits in the kidneys
  • Hemorrhaging of the spleen

Long term exposures to nitrates may also cause adverse reproductive effects and some cancers, but these associations are inconclusive at this time and health standards are focused on protecting infants. The MCL for nitrates is 10 mg/L.

Data Considerations

When reviewing and interpreting drinking water nitrate data, it is important to take into consideration the following:

  • The data presented are for public water systems only.  Residents may have exposure to nitrates from private well water.
  • Exposure to nitrates in drinking water depends upon the concentration of nitrates in the drinking water and the amount of water consumed by the individual. Water consumption varies by such factors as climate and level of physical activity.
  • Many factors can affect whether exposure can lead to a health problem, including level of contamination, amount of water consumed, and the length of time water was contaminated.  Some populations may be more susceptible to health problems following exposure, such as pregnant woman, children, and immune suppressed individuals.
  • This website provides a summary of drinking water violations by community.  Consumer Confidence Reports on public drinking water quality are required to be provided annually to consumers.  Your Community Water System should be contacted for this report, which will provide more detailed information on any specific water system violations.
  • Community Water Systems (CWSs) can serve areas substantially beyond the boundaries of the principal city/town served.
  • Multiple CWSs can serve the same city/town and multiple cities/towns can be served by a single.
  • For a list of all Massachusetts Community Water Systems and communities served, click here (pdf).

For additional information, please read the FAQ.

Available Data on Water Quality Measures for Nitrates

Click the Maps and Tables button on this page to access the following measurse for nitrates in your community. The most current available data will be shown. Be sure to check the site periodically as new data are added each year. To protect privacy, no information is shown that could identify an individual home or family.

  • Maximum nitrate concentration by number of Community Water Systems and year of testing
  • Mean nitrate concentration by number of Community Water Systems and year of testing
  • Maximum nitrate concentration by number of people served by the Community Water Systems and year of testing
  • Mean nitrate concentration by number of people served by the Community Water Systems and year of testing
  • Mean nitrate concentration by individual Community Water System or county and year of testing
  • Drinking water violations by Community Water System or community and year of violation

Tetrachloroethene (Tetrachloroethylene) (PCE)

Did You Know?
PCE is reported to be the chemical most widely found in groundwater contamination at Superfund sites.  However, there has been a steady decrease in the use of PCE in Massachusetts.

Tetrachloroethene (PCE) is a manufactured chemical. It is a colorless organic liquid and is also called tetrachloroethylene, perchloroethylene , and PERC. In the U.S., PCE is used primarily in the textile industry as a component of dry-cleaning products. It is also used as a metal degreaser.

The general public has limited exposure to tetrachloroethene. However, people living near factories where it is manufactured or near dry cleaners may be exposed through their drinking water. Exposure can also occur in the home from the use of products such as automotive parts cleaners and degreasers, spot or paint removers, and rug cleaners that contain PCE. PCE can seep into groundwater from waste of manufacturing plants where it is made or from dry cleaners that use the chemical. This contaminates the drinking water in those areas. Information on annual releases of toxic chemicals from certain industries can be found here.

Exposure to PCE at levels above the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) maximum contaminant level (MCL) of .005mg/L can cause adverse health effects. Health effects of drinking contaminated water typically affect those who have long-term exposures to PCE. Drinking contaminated water for extended periods of time can cause damage to the liver as well as an increased risk of getting cancer. The health effects of exposure to low levels of PCE are unknown.

Data Considerations

When reviewing and interpreting drinking water tetrachloroethene data, it is important to take into consideration the following:

  • The data presented are for public water systems only.  Residents may have exposure to PCE from private well water.
  • Exposure to PCE in drinking water depends upon the concentration of PCE in the drinking water and the amount of water consumed by the individual. Water consumption varies by such factors as climate and level of physical activity.
  • Many factors can affect whether exposure can lead to a health problem, including level of contamination, amount of water consumed, and the length of time water was contaminated.  Some populations may be more susceptible to health problems following exposure, such as pregnant woman, children, and immune suppressed individuals.
  • This website provides a summary of drinking water violations by community.  Consumer Confidence Reports on public drinking water quality are required to be provided annually to consumers.  Your Community Water System should be contacted for this report, which will provide more detailed information on any specific water system violations.
  • Community Water Systems (CWSs) can serve areas substantially beyond the boundaries of the principal city/town served.
  • Multiple CWSs can serve the same city/town and multiple cities/towns can be served by a single.
  • For a list of all Massachusetts Community Water Systems and communities served, click here (pdf).

For additional information, please read the FAQ.

Available Data on Water Quality Measures for Tetrachloroethene (PCE)

Click the Maps and Tables button on this page to access the following measures for PCE in your community. The most current available data will be shown. Be sure to check the site periodically as new data are added each year. To protect privacy, no information is shown that could identify an individual home or family.

  • Maximum PCE concentration by number of Community Water Systems and year of testing
  • Mean PCE concentration by number of Community Water Systems and year of testing
  • Maximum PCE concentration by number of people served by the Community Water Systems and year of testing
  • Mean PCE concentration by number of people served by the Community Water Systems and year of testing
  • Mean PCE concentration by individual Community Water System or county and year of testing
  • Drinking water violations by Community Water System or community and year of violation

Trichloroethene (Trichloroethylene) (TCE)

Trichloroethene is a colorless or blue chemical with a sweet odor. It is also called trichloroethylene (TCE). In the U.S., TCE is used primarily to remove grease from metals and in the production of some textiles. It is also a component of some adhesives, paint removers, and spot removers. It does not occur naturally in the environment.

The general public has limited exposure to trichloroethene. However, people living near businesses or factories where it is used, such as metal degreasing sites, can have higher exposure. Exposure can also occur in the home from the use of products such as spot or paint removers and rug cleaners that contain TCE.  Wastewater from these factories may contain TCE that can seep into groundwater and contaminate drinking water sources in the area. Common uses of water contaminated with TCE for such things as washing dishes and laundry, showering, cooking and drinking can lead to exposure through ingestion or inhalation. Information on annual releases of toxic chemicals from certain industries can be found here

Exposure to TCE above the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (U.S.EPA) maximum contaminant level (MCL) of .005mg/L can have adverse health effects. Drinking water that has high levels of TCE can cause nausea, liver damage, and impaired heart function. Health effects of drinking contaminated water typically affect those who have long-term exposures to TCE.  Drinking water with low levels of TCE for extended periods of time can cause damage to the liver and kidneys, reduced immune system function, and impaired fetal development in pregnant women. TCE may be a human carcinogen at high levels of exposure or exposure over a long duration.

Data Considerations

When reviewing and interpreting drinking water tricholorethene data, it is important to take into consideration the following:

  • The data presented are for public water systems only.  Residents may have exposure to TCE from private well water.
  • Exposure to TCE in drinking water depends upon the concentration of TCE in the drinking water and the amount of water consumed by the individual. Water consumption varies by such factors as climate and level of physical activity.
  • Many factors can affect whether exposure can lead to a health problem, including level of contamination, amount of water consumed, and the length of time water was contaminated.  Some populations may be more susceptible to health problems following exposure, such as pregnant woman, children, and immune suppressed individuals.
  • This website provides a summary of drinking water violations by community.  Consumer Confidence Reports on public drinking water quality are required to be provided annually to consumers.  Your Community Water System (CWS) should be contacted for this report, which will provide more detailed information on any specific water system violations.
  • Community Water Systems can serve areas substantially beyond the boundaries of the principal city/town served.
  • Multiple CWSs can serve the same city/town and multiple cities/towns can be served by a single.
  • For a list of all Massachusetts community public water systems and communities served, click here (pdf).

For additional information, please read the FAQ.

Available Data on Water Quality Measures for Tricholorethene

Click the Maps and Tables button on this page to access the following measures for trichloroethene in your community. The most current available data will be shown. Be sure to check the site periodically as new data are added each year. To protect privacy, no information is shown that could identify an individual home or family.

  • Maximum TCE concentration by number of Community Water Systems and year of testing
  • Mean TCE concentration by number of Community Water Systems and year of testing
  • Maximum TCE concentration by Community Water System and year of testing
  • Mean TCE concentration by Community Water System and year of testing
  • Maximum TCE concentration by number of people served by the Community Water Systems and year of testing
  • Mean TCE concentration by number of people served by the Community Water Systems and year of testing
  • Mean TCE concentration by individual Community Water System or county and year of testing
  • Drinking water violations by Community Water System or community and year of violation

Uranium

Did You Know?

Areas in Central Massachusetts are known to have the highest potential for uranium in drinking water.  However, drinking water in any area of Massachusetts may contain uranium.

Uranium is a naturally-occurring radioactive metal that is found in the environment. It is a type of radionuclide and a natural source of radiation that is present at low levels in the environment in almost all rock, soil, water, plants and animals. Some rock types have higher levels of this naturally occurring element. Most drinking water has low levels of uranium. However, uranium can accumulate in some drinking water at levels of public health concern.

Ingestion of contaminated drinking water is the major source of exposure to uranium.  Bathing and showering is not an exposure concern.

Once contaminated drinking water enters the body, it enters the bloodstream. Most uranium is excreted rapidly, however some may accumulate in bones and kidneys.  As a source of radiation, uranium may increase a persons’ risk of developing cancer following long-term exposure at levels above the maximum contaminant level (MCL) of .03 mg/L. Long-term exposure may also put an individual at risk for damage to the kidneys, the organ most susceptible to uranium exposure.

Data Considerations

When reviewing and interpreting drinking water uranium data, it is important to take into consideration the following:

  • The data presented are for public water systems only.  Residents may have exposure to uranium from private well water.
  • Exposure to uranium in drinking water depends upon the concentration of uranium in the drinking water and the amount of water consumed by the individual. Water consumption varies by such factors as climate and level of physical activity.
  • Many factors can affect whether exposure can lead to a health problem, including level of contamination, amount of water consumed, and the length of time water was contaminated.  Some populations may be more susceptible to health problems following exposure, such as pregnant woman, children, and immune suppressed individuals.
  • This website provides a summary of drinking water violations by community.  Consumer Confidence Reports on public drinking water quality are required to be provided annually to consumers.  Your Community Water System (CWS) should be contacted for this report, which will provide more detailed information on any specific water system violations.
  • Community Water Systems can serve areas substantially beyond the boundaries of the principal city/town served.
  • Multiple CWSs can serve the same city/town and multiple cities/towns can be served by a single .
  • For a list of all Massachusetts community public water systems and the communities served, click here (pdf).

For additional information, please read the FAQ.

Available Data on Water Quality Measures for Uranium

Click the Maps and Tables button on this page to access the following measure for uranium in your community. The most current available data will be shown. Be sure to check the site periodically as new data are added each year. To protect privacy, no information is shown that could identify an individual home or family.

  • Maximum uranium concentration by number of Community Water Systems and year of testing
  • Mean uranium concentration by number of Community Water Systems and year of testing
  • Maximum uranium concentration by Community Water System and year of testing
  • Mean uranium concentration by Community Water System and year of testing
  • Maximum uranium concentration by number of people served by the Community Water Systems and year of testing
  • Mean uranium concentration by number of people served by the Community Water Systems and year of testing
  • Mean uranium concentration by individual Community Water System or county and year of testing
  • Drinking water violations by Community Water System or community and year of violation
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