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Dangers of Benzene in Drinking Water

Since Congress passed the Safe Drinking Water Act in 1974, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has been tasked with determining the safest level of drinking water contamination before any adverse health effects are likely to occur.  Currently the EPA regulates 81 different types of hazardous contaminants that can be found in our drinking water supply; they monitor chemical, physical, radiological and biological contaminates and set a maximum contaminant level goal (MCLG) for each.  One such contaminate that has found itself in the news recently is benzene, which has a MCLG goal of zero parts per million.
As we saw in the LA Times, officials from California’s Division of Oil, Gas and Geothermal Resources  admitted just last summer that they have inadvertently allowed oil companies to inject wastewater from oil production operations as well as fracking into hundreds of disposal wells in protected aquifers around the state for years.  High levels of Benzene is just one of the byproducts that have shown up in the contaminated water.
Benzene is a volatile organic chemical (VOC) that is naturally found in oil, gasoline and cigarette smoke.  It can also be formed from natural processes, such as from forest fires, as well as industrial processes.  It is commonly used to manufacture plastics, rubber, synthetic fabrics and resins and as a solvent in paints, printing and dry cleaning.  Benzene is a known carcinogen and when ingested from drinking water can cause anemia, a decrease in blood platelets, and an increased risk of cancer, particularly leukemia.
Gasoline and cigarette smoke are the two main sources of benzene exposure; however, while for the majority of the population, the exposure to benzene from food, beverages and drinking water is not as high as it is from the air, there is still a significant risk.  Benzene has been detected in some bottled water, liquor and certain foods as well as from contaminated well water.  Water wells can become contaminated with benzene from leaking underground gasoline storage tanks, leaching from landfills and other hazardous waste sites that contain benzene products.
Considering that the EPA recommends a zero MCLG level for benzene, it is important to choose a water filtration system that can filter out this hazardous chemical.  Water softeners will not remove benzene, however activated charcoal or granular activated carbon filters rated to remove VOC’s will be able to remove benzene from your drinking water.
Rayne’s LINX Drinking Water Systems as well as our reverse osmosis systems are both equipped with a carbon filtration unit intended to filter VOC’s.  It is important to make sure your family is drinking water that is as pure and safe as possible, so if you are wondering about the safety of your drinking water, it is highly recommended to have it tested.  Knowing what is in your water will help you choose the right filtration system for your home and provide the safest drinking water possible.