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On this page

  • National Primary Drinking Water Regulations
    • List of Drinking Water Contaminants & their MCLs
  • National Secondary Drinking Water Regulations
    • List of Secondary Drinking Water Regulations
  • Unregulated Contaminants

National Primary Drinking Water Regulations

National Primary Drinking Water Regulations (NPDWRs or primary standards) are legally enforceable standards that apply to public water systems. Primary standards protect public health by limiting the levels of contaminants in drinking water. Visit the list of regulated contaminants with links for more details.

  • List of Contaminants & their Maximum Contaminant Level (MCLs)
  • Setting Standards for Safe Drinking Water to learn about EPA's standard-setting process
  • National Primary Drinking Water Regulations- The complete regulations regarding these contaminants availible from the Code of Federal Regulations Website

List of Contaminants & their MCLs

  • Microorganisms
  • Disinfectants
  • Disinfection Byproducts
  • Inorganic Chemicals
  • Organic Chemicals
  • Radionuclides

Microorganisms
Contaminant MCLG1
(mg/L)
2
MCL or TT1
(mg/L)
2
Potential Health Effects from Ingestion of Water Sources of Contaminant in Drinking Water
Cryptosporidium (pdf file)
zero
 
TT 3
 
Gastrointestinal illness (e.g., diarrhea, vomiting, cramps) Human and fecal animal waste
Giardia lamblia
zero
 
TT3
 
Gastrointestinal illness (e.g., diarrhea, vomiting, cramps) Human and animal fecal waste
Heterotrophic plate count
n/a
 
TT3
 
HPC has no health effects; it is an analytic method used to measure the variety of bacteria that are common in water. The lower the concentration of bacteria in drinking water, the better maintained the water system is. HPC measures a range of bacteria that are naturally present in the environment
Legionella
zero
 
TT3
 
Legionnaire's Disease, a type of pneumonia Found naturally in water; multiplies in heating systems
Total Coliforms (including fecal coliform and E. Coli)
zero
 
5.0%4
 
Not a health threat in itself; it is used to indicate whether other potentially harmful bacteria may be present5 Coliforms are naturally present in the environment; as well as feces; fecal coliforms and E. coli only come from human and animal fecal waste.
Turbidity
n/a
 
TT3
 
Turbidity is a measure of the cloudiness of water. It is used to indicate water quality and filtration effectiveness (e.g., whether disease-causing organisms are present). Higher turbidity levels are often associated with higher levels of disease-causing microorganisms such as viruses, parasites and some bacteria. These organisms can cause symptoms such as nausea, cramps, diarrhea, and associated headaches. Soil runoff
Viruses (enteric)
zero
 
TT3
 
Gastrointestinal illness (e.g., diarrhea, vomiting, cramps) Human and animal fecal waste

 

Disinfection Byproducts
Contaminant MCLG1
(mg/L)
2
MCL or TT1
(mg/L)
2
Potential Health Effects from Ingestion of Water Sources of Contaminant in Drinking Water
Bromate
zero
 
0.010
 
Increased risk of cancer Byproduct of drinking water disinfection
Chlorite
0.8
 
1.0
 
Anemia; infants & young children: nervous system effects Byproduct of drinking water disinfection
Haloacetic acids (HAA5)
n/a6
 
0.060
 
Increased risk of cancer Byproduct of drinking water disinfection
Total Trihalomethanes (TTHMs)
none7
----------
n/a6
 
0.10
----------
0.080
 
Liver, kidney or central nervous system problems; increased risk of cancer Byproduct of drinking water disinfection

Top of page

Disinfectants
Contaminant MRDLG1
(mg/L)
2
MRDL1
(mg/L)
2
Potential Health Effects from Ingestion of Water Sources of Contaminant in Drinking Water
Chloramines (as Cl2) MRDLG=41
 
MRDL=4.01
 
Eye/nose irritation; stomach discomfort, anemia Water additive used to control microbes
Chlorine (as Cl2) MRDLG=41
 
MRDL=4.01
 
Eye/nose irritation; stomach discomfort Water additive used to control microbes
Chlorine dioxide (as ClO2) MRDLG=0.81
 
MRDL=0.81
 
Anemia; infants & young children: nervous system effects Water additive used to control microbes

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Inorganic Chemicals
Contaminant MCLG1
(mg/L)
2
MCL or TT1
(mg/L)
2
Potential Health Effects from Ingestion of Water Sources of Contaminant in Drinking Water
Antimony
0.006
 
0.006
 
Increase in blood cholesterol; decrease in blood sugar Discharge from petroleum refineries; fire retardants; ceramics; electronics; solder
Arsenic
07
 
0.010
as of 01/23/06
Skin damage or problems with circulatory systems, and may have increased risk of getting cancer Erosion of natural deposits; runoff from orchards, runoff from glass & electronicsproduction wastes
Asbestos
(fiber >10 micrometers)
7 million fibers per liter
 
7 MFL
 
Increased risk of developing benign intestinal polyps Decay of asbestos cement in water mains; erosion of natural deposits
Barium
2
 
2
 
Increase in blood pressure Discharge of drilling wastes; discharge from metal refineries; erosion of natural deposits
Beryllium
0.004
 
0.004
 
Intestinal lesions Discharge from metal refineries and coal-burning factories; discharge from electrical, aerospace, and defense industries
Cadmium
0.005
 
0.005
 
Kidney damage Corrosion of galvanized pipes; erosion of natural deposits; discharge from metal refineries; runoff from waste batteries and paints
Chromium (total)
0.1
 
0.1
 
Allergic dermatitis Discharge from steel and pulp mills; erosion of natural deposits
Copper
1.3
 
TT8;
Action Level=1.3
 
Short term exposure: Gastrointestinal distress

Long term exposure: Liver or kidney damage

People with Wilson's Disease should consult their personal doctor if the amount of copper in their water exceeds the action level

Corrosion of household plumbing systems; erosion of natural deposits
Cyanide (as free cyanide)
0.2
 
0.2
 
Nerve damage or thyroid problems Discharge from steel/metal factories; discharge from plastic and fertilizer factories
Fluoride
4.0
 
4.0
 
Bone disease (pain and tenderness of the bones); Children may get mottled teeth Water additive which promotes strong teeth; erosion of natural deposits; discharge from fertilizer and aluminum factories
Lead
zero
 
TT8;
Action Level=0.015
 
Infants and children: Delays in physical or mental development; children could show slight deficits in attention span and learning abilities

Adults: Kidney problems; high blood pressure

Corrosion of household plumbing systems; erosion of natural deposits
Mercury (inorganic)
0.002
 
0.002
 
Kidney damage Erosion of natural deposits; discharge from refineries and factories; runoff from landfills and croplands
Nitrate (measured as Nitrogen)
10
 
10
 
Infants below the age of six months who drink water containing nitrate in excess of the MCL could become seriously ill and, if untreated, may die. Symptoms include shortness of breath and blue-baby syndrome. Runoff from fertilizer use; leaching from septic tanks, sewage; erosion of natural deposits
Nitrite (measured as Nitrogen)
1
 
1
 
Infants below the age of six months who drink water containing nitrite in excess of the MCL could become seriously ill and, if untreated, may die. Symptoms include shortness of breath and blue-baby syndrome. Runoff from fertilizer use; leaching from septic tanks, sewage; erosion of natural deposits
Selenium
0.05
 
0.05
 
Hair or fingernail loss; numbness in fingers or toes; circulatory problems Discharge from petroleum refineries; erosion of natural deposits; discharge from mines
Thallium
0.0005
 
0.002
 
Hair loss; changes in blood; kidney, intestine, or liver problems Leaching from ore-processing sites; discharge from electronics, glass, and drug factories

Top of page

Organic Chemicals
Contaminant MCLG1
(mg/L)
2
MCL or TT1
(mg/L)
2
Potential Health Effects from Ingestion of Water
Sources of Contaminant in Drinking Water
Acrylamide
zero
 
TT9
 

Nervous system or blood problems; increased risk of cancer

Added to water during sewage/wastewater treatment
Alachlor
zero
 
0.002
 

Eye, liver, kidney or spleen problems; anemia; increased risk of cancer

Runoff from herbicide used on row crops
Atrazine
0.003
 
0.003
 

Cardiovascular system or reproductive problems

Runoff from herbicide used on row crops
Benzene
zero
 
0.005
 

Anemia; decrease in blood platelets; increased risk of cancer

Discharge from factories; leaching from gas storage tanks and landfills
Benzo(a)pyrene (PAHs)
zero
 
0.0002
 

Reproductive difficulties; increased risk of cancer

Leaching from linings of water storage tanks and distribution lines
Carbofuran
0.04
 
0.04
 

Problems with blood, nervous system, or reproductive system

Leaching of soil fumigant used on rice and alfalfa
Carbon
tetrachloride
zero
 
0.005
 

Liver problems; increased risk of cancer

Discharge from chemical plants and other industrial activities
Chlordane
zero
 
0.002
 

Liver or nervous system problems; increased risk of cancer

Residue of banned termiticide
Chlorobenzene
0.1
 
0.1
 

Liver or kidney problems

Discharge from chemical and agricultural chemical factories
2,4-D
0.07
 
0.07
 

Kidney, liver, or adrenal gland problems

Runoff from herbicide used on row crops
Dalapon
0.2
 
0.2
 

Minor kidney changes

Runoff from herbicide used on rights of way
1,2-Dibromo-3-chloropropane (DBCP)
zero
 
0.0002
 

Reproductive difficulties; increased risk of cancer

Runoff/leaching from soil fumigant used on soybeans, cotton, pineapples, and orchards
o-Dichlorobenzene
0.6
 
0.6
 

Liver, kidney, or circulatory system problems

Discharge from industrial chemical factories
p-Dichlorobenzene
0.075
 
0.075
 

Anemia; liver, kidney or spleen damage; changes in blood

Discharge from industrial chemical factories
1,2-Dichloroethane
zero
 
0.005
 

Increased risk of cancer

Discharge from industrial chemical factories
1,1-Dichloroethylene
0.007
 
0.007
 

Liver problems

Discharge from industrial chemical factories
cis-1,2-Dichloroethylene
0.07
 
0.07
 

Liver problems

Discharge from industrial chemical factories
trans-1,2-Dichloroethylene
0.1
 
0.1
 

Liver problems

Discharge from industrial chemical factories
Dichloromethane
zero
 
0.005
 

Liver problems; increased risk of cancer

Discharge from drug and chemical factories
1,2-Dichloropropane
zero
 
0.005
 

Increased risk of cancer

Discharge from industrial chemical factories
Di(2-ethylhexyl) adipate
0.4
 
0.4
 

Weight loss, liver problems, or possible reproductive difficulties.

Discharge from chemical factories
Di(2-ethylhexyl) phthalate
zero
 
0.006
 

Reproductive difficulties; liver problems; increased risk of cancer

Discharge from rubber and chemical factories
Dinoseb
0.007
 
0.007
 

Reproductive difficulties

Runoff from herbicide used on soybeans and vegetables
Dioxin (2,3,7,8-TCDD)
zero
 
0.00000003
 

Reproductive difficulties; increased risk of cancer

Emissions from waste incineration and other combustion; discharge from chemical factories
Diquat
0.02
 
0.02
 

Cataracts

Runoff from herbicide use
Endothall
0.1
 
0.1
 

Stomach and intestinal problems

Runoff from herbicide use
Endrin
0.002
 
0.002
 

Liver problems

Residue of banned insecticide
Epichlorohydrin
zero
 
TT9
 

Increased cancer risk, and over a long period of time, stomach problems

Discharge from industrial chemical factories; an impurity of some water treatment chemicals
Ethylbenzene
0.7
 
0.7
 

Liver or kidneys problems

Discharge from petroleum refineries
Ethylene dibromide
zero
 
0.00005
 

Problems with liver, stomach, reproductive system, or kidneys; increased risk of cancer

Discharge from petroleum refineries
Glyphosate
0.7
 
0.7
 

Kidney problems; reproductive difficulties

Runoff from herbicide use
Heptachlor
zero
 
0.0004
 

Liver damage; increased risk of cancer

Residue of banned termiticide
Heptachlor epoxide
zero
 
0.0002
 

Liver damage; increased risk of cancer

Breakdown of heptachlor
Hexachlorobenzene
zero
 
0.001
 

Liver or kidney problems; reproductive difficulties; increased risk of cancer

Discharge from metal refineries and agricultural chemical factories
Hexachlorocyclopentadiene
0.05
 
0.05
 

Kidney or stomach problems

Discharge from chemical factories
Lindane
0.0002
 
0.0002
 

Liver or kidney problems

Runoff/leaching from insecticide used on cattle, lumber, gardens
Methoxychlor
0.04
 
0.04
 

Reproductive difficulties

Runoff/leaching from insecticide used on fruits, vegetables, alfalfa, livestock
Oxamyl (Vydate)
0.2
 
0.2
 

Slight nervous system effects

Runoff/leaching from insecticide used on apples, potatoes, and tomatoes
Polychlorinated
biphenyls (PCBs)
zero
 
0.0005
 

Skin changes; thymus gland problems; immune deficiencies; reproductive or nervous system difficulties; increased risk of cancer

Runoff from landfills; discharge of waste chemicals
Pentachlorophenol
zero
 
0.001
 

Liver or kidney problems; increased cancer risk

Discharge from wood preserving factories
Picloram
0.5
 
0.5
 

Liver problems

Herbicide runoff
Simazine
0.004
 
0.004
 

Problems with blood

Herbicide runoff
Styrene
0.1
 
0.1
 

Liver, kidney, or circulatory system problems

Discharge from rubber and plastic factories; leaching from landfills
Tetrachloroethylene
zero
 
0.005
 

Liver problems; increased risk of cancer

Discharge from factories and dry cleaners
Toluene
1
 
1
 

Nervous system, kidney, or liver problems

Discharge from petroleum factories
Toxaphene
zero
 
0.003
 

Kidney, liver, or thyroid problems; increased risk of cancer

Runoff/leaching from insecticide used on cotton and cattle
2,4,5-TP (Silvex)
0.05
 
0.05
 

Liver problems

Residue of banned herbicide
1,2,4-Trichlorobenzene
0.07
 
0.07
 

Changes in adrenal glands

Discharge from textile finishing factories
1,1,1-Trichloroethane
0.20
 
0.2
 

Liver, nervous system, or circulatory problems

Discharge from metal degreasing sites and other factories
1,1,2-Trichloroethane
0.003
 
0.005
 

Liver, kidney, or immune system problems

Discharge from industrial chemical factories
Trichloroethylene
zero
 
0.005
 

Liver problems; increased risk of cancer

Discharge from metal degreasing sites and other factories
Vinyl chloride
zero
 
0.002
 

Increased risk of cancer

Leaching from PVC pipes; discharge from plastic factories
Xylenes (total)
10
 
10
 

Nervous system damage

Discharge from petroleum factories; discharge from chemical factories

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Radionuclides
Contaminant MCLG1
(mg/L)
2
MCL or TT1
(mg/L)
2
Potential Health Effects from Ingestion of Water Sources of Contaminant in Drinking Water
Alpha particles
none7
----------
zero
 
15 picocuries per Liter (pCi/L)
 
Increased risk of cancer Erosion of natural deposits of certain minerals that are radioactive and may emit a form of radiation known as alpha radiation
Beta particles and photon emitters
none7
----------
zero
 
4 millirems per year
 
Increased risk of cancer Decay of natural and man-made deposits of

certain minerals that are radioactive and may emit forms of radiation known as photons and beta radiation

Radium 226 and Radium 228 (combined)
none7
----------
zero
 
5 pCi/L
 
Increased risk of cancer Erosion of natural deposits
Uranium
zero
 
30 ug/L
as of 12/08/03
Increased risk of cancer, kidney toxicity Erosion of natural deposits

                                                             Report ends here

 

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