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USGS South Dakota Water Science Center Publication

Occurrence and Implications of Selected Chlorinated Solvents in Ground Water and Source Water in the United States and in Drinking Water in 12 Northeast and Mid-Atlantic States, 1993–2002

By Michael J. Moran

U.S. GEOLOGICAL SURVEY
Scientific Investigations Report 2005–5268

National Water-Quality Assessment Program
National Synthesis on Volatile Organic Compounds


Abstract

The U.S. Geological Survey has collected or compiled data on select chlorinated solvents in samples of ground water, source water, and drinking water. The water samples were collected during 1993–2002. Data on solvents in ground water and source water were available for the conterminous United States, Alaska, and Hawaii. Data on solvents in drinking water only were available for 12 Northeast and Mid-Atlantic States. The occurrence and distribution of four solvents were examined in these data sources—methlyene chloride, 1,1,1-trichloroethane, tetrachloroethene, and trichloroethene.

Out of 51 to 55 volatile organic compounds (VOCs) analyzed in samples, solvents were among the most frequently detected VOCs in all data sets. When data from ground water and source water were confined to 12 Northeast and Mid-Atlantic States, the detection frequencies of solvents were similar among all three data sets. Although low concentrations of solvents commonly were detected in ground water, some solvents had higher median quantified concentrations than other VOCs. Relative to other VOCs, solvents were ranked high in all data sets in terms of the frequency of concentrations higher than U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Maximum Contaminant Levels. Mixtures were a common mode of occurrence of solvents.

The probability of occurrence of solvents was most strongly related to the dissolved-oxygen content in ground water, with solvents having a higher probability of occurrence in conditions of relatively high dissolved oxygen compared to conditions of relatively low dissolved oxygen. The probability of occurrence of solvents in ground water also was strongly associated with urban land use and population density and with variables that represented the transport of solvents through the soil zone to ground water.

It is important for ground-water resource managers to understand the contamination potential posed by solvents, especially in resources that are critical as drinking-water supplies. Low-level analytical methods are most useful for determining the complete environmental distribution of solvents in ground water. To protect ground-water resources, it is important for ground-water managers to (1) delineate the redox conditions of ground water in the aquifer in order to predict the potential fate of solvents, (2) determine and control the sources, or potential sources, of solvents to ground water, and (3) establish the susceptibility of aquifers by fully ascertaining the hydraulic properties of the saturated and vadose zones.

Contents

Abstract

Introduction

Background

Physical and Chemical Properties and Environmental Behavior of Solvents

Transformation of Solvents

Production and Usage of Solvents

Methylene Chloride

Perchloroethene

1,1,1-Trichloroethane

Trichloroethene

Health Effects of Solvents

Methylene Chloride

Perchloroethene

1,1,1-Trichloroethane

Trichloroethene

Potential Sources of Solvents to Ground Wate

Anthropogenic Sources

Natural Sources

Data and Methods

Solvent Data Sets

Ground-Water Data

Source-Water Data

Drinking-Water Data

Computational Procedures

Statistical Tests

Occurrence of Solvents

Occurrence and Distribution of Solvents in Ground Water

Occurrence and Distribution of Solvents in Source Water

Occurrence and Distribution of Solvents in Drinking Water

Concentrations of Solvents in Ground Water

Concentrations of Solvents in Source Water

Concentrations of Solvents in Drinking Water

Comparisons of Solvent Occurrence and Concentrations Between Ground Water, Source Water, and Drinking Water

Associations of Solvents with Hydrogeologic and Anthropogenic Variables

Variables Associated With One or More Solvents

Variables Associated With Individual Solvents

Summary of Significantly Associated Explanatory Variables

Implications

Summary

References

Appendixes

Suggested Citation:

Moran, M.J., 2006, Occurrence and implications of selected chlorinated solvents in ground water and source water in the United States and in drinking water in 12 Northeast and Mid-Atlantic States, 1993–2002: U.S. Geological Survey Scientific Investigations Report 2005–5268, 70 p.


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Send questions or comments about this report to the author, M.J. Moran (605) 394-3244.

For more information about USGS activities in South Dakota, visit the USGS South Dakota Water Science Center home page.

For more information about USGS National Water-Quality Assessment Program, visit the NAWQA Program home page or more information about the USGS National Water-Quality Assessment Program Volatile Organic Compound National Syntheses, visit the VOC National Synthesis home page.



U.S. Department of the Interior, U.S. Geological Survey
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