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I. Nature and Types of Water Pollutants

The major water pollutants are chemical, biological, or physical materials
that degrade water quality. Based on the set of hazards they present
pollutants can be classed into eight categories: Petroleum Products,
Pesticides and Herbicides, Heavy Metals, Hazardous Wastes, Excess Organic
Matter, Sediment, Infectious organisms, Thermal Pollution.

A) Petroleum Products
Petroleum products such as oil and chemicals derived from oil are used for
fuel, lubrication, plastics manufacturing, and many other purposes. These
products get into water sources by means of accidental spills from ships,
tanker trucks, pipelines, and leaky underground storage tanks. Many
petroleum products are poisonous if ingested by animals, often causing
death. The feathers of birds or the fur of animals are damaged by spilled
oil. Spilled oil may also be contaminated with other harmful substances,
such as polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs).

B) Pesticides and Herbicides
Pesticides and Herbicides used in agricultural lands may be washed away by
rainwater runoff and carried into streams, especially if these substances are
applied too lavishly. Some of these chemicals are biodegradable and quickly
decay into harmless or less harmful forms, while others are
nonbiodegradable and remain dangerous for a long time.

When animals consume plants that have been treated with
nonbiodegradable chemicals such as chlordane and
dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane (DDT), these chemicals are absorbed into
the tissues or organs of the animals. When other animals feed on these
contaminated animals, the chemicals are passed up the food chain.

Many drinking water supplies are contaminated with pesticides from
widespread agricultural use.

C) Heavy Metals
Heavy metals, enter into water from many sources, including industries,
automobile exhaust, mines, and even natural soil. Heavy metals become
more concentrated as animals feed on plants and are consumed in turn by
other animals. When their concentration reaches high levels in the body,
they can be poisonous, or can result in long-term health problems. For
example, crops can absorb cadmium in fertilizers. When these crops are
ingested by humans, the metal can cause diarrhea and, over time, liver and
kidney damage.

D) Hazardous Wastes
Hazardous wastes are chemical wastes that are either toxic, reactive
(capable of producing explosive or toxic gases), corrosive (capable of
corroding steel), or ignitable (flammable). Such wastes, when treated or
stored improperly, can pollute water supplies. Polychlorinated biphenyls
(PCBs), a class of chemicals once widely used in electrical equipment such
as transformers for example, can get into the environment through oil spills
and can reach toxic levels as organisms eat one another.

E) Excess Organic Matter
Fertilizers that are used to promote plant growth on farms may find their
way into water. These nutrients encourage the growth of plants and algae in
water. However, when the plant matter and algae die and settle
underwater, microorganisms decompose them. In the process of
decomposition, these microorganisms consume oxygen that is dissolved in
the water. Oxygen levels in the water may drop to such dangerously low
levels that oxygen-dependent animals in the water, such as fish, die. This
process of depleting oxygen to deadly levels is called eutrophication.

F) Sediment
Sediment, soil particles carried to a streambed, lake, or ocean, can also be
a pollutant if it is present in large enough amounts. Soil erosion produced by
the removal of soil-trapping trees near waterways, or carried by rainwater
and floodwater from croplands, strip mines, and roads, can damage a
stream or lake by introducing too much nutrient matter. This leads to
eutrophication. Sedimentation can also cover streambed gravel in which
many fish, such as salmon and trout, lay their eggs.

G) Infectious organisms
Many disease-causing organisms that are present in small numbers in most
natural waters are considered pollutants when found in drinking water. Such
parasites as Giardia lamblia and Cryptosporidium parvum occasionally turn
up in urban water supplies. These parasites can cause illness, especially in
people who are very old or very young, and in people who are already
suffering from other diseases.

H) Thermal Pollution
Water is often drawn from rivers, lakes, or the ocean for use as a coolant in
factories and power plants. The water is usually returned to the source
warmer than when it was taken. Even small temperature changes in a body
of water can drive away the fish and other species that were originally
present, and attract other species in place of them. Thermal pollution can
accelerate biological processes in plants and animals or deplete oxygen
levels in water. The result may be fish and other wildlife deaths near the
discharge source. Thermal pollution can also be caused by the removal of
trees and vegetation that shade and cool streams.

II. Characterization of Waste Water

Water, released by residences, businesses and industries in a community
after being used for various purposes is said to be waste water. This
includes the water we use to wash our clothes, ourselves, our dishes, our
food as well as the water we flush down the toilet.

Several characteristics are used to describe waste water. These include
turbidity, suspended solids (ppm), total dissolved solids (ppm), acidity (pH),
and dissolved oxygen. Biochemical oxygen demand is used as a measure of
oxygen-demanding substances. Sewage is about 99.94 percent water, with
only 0.06 percent of dissolved and suspended solid material. Suspended
particles in untreated sewage ranges from 100 to 350 mg/l. The strength of
a waste is measured in terms of the amount of oxygen consumed by
microorganisms to break down sewage in five days. This amount is known as
biochemical oxygen demand, or BOD
. The BOD
value of untreated sewage
ranges from 100 mg/l to 300 mg/l.

In addition to dissolved and suspended solid materials, waste water contains
pathogens or disease-causing organisms. Coliform bacteria are used as an
indicator of disease-causing organisms. Waste water also contains nutrients
(such as ammonia and phosphorus), minerals, and metals. The concentration
of ammonia can range from 12 to 50 mg/l and phosphorus can range from 6
to 20 mg/l in untreated sewage.

2.1 Water Pollution Control

The major sources of water pollution can be classified as municipal,
industrial, and agricultural. Waste water from any of these sources has to be
treated before it reenters a body of water, is applied to the land or is

Water treatment may be divided into three major categories:
Purification for domestic use
Treatment for specialized industrial applications
Treatment of wastewater to make it acceptable for release or reuse

Municipal water pollution consists of waste water from homes and
commercial establishments. Excluding the preliminary treatment, which is
done to screen out, grind up, or separate debris, the basic methods of
treating municipal wastewater fall into three stages: primary, secondary
and tertiary treatment.

A) Primary Treatment
During primary treatment, a large percentage of the suspended solids,
inorganic material and greases are removed from the sewage. Waste-water
is held in a tank for several hours allowing the particles to settle to the
bottom and the greases to float to the top. The solids drawn off the bottom
and skimmed off the top receive further treatment as sludge. The clarified
wastewater flows on to the next stage of wastewater treatment.

B) Secondary Treatment
The focus of secondary treatment is removing dissolved organic matter by
accelerating natural biological processes. Sewage microorganisms are
cultivated and added to the wastewater. The microorganisms absorb organic
matter from sewage as their food supply.
C) Tertiary Treatment
Tertiary treatment is necessary when the water will be reused; 99 percent
of solids are removed and various chemical processes are used to ensure the
water is as free from impurity as possible.

2.2 Water Quality Requirements

The composition of water varies widely with local geological conditions. No
matter how pure it is, water contains small amounts of gases, minerals and
organic matter. The knowledge that water may contain some constituents
that are undesirable has led to the establishment of guidelines and
regulations for drinking water quality.

Drinking water should contain sufficient amounts of the various minerals
required for a healthy life and low levels of Pollutants.

Consumption of water that contains only small amounts of dissolved
essential minerals such as calcium and magnesium has a number of health
consequences. Experiments have shown that the intake of distilled water or
water with TDS 75 mg/l leads to: 1) increased water intake, diuresis,
extracellular fluid volume, and serum concentrations of sodium (Na) and
chloride (Cl) ions and their increased elimination from the body, resulting in
an overall negative balance if it is not adequately compensated from food,
and 2) lower volumes of red cells and some other hematocrit changes.

Calcium and magnesium are both essential elements. Calcium is a
substantial component of bones and teeth. In addition, it plays a role in
neuromuscular excitability. Magnesium plays an important role as a cofactor
and activator of more than 300 enzymatic reactions including glycolysis, ATP
metabolism, transport of elements such as sodium, potassium, and calcium
through membranes, synthesis of proteins and nucleic acids, neuromuscular
excitability and muscle contraction.

Although drinking water is not the major source of essential elements for
humans, its contribution may be important for several reasons. The modern
diet of many people may not be an adequate source of minerals and
microelements. Therefore, In the case of borderline deficiency of a given
element, even the relatively low intake of the element with drinking water
may play a relevant protective role. This is because the elements are
usually present in water as free ions and therefore, are more readily
absorbed from water compared to food where they are mostly bound to
other substances.

The Maximum acceptable concentrations of inorganic and organic
substances and microorganisms have been established internationally and in
many countries to assure the safety of drinking water. Water Quality
Standards define the goals for a water body by designating its uses, setting
criteria to protect those uses, and establishing provisions to protect water
quality from pollutants. A water quality standard consists of four basic

1) designated uses of the water body (e.g., recreation, water supply,
aquatic life, agriculture),

2) water quality criteria to protect designated uses (numeric pollutant
concentrations and narrative requirements),

3) an antidegradation policy to maintain and protect existing uses and
high quality waters, and

4) general policies addressing implementation issues (e.g., low flows,
variances, mixing zones).

The drinking water quality criteria provided by the World Health
Organization for various pollutants is given in the following sub-unit. In
addition to the guideline values of the pollutants a short narration of the
health impacts of each of the pollutants are provided to make students
aware of the reason behind the suggested guideline values.

III. The WHO Guideline for drinking water

To protect public health, by ensuring the safety of drinking-water supplies
through the elimination, or reduction to a minimum concentration, of
constituents of water that are known to be hazardous to health the WHO has
prepared a guideline for drinking water quality.

3.1) Microbiological aspects

A) Guideline values for Pathogenic agents
Pathogenic agents have several properties that distinguish them from
chemical pollutants:
Pathogens are discrete and not in solution. They are often clumped or
adherent to suspended solids in water, so that the likelihood of
acquiring an infective dose cannot be predicted from their average
concentration in water.

The likelihood of a successful challenge by a pathogen, resulting in
infection, depends upon the invasiveness and virulence of the
pathogen, as well as upon the immunity of the individual.

If infection is established, pathogens multiply in their host. Certain
pathogenic bacteria are also able to multiply in food or beverages,
thereby perpetuating or even increasing the chances of infection.

Because of these properties there is no tolerable lower limit for pathogens,
and water intended for consumption, for preparing food and drink, or for
personal hygiene should thus contain no agents pathogenic for humans.
B) Guideline Values for Bacteriological quality
Water intended for drinking and household purposes must not contain
water-borne pathogens. Because the most numerous and the most specific
bacterial indicator of faecal pollution from humans and animals is E. coli, it
follows that E. coli or thermotolerant coliform organisms must not be
present in 100-ml samples of any water intended for drinking.

C) Guideline Values for Virological quality
Drinking-water must essentially be free of human enteroviruses to ensure
negligible risk of transmitting viral infection. Any drinking-water supply
subject to faecal contamination presents a risk of viral disease to

D) Guideline Values for Parasitological quality
It is not possible to set guideline values for pathogenic protozoa, helminths,
and free-living organisms, other than that these agents should not be
present in drinking-water, because one or very few organisms can produce
infection in humans.

3.2) Chemical aspects

A) Inorganic constituents

In some studies, aluminium has appeared to be associated with the brain
lesions characteristic of Alzheimer disease, and in several ecological
epidemiological studies the incidence of Alzheimer disease has been
associated with aluminium in drinking-water. There is a need for further
However, a concentration of aluminium of 0.2 mg/litre in drinking-water
provides a compromise between the practical use of aluminium salts in
water treatment and discoloration of distributed water.

Reported concentrations of antimony in drinking-water are usually less than
4 g/litre. Estimated dietary intake for adults is about 0.02 mg/day. Where
antimony-tin solder is beginning to replace lead solder, exposure to
antimony may increase in the future.

The provisional guideline value for antimony has therefore been set at a
practical quantification level of 0.005 mg/litre.

Inorganic arsenic is a documented human carcinogen. With a view to
reducing the concentration of this carcinogenic contaminant in drinking-
water, a provisional guideline value for arsenic in drinking-water of 0.01
mg/litre is established.

Asbestos is a known human carcinogen by the inhalation route. Although
well studied, there has been little convincing evidence of the
carcinogenicity of ingested asbestos in epidemiological studies of
populations with drinking-water supplies containing high concentrations of
asbestos. Due to lack of consistent evidence that ingested asbestos is
hazardous to health, it was concluded that there was no need to establish a
health-based guideline value for asbestos in drinking-water.

Exposure to low concentrations of barium in drinking-water has shown an
increase in systolic blood pressure. The guideline value suggested for barium
in drinking-water is 0.7 mg/litre.

Beryllium is found infrequently in drinking-water and only at very low
concentrations, usually less than 1 g/litre. Beryllium has been shown to
interact with DNA and cause gene mutations, chromosomal aberrations, and
sister chromatid exchange in cultured mammalian somatic cells, although it
has not been shown to be mutagenic in bacterial test systems. There are no
suitable oral data on which to base a toxicologically supportable guideline

However, the very low concentrations of beryllium normally found in
drinking-water seem unlikely to pose a hazard to consumers.

Boron is usually present in drinking-water at concentrations of below 1
mg/litre, but some higher levels have been found as a result of naturally
occurring boron. The total daily intake of boron is estimated to be between
1 and 5 mg. The guideline value for boron in drinking water is 0.3 mg/litre

Cadmium levels in drinking-water are usually less than 1 g/litre. The daily
oral intake is 10-35 g.

There is evidence that cadmium is carcinogenic by the inhalation route.
However, there is no evidence of carcinogenicity by the oral route, and no
clear evidence for the genotoxicity of cadmium. The guideline value set for
cadmium is 0.003 mg/litre.

No health-based guideline value is proposed for chloride in drinking-water.
However, chloride concentrations in excess of about 250 mg/litre can give
rise to detectable taste in water.

Total chromium concentrations in drinking-water are usually less than 2
g/litre, although concentrations as high as 120 g/litre have been
reported. Chromium(VI) is more readily absorbed from the gastrointestinal
tract than chromium(III) and is able to penetrate cellular membranes.
Chromium(VI) is a carcinogen via the inhalation route, although the limited
data available do not show evidence for carcinogenicity via the oral route.
In epidemiological studies, an association has been found between exposure
to chromium(VI) by the inhalation route and lung cancer.

As a practical measure, 0.05 mg/litre has been set as the provisional
guideline value until additional information becomes available and
chromium can be re-evaluated.

Copper levels in drinking-water are usually low at only a few micrograms per
litre. Copper is an essential element, and the intake from food is normally
1-3 mg/day. Acute gastric irritation may be observed in some individuals at
concentrations in drinking-water above 3 mg/litre.

For drinking-water, a provisional health-based guideline value of 2 mg/litre
is suggested. This concentration should also contain a sufficient margin of
safety for bottle-fed infants, because their copper intake from other sources
is usually low.

The acute toxicity of cyanides is high. Effects on the thyroid and
particularly the nervous system were observed in some populations as a
consequence of the long-term consumption of inadequately processed
cassava containing high levels of cyanide.
A guideline value of 0.07 mg/litre, which is considered to be protective for
acute and long-term exposure is suggested for cyanide in drinking water.

Exposure to fluoride from drinking-water depends greatly on natural
circumstances. Levels in raw water are normally below 1.5 mg/litre, but
ground water may contain about 10 mg/litre in areas rich in fluoride-
containing minerals. Fluoride is sometimes added to drinking-water to
prevent dental caries. The guideline value for fluoride in drinking water is
1.5 mg/litre. Concentrations above this value carry an increasing risk of
dental fluorosis, and much higher concentrations lead to skeletal fluorosis.

Depending on pH and alkalinity, hardness of above about 200 mg/litre can
result in scale deposition. Although a number of ecological and analytical
epidemiological studies have shown significant inverse relationship between
hardness of drinking-water and cardiovascular disease, the available data
are inadequate to permit a conclusion that the association is causal.

No health-based guideline value is proposed for hardness. However, the
degree of hardness in water may affect its acceptability to the consumer in
terms of taste and scale deposition.

Hydrogen sulfide
However, the level of hydrogen sulfide found in drinking-water will usually
be low, because sulfides are readily oxidized in well-aerated water.
Although oral toxicity data are lacking for hydrogen sulfide, it is unlikely
that a person could consume a harmful dose of hydrogen sulfide from
drinking-water. Consequently, no health-based guideline value is proposed.
However, hydrogen sulfide should not be detectable in drinking-water by
taste or odour.

Iron is found in natural fresh waters at levels ranging from 0.5 to 50
mg/litre. Iron may also be present in drinking-water as a result of the use of
iron coagulants or the corrosion of steel and cast iron pipes during water
Iron is an essential element in human nutrition. In drinking-water a
guideline value of about 2 mg/litre, which does not present a hazard to
health is suggested. No health-based guideline value for iron in drinking-
water is proposed.

Lead is present in tapwater to some extent as a result of its dissolution from
natural sources, but primarily from household plumbing systems containing
lead in pipes, solder, fittings, or the service connections to homes. It is a
general toxicant that accumulates in the skeleton. Infants, children up to six
years of age, and pregnant women are most susceptible to its adverse
health effects. Lead is toxic to the central and peripheral nervous systems,
inducing subencephalopathic neurological and behavioural effects.

The health-based guideline value for lead is 0.01 mg/litre.

Manganese is an essential trace element with an estimated daily nutritional
requirement of 30-50g/kg of body weight. Evidence of manganese
neurotoxicity has been seen in miners following prolonged exposure to dusts
containing manganese. There is no convincing evidence of toxicity in
humans associated with the consumption of manganese in drinking-water,
but only limited studies are available.

The provisional health-based guideline value of manganese in drinking water
is 0.5 mg/litre.

Mercury is present in the inorganic form in surface and ground waters at
concentrations usually of less than 0.5 g/litre. The kidney is the main
target organ for inorganic mercury, whereas methyl-mercury affects mainly
the central nervous system.

The guideline value for total mercury is 0.001 mg/litre

Concentrations of molybdenum in drinking-water are usually less than 0.01
mg/litre. However, in areas near mining sites, molybdenum concentrations
as high as 200 g/litre have been reported. No data are available on the
carcinogenicity of molybdenum by the oral route.
A guideline value of 0.07 mg/litre is set for molybdenum.

The concentration of nickel in drinking-water is normally less than 0.02
Nickel, as both soluble and sparingly soluble compounds, is now considered
as a human carcinogen in relation to pulmonary exposure.

The health-based guideline value for drinking-water is 0.02 mg/litre

Nitrate and nitrite
Naturally occurring nitrate levels in surface and ground water are generally
a few milligrams per litre. In many ground waters, an increase of nitrate
levels has been observed owing to the intensification of farming practice.
Concentrations can reach several hundred milligrams per litre. Experiments
suggest that neither nitrate nor nitrites act directly as a carcinogen in
animals, but there is some concern about increased risk of cancer in humans
from the endogenous and exogenous formation of N-nitroso compounds,
many of which are carcinogenic in animals.
The guideline value for nitrate-nitrogen is 10 mg/litre. However, this value
should not be expressed on the basis of nitrate-nitrogen but on the basis of
nitrate itself, which is the chemical entity of concern to health, and the
guideline value for nitrate is therefore 50 mg/litre.

Dissolved oxygen
No health-based guideline value is recommended for dissolved oxygen in
drinking-water. However, dissolved oxygen content is substantially lower
than the saturation concentration may be indicative of poor water quality.

No health-based guideline value is proposed for pH, although eye irritation
and exacerbation of skin disorders have been associated with pH values
greater than 11. Although pH usually has no direct impact on consumers, it
is one of the most important operational water quality parameters.

Selenium levels in drinking-water vary greatly in different geographical
areas but are usually much less than 0.01 mg/litre. Selenium is an essential
element for humans and forms an integral part of the enzyme glutathione
peroxidase and probably other proteins as well. Most selenium compounds
are water soluble and are efficiently absorbed from the intestine. Except
for selenium sulfide, which does not occur in drinking-water, experimental
data do not indicate that selenium is carcinogenic.

The drinking-water guideline value for selenium is 0.01 mg/litre.

Silver has occasionally been found in ground, surface, and drinking-water at
concentrations above 5 g/litre. Levels in drinking-water treated with silver
for disinfection may be above 50 g/litre. The only obvious sign of silver
overload is argyria, a condition in which skin and hair are heavily
discoloured by silver in the tissues. The low levels of silver in drinking-
water, generally below 5 g/litre, are not relevant to human health with
respect to argyria. On the other hand, special situations exist where silver
salts may be used to maintain the bacteriological quality of drinking-water.
Higher levels of silver, up to 0.1mg/litre could be tolerated in such cases
without risk to health.

No health-based guideline value is proposed for silver in drinking-water.

Although concentrations of sodium in potable water are typically less than
20 mg/litre, they can greatly exceed this in some countries. No firm
conclusions can be drawn concerning the possible association between
sodium in drinking-water and the occurrence of hypertension. Therefore, no
health-based guideline value is proposed. However, concentrations in excess
of 200 mg/litre may give rise to unacceptable taste.

Sulfates are discharged into water in industrial wastes and through
atmospheric deposition; however, the highest levels usually occur in ground
water and are from natural sources. Sulfate is one of the least toxic anions;
however, catharsis, dehydration, and gastrointestinal irritation have been
observed at high concentrations.

No health-based guideline is proposed for sulfate. However, because of the
gastrointestinal effects resulting from ingestion of drinking-water containing
high sulfate levels, it is recommended that health authorities be notified of
sources of drinking-water that contain sulfate concentrations in excess of
500 mg/litre.

Inorganic tin
For the general population, drinking-water is not a significant source of tin,
and levels in drinking-water greater than 1-2 g/litre are exceptional. Tin
and inorganic tin compounds are poorly absorbed from the gastrointestinal
tract, do not accumulate in tissues, and are rapidly excreted, primarily in
the faeces.

No increased incidence of tumours was observed in long-term
carcinogenicity studies and tin has not been shown to be teratogenic or
fetotoxic. In general there is no evidence of adverse effects in humans
associated with chronic exposure to tin and the presence of tin in drinking-
water does not present a hazard to human health. For there is no
established guideline value for inorganic tin.

Total dissolved solids
Total dissolved solids (TDS) comprise inorganic salts (principally calcium,
magnesium, potassium, sodium, bicarbonates, chlorides and sulfates) and
small amounts of organic matter that are dissolved in water. Reliable data
on possible health effects associated with the ingestion of TDS in drinking-
water are not available, and no health-based guideline value is proposed.
However, the presence of high levels of TDS in drinking-water may be
objectionable to consumers.

Uranium is introduced into water supplies as a result of leaching from
natural sources, from mill tailings, from emissions from the nuclear
industry, from the combustion of coal and other fuels, and from phosphate
fertilizers. Uranium accumulates in the kidney, and nephropathy is the
primary induced effect in humans and animals. At doses that are not high
enough to destroy a critical mass of kidney cells, the effect is reversible, as
some of the lost cells are replaced.

The guideline value for uranium is set at 40 g/litre.

Zinc is an essential trace element (daily requirement for adult men = 15-20
mg/day) found in virtually all food and potable water in the form of salts or
organic complexes. Although levels of zinc in surface and ground water
normally do not exceed 0.01 and 0.05 mg/litre, respectively, concentrations
in tapwater can be much higher as a result of dissolution of zinc from pipes.

It was concluded that, the derivation of a health-based guideline value is
not required at this time. However, drinking-water containing zinc at levels
above 3 mg/litre may not be acceptable to consumers.

B) Organic constituents

i) Chlorinated alkanes

Carbon tetrachloride
Carbon tetrachloride is used principally in the production of
chlorofluorocarbon refrigerants. Concentrations in drinking-water are
generally less than 5 g/litre. Carbon tetrachloride has been shown to cause
hepatic and other tumours. There is no evidence for its mutagenicity or
genotoxicity. However, it is indicated that it is possible that carbon
tetrachloride acts as a non-genotoxic carcinogen.

The guideline value in drinking-water is 2 g/litre.

Exposure to dichloromethane from drinking-water is likely to be insignificant
compared with other sources. Dichloromethane is of low acute toxicity.
Although inhalation study provided conclusive evidence for its
carcinogenicity, a drinking-water study provided only suggestive evidence.

A guideline value of 20 g/litre, is set for drinking water.

There are limited data showing that it can be present in concentrations of
up to 10 g/litre in drinking-water. However, because of the widespread use
and disposal of this chemical, its occurrence in ground water may increase.
1,1-Dichloroethane is rapidly metabolized by mammals to acetic acid and a
variety of chlorinated compounds. There is limited in vitro evidence of

In view of the very limited database on toxicity and carcinogenicity, it was
concluded that no guideline value should be proposed.

1,2-Dichloroethane has been found in drinking-water at levels of up to a few
micrograms per litre. 1,2-Dichloroethane has been shown to produce
significant increases in a number of tumour types, and is proven to be
potentially genotoxic.

Its guideline value for drinking-water is 30 g/litre.

1,1,1-Trichloroethane has been found in only a small proportion of surface
and ground waters, usually at concentrations of less than 20 g/litre.
Exposure to high concentrations can lead to hepatic steatosis (fatty liver).

A provisional guideline value of 2000 g/litre is proposed for 1,1,1-
Trichloroethane in drinking-water.

Chlorinated ethenes
Vinyl chloride has been found in drinking-water at levels of up to a few
micrograms per litre, and, on occasion, much higher concentrations have
been found in ground water.

Vinyl chloride is metabolized to highly reactive and mutagenic metabolites
by a dose-dependent and saturable pathway. The acute toxicity of vinyl
chloride is low, but vinyl chloride is toxic to the liver after short- and long-
term exposure to low concentrations. Vinyl chloride has been shown to be
mutagenic in various test systems in vitro and in vivo. It is carcinogenic and
some studies suggest that it is also associated with hepatocellular
carcinoma, brain tumours, lung tumours, and malignancies of the lymphatic
and haematopoietic tissues.

Its guideline value for drinking-water is 5 g/litre.

1,1-Dichloroethene, is usually found together with other chlorinated
hydrocarbons. It is a central nervous system depressant and may cause liver
and kidney toxicity in occupationally exposed humans. It is also known to
cause liver and kidney damage. It was reported not to be carcinogenic.

Its guideline value for drinking water is 30 g/litre.

The cis form of 1,2-Dichlorethene, which was previously used as an
anaesthetic, is more frequently found as a water contaminant. Both the cis
and trans isomers have been reported to cause increased serum alkaline
phosphatase levels. At higher doses the trans- isomer was found to cause
reduced kidney weights. There are limited data on the possible genotoxicity
of both isomers and there is no information on their carcinogenicity.

Its guideline value for drinking water is 50 g/litre.

Trichloroethene in anaerobic ground water may degrade to more toxic
compounds, including vinyl chloride. It has been shown that this compound
induces lung and liver tumours. However, there are no conclusive data that
it causes cancer in other species.

Based on the limited study, a provisional guideline value of 70 g/litre is

Tetrachloroethene is found in trace amounts in water. Emissions can
sometimes lead to high concentrations in ground water. Tetrachloroethene
in anaerobic ground water may degrade to more toxic compounds, including
vinyl chloride. At high concentrations, tetrachloroethene causes central
nervous system depression. Lower concentrations of tetrachloroethene have
been reported to damage the liver and the kidneys. Tetrachloroethene is
not genotoxic.

The guideline value for tetrachloroethene in drinking water is 40 g/litre.

C) Aromatic hydrocarbons

Benzene may be introduced into water by industrial effluents and
atmospheric pollution. Concentrations in drinking-water are generally less
than 5 g/litre. Acute exposure of humans to high concentrations of
benzene primarily affects the central nervous system. At lower
concentrations, benzene is toxic to the haematopoietic system, causing a
continuum of haematological changes, including leukaemia. It is
carcinogenic to humans.

The guideline value for benzene in drinking water is 10 g/litre.

Concentrations of a few micrograms per litre have been found in surface
water, ground water, and drinking-water. The acute oral toxicity of toluene
is low. Toluene exerts embryotoxic and fetotoxic effects, but there is no
clear evidence for teratogenic activity in laboratory animals and humans.

The guideline value of toluene is 700 g/litre.

Concentrations of up to 8 g/litre have been reported in surface water,
ground water, and drinking-water. Levels of a few milligrams per litre were
found in ground water polluted by point emissions.
The acute oral toxicity of xylenes is low. No convincing evidence for its
teratogenicity, carcinogenicity or mutagenicity has been found.

Its guideline value for drinking water is 500 g/litre.

Ethylbenzene is found in trace amounts in surface water, ground water,
drinking-water, and food. The acute oral toxicity of ethylbenzene is low. No
data on carcinogenicity are available. It has shown no evidence of

Its guideline value for drinking water is 300 g/litre.

Styrene is found in trace amounts in surface water, drinking-water, and
food. It has a low acute toxicity. High doses of orally administered styrene
has been found to increase the incidence of lung tumours but had no
carcinogenic effect.

Its guideline value in water is determined to be 20 g/litre.

Polynuclear aromatic hydrocarbons
Drinking water contributes only minor amounts to PAHs exposure. Little
information is available on the oral toxicity of PAHs.

Benzopyrene, which constitutes a minor fraction of total PAHs, has been
found to be carcinogenic and mutagenic. Adequate data for the
carcinogenicity of ingested PAHs are available only for benzopyrene, which
appears to be a local carcinogen in that it induces tumours at the site of

The guideline value for benzopyrene in drinking-water is determined to be
0.7g/litre and the data available to derive drinking-water guidelines for
other PAHs is insufficient.

D) Chlorinated benzenes

i) Monochlorobenzene (MCB)
MCB is of low acute toxicity. Oral exposure to high doses of MCB affects
mainly the liver, kidneys, and haematopoietic system. Limited evidences
suggest the carcinogenicity of MCBs. The majority of evidence suggests that
MCB is not mutagenic.

Its guideline value for drinking-water is 300 g/litre.

ii) Dichlorobenzenes (DCBs)

1,2-DCB is of low acute toxicity by the oral route of exposure. Oral exposure
to high doses of 1,2-DCB affects mainly the liver and kidneys. It is found not
to be genotoxic and there is no evidence for its carcinogenicity.
Its guideline value for drinking-water is 1000 g/litre.

1,4-DCB is of low acute toxicity, but there is evidence that it increases the
incidence of renal tumours. It is not considered to be genotoxic.

Its guideline value for drinking-water is 300 g/litre.

iii) Trichlorobenzenes
TCBs are found in drinkingwater but rarely at levels above 1 g/litre. The
TCBs are of moderate acute toxicity. Available data suggests that TCBs are

The guideline value of total TCBs in drinking water is 20 g/litre.