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Hoffmann, R. A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics (2008)

Occurrence of methyl tert-butyl ether (MTBE) in riverbank fiftered water and drnking water produced by riverbank filtration. 2.

Bank filtration of river or lake water represents an efficient and natural purification process used for the drinking water production in many countries and at an amount of about 15-16% in Germany. From experiences over decades particularly at the river Rhine and Elbe, it is known that the occurrence of persistent pollutants in river water can represent a problem for the quality of drinking water produced by bank filtration. The common detection of the gasoline additive methyl tert-butyl ether (MTBE) in drinking water and the announced phase-out of the oxygenate in the U.S. show that MTBE can contaminate large water amounts due to its physicochemical properties. The MTBE situation in the U.S differs from Europe, and significantly lower concentrations in the German environment can be expected. Average MTBE concentrations of 200-250 ng/L in the Lower Main and Lower Rhine river in 2000/2001 were reported. At two sites at the Lower Rhine and Lower Main rivers MTBE concentrations in bank filtered water (n = 22), recovering well water, raw water, and drinking water produced by the water utility at the Lower Rhine site (n = 30) and tap water at Frankfurt/M City (n = 13) were analyzed from 1999 to 2001. Sample analysis is performed by a combination of headspace-solid-phase microextraction (HS-SPME) and gas chromatography-mass spectrometry (GC/MS) with a detection limit of 10 ng/L and a relative standard deviation of 11%. At the Lower Rhine site up to 80 m from the river an average MTBE concentration of 88 ng/L in riverbank filtered water, recovering well water, and raw water (n = 7) and of 43-110 ng/L in drinking water (n = 3) result. At the Lower Main site up to 400 m from the river MTBE concentrations from 52 to 250 ng/L (n = 7) were measured. Tap water samples at Frankfurt/M (mean of 35 ng/L, maximum of 71 ng/L) were in the same range as MTBE amounts in drinking water at the Lower Rhine site. Measured MTBE amounts eliminated by bank filtration at the Lower Rhine site are comparable to other contaminants. The results of this study show that concentrations measured in river water and drinking water are approximately 2-3 orders of magnitude lower than the U.S. drinking water standard of 20-40 microg/L, represent trace-level concentrations, and are not of major concern nowadays. However, the unfavorable combination of the occurrence of nonpoint MTBE emissions and the persistent behavior of the ether in water even at low concentrations should not be neglected in future discussion. The reported MTBE concentrations are relevant for precautionary aspects. MTBE concentrations in German river water show a tendency toward increasing concentrations since 1999, and in the future possible higher concentrations could represent a risk for the quality of drinking water that is being produced by water utility using bank filtered river water.[1]


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