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MTBE: What You Should Do if It's in Your Well Water

Raju Kumar
MTBE: What You Should Do if It's in Your Well Water

Unfortunately, contaminated and dangerous drinking water is a problem in many towns nationwide. MTBE is one such contaminant. It may be dangerous if MTBE is present in drinking water.  Fortunately, you can ensure that the water in your home is the safest and cleanest possible by testing and filtering it.   

MTBE: What is it? 

Methyl Tertiary Butyl Ether or MTBE was initially added to gasoline to improve burning efficiency. Pipeline breakdowns and petroleum storage tank disasters have leaked this chemical into public water sources. 

Compared to other chemicals, this one breaks down considerably more slowly and dissolves easily in water, which makes it simpler to distribute and travel further throughout your water supply. It also lasts much longer. 

Why is that anything to be worried about? 

MTBE in water can damage aquatic animals' life cycles and harm the ecosystem. However, the primary cause for worry is the harm that MTBE can do to a person's body when consumed. 

Limited research has demonstrated that MTBE can lead to the following problems: 

  • Short-Term: Headaches, nausea, vertigo, and sleepiness are some symptoms that may occur sooner rather than later. Kidney issues were found to be a common sign in other animal tests. 
  • Long-Term: No long-term human investigations have been conducted. On the other hand, data in animals have indicated a higher risk of cancer. Even though this is a severe issue, it should be noted that the amounts of MTBE in these animals' water are usually far higher than what is typically found in drinking water. 

Although having concerns is a healthy thing, there's no need to panic just yet. According to a University of Massachusetts study, the molecule has an unpleasant, bitter taste and odor that some people compare to turpentine. Because they won't drink the polluted water, many people will avoid experiencing these symptoms.   

Potential fixes 

There are several possible treatment techniques to remove methyl tertiary butyl ether from your water. The two primary techniques are Reverse Osmosis with an activated carbon block as a pre-filter and "Air Stripping." 

  • Air Stripping: This technique breaks the tainted water into smaller droplets by letting much air pass through it. The tainted water is supposed to dissipate into the atmosphere in the end. 
  • Reverse Osmosis: This is an additional excellent technique for removing MTBE from your water. For the average consumer, this is a much easier approach to filter their water. The filter draws a wide range of impurities to its surface, preventing the methyl tertiary butyl ether from mixing in and enabling water to flow through.  

How can I determine whether my water contains MTBE? 

Your water's peculiar taste and smell are the primary indicators of the presence of MTBE. You can also ask your local utility if they test for methyl tertiary butyl ether by giving them a call. If they do, determine its presence in the drinking water and at what concentrations. All local utilities must release a yearly report on water quality. To view the report, use Google to find your local utility.  


To safeguard the environment and your health, treating MTBE seriously and moving swiftly is critical. Contaminated well water can be a serious issue, especially if it contains MTBE. MTBE can harm both the ecosystem and human health. Testing and filtering your water is crucial to ensure its safety, and treatment options like air stripping and reverse osmosis can help remove MTBE. Stay proactive by being aware of the taste and smell of your water and checking with your local utility for MTBE testing. Taking immediate action is essential to protect yourself and the environment. 

Resource Box: 

Vinati Organics offers high-purity MTBE, a specialist product with excellent quality and performance. Learn more about this product and its uses on their website. 

Raju Kumar
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