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Water: Basic Information about Regulated Drinking Water Contaminants

Basic Information about Di(2-ethylhexyl) phthalate in Drinking Water

Di(2-ethylhexyl) phthalate at a Glance

Maximum Contaminant Level (MCL) = 0.006 milligrams per Liter (mg/L) or 6 parts per billion (ppb)

Maximum Contaminant Level Goal (MCLG) = zero

Health Effects
Some people who drink water containing di(2-ethylhexyl) phthalate in excess of the MCL over many years may have problems with their liver, or could experience reproductive difficulties and may have an increased risk of getting cancer.

Drinking Water Health Advisories provide more information on health effects

Chemical Abstract Service Registry Number
117-81-7

Sources of Contamination
Discharge from rubber and chemical factories

List of all Regulated Contaminants (PDF) (6 pp, 396 K, About PDF)

EPA regulates di(2-ethylhexyl) phthalate in drinking water to protect public health. Di(2-ethylhexyl) phthalate may cause health problems if present in public or private water supplies in amounts greater than the drinking water standard set by EPA.

What is di(2-ethylhexyl) phthalate?
Di(2-ethylhexyl) phthalate is the most commonly used of a group of related chemicals called phthalates or phthalic acid esters.

Uses for di(2-ethylhexyl) phthalate.
The greatest use of di(2-ethylhexyl) phthalate is as a plasticizer for polyvinylchloride (PVC) and other polymers including rubber, cellulose and styrene. A number of packaging materials and tubings used in the production of foods and beverages are polyvinylchloride contaminated with phthalic aced esters, primarily di(2-ethylhexyl) phthalate.

If you are concerned about di(2-ethylhexyl) phthalate in a private well, please visit:

What are di(2-ethylhexyl) phthalate's health effects?
Some people who drink water containing di(2-ethylhexyl) phthalate well in excess of the maximum contaminant level (MCL) for many years may have problems with their liver, or could experience reproductive difficulties and may have an increased risk of getting cancer.

This health effects language is not intended to catalog all possible health effects for di(2-ethylhexyl) phthalate. Rather, it is intended to inform consumers of some of the possible health effects associated with di(2-ethylhexyl) phthalate in drinking water when the rule was finalized.

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What are EPA's drinking water regulations for di(2-ethylhexyl) phthalate?
In 1974, Congress passed the Safe Drinking Water Act. This law requires EPA to determine the level of contaminants in drinking water at which no adverse health effects are likely to occur. These non-enforceable health goals, based solely on possible health risks and exposure over a lifetime with an adequate margin of safety, are called maximum contaminant level goals (MCLG). Contaminants are any physical, chemical, biological or radiological substances or matter in water.

The MCLG for di(2-ethylhexyl) phthalate is zero. EPA has set this level of protection based on the best available science to prevent potential health problems. EPA has set an enforceable regulation for di(2-ethylhexyl) phthalate, called a maximum contaminant level (MCL), at 0.006 mg/L or 6 ppb. MCLs are set as close to the health goals as possible, considering cost, benefits and the ability of public water systems to detect and remove contaminants using suitable treatment technologies.

The Phase V Rule, the regulation for di(2-ethylhexyl) phthalate, became effective in 1994. The Safe Drinking Water Act requires EPA to periodically review the national primary drinking water regulation for each contaminant and revise the regulation, if appropriate. EPA reviewed di(2-ethylhexyl) phthalate as part of the Six Year Review and determined that the zero MCLG and 0.006 mg/L or 6 ppb MCL for di(2-ethylhexyl) phthalate are still protective of human health.

States may set more stringent drinking water MCLGs and MCLs for di(2-ethylhexyl) phthalate than EPA.

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How does di(2-ethylhexyl) phthalate get into my drinking water?
The major source of di(2-ethylhexyl) phthalate in drinking water is discharge from rubber and chemical factories.

A federal law called the Emergency Planning and Community Right to Know Act (EPCRA) requires facilities in certain industries, which manufacture, process, or use significant amounts of toxic chemicals, to report annually on their releases of these chemicals. For more information on the uses and releases of chemicals in your state, contact the Community Right-to-Know Hotline: (800) 424-9346.

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How will I know if di(2-ethylhexyl) phthalate is in my drinking water?
When routine monitoring indicates that di(2-ethylhexyl) phthalate levels are above the MCL, your water supplier must take steps to reduce the amount of di(2-ethylhexyl) phthalate so that it is below that level. Water suppliers must notify their customers as soon as practical, but no later than 30 days after the system learns of the violation. Additional actions, such as providing alternative drinking water supplies, may be required to prevent serious risks to public health.

If your water comes from a household well, check with your health department or local water systems that use ground water for information on contaminants of concern in your area.

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How will di(2-ethylhexyl) phthalate be removed from my drinking water?
The following treatment method(s) have proven to be effective for removing di(2-ethylhexyl) phthalate to below 0.006 mg/L or 6 ppb: Granular activated carbon.

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How do I learn more about my drinking water?
EPA strongly encourages people to learn more about their drinking water, and to support local efforts to protect and upgrade the supply of safe drinking water. Your water bill or telephone book's government listings are a good starting point for local information.

Contact your water utility. EPA requires all community water systems to prepare and deliver an annual consumer confidence report (CCR) (sometimes called a water quality report) for their customers by July 1 of each year. If your water provider is not a community water system, or if you have a private water supply, request a copy from a nearby community water system.

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