Prevalence of Contamination by Oxygenates in the Environment

MTBE has been detected nationwide in soil and groundwater. Federal and state studies have found that MTBE contamination has reached drinking water sources in many locations, including areas where the use of oxygenated fuel has not been mandated.9 This MTBE contamination has also been documented in surface water bodies resulting from direct spills, storm water runoff, and emissions from watercraft. Additional information on the extent of contamination by MTBE can be found in several references of federal and state studies.9-13

Of the 44 states that reported testing for MTBE at leaking tank sites, 35 states reported finding MTBE in the groundwater at least 20% of the time they sampled for it. Twenty-four states reported finding MTBE at least 60% of the time.9

Information about the prevalence of other oxygenates in the environment is limited. However, there is evidence that other oxygenates may be found at sites contaminated with MTBE; non-MTBE oxygenates were identified as a contaminant at 29 of the projects in U.S. EPA's database. In addition, several surveys have assessed the nature and extent of contamination with other oxygenates within the United States.11,14,15

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