Free EPA Fact Sheets About Drinking Water

Drinking Water Fact Sheets


These fact sheets are about chemicals that may be found in some public or private drinking water supplies. These chemicals may cause health problems if found in amounts greater than the health standard set by the U. S. EPA.

The consumer version of the fact sheet describes basic information about each contaminant such as: what it is and its health effects; why it is regulated and its drinking water standard; how much is produced and released to the environment (including the top states); how it is detected and removed from drinking water; how consumers will know if it is in drinking water; and, sources of information to learn more about drinking water.

The technical version of the fact sheets contains similar information plus the chemical and physical properties, trade names for the chemical and other regulatory information.

Many consumers are concerned about the possible health effects of Cryptosporidium, a microbial parasite, in their drinking water. EPA and CDC have prepared advice for those with severely compromised immune systems who are concerned about Cryptosporidium.

EPA recently set new standards to strengthen protection from microbial contaminants, including Cryptosporidium. Simultaneously, EPA set standards to strengthen control of disinfection byproducts, potentially harmful contaminants that form when disinfectants (such as chlorine) react with decomposing plant matter and other naturally-occurring materials in water. Clickhere to read more about the Microbial and Disinfectants/Disinfection Byproducts Rules.

E coli is a bacteria that can occur in drinking water. Although most strains of E. coli are harmless and live in the intestines of healthy humans and animals, some can cause illness. Most cases of illness are believed to have come from eating undercooked ground beef, however, some are waterborne.

MTBE is a fuel additive, commonly used in the United States to reduce carbon monoxide and ozone levels caused by auto emissions. Due to its widespread use, reports of MTBE detections in the nation's ground and surface water supplies are increasing. The Office of Water and other EPA offices are working with a panel of leading experts to focus on issues posed by the continued use of MTBE and other oxygenates in gasoline.

Healthadvisories provide information on certain contaminants. Health Advisories are guidance values based on non-cancer health effects for different durations of exposure (e.g., one-day, ten-day, longer-term, and lifetime).

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Ground Water & Drinking WaterPublications

This page provides the following information about our publications:

  • "F" if the publication is a fact sheet;
  • "N" if the publication is new (published since June 1996);
  • the name of the publication;
  • its EPA publication number; and
  • the source of the publication, and the publication number for that source.

Subject Categories
The US EPA OGWDW distributes one free copy of each publication per customer through the Office of Water Resource Center (OWRC) and the National Service Center for Environmental Publications (NSCEP, formerly NCEPI) until supplies are exhausted. Customers can then order them for a fee from the Educational Resources Information Center (ERIC) or the National Technical Information Service (NTIS).

You can send an e-mail order to any of these sources, or call them at:

You can also contact the SafeDrinking Water Hotline (1-800-426-4791) for more information about EPA's drinking water programs.

For more information, contact the Safe Drinking Water Hotline at 1-800-426-4791 via telephone or via email at [email protected] Hardcopies of this publication may be ordered from NCEPI, the Safe Drinking Water Hotline, or the Water Resource Center.

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