Studies of Interest: Volatile Organic Compounds in Groundwater Used for Public Water Supply

Our team at the Toxicant-Induced Loss of Tolerance (TILT) Program at UT Health San Antonio wanted to share these important external studies:

Volatile organic compounds in the nation’s ground water and drinking-water supply wells” (2006) and “Volatile organic compounds in groundwater used for public supply across the United States: Occurrence, explanatory factors, and human-health context” (2022).

Both studies were produced by the U.S. Geological Survey.

VOCs were detected in 36% of sampled area across U.S. drinking-water aquifers. Newly monitored VOCs were rarely detected (present in 3.7% of sampled area). Trichloromethane and MTBE were the most commonly detected anthropogenic VOCs.
Concentrations approached or exceeded human-health benchmarks in 2% of sampled area. Detections were most common for young, shallow, oxic groundwater in urban areas.

Read the full 2006 or 2022 studies.

This issue is important for people who suffer from chemical intolerance (CI), said Dr. Claudia Miller, allergist/immunologist, professor emeritus, and leader of the Hoffman TILT Program at UT Health San Antonio.

“People who suffer from chemical intolerance often do not tolerate tap water, and must resort to bottled water or RO water,” Miller said. “Some cannot tolerate the smell of chlorinated tap water and find that drinking it upsets their stomachs. Many try to obtain clean spring water for drinking, optimally in glass bottles.”

How can you find out if you are chemically intolerant?

Answer these three questions from Hoffman TILT’s Brief Environmental Exposure and Sensitivity Inventory (BREESI):

  1. Do you feel sick when you are exposed to tobacco smoke, certain fragrances, nail polish/remover, engine exhaust, gasoline, air fresheners, pesticides, paint/thinner, fresh tar/asphalt, cleaning supplies, new carpet or furnishings? By sick, we mean: headache, difficulty thinking, difficulty breathing, weakness, dizziness, upset stomach, etc.
  2. Are you unable to tolerate or do you have adverse or allergic reactions to any drugs or medications (such as antibiotics, anesthetics, pain relievers, X-ray contrast dye, vaccines or birth control pills), or to an implant, prosthesis, contraceptive chemical or device, or other medical/surgical/dental material or procedure?
  3. Are you unable to tolerate or do you have adverse reactions to any foods such as dairy products, wheat, corn, eggs, caffeine, alcoholic beverages, or food additives (e.g., MSG, food dye)?

If you answer YES to any of these three questions, take the Quick Environmental Exposure and Sensitivity Inventory (QEESI) and share the results with your doctor!