EPA Maximum
Contaminant Level (MCL)
10 mg/L

Xylenes are a group of similar organic compounds used in pharmaceuticals, as insecticides, in detergents and as solvents for paint, adhesives and inks. They are also used in the blending of gasoline and airplane fuel.

Xylenes can arrive in water as discharge from chemical and petroleum factories.

Health Effects of Xylenes

According to the IARC, accidental xylene poisonings have resulted in damage to the kidneys and liver. The EPA warns of nervous system damage associated with long term exposure:

Some people who drink water containing xylenes well in excess of the maximum contaminant level [10 milligrams per Liter ] for many years could experience damage to their nervous system.

Water Treatment for Xylenes

The EPA recommends granular activated carbon (GAC) combined with packed tower aeration (an air stripping technique) for the treatment of xylenes. Lenntech reports that activated carbon has a “very high probability” of removing xylene on its own.

Sources: EPA, WHO, IARC, Lenntech, Photo: WikiMedia, author: Secl

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