This is a fact sheet about a chemical that may be found in some public or
private drinking water supplies. It may cause health problems if found
in amounts greater than the health standard set by the United States
Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
What is Adipate and how is it used?
Adipate is a light-colored, oily liquid with an aromatic odor. It is used
in making plastics. It is also used as a solvent; in aircraft
lubricants; as a hydraulic fluid; as a plasticizer or solvent in the
following cosmetics: bath oils, eye shadow, cologne, foundations, rouge,
blusher, nail-polish remover, moisturizers and indoor tanning
preparations; in meat wrapping operations.
The list of trade names given below may help you find out whether you
are using this chemical at home or work.
Trade Names and Synonyms:
Why is Adipate being regulated?
In 1974, Congress passed the Safe Drinking Water Act. This law requires
EPA to determine safe levels of chemicals in drinking water which do or
may cause health problems. These non-enforceable levels, based solely on
possible health risks and exposure, are called Maximum Contaminant Level
The MCLG for adipate has been set at 0.4 parts per million (ppm)
because EPA believes this level of protection would not cause any of the
potential health problems described below.
Based on this MCLG, EPA has set an enforceable standard called a
Maximum Contaminant Level (MCL). MCLs are set as close to the MCLGs as
possible, considering the ability of public water systems to detect and
remove contaminants using suitable treatment technologies.
The MCL has been set at 0.4 ppm because EPA believes, given
present technology and resources, this is the lowest level to which
water systems can reasonably be required to remove this contaminant
should it occur in drinking water.
These drinking water standards and the regulations for ensuring
these standards are met, are called National Primary Drinking Water
Regulations. All public water supplies must abide by these regulations.
What are the health effects?
Short-term: Adipate is not known to cause any health problems when people
are exposed to it at levels above the MCL for relatively short periods
Long-term: Adipate has the potential to cause the following
effects from a lifetime exposure at levels above the MCL: reduced body
weight and bone mass; damage to liver and testes; cancer.
How much Adipate is produced and released to the environment?
Adipate is released in fly ash from municipal waste incineration,
wastewater effluent from sewage treatment plants and chemical
manufacturing plants. Since adipates are known to leach from plumbing
made of PVC plastic, they have been recognized as a potential drinking
From 1987 to 1993, according to EPA's Toxic Chemical Release
Inventory, adipate releases to land and water totalled over 450,000 lbs.
These releases were primarily from gray and ductile iron foundries. The
largest releases occurred in Ohio and Indiana.
What happens to Adipate when it is released to the environment?
If released to soil or water, adipate is expected to be broken down by
microbes. It will adhere to sediments in water bodies and will not leach
through soil to ground water. Adipate does not tend to accumulate or
persist in fish but may it may become concentrated in other aquatic
organisms that are unable to metabolize adipate.
How will Adipate be detected in and removed from my drinking
The regulation for adipate became effective in 1994. Between 1993 and
1995, EPA required your water supplier to collect water samples every 3
months for one year and analyze them to find out if adipate is present
above 0.6 ppb. If it is present above this level, the system must
continue to monitor this contaminant.
If contaminant levels are found to be consistently above the MCL,
your water supplier must take steps to reduce the amount of adipate so
that it is consistently below that level. The following treatment
methods have been approved by EPA for removing adipate: Granular
How will I know if Adipate is in my drinking water?
If the levels of adipate exceed the MCL, 0.4 ppm, the system must notify
the public via newspapers, radio, TV and other means. Additional
actions, such as providing alternative drinking water supplies, may be
required to prevent serious risks to public health.
This is a factsheet about a chemical that may be found in some
public or private drinking water supplies. It may cause health problems
if found in amounts greater than the health standard set by the United
States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
Drinking Water Standards:
|Mclg: 0.4 ppm (parts per million)
Mcl: 0.4 ppm
Adipate Releases to Water and Land, 1987 to 1993 (in pounds):
|TOTALS (in pounds)
Top Five States*|
Gray iron foundries
Rubber, plastic hose/belts
Space propulsion units
Misc Indust. organics
Note: This fact sheet is part of a larger publication
adapted from U.S. EPA publication: EPA National Primary Drinking Water
* Water/Land totals only include facilities with releases greater
than a certain amount - usually 1000 to 10,000 lbs.