Best Management Practices Feature This Month:
Protecting drinking water sources from chemicals called DNAPLs
There are many reasons we need to keep these toxic chemicals out of our local water – your positive actions at home and work can help
What are they?
Dense non-aqueous phase liquids, or DNAPLs, are products that are toxic, heavier than water, and hard or impossible to remove from a water supply.
To learn more about these harmful chemicals, and how to keep them out of our drinking water sources, read the fact sheet at this link:
DNAPLs and Organic Solvents
Why are these chemicals such a concern?
These toxic chemicals called DNAPLs are threats to human health. They are particular threats to drinking water sources because of their chemical composition and density.
Many of these liquids are proven, or suspected, of being carcinogenic (cancer causing).
These substances are denser than water. Therefore, they can sink into the ground, below the water table and pollute an entire drinking water source such as an aquifer.
Monitoring wells may not detect their presence as these chemicals would end up in the bottom of aquifers instead of floating on the water table.
Spills of DNAPLs are even more difficult to handle than spills of petroleum products. It is extremely expensive and difficult – or even impossible – to clean up DNAPLs once they have contaminated water sources.
The first barrier of defence, drinking water source protection, is the primary way to protect against these toxic chemicals.
These are some of the reasons why it is so important we prevent these toxic mixtures from ever reaching local drinking water sources.
How can I help protect our water from these toxins?
You have a very important role to play in keeping these toxic chemicals out of our water sources.
- Improving storage of paints and household products is one way to help
- Switch to safer products (like vinegar)
- Reduce the amount you store at home and work
- Properly dispose of paints and other products at the appropriate hazardous waste locations
- View one of our new videos for more ideas on how to protect your community's water
Where are these toxic chemicals found?
These chemical mixtures may be found in homes, industries, commercial businesses, farms, landfill sites, municipal properties, and other locations.
Products with DNAPLs include:
- Many of the metal and rust paints
- Brake cleaners and degreasers in garages and car servicing
- Household items like spot removers, glues and adhesives, varnishes, furniture stripper, aerosols, degreasers, coolants, nail polish/remover, cleaners, and others
- Other chemicals (including some used by some commercial dry cleaners)
It is sometimes hard to know if DNAPLs are in the products in your home, garage, or business ... that makes it important to improve storage; reduce amounts; use safer alternatives; and keep products off the ground and out of our local water supply.
What's in these chemicals?
These toxic chemical mixtures may contain:
• Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons (PAHs)
• Tetrachloroethylene (PCE)
• Trichloroethylene (TCE)
• Vinyl chloride
Some chemicals of concern are not listed above, however. Chemical products that can degrade to trichloroethylene (TCE) or vinyl chloride are also potential significant drinking water threats. This includes chlorinated organic compounds that could make up a DNAPL.
If a product at your work or home dissolves in water it is likely not subject to the same rules and policies as mixtures of greater concern. Review the MSDS Material Safety Data Sheet to check if the specific gravity of the product is greater than 1. If you have any questions about DNAPLs and managing these and other chemicals, please call source protection region staff or your local municipal risk management official. Click on this link for contact info:
Sometimes, it's hard to know for sure if a product at your home or shop has DNAPLs in it. By storing less; storing better; and finding safer products you can protect local water.
Thank you for all you do to keep DNAPLs out of our water. Your community thanks you. Your children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren thank you!