HARTFORD, Conn. -- Connecticut has become the latest in a growing number of states unhappy with the controversial gasoline additive MTBE.
State legislators say they will try to enact legislation to ban MTBE, according to the Hartford Courant, which said local gasoline retailers also want to prohibit the chemical.
MTBE, or methyl tertiary butyl ether, has been widely blamed for contaminating water supplies in numerous locations across the U.S. In Connecticut, there continues to be concern that MTBE also can cause health problems for motorists pumping gasoline.
"As soon as MTBE hit the pumps ... in 1998 in much of Connecticut, complaints of health problems began," reporter Daniel P. Jones wrote in the Hartford Courant. "Motorists said they had trouble breathing, nausea, sore throats, skin rashes, eye irritations, and neurological problems after pumping gas or breathing automobile exhaust."
Now groundwater contamination "is emerging as a major concern" in Connecticut, according to the newspaper.
"MTBE has contaminated dozens of wells in Connecticut and thousands across the country," the Hartford Courant reported. "The MTBE comes from gasoline spills, leaks from underground storage tanks, and stormwater runoff."
The newspaper said a resident of Ashford, Conn., found MTBE in her household water measured at 500 parts per billion. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has recommended a limit on MTBE of 20 to 40 parts per billion.
The Connecticut Water Co. has shut down three wells in Thomaston, Conn., and attributed the MTBE contamination to a gasoline leak at a city garage.
Connecticut State Senator Anthony Guglielmo of Stafford, in the eastern section of the state, said "there are other additives we can put in the fuel to meet the federal requirements for clean air," according to the Hartford Courant.
State Senator Louis C. DeLuca of Woodbury said constituents have complained to him about respiratory problems that they attribute to MTBE, the newspaper reported. DeLuca said he is now also concerned about contamination of drinking water supplies and is introducing legislation to ban MTBE in Connecticut.
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