Chemical found in park water supply

Amounts of organic chemicals found last month in a Haleakala National Park water system tank aren’t believed to pose a health threat, according to the state Department of Health.

The chemicals, found during routine sampling, are total xylenes and ethylbenzene. Both are contained in a new epoxy coating that was applied to the 50,000-gallon water tank in December 2012, the Health Department reported. The amounts found are within compliance levels for federal and state drinking water standards, the department said.

The tank serves about 1,200 people, including visitors.

“We do not want people to be alarmed,” said Gary Gill, deputy director for environmental health. “We are confident that these trace levels of chemicals do not pose a public health threat.

“Our Safe Drinking Water Branch continues to monitor and test the water system tank that was affected and our staff is dedicated to ensuring the public receives healthy, clean water.”

The department reported that total xylenes were measured at 26.9 parts per billion, below the federal and state maximum contaminant level of 10,000 ppb. Ethylbenzene was detected at 3.9 ppb, below the federal and state maximum contaminant level of 700 ppb.

The standards are set to avoid health risks based on a lifetime of consuming water containing that level of contaminant.

The department said the coating used for the Haleakala water tank is approved for use in drinking water tanks by the National Sanitation Foundation. “It is expected that the concentrations of these contaminants will decrease as the epoxy coating cures in place,” the department’s announcement said.