^i.Jv'i y. .-i'o.lUUiio elHC
                                  TOXIC Substances
Fail 1990
 «EPA    National  Pesticide  Survey
What is
How Does
Behave In
Soil and
How Does
Undane Get
Into Ground
                            (gamma tonw or Undarw)

     The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has completed its five-year
National Survey of Pesticides in Drinking Water Wells (NPS), a study of the presence
of 127 pesticides, pesticide degradates, and nitrate in communrty water system (CWS)
wells and rural domestic drinking water wells. LJndane was one of the pesticides
detected in the Survey. In sampling for lindane, EPA tested for the presence of four
isomers of lindane - beta-HCH, gamma-HCH, alpha-HCH, and deita-HCH. Two of
these isomers, beta-HCH and gamma-HCH were detected in the Survey. This fact
sheet provides a description of lindane, its potential hearth effects, and guidance on
both treating and preventing well contamination.

     Lindane (gamma BHC, gamma HCH, benhexachlor) is the common name of an
insecticide which  is a member of the chemical family of chlorinated hydrocarbons.
Undane was registered for use in the late 1940s.  It has been sold under the trade
names of Portin, Gamaphex, Gammex, Isotox, Lacco, Undagam, Un-O-Sol. Novigam,
and Sirvanol.  Lindane is also a component of other insecticides such as Agrox 3-Way,
Gammatin,  Granol NM, and Isopro.  Lindane is an insecticide used primarily for
treating wood inhabiting beetles and seeds, ft is also used for soil treatment, foliage
application  on fruit and nut trees, vegetables, ornamentals, timber, and wood

     The behavior of a pesticide after it is released to the environment is dependent
upon its movement in air, water, and soil as well as the rate at which it is transformed,
or broken down.  Pesticides applied to crops or the soil surface may volatilize
(vaporize) to the atmosphere, be earned off by surface runoff, be  carried to ground
water through leaching, or remain in the soil through adsorption (adherence) to soil
particles and undergo Httte movement in air or water. Pesticides may be transformed
by reaction with water, microorganisms, and exposure to sunlight The  likelihood that
lindane wBl migrate into ground water is influenced by its tendency to be transported
(move) from soil to air and water and to be transformed by these  various processes,
as well as by the  characteristics of the site, such as soil type, moisture,  temperature,
and depth to ground water.  Undane has a medium potential to be transported, and a
medium potential to be transformed.

     Undane migration into ground water could result from the presence of lindane  in
the soil due to agricultural applications of lindane on aghcultural land, as well as
domestic applications on home gardens. Undane could also reach ground water from
entry into a well through accidental chemical spills or improper storage  near a well.

Findings  of
the National
What Hearth
Effects Might
be Caused by
LJndane in
How is Water
Treated to
      Based on the results erf the NPS, EPA estimates that lindane is present, at or
above the analytical detection level of 0.043 pg/L used in the Survey, in about 13,10C
(0.1%) rural domestic wells nationwide. Considering the precision of the Survey, EPA
estimates that the number of rural domestic wells with detectable levels of lindane
could be as low as 14 or as high as 120,000.  Lindane is measured in micrograms per
liter (Aig/L) which is equivalent to parts per billion (ppb).  Lindane was detected at
concentrations above the proposed Maximum Contaminant Level (MCL) and Lifetime
Health Advisory Level of 0.2 ^g/L EPA notified well owners and operators within 24
"•ours when detections exceeded health-based guidelines or standards.  Lindane was
not detected in any CWS wells.

Non-C«nc«r £fYecfs: EPA has set a Lifetime Health Advisory Level for lindane in
drinking water at 0.2 pg/L  A Lifetime HAL represents the concentration of a
contaminant in water that may be consumed over an average human lifetime without
causing adverse health effects.  Lifetime HALs are based on  health effects that were
found in animals given high doses of the pesticides in laboratory studies. This level
includes a margin of safety. Consuming lindane, however, at high levels well above
the Lifetime Health Advisory Level over a long period of time  has been shown to result
in adverse health effects in animal studies, such as kidney and liver damage.

Ctncer Ri*k: Undane is considered by EPA to be a possible human carcinogen
(cancer-causing agent). There is limited or uncertain information indicating  that
lindane causes cancer in animals receiving high doses of the chemical over the
course of their lifetimes. EPA estimates that if an individual consumes water
containing lindane at 0.03 micrograms per liter over his or her entire lifetime, that
individual would theoretically have about a one-in-a-million chance of developing
cancer as a direct result of drinking water containing this pesticide.

Standtrd: EPA sets enforceable standards for public water systems, called MCLs.
These regulations set achievable levels of drinking water quality to protect human
hearth. The proposed MCL for lindane is 0.2 pg/L (proposed as of May 22,  1990).

      Lindane can be detected in drinking water by a laboratory using an EPA
method such as #508. If lindane is detected in well water and confirmed by retesting
to be above 0.2 pg/L, State or County health officials should be consulted.  They may
advise periodic retesting to get an accurate overall picture of the water quality
because changes in seasonal precipitation and changes in pesticide use can cause
variations in the amount of chemicals found in water wells. They also may advise
using an alternative drinking water supply (bottled water is an example of a temporary
alternative), treating the water, or drilling a new or deeper well.  Public water suppliers
are required to notify customers if the  drinking water that they deliver contains a
contaminant that exceeds its MCL

      You may  also be able to treat your well water to remove pesticides and other
contaminants.  Treatment technologies that can remove lindane from water include
granular and activated carbon, reverse osmosis, and oxidation.  Certain treatment
methods are more suitable for large community water systems than for individual
domestic wells.   State or County health officials should be able to provide advice on
the best  approach to follow.
                                                                                         NPS UntJant

How Can
Well Water
tion be
Why was the
Where to Go
for More
      Several steps may be taken to prevent pesticides or nitrate from entering wells,
such as eliminating direct entry through the well wall, drilling a new well, or modifying
or reducing pesticide and fertilizer use.

Eliminate Direct Entry Through the Will Water

      If pesticides or nitrate are present  in well water, they may be entering the
ground water through the well itself rather than through the soil. If the well is old or
poorly constructed, or if there are visible cracks in the well casing, obtain expert
advice on whether or not improvements can be made to the well.  In addition,
investigate simple methods of capping the well or sealing it at the  surface to prevent
entry.  Do not conduct any mixing activities near the well if you use well water to mix
pesticides because a spill could lead to direct contamination of the well.

Drill a New Well

      If the soil surrounding the well is the source of contamination, drilling a new or
deeper well may make sense if water can be drawn from a deeper, uncontaminated
aquifer. Unfortunately, it often is difficult  to know the quality of the ground water
without drilling or extensive testing.  Seek expert advice before you drill.

Learn More about Pesticide Use

      If you use pesticides, whether for agricultural or home lawn  and garden
purposes, you should consider attending training courses given by your State or
County agriculture department on how to reduce activities that can contaminate
ground water.  You may find that you can eliminate or lessen the frequency or quantity
of your pesticide usage by choosing alternative methods of pest control.

      EPA conducted this Survey to determine the frequency and concentration of
pesticides, pesticide degradates, and nitrate in drinking water wells nationwide and to
examine the relationship between the presence of pesticides in drinking water wells
and patterns of pesticide use and ground-water vulnerability.  The Survey sampled
566 community water system wells and 783 rural domestic wells for 127 pesticides,
pesticide degradates, and nitrate. The wells were selected  as a representative
statistical sample to provide nationwide estimates of the presence of pesticides and
nitrate in drinking water wells, and are not meant to provide an assessment of
pesticide contamination at the local, County, or State level.

      This fact sheet is pan of a series of NFS outreach materials, fact sheets and
reports. The following additional fact sheets are available through EPA's Public
Information Center (401 M Street SW, Washington, DC  20460, (202) 382-2080):
                  Survey Design

                  Survey Analytes

                  Quality Assurance/
                  Quality Control
                            Analytical Methods

                            Summary Results

                            Fact Sheet for each
                            detected anatyte
Project Summary


How EPA Will Use
The NPS Resuttt
                        Additional information on the Survey and on pesticides in general can be
                  obtained from the following sources:
                  U.S. EPA Safe Drinking Water Hotline
                  1-800-426-4791  (In Washington, DC (202) 382-5533)
                  Monday-Friday,  8:30 am to 4:30 pm Eastern Time
                                                  Information on regulation of
                                                  pesticides in drinking
NPS Undin*

                  National Pesticide Telecommunications Network
                  24 hours a day

                  U.S. EPA Office of Pesticide Programs (OPP) Docket
                  Public Information Branch (H7506C)
                  401  M Street, SW
                  Washington,  DC   20460
                  Telephone:   (703)  557-2805
                  National Technical Information Service (NTIS)
                  5285 Port Royal Road
                  Springfield, VA  22161
                  (703) 487-4650
Information on heatth
effects ana safe
handling of pesticides

Background documents
for Survey (available
for review)
Copies of the
NPS Phase I Report
(available 1991)
NPS Phase II Report
(when available)
                       If you are concerned about the presence of pesticides and nitrate in your
                  private water well, contact your local or State heatth department.  Other experts in
                  your State environmental agency or agriculture and heatth departments may also be
                  helpful to you.  If you receive your drinking water from a community water system and
                  have questions about your water quality, contact your local community water system
                  owner/operator or the State water supply agency.

Bibliography    Meister Publications. Farm Chemicals Handbook. Ohio:  Meister Publications, 1990.

                  Springer-Verlag New York Inc. 'Lindane.'  Reviews of Environmental Contamination
                  and Toxicology 104 (1988):  147-60.

                  U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.  Drinking Water Health Advisory:  Pesticides.
                  Michigan: Lewis Publishers, 1989.

                  U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.  Drinking Water Regulations and Health
                  Advisories. April, 1990.

                  U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.  Heatth Advisory Summaries, January 1989.

                  U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.  Pesticides in Drinking Water Wells. September

                  Worthing, Charles R., ed. The Pesticide Manual. 8th ed. Thornton Heath:  The British
                  Crop Protection Council,  1987.
                                                                                       NPS Undent