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  • Press Release

UL announces improved methods for analyzing taste and odor issues in drinking water

September 23, 2009

Northbrook, Ill., September 23, 2009 -- Underwriters Laboratories (UL), a global leader in drinking water quality and safety, today announced it has made significant improvements to testing methods for taste and odor compounds in municipal drinking water, by making procedures more sensitive and faster. 

The most common causes of taste and odor issues are geosmin and 2-methylisoborneaol (MIB), which are naturally occurring compounds produced by blue-green algae (cyanobacteria), diatoms, and actinomycetes. In addition to geosmin and MIB, other compounds such as haloanisoles, pyrazines, β-cyclocitral and d-limonene can frequently cause unpleasant taste and odor in water supplies.

When these issues affect public drinking water systems, municipalities need to act fast to mitigate the problem. Recognizing the need for more efficient and sensitive methods to analyze taste and odor issues, UL enhanced two methods to provide its customers with more precise and timely results.

"UL understands that the taste and odor issues can have a significant impact on our customers, and other municipal water supplies if they are not treated quickly. Municipalities and their constituents shouldn't have to wait for an answer while the problem continues to grow," says Dennis Leeke, Business Manager, UL Global Water Business.

To improve upon the widely-used Standard Method 6040D for analyzing drinking water taste and odor issues, UL added isotope dilution, chemical ionization (CI), and tandem mass spectrometry (MS/MS) techniques. UL increased the sensitivity, accuracy and precision of the method, while reducing the matrix effects and instrumental variation by using isotopically labeled analogs as the internal standards.

 "UL is committed to maintaining the safety and quality of drinking water worldwide and is always looking to improve upon methods to safeguard against contaminants," says Leeke. "As our global water business continues to expand, UL continues to develop more efficient water testing methods to meet client requirements and protect public water supplies."

UL also developed a second in-house method designated as V210, which allows them to rapidly quantitate a wide range of drinking water taste and odor compounds. Unlike similar testing methods, which usually take three or more weeks to complete, UL's proprietary method enables analysis results within 48 hours. To gather results quickly for its customers, UL's V210 method uses gas chromatograpy-mass spectrometry (GC-MS) with electron impact ionization (EI), selected ion storage (SIS), and purge-and-trap (PT) techniques.

As a global leader in drinking water quality and safety, UL has analyzed more than two million drinking water samples for thousands of public and private entities, including the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. UL tests water for more than 7,000 municipalities and is certified in 48 states and Puerto Rico. The company also is an approved certifier of water products that meet the criteria of the EPA's WaterSenseSM program, which identifies and promotes the use of water-efficient products. For more information on UL's water programs and services, visit the water industry section.