The Paradoxes of MTBE

A widely used gasoline additive, methyl tertiary butyl ether (MTBE), has been controversial, in part because of concerns about potential inhalation health effects and more recently because of added concerns about water contamination. Although many of the issues related to MTBE have not been fully resolved, several apparent paradoxes can be discerned, including the fact that something intended to improve air quality is now seen as a threat to water quality. Among the lessons that can be derived from the MTBE experience is the value of a comprehensive understanding of the potential risk-benefit tradeoffs of different fuels and fuel additives.


Davis, J. M. AND W. H. Farland. The Paradoxes of MTBE. TOXICOLOGICAL SCIENCES 61:211-217, (2001).