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UC Davis Press Release on MTBE Research Findings

Full Report is available at

November 12, 1998

News & Communications
Chuck McFadden
(510) 987-9193
[email protected]


The University of California today delivered a multi-volume report on the gasoline additive MTBE to Gov. Pete Wilson. The report results from passage of SB 521, (Mountjoy) which appropriated $500,000 to the university 10 months ago to perform an unbiased and authoritative study of the human health and environmental impacts of MTBE, and to recommend to the governor whether MTBE should continue to be used as a gasoline additive in California.

The report presents the results of new research and of a thorough literature review to address each of 11 topics stipulated in the legislation. The authors of the report, each selected by a rigorous peer-review process, are a consortium of University of California faculty from four of the UC campuses. The overall effort was administered by the university's Systemwide Toxic Substances Research and Teaching Program, a multicampus research effort directed from the UC Davis campus, which also sponsored or cosponsored several public workshops to keep interested parties informed about progress on this report through the year. The entire process, from solicitation of proposals to finished product, required less than a year, a time frame comparable to that taken by the state agencies assigned other tasks by companion legislation to SB521.

The report recommends a gradual phase-out of MTBE from gasoline in California, with a series of suggested options for doing so in a manner that will allow for a thorough study of the environmental impacts of any chosen strategy. It explores existing and promising new strategies for remediating contaminated surface water and groundwater supplies, and prevention of further contamination of surface waters. The report also concludes that technical advances in new automobile emission controls and combustion systems, and in new gasoline formulations, have dramatically decreased the air quality benefits associated with adding oxygenates to gasoline, making the potential for water contamination by MTBE a cost that is not offset by a corresponding benefit.

Additional details about the report, including the full text of the executive summary and the summary, will be posted Friday, Nov. 12 on the Toxic Substances Research and Teaching Program's website.

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