Talk:Methyl tert-butyl ether

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The polemic[edit]

In 1995 high levels of MTBE were unexpectedly discovered in the water wells of Santa Monica, California. Subsequent tests found tens of thousands of contaminated sites across the country. MTBE in groundwater is a health risk, and it also ruins the taste of the water even at low concentrations. The leakage problem is attributed to the intrinsic risk of underground tank leakage or fuel spills and to the lack of effective regulations for underground storage tanks. In many states the presence of MTBE is treated much more aggressively than mere fuel contamination, and correspondingly the cleanup costs can be much higher. MBTE is an extremely mobile chemical in groundwater. The fact that the EU does not predict the same problem in Europe may be merely indicative that the EU trails the U.S. in most technology areas of water pollution. [1]. This report for the EU is severely flawed to the extent of laughable. It is self serving to placate the EU continued use of MTBE. Its level of analysis is primitive. For example, it dismisses the California experience with MTBE, saying California does not have sufficient precipitation compared to Europe to flush out the aquifers!

I reverted this to the old version, since this text adds a polemic tone to the article. This is not a discussion forum. When it's unknown, an encyclopedia states it's unknown. An encyclopedia doesn't argue for a specific point of view, possibly only mentions it. Some other changes were also made in the article, re-wording towards a political attack on MTBE, but I think that there's no reason to discuss those. Gasoline, especially reformate, contains quantitative amounts of carcinogens such as aromatics. --Vuo 14:03, 26 January 2006 (UTC)

More polemic[edit]

I added the POV tag to the section that clearly is trying to paint one political party in a negative light. Deli nk March 9, 2006

I'd like to point out that it doesn't make the text POV if you don't like it. Would it be counterfactual to say that the Republican party supports the big industry viewpoint? Nevertheless, what irks me in it is assuming MTBE is the evil. That's purely politicizing and hostile, and this problem should be solved without removing "inconvenient" facts from the article. (Namely, Big Oil funding.) Furthermore, if it's a fact that the US fuel distribution system cannot be trusted with a groundwater-polluting chemical, it may be stated in the article. --Vuo 19:41, 9 March 2006 (UTC)

lets fix it instead of tagging it and just talking about it[edit]

i didnt author any of the contentious text in this subsection, so i have no stake in the present version...why dont others assert which paragraphs need work or whether a counter point of view should be expressed. i dont like the way this subsection reads, but we owe it to the readers to get this willing to help, but why dont the generators of this discussion declare the issues of clean-up..thank you sincerely Anlace 18:34, 9 March 2006 (UTC)

I replaced the article POV tag with the section POV tag. I haven't otherwise touched this section either. It contains a listing of legislative and judicial actions referenced with a half-dozen external links. The only part not referenced is the paragraph on political contributions. If no one weighs in with suggestions within a reasonable period, the tag should be removed. --Blainster 19:21, 9 March 2006 (UTC)
Sorry about adding an article POV tag instead of section POV tag. I'm not a very political person myself, but when I read this article, the section on legislation in the United States does not appear to be written from a neutral point of view. It appears to be written to lay blame on Republicans. Even if every statement is factual and referenced, that doesn't make it neutral. For example, stating that manufacturers donated to the Republican party may be true, but I would be extremely surprised if they didn't donate to both political parties. Mentioning one and not the other is done to make a political point. (The issue of political contributions seems to be somewhat trivial in any case.) I don't feel familiar enough with the topic at hand to make the changes myself, which is why I just posted the tag - to stimulate discussion among those who are knowledgable enough to do so. Anlace, can you please elaborate on what you mean by "i dont like the way this subsection reads"? Are your concerns the same as mine, or are there additional concerns? Deli nk 19:42, 9 March 2006 (UTC)
yes my concerns are pretty much the same as you have stated deli...beyond that i think the writing is poor. it seems as though a lot of good could be done just taking the factual material and making it more matter of fact...maybe the republicans are being bought off or maybe as you say both parties are on the take from the MTBE industry..who knows...but the information in this article is more suggestive than providing proof, cheers Anlace 20:21, 9 March 2006 (UTC)
i fixed some of the glaring NPOV items, but more work needs to be done. i dont think we can just delete material, since most of the material is rooted in factAnlace 03:16, 11 March 2006 (UTC)

i tried to fix all NPOV items, adding balance, removing extreme adjectives and removing speculation about future MTBE legislation. i am open to the changes others might offer and dont consider the section perfect, but good enough to remove the stigma of the tag, regards Anlace 06:04, 16 March 2006 (UTC)

"Modern computer-controlled, fuel-injected automobile engines produce negligible air pollution."[edit]

I've heard this before -- it's currently in the 'Alternatives' section -- and it seems to reference emissions on modern cars only in reference to emissions produced by older cars. As such, it's a potentially misleading claim, as alone it could be taken to mean that modern gasoline cars do not emit pollution, which is of course not true. And to be honest, for all I know it's not even remotely true, even in comparison with 'older' cars.

I marked it with citation needed but if there's a better way to note this as potentially misleading please let me know. --Andymussell 02:10, 11 March 2006 (UTC)

i fixed this issueAnlace 03:18, 11 March 2006 (UTC)


Shouldn't the units here be ppm? =="MTBE ruins the taste of water even at low concentrations of 5–15 mg/liter."==

units are correct at pbb Anlace 02:47, 11 May 2006 (UTC)

Regarding this same section, the wording here seems to try to imply that MTBE shouldn't be a concern because you'd taste it if it were present. ...but it is not clear what defines "low concentrations" or "significant concentations" for those concerned with health risks. The part I'm referring to says:
"...a transparent disadvantage is that MTBE ruins the taste of water even at low concentrations of 5–15 mg/liter. As a result, significant concentrations of MTBE in drinking water are immediately detectable." -David

As the article stands, it says "MTBE can be tasted in water at concentrations of 5 – 15 µg/l." I don't know of any unit of volume abbreviated to a lowercase "l"-- is it supposed to mean per Liter (L)? For a halfway scientific article, for a unit to be wrong is sort of inexcusable.

- Jack Vermicelli (talk) 03:08, 28 October 2009 (UTC)

There are two official symbols for litre, letter L in lower and upper case (see litre). For a halfway scientific individual, to not know this is sort of inexcusable. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 13:03, 28 October 2009 (UTC)

Gasohol carcinogenity, not ethanol[edit]

Ethanol is a carcinogen in the context of gasoline additive, since it increases the vapor pressure of the gasoline. But, the point is, that MTBE is not appreciably carcinogenic. MTBE has toxicity, but not this kind. --Vuo 01:48, 11 May 2006 (UTC)

MTBE solubility in water[edit]

In the article it is stated at its first paragraph that (quote) Methyl tert-butyl ether, also known as methyl tertiary butyl ether and MTBE, is a chemical compound with molecular formula C5H12O. MTBE is a volatile, flammable and colorless liquid that is immiscible with water. (unqutote) But the rest of the article its solubility is stated in many ways. It calls for a correction. Carl Westhoff (talk) 17:49, 2 May 2009 (UTC)

Solubility is not the same as free miscibility in this case. As someone who has handled MTBE, I can say that it forms phases with water. However, a small amount of MTBE is absorbed into the water phase. This small amount is a environmental problem, because it gives the water a taste. This behavior is not exceptional with polar organic compounds; many are not freely miscible with water in any proportion. --Vuo (talk) 18:15, 2 May 2009 (UTC)

MTBE in tap water[edit]

Can I remove it by boiling tap water? —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 03:21, 2 February 2010 (UTC)

I doubt it, ethers such as this do not really break down in water at that sort of temperature. Mowsala (talk) 19:38, 21 September 2010 (UTC)

Citing internet pages often leads to dead links[edit]

I just tried to find references 13 and 14.... they no longer exist. Would someone please remove them or replace them with a paper reference, or a web reference not like to have an expiration date. They also appear to be grey literature.. Avram Primack (talk) 16:02, 7 November 2011 (UTC)

Just wanted to add that reference 18, which goes to the DOE website, is also dead.--Paramusite (talk) 15:49, 28 January 2013 (UTC)

"Minty" odor[edit]

This is original research, but I would not describe the odor as minty, nor have I ever heard it described as such. Is this stated in a reference? (talk) 18:04, 1 July 2013 (UTC)

Wheres the science?[edit]

Seems that the majority of this article is not scientific and seems to be politically driven. Maybe we can make a separate article for the politics of MTBE and leave this article just about the chemical.Mantion (talk) 04:44, 25 December 2013 (UTC)

You are welcome to suggest or even edit the article to beef up its scientific components. It turns out that MTBE is a relatively controversial compound because it is or was widely used in automobile fuels and it poses certain environmental problems. If anything, the amount of space on the political aspects is kept in check. --Smokefoot (talk) 14:57, 25 December 2013 (UTC)

External links modified[edit]

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Question? Archived sources still need to be checked

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Rarely used in academia as a solvent?[edit]

In my opinion that statement needs to be corrected. While it is true that tBME is not commonly used for running reactions, tBME is still a very common solvent for two-phase extractions in the purification process and is often preffered over diethyl ether for various reasons.

That statement was revised, thanks for the note.--Smokefoot (talk) 02:13, 16 April 2016 (UTC)