Study Finds MTBE Can Be Absorbed Through Skin

A U.S. EPA study released yesterday concludes that the controversial fuel additive MTBE can be absorbed into the bloodstream through the skin, a finding likely to, ahem, fuel calls for further study and regulation. While the EPA was careful to say that the health effects of MTBE skin absorption are still unknown, enviros were quick to make hay from the study. “It’s one more piece of evidence that MTBE is not something you want in your water,” said Tom Curtis of the America Water Works Association. A provision to shield MTBE manufacturers from legal liability is one of the sticking points holding up passage of the Bush administration’s energy bill; a recent effort to remove the provision drew table-pounding resistance from House Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-Texas). The EPA’s study is likely to add ammunition to what has become, for congressional Republicans, a bit of a circular firing squad.