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Tap Water's Safe Even If It Smells Like Moth Balls

Water Bureau officials have determined that an odor coming from the tap water in Northeast Portland is a chemical called naphthalene.

Naphthalene is the primary ingredient in some mothballs.

Water Bureau spokesman Tim Hall says the chemical is harmless, as it was present in the water very small quantities.

The Bureau received nineteen complaints about the water from residents on Tuesday night. 

Hall says water officials don’t yet know where the chemical came from, but they believe it probably comes from a business in the area.

Tim Hall: “It’s important that we find the source of the contaminant, and by finding the source of the contaminant making sure that whichever business it is that is using that chemical, that they do take steps to make sure that it does not get into the water system.”

Hall says the public should be assured that the city’s drinking water is safe.

He recommends running the tap for five minutes if there’s a mothball smell.

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