An investigation has been carried out of molybdenum in drinking water from a selection of public supply sources and domestic taps across England and Wales. This was to assess concentrations in relation to the World Health Organization (WHO) health-based value for Mo in drinking water of 70 μg/l and the decision to remove the element from the list of formal guideline values. Samples of treated drinking water from 12 water supply works were monitored up to four times over an 18-month period, and 24 domestic taps were sampled from three of their supply areas. Significant (p < 0.05) differences were apparent in Mo concentration between sources. Highest concentrations were derived from groundwater from a sulphide-mineralised catchment, although concentrations were only 1.5 μg/l. Temporal variability within sites was small, and no seasonal effects (p > 0.05) were detected. Tap water samples collected from three towns (North Wales, the English Midlands, and South East England) supplied uniquely by upland reservoir water, river water, and Chalk groundwater, respectively, also showed a remarkable uniformity in Mo concentrations at each location. Within each, the variability was very small between houses (old and new), between pre-flush and post-flush samples, and between the tap water and respective source water samples. The results indicate that water distribution pipework has a negligible effect on supplied tap water Mo concentrations. The findings contrast with those for Cu, Zn, Ni, Pb, and Cd, which showed significant differences (p < 0.05) in concentrations between pre-flush and post-flush tap water samples. In two pre-flush samples, concentrations of Ni or Pb were above drinking water limits, although in all cases, post-flush waters were compliant. The high concentrations, most likely derived from metal pipework in the domestic distribution system, accumulated during overnight stagnation. The concentrations of Mo observed in British drinking water, in all cases less than 2 μg/l, were more than an order of magnitude below the WHO health-based value and suggest that Mo is unlikely to pose a significant health or water supply problem in England and Wales.
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