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Arsenic In Water

Jan 17, 2001 - 07:02 PM
EPA Orders Sharp Reduction in Arsenic Levels in Drinking Water
By H. Josef Hebert
Associated Press Writer
WASHINGTON (AP) - The Environmental Protection Agency ordered Wednesday that allowable levels of arsenic in drinking water be reduced by 80 percent. The action updating an arsenic standard that has been in effect for nearly 60 years is expected to require about 3,000 communities - generally small water systems - to make changes in treatment of drinking water, the agency said.
"This new drinking water standard will provide additional public health
protection for 13 million Americans," President Clinton said in a statement.
Environmentalists have argued for years that the arsenic standard,
established in 1942, of 50 parts per billion should be lowered. Last year,
the EPA proposed going to 5 parts per billion as demanded by many
environmentalists, but then settled at 10 parts per billion.

Efforts to tighten the federal requirement gained momentum after a National Academy of
Sciences report in 1999 found arsenic in drinking water causes bladder, lung
and skin cancer, and might cause kidney and liver cancer. The EPA also had
been sued by a leading environmental group, the Natural Resources Defense
Council, which claimed the EPA had been negligent in not moving quickly to
lower the standard. "It's a significant accomplishment to have gotten this
through with so much opposition over the last several decades," said Erik
Olson, an NRDC water quality expert. "It will save many people's lives who
would have died from cancer." The mining and chemical industries had opposed the standard because it is expected to be used as the cleanup standard on some toxic waste sites. Water supply agencies also had complained about the cost of making improvements, estimated capital costs alone at about $5 billion. The EPA estimated its new standard will increase the annual water bill $60 or less per household in communities where improved treatment and upgrades are needed. Some financial and technical assistant will be available for small systems needing to make improvements to meet the new standard, the EPA said. All the 54,000 community water systems, serving about 254 million people, will be subject to the new standard. But the EPA said that only about 5 percent, or 3,000 systems serving 13 million people, will have to upgrade their systems to meet the new standard. Most of the systems affected by the standard serve fewer than 10,000 people. The agency said that communities in parts of the Midwest and New England that depend on underground sources for drinking water will be affected most. Water industry representatives had lobbied for a standard of 10 parts per billion as is the standard for the World Health Organization. They said the earlier proposed 5 parts per billion standard would have been extremely costly. --- 

On the Net: EPA:
http://www.epa.gov/safewater U.S. Geological Survey map of counties with high arsenic levels: http://co.water.usgs.gov/trace/arsenic AP-ES-01-17-01 1900EST


Copyright 2001 Associated Press. All rights reserved.

From: Jeff Green


Jan 17, 2001 - 07:02 PM
EPA Orders Sharp Reduction in Arsenic Levels in Drinking Water

By H. Josef Hebert
Associated Press Writer
WASHINGTON (AP) - The Environmental Protection Agency ordered Wednesday that
allowable levels of arsenic in drinking water be reduced by 80 percent. The
action updating an arsenic standard that has been in effect for nearly 60
years is expected to require about 3,000 communities - generally small water
systems - to make changes in treatment of drinking water, the agency said.
"This new drinking water standard will provide additional public health
protection for 13 million Americans," President Clinton said in a statement.
Environmentalists have argued for years that the arsenic standard,
established in 1942, of 50 parts per billion should be lowered. Last year,
the EPA proposed going to 5 parts per billion as demanded by many
environmentalists, but then settled at 10 parts per billion. Efforts to
tighten the federal requirement gained momentum after a National Academy of
Sciences report in 1999 found arsenic in drinking water causes bladder, lung
and skin cancer, and might cause kidney and liver cancer. The EPA also had
been sued by a leading environmental group, the Natural Resources Defense
Council, which claimed the EPA had been negligent in not moving quickly to
lower the standard. "It's a significant accomplishment to have gotten this
through with so much opposition over the last several decades," said Erik
Olson, an NRDC water quality expert. "It will save many people's lives who
would have died from cancer." The mining and chemical industries had opposed
the standard because it is expected to be used as the cleanup standard on
some toxic waste sites. Water supply agencies also had complained about the
cost of making improvements, estimated capital costs alone at about $5
billion. The EPA estimated its new standard will increase the annual water
bill $60 or less per household in communities where improved treatment and
upgrades are needed. Some financial and technical assistant will be available
for small systems needing to make improvements to meet the new standard, the
EPA said. All the 54,000 community water systems, serving about 254 million
people, will be subject to the new standard. But the EPA said that only about
5 percent, or 3,000 systems serving 13 million people, will have to upgrade
their systems to meet the new standard. Most of the systems affected by the
standard serve fewer than 10,000 people. The agency said that communities in
parts of the Midwest and New England that depend on underground sources for
drinking water will be affected most. Water industry representatives had
lobbied for a standard of 10 parts per billion as is the standard for the
World Health Organization. They said the earlier proposed 5 parts per billion

standard would have been extremely costly. --- On the Net: EPA:

http://www.epa.gov/safewater U.S. Geological Survey map of counties with high

arsenic levels: http://co.water.usgs.gov/trace/arsenic AP-ES-01-17-01 1900EST
 

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