Drinking water standards are important, but do you understand them or even know what are the current drinking water regulations?
Under the Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA), EPA sets legal limits on the levels of certain contaminants in drinking water. The legal limits reflect both the level that protects human health and the level that water systems can achieve using the best available technology. Besides prescribing these legal limits, EPA rules set water-testing schedules and methods that water systems must follow. The rules also list acceptable techniques for treating contaminated water. SDWA gives individual states the opportunity to set and enforce their own drinking water standards if the standards are at least as strong as EPA’s national standards. Most states and territories directly oversee the water systems within their borders.
Drinking Water Standards
- Arsenic is a semi-metal element in the periodic table. It is odorless and tasteless. It enters drinking water supplies from natural deposits in the earth or from agricultural and industrial practices.
- Non-cancer effects can include thickening and discoloration of the skin, stomach pain, nausea, vomiting; diarrhea; numbness in hands and feet; partial paralysis; and blindness. Arsenic has been linked to cancer of the bladder, lungs, skin, kidney, nasal passages, liver, and prostate.
- EPA has set the arsenic standard for water for drinking at .010 parts per million (10 parts per billion) to protect consumers served by public water systems from the effects of long-term, chronic exposure to arsenic. Water systems must comply with this standard by January 23, 2006, providing additional protection to an estimated 13 million Americans.
- Chemical Contaminant Rules
- The Chemical Contaminants were regulated in phases, which are collectively referred to as the Chemical Phase Rules. These rules regulate over 65 contaminants in three contaminant groups: Inorganic Contaminants (IOCs), Volatile Organic Contaminants (VOCs), and Synthetic Organic Contaminants (SOCs). The rules apply to all public water systems (PWS). PWS type, size, and water source determine which contaminants require monitoring for that system.
- EPA established Maximum Contaminant Levels (MCL), Maximum Contaminant Level Goals (MCLG), monitoring requirements and best available technologies for removal for 65 chemical contaminants over a five year period as EPA gathered and analyzed occurrence and health effects data. This series of rules are known as the Chemical Phase Rules and they define regulations for three contaminant groups:
- Inorganic Chemicals (IOC)
- Synthetic Organic Chemicals (SOC)
- Volatile Organic Chemicals (VOC)
- The Chemical Phase rules provide public health protection through the reduction of chronic risks from:
- Organ Damage
- Circulatory system disorders
- Nervous system disorders
- Reproductive system disorders
|Phased Rules||Volatile Organic Compounds (VOC)||Synthetic Organic Chemicals (SOC)||Inorganic Chemicals (IOC)|
|Phase I, July 7, 1987
(52 FR 25690)
|Phase II, January 1991
(56 FR 3526)
EDB (ethylene dibromide)
|Phase IIB, July 1991
(56 FR 30266)
|Phase V, July 1992
(57 FR 31776)
nickel (remanded 1995)
¹Aldicarb, aldicarb sulfone, and aldicarb sulfoxide are considered regulated chemicals although their MCLs are stayed. Therefore PWS are not required to meet an MCL.
For each contaminant, EPA set a health goal, or Maximum Contaminant Level Goal (MCLG). This is the level at which a person could drink two liters of water containing the contaminant every day for 70 years without suffering any ill effects. This goal is not a legal limit with which water systems must comply; it is based solely on human health. For known cancer-causing agents (carcinogens), EPA set the health goal at zero, under the assumption that any exposure to the chemical could present a cancer risk.
The rules also set a legal limit, or Maximum Contaminant Level (MCL), for each contaminant. EPA sets legal limits as close to the health goal as possible, keeping in mind the technical and financial barriers that exist. Except for contaminants regulated as carcinogens, most legal limits and health goals are the same. Even when they are less strict than the health goals, the legal limits of the drinking water standards provide substantial public health protection.
Maximum Drinking Water Contaminants Levels
We hope that the drinking water standards has given you more insight on what is good and not so good for you in your water! Peace my friends!