Stricter drinking water standards outlined by EPA

WASHINGTON, US, March 23, 2010 -- The EPA says it will be revising existing drinking water standards to introduce stricter regulations on four carcinogenic compounds...

WASHINGTON, US, March 23, 2010 -- The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) will be developing a new set of strategies with the aim to "strengthen public health protection" from contaminants in drinking water.

EPA administrator Lisa Jackson announced this week that the agency will be revising existing drinking water standards to introduce stricter regulations for four contaminants that it said can cause cancer.

In the review of existing drinking water standards, EPA determined that scientific advances allow for stricter regulations for the carcinogenic compounds tetrachloroethylene, trichloroethylene, acrylamide and epichlorohydrin.

Tetrachloroethylene and trichloroethylene are used in industrialand/or textile processing and can be introduced into drinking water from contaminated ground or surface water sources. Acrylamide and epichlorohydrin are impurities that can be introduced into drinking water during the water treatment process.

Within the next year, EPA will initiate rulemaking efforts to revise the tetrachloroethylene and trichloroethylene standards using the strategy’s framework. Revision of epichlorohydrin and acrylamide standards will follow later.

Jackson said: "To confront emerging health threats, strained budgets and increased needs - today's and tomorrow's drinking water challenges - we must use the law more effectively and promote new technologies. That means fostering innovation that can increase cost-effective protection. It means finding win-win-win solutions for our health our environment and our economy. And it means broad collaboration. To make our drinking water systems work harder, we have to work smarter."

Four key principles have been put forward by the EPA behind the shift in drinking water strategy, including: to address contaminants as a group rather than one at a time so that enhancement of drinking water protection can be achieved cost-effectively; foster development of new drinking water treatment technologies to address health risks posed by a broad array of contaminants; use the authority of multiple statutes to help protect drinking water and partner with states to share more complete data from monitoring at public water systems.

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