EPA Moves to Revise PCE and TCE Drinking Water Standards

The United Nations General Assembly designated March 22nd of each year as the World Day for Water, an initiative that grew out of the 1992 United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED) in Rio de Janeiro.

Perhaps it was coincidental that yesterday the Environmental Protection Agency announced that it is taking steps to overhaul US drinking water regulations.

EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson announced to the Association of Metropolitan Water Agencies (AMWA) that the agency is developing a broad new set of strategies to strengthen public health protection from contaminants in drinking water.

Specifically, this shift in drinking water strategy is organized around four key principles:

  • 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.
  • Partner with states to share more complete data from monitoring at public water systems.

The EPA also aims to revise the drinking water standards for four carcinogenic chemicals:  tetrachloroethylene (PCE), trichloroethylene (TCE), acrylamide, and epichlorohydrin.

There are ongoing efforts on 14 other drinking water standards, including potential revisions to the lead and copper rule, health risk assessments or information gathering for chromium, fluoride, arsenic, and atrazine, and ongoing consideration regarding the regulation of perchlorate.

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