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EPA Seeks Public Comment on Possible Drinking Water Contaminants

(Beyond Pesticides, February 27, 2008) EPA is seeking public comments on a proposed list of 104 possible drinking water contaminants that may need to be regulated in the future to ensure the continued protection of drinking water. Under the Safe Drinking Water Act, EPA includes on the draft Contaminant Candidate List (CCL) currently unregulated contaminants that are known or anticipated to occur in public water systems and which may require regulation. This draft CCL, which is the third such listing, lists 93 chemical contaminants or groups and 11 microbes, and describes the process and basis for selecting these contaminants.“EPA is casting a broader scientific net for potential regulation of chemicals and microbes in drinking water,” said Assistant Administrator for Water Benjamin H. Grumbles. “EPA’s proposed list of priority contaminants will advance sound science and public health by targeting research on certain chemicals and microbes and informing regulators on how best to reduce risk.”

The CCL process was established by the 1996 amendments to the Safe Drinking Water Act as a mechanism to determine if new regulations are needed to protect drinking water. Under this process EPA conducted extensive research into the occurrence and health effects of the listed contaminants before issuing new regulations or standards. In developing the draft CCL 3, the agency implemented a new approach for selecting contaminants which builds upon evaluations used for previous lists and is based on substantial expert input early in the process and recommendations from a larger number of different groups including stakeholders, the National Research Council and the National Drinking Water Advisory Council.

The draft list includes chemicals used in commerce, pesticides, biological toxins, disinfection byproducts, and waterborne pathogens. The agency evaluated approximately 7,500 chemicals and microbes and selected 104 candidates for the final draft list based on their potential to pose health risks through drinking water exposure. The comment period is open for 90 days beginning the day of publication in the Federal Register, February 21, 2008 and ends May 21, 2008.

The CCL has expanded to include roughly 40 pesticides and pesticide degradates, and includes acephate, captan, permethrin, and ziram. The first CCL listed only 60 contaminants, which included less than 12 pesticides.

Research has shown that over 200 contaminants are present in drinking water across the U.S., and more than half of these are unregulated (See Daily News of January 9, 2006 and March 3, 2006). Exposure to these contaminants can cause serious adverse effects, including cancer, reproductive toxicity and birth defects. EPA has previously failed to enforce testing that would reveal the pollutants in tap water supplies and to set health-based limits for those found in tap water. EPA has also missed three mandatory Safety Drinking Water Act deadlines to set standards for unregulated contaminants.

For more information on the CCL 3 and the list of contaminants visit: http://www.epa.gov/safewater/ccl/ccl3.html. For additional CCL 3 support documents and more detailed information on the contaminants, visit docket number EPA-HQ-OW-2007-1189. To submit a comment visit Regulation.gov and enter the above docket number. Comment period ends May 21, 2008.

EPA Contact: Dave Ryan, (202) 564-4355 / [email protected]


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