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May 25, 2011

Water & Wastewater Regulation Update: New Proposals for Drinking Water

This article comes from our Spring 2011 Water & Wastewater Newsletter
View or print the entire Newsletter

Are We Adding Too Much Fluoride?

On January 7, 2011, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services announced that it is recommending that water treatment plants provide 0.7 mg/L of fluoride in public drinking water supplies. The current recommended range is 0.7 to 1.2 mg/L. In 2006, the U.S. EPA requested that the National Academies of Science review new data on the affects of fluoride. The National Academies of Science recommended that the U.S. EPA update its health and exposure assessments and consider the effects of fluoride on bone and dental health while considering all the sources of fluoride. The Department of Health and Human Services plans to release final guidance on fluoridation in the spring of 2011. 

In Ohio, Ohio Rev. Code § 6109.20 requires communities larger than 5,000 to keep fluoride levels in the range of 0.8 - 1.3 mg/L. Initially, thirty Ohio communities are exempt from the fluoride requirement; however, seven of those communities have since started using fluoride. 


New Concerns Regarding Hexavalent Chromium 

In January, the U.S. EPA issued guidance to water systems on how to assess the prevalence of hexavalent chromium (chromium-6) in response to new scientific data that suggests hexavalent chromium poses health concerns in people exposed over long periods of time. The guidance includes recommendations on where to collect samples, how often to collect samples, and laboratory analytical methods in an effort to enhance monitoring of hexavalent chromium. For more information on EPA’s new guidance, visit EPA’s website.

What to Keep Your Eye On 

Bricker & Eckler LLP keeps track of upcoming administrative policies and regulations that affect drinking water systems. The following are some of the proposed issues we are tracking. 

  • The U.S. EPA has begun the process to develop a regulation for perchlorate. According to the U.S. EPA, perchlorate affects the normal development of the thyroid in developing fetuses and infants. The U.S. EPA will next evaluate the feasibility and affordability of treatment technologies to remove perchlorate from drinking water and examine the cost/benefit of possible standards.
  • The U.S. EPA is planning to develop one regulation to address 16 separate volatile organic compounds that may cause cancer. These chemicals, including trichloroethylene and tetrachloroethylene, are typically found in industrial solvents and discharged from industrial operations. Addressing contaminants in groups instead of addressing individual contaminants is a part of the EPA’s new strategy for drinking water to provide public health protection quicker than in the past.