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E-M:/ groups ask for protective state standard on arsenic in drinking water

Enviro-Mich message from "Dave Dempsey" <davemec@voyager.net>

For Immediate Release					Contact:  Dave Dempsey, 517-487-9539
Monday, June 4, 2001					Jeff Irwin, 734-327-7154
								Michael Harbut, M.D., 248-547-9100


	Clean Water Action, the Lone Tree Council, the East Michigan Environmental
Action Council, the Ecology Center, the League of Conservation Voters
Education Fund and Michigan Environmental Council today petitioned the state
Department of Environmental Quality to toughen the state’s standard for
arsenic in drinking water.

	In a letter to DEQ Director Russell Harding, the groups asked DEQ to lower
the state drinking water standard for arsenic to 3 parts per billion. The
current federal and state drinking water standard is 50 parts per billion
and dates back to 1942.  Last winter, U.S. EPA Administrator Christine Todd
Whitman revoked a proposed federal standard of 10 parts per billion.

	The Michigan petition was buttressed by an affidavit from Dr. Michael
Harbut, a physician with extensive experience treating persons affected by
arsenic in Michigan drinking water.  “I am gravely concerned about the
effects of arsenic on human health,” Harbut said. “Every month and year that
the current EPA arsenic standard of 50 ppb remains in place, the triggering
events that cause the changes in human cells that will eventually and often
irreversibly lead to cancer, are likely to occur in many people across the
United States.  A substantially stricter arsenic standard would reduce the
exposure of people to arsenic in their water, and reduce the number of
cancers that would occur, as well as heart disease, stroke, diabetes and
respiratory disease.  The sooner a stricter standard is issued, the more
lives will be saved.”

	DEQ has authority to promulgate state drinking water standards that are
more protective than federal guidelines under the Michigan Safe Drinking
Water Act of 1976. Under the state’s Administrative Procedures Act, any
citizen can petition a state agency to promulgate a rule. DEQ has 90 days to
respond to the petition.

	U.S. EPA data indicates that as many as 367,000 Michigan citizens in 176
communities may be drinking water with arsenic levels that exceed the
now-revoked 10 ppb standard.  According to this data, as many as 169,000
Michigan citizens in 76 communities may be drinking water with extremely
high arsenic concentrations of 20 ppb or more.  In addition, many thousands
of citizens in the state are served by private water supplies that contain
high levels of arsenic. Although a more protective standard will not
directly benefit them, it will lead to greater public health protection
through education and awareness.

	In addition to cancer, arsenic has been linked to non-cancer effects on the
cardiovascular system, central nervous system, pulmonary system, pancreas
and genito-urinary tract. Children are at special risk owing to their
smaller body mass.

Dave Dempsey
Michigan Environmental Council
119 Pere Marquette, Suite 2A
Lansing, MI  48912
517-487-9539 (phone)
517-487-9541 (fax)

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