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Re: E-M:/ EPA arsenic panels point toward stronger protections

Do you have any URL's which address the eleven counties in Michigan and to what degree?
What options are available to home owners, on both public and private water systems?
----- Original Message -----
Sent: Saturday, September 15, 2001 11:08 PM
Subject: E-M:/ EPA arsenic panels point toward stronger protections

Because at least eleven counties in Michigan have significant levels of arsenic in their drinking water, I thought it was worth elaborating on a news event that was overshadowed by this week's tragedies.

Just minutes before the terror began on Tuesday, the EPA provided some bad news about the health effects of arsenic exposure in drinking water. At the same time, the agency offered hope that millions of U.S. residents will finally get AT LEAST the level of protection offered by the World Health
Organization and the European Union (10 ppb).

The news came in the wake of the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) "Arsenic in Drinking Water: 2001 Update" (available at: www.nas.edu) which was made available on Monday evening. The study finds that the cancer risk from arsenic in drinking water is higher than that estimated by the EPA in its January 2001 rule (the "Clinton Rule" which set the standard at 10 ppb).  Specifically, even at 3 ppb, the NAS estimated that the cancer risk is between 4 and 10 per 10,000 people. The EPA's MAXIMUM acceptable level of risk for the past two decades for all drinking water contaminants has been one in 10,000.

Importantly, the NAS report points to health effects other than cancer that should be considered, including heart disease, high blood pressure and diabetes. It also rejects arguments by industry and some local water utilities that there is a clear, safe threshold below which arsenic does not cause cancer.

In the agency's words, as reported by the Associated Press:  "This makes it more difficult," Whitman spokeswoman Tina Kreisher said Monday. "Their study reinforces the cancer risks. ... If anything, they believe that there is more risk than the EPA thought previously." [A couple of other versions of
the story are available in Tuesday's editions of the Washington Post (www.washingtonpost.com/) and the New York Times (www.nytimes.com/).]

EVEN WITH ALL THE OFFICIAL EVIDENCE POINTING TOWARD GETTING ARSENIC OUT OF OUR DRINKING WATER***, we must continue submitting comments to the EPA during its current pre-proposal public comment period asking for the strictest possible standard given current laboratory techniques:  3 ppb.
Since the public comment period remains open through October 31st, take a few moments to send your comments to EPA in support of a 3 ppb standard. Consider sending a copy of your comments to your U.S. Representative and to both of Senators Levin and Stabenow because, as you might recall from events in July, Congress has begun weighing in on this issue.

E-mail your EPA comments to: ow-arsenic-docket@epa.gov

or mail them to:

W-99-16-VI Arsenic Comments Clerk
Water Docket (MC-4101)
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
1200 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20460

***This report comes on the heels of the following two EPA-mandated reports released by panels formed to review arsenic in drinking water rule.

1)    The national Arsenic Cost Review Working Group -- on which I served -- released its report last month. Interestingly, there was very little coverage of our panel's findings because we concluded that the EPA did a credible job of estimating the costs of implementing the standard at 3, 5, 10 and 20 ppb. If our panel had found that EPA overestimated the costs -- as many parties hoped -- there
would have been an all out media effort to spread the word. Instead, the only newspaper coverage I saw on the report was a recent LA Times article. The full report of the cost review working group can be viewed at: www.epa.gov/safewater/ndwacsum.html#ndwac.

2)    The EPA Science Advisory Board, which identified among other things several short comings in the agency's cost-benefit approach. The final report ("Arsenic Rule Benefits Analysis: An SAB Review") is now available on the EPA Science Advisory Board Website at http://www.epa.gov/sab/ec01008.pdf.
Posted by:
Cyndi Roper, Michigan Director
Clean Water Action and Clean Water Fund
1345 Monroe Ave., NW, Suite 216
Grand Rapids, MI  49505
616.742.4084 phone
616.742.4072 fax