EPA Proposal to Reduce Arsenic, Radon in Drinking Water Blocked

Dec. 28, 2000

The U.S. House of Representatives voted Wednesday against an effort by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to reduce arsenic and radon in drinking water.

A rider on the EPA budget bill for fiscal year 2001 barred the EPA against completing regulations to reduce levels of arsenic in drinking water. Another rider stops the agency from issuing a new standard for radon levels in drinking water, and a third halts cleanup of contaminated sediments in waterways.

The EPA had proposed to lower arsenic levels in drinking water by ten times, citing health risks, such as cancer, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and developmental and neurological problems. The current standard, which was set in 1942, stands at 50 parts per billion.

A 1999 National Academy of Sciences report found that the current standard is unsafe, and should be revised "as promptly as possible."

The EPA already has been blocked in several attempts to update the standard.

"Congress defied public opinion and common sense by voting against reducing the arsenic and radon in our nation's drinking water and smog from our air," said Ed Hopkins, Sierra Club senior representative. "You don't need a Ph.D. to know that if you can remove arsenic, radon and smog levels, you vote yes."

(Source: U.S. Environmental Protection Agency)