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PA DRINKING WATER

Release Date: 12/5/94
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PA DRINKING WATER

FOR RELEASE: MONDAY, DECEMBER 5, 1994

EPA PROPOSES SULFATE STANDARD FOR DRINKING WATER

WITH RELIEF TO SMALL COMMUNITIES

On Nov. 30, EPA proposed an innovative approach for controlling sulfate in drinking water that would protect public health while at the same time providing relief and flexibility to the small systems most likely to be affected by the agency's proposed standard. The rule was proposed to satisfy a court-ordered deadline under the Safe Drinking Water Act which requires EPA to regulate 25 new contaminants every three years. Last year, EPA requested that Congress change the statute to allow the agency greater flexibility on when and how to regulate new contaminants. Today's action proposes a standard of 500 mg/l for sulfate in drinking water. The proposed standard is expected to affect about 2,000 primarily small drinking water systems, most in the Midwest and far West. Most of the affected systems serve populations of 3,300 people or less. People who are not accustomed to high levels of sulfate in their drinking water may experience diarrhea when first exposed to it; however, they will generally acclimate to the sulfate within two weeks, with no further adverse effects. Those most likely to be at risk are an estimated 1.2 million newborn infants, travelers and new residents. EPA's proposed regulatory approach would require a combination of public education and notification and the provision of alternative water, either water treated by a special filtering device or bottled water that is monitored or certified to be in compliance with EPA's standards, for the target population of newborn infants, new residents and travelers. EPA is providing a 90-day public comment period. For more information, the general public can call EPA's Safe Drinking Water Hotline at 1-800- 426-4791.

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