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Consumer Fact sheet on: Arsenic


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As part of the Drinking Water and Health pages, this fact sheet is part of a larger publication:
National Primary Drinking Water Regulations

This is a fact sheet about a chemical that may be found in some public or private drinking water supplies. It may cause health problems if found in amounts greater than the health standard set by the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

Some people who drink water containing arsenic in excess of EPA's standard over many years could experience skin damage or problems with their circulatory system, and may have an increased risk of getting cancer.

Arsenic Rule Implementation

On January 22, 2001 EPA adopted a new standard for arsenic in drinking water at 10 ppb, replacing the old standard of 50 ppb.  The rule became effective on February 22, 2002.  The date by which systems must comply with the new 10 ppb standard is January 23, 2006. 

Final Implementation Guidance for the Arsenic Rule

The final Implementation Guidance for the Arsenic Rule is based on the final rule published in the Federal Register on January 22, 2001. It incorporates comments received on the previous draft implementation guidance's, and from the training sessions on the arsenic rule held throughout the country. The guidance summarizes key sections of the Proposed Rule and provides a "how to approach" for EPA Regions and States to implement the regulation. It contains an explanation of the rule's requirements and guidance for preparing State primacy revision applications. The document incorporates comments received from Regions, States, technical assistance providers, water systems, and others.

NEW ITEMMinor Clarification of National Primary Drinking Water Regulation for Arsenic - Final Rule

EPA is affirming that the public health standard for arsenic in drinking water established in January 2001 is 10 parts per billion (ppb). In today’s action, EPA is making clear that when a monitoring result is expressed in milligrams per liter (mg/L) rather than ppb, that any monitoring result greater than 0.010 mg/l is a violation of the January 2001 arsenic standard. To assure that this clarification extends to the regulatory text for arsenic and to remove any implementation uncertainty relating to this issue, EPA has amended the arsenic Maximum Contaminant Level (MCL) to express it as 0.010 mg/l.

Learn more about your drinking water!

EPA strongly encourages people to learn more about their drinking water, and to support local efforts to protect and upgrade the supply of safe drinking water. Your water bill or telephone books government listings are a good starting point.

Your local water supplier can give you a list of the chemicals they test for in your water, as well as how your water is treated.

Your state Department of Health/Environment is also a valuable source of information.

For help in locating these agencies or for information on drinking water in general, call: EPAs Safe Drinking Water Hotline: (800) 426-4791.

For additional information on the uses and releases of chemicals in your state, contact the: Community Right-to-Know Hotline: (800) 535-0202.

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