Report Shows a Stricter Arsenic Standard Could Harm Public Health
Washington, DC, May 21, 2001—The Competitive Enterprise Institute’s Director of Risk and Environmental Policy and author of a new report on arsenic policy is filing comments with the National Research Council today, on the review of the arsenic standard for drinking water. <?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office" />
“While the NRC’s role is not to focus on the impacts on the public of changing the arsenic standard, it does have the very important responsibility of ensuring that it maintains the highest standards of science,” Logomasini notes in her comments to the NRC. “Unfortunately, the NRC’s 1999 report failed to uphold the highest standards of science and public health may suffer if the upcoming review does not address that problem,” she said.
In her report on arsenic policy, Logomasini stated, “President Bush has been taking a lot of heat over his decision to review the science underlying the standard for arsenic in drinking water. But it’s the right decision. An overly stringent standard, like the one Clinton finalized in January, would disproportionately burden low-income rural Americans, without any real health benefits.”
During his final days in office, President Clinton signed a rule changing the level of arsenic allowed in drinking water from 50 parts per billion (ppb) to 10 ppb. President Bush postponed the change until 2002, to give the Environmental Protection Agency time to review the science and then set a new standard. Logomasini says many Americans don’t realize arsenic appears naturally in the water in many rural parts of the US, and that a 10 ppb standard would have a negative impact on more than two thousand of those communities.
“Many of those affected will be either low-income families or people living on tightly fixed incomes. Higher costs for water for many of these families will mean less money for health care or other essential needs,” added Logomasini.
According to the EPA, a 10 ppb standard could add as much as $326 a year to water bills in areas with small water systems. “Before imposing such heavy burdens on Americans, one might assume the EPA had clear science indicating that the current standard is not safe,” said Logomasini. “But that isn’t the case. The science has not revealed any risks at the current level.”
CEI is a non-profit, non-partisan public policy group dedicated to the principles of free enterprise and limited government. For a hard copy of Ms. Logomasini’s report and/or her comments to the NRC, please contact the media relations department at 202.331.1010 or visit our website at www.cei.org.