Public Health and Drinking Water News Briefs – November 16th, 2001

In the News…
Public Health and Drinking Water News Briefs

November 16, 2001

EPA Accepts Clinton Administration Arsenic Standard of 10 Parts per Billion

On October 31, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced that it had reviewed and approved the Clinton Administration arsenic standard of 10 parts per billion. According to the EPA, this standard should better protect Americans from the risk of cancer, diabetes and heart disease by significantly improving drinking water quality. To help water utilities comply withmeet the year 2006 compliance date for of this rule, the EPA will provide $20 million over the next two years for researching and developing cost-effective ways to implement better technologies into smaller communities.

For more on EPA’s decision the ruling, visit

New Test to Identify Harmful Strains of Salmonella

At the U.S. Department of Energy’s Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, scientists announced the development of a rapid-detection test for identifying potentially deadly strains of the salmonella enteritidis bacteria on contaminated eggs. This DNA-based detection system is a major advance for the Egg Safety Action Plan, which seeks to halve egg-related salmonella food poisoning by 2005 and eliminate it altogether by 2010. The system allows food safety inspectors to locate the bacteria within hours, rather than in days or weeks. It is estimated that one in 10,000 eggs on the market is infected with salmonella enteritidis. According to the CDC, salmonella sickens 1.4 million Americans annually, 300,000 of which are exposed to the enteritidis bacteria.

To view the laboratory press release, visit

CDC to Investigate Water Treatments in Response to Threat of Bioterrorism

Water Tech Online reports the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is coordinating a study that investigates various water treatment technologies to determine which methods best guard drinking water from potential bioterrorist pathogens. The study, to be released in six months, is being conducted in conjunction with the EPA, the American Water Works E effectiveness of moist heat inactivation, ozone, chlorine sensitivity and ultraviolet technologies will be the primary focus of the study.

Drinking Water Utilities Need More Information About Toxic Algae

According to an article published by the Bureau of National Affairs, water utility officials are growing increasingly concerned about the emerging problem of toxic algae in drinking water systems. Speaking at the annual meeting of the International Society of Exposure Analysis, utility representatives noted that they are often unaware when algae-related toxins may exist in their systems, the levels of toxins that may be present, how to remove the toxins, and what levels may be safe. To address these issues, the CDC is working with a variety of organizations to develop information and guidelines for utilities and public health officials. In addition, the EPA is planning a 2004 survey to determine the extent to which large utilities may have toxic algae in their drinking water sources.

EPA Seeks Feedback on Consumer Confidence Reports

The EPA is requesting public comment on its plans to gauge the success of “Consumer Confidence Reports” and source water assessments, both of which include descriptions of local drinking water and any details concerning existing contaminants. EPA plans to enlist the Gallup Organization to conduct a 31-question, 10-minute telephone survey on 1,000 randomly selected adults nationwide. The Gallup Organization conducted survey intends to gauge the success of “Consumer Confidence Reports” and source water assessments, both of which include descriptions of local drinking water and any details concerning existing contaminants. The Safe Drinking Water Act Amendments of 1996 mandated that water utilities produce these reportsConsumer Confidence Reports and source water assessments every two years in order to provide the public with accurate information and the ability locate any potential trouble spots within their water systems. The public has until the end of November to comment on EPA’s proposed survey. respond to the EPA’s request for opinions.

To respond, call the Safe Drinking Water Hotline at 1-800-426-4791, or to learn more about consumer confidence reports, visit

Federal Agencies Launch New Web Sites

Two federal agencies, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the EPA, recently announced the creation of web sites in response to the September 11 attacks and subsequent terrorist activity. The FDA’s site contains links to information on bioterrorism and to other pertinent sources, including the CDC and the National Library of Medicine. The EPA web site provides environmental monitoring data for air and water quality around the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.

For the FDA bioterrorism page, visit

For the related EPA site,

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