EPA to Restrict Cancer-Causing Chemicals In Water

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is changing how it protects the nation’s water as well as how it looks at potential <"http://www.yourlawyer.com/practice_areas/toxic_substances">water borne toxins. The LATimes reported that the agency announced its plans yesterday and said that it will also tighten its limits on four cancer-causing waterborne contaminants.

The move is expected to better enable the EPA to more quickly identify emerging contaminants and develop processes to protect consumers, said the LATimes. Of note, the agency has not listed a new water contaminant for regulation in over ten years, added the LATimes. Also, the agency looks at such contaminants on an individual basis, which can take years; under the planned changes, the EPA will look at contaminants in groups such as “pesticides, disinfection byproducts, or volatile organic compounds,” said the LATimes.

“To confront emerging health threats, strained budgets and increased needs—today’s and tomorrow’s drinking-water challenges—we must use the law more effectively and promote new technologies,” said EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson, quoted the LATimes. “To make our drinking-water systems work harder, we have to work smarter,” she added. Of note, pointed out Jackson, the EPA is planning on strengthening its limits on four cancer-causing compounds used in textile processing and treatment: Tetrachloroethylene, trichloroethylene, acrylamide, and epichlorohydrin.

New limits have not been released; however, the agency is looking into reducing aquatic trichloroethylene levels to one-tenth of today’s levels, said the LATimes.

We have long been following links between pesticides and herbicides and adverse medical effects across various demographics, including between pediatric cancer and common, household pesticides; pesticides and Parkinson’s disease; and pesticides and Alzheimer’s disease risks. For instance, the herbicide, Atrazine—a known endocrine disrupter—has been linked it to sex changes in many male frogs—from male to female—and the “emasculation” of three-quarters of the other frogs, wrote the SFGate recently. The EPA approved the pesticide under the Bush administration after it rejected earlier findings, said the SFGate.

According to the SFGate, Atrazine’s worldwide ubiquity could likely be linked to a global decline in the frog and amphibian populations, which has confounded scientists and has also had impacts on world ecology.

Earlier this month, the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS) initiated 11 new animal studies into the possible effects from exposure to the industrial chemical bisphenol A—BPA—NIEHS director Linda Birnbaum told Congress, reported Reuters. “There are concerns about multiple possible health effects of BPA exposure,” Birnbaum told Congress at a House Energy and Commerce Energy and Environment Subcommittee hearing, quoted Reuters. “While much of the exposure to BPA in humans occurs through the diet, other sources of exposure include air, dust and, water,” she added. The hearing was convened to look at endocrine disruptors in drinking water.

Representative Edward Markey, chairman of the Congressional panel, said chemicals found in America’s waterways and drinking water have been linked to deformities in aquatic life and wildlife, reported Reuters previously. Of note, BPA leaches into water supplies when containers made with BPA are tossed out, added Reuters. “There are serious concerns that the same chemicals that are responsible for these deformities in wildlife may also have similar effects in humans and may be the culprit for the widespread increase in human disorders such as infertility, obesity, diabetes and cardiovascular disease,” said Markey, author of a bill to ban BPA food and beverage containers, reported Reuters. And, according to Birnbaum, drinking water might be a “significant route of exposure” for BPA and other endocrine disruptors, said Reuters.

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