Congressional Study Finds 15 Million Americans Are Drinking Arsenic-Contaminated Water; NRDC Calls for Prompt EPA Action

New Findings Consistent with February 2000 NRDC Report

WASHINGTON (October 4, 2000) - A new congressional report documenting widespread drinking water contamination highlights the need to strengthen our arsenic-in-tap-water standard, says Erik Olson, a senior attorney at the Natural Resources Defense Council. The report, released today by the House Government Reform Committee minority staff, also confirms that congressional efforts to block the Environmental Protection Agency from issuing a new arsenic standard will further endanger the public.

"It's outrageous that House and Senate appropriators not only are fighting EPA's efforts to update our weak, 58-year-old arsenic limit, they're even trying to stop the agency from enforcing what we already have," Olson says. "Just last year, the National Academy of Sciences found that EPA's arsenic-in-tap-water standard, unchanged since 1942, is not safe and should be reduced 'as promptly as possible.' EPA needs to act, and it needs to act now."

The new report found that more than 15 million Americans nationwide drink tap water from some 5,500 public systems supplying water contaminated with arsenic in excess of EPA's proposed 5 parts per billion (ppb) standard. That finding is consistent with a February 2000 NRDC study,
"Arsenic and Old Laws,&quot
which found that more than 7 million Americans in 25 states drink water exceeding 5 ppb of arsenic. Congressional investigators were able to access data from all 50 states.

"There ain't no mountain of evidence high enough, and there ain't no National Academy of Science report clear enough, to keep some special interests from continuing to poison millions of Americans with arsenic," says Olson.