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A P P E N D I X A Legislation and Terms of Reference of the Stucly THE SAFE DRINKING WATER ACT OF 1 9 74 AND THE NAS STUDY (Public Law 93-523) PURPOSE OF LEGISLATION The purpose of the legislation is to assure that the public is provided with an adequate quantity of safe drinking water. It is to assure that water supply systems serving the public meet minimum national stan- dards for protection of public health. Until passage of the Act, the Federal Government was authorized to prescribe drinking water standards only for water supplies used by interstate carriers, and they were enforceable only with respect to contaminants capable of causing communicable diseases. Public Law 93-523 authorized the Environmental Protection Agency to establish Federal standards for protection from all harmful contaminants and established a joint Federal-State system for assuring compliance with these standards and for protecting underground sources of drinking water. ABRIDGED SUMMARY OF THE LEGISLATION a. Required the Administrator of EPA to prescribe national drink- ing water regulations for contaminants that may adversely affect health. b. Provided that such regulations apply to public water systems and protect health to the maximum extent feasible. c. Provided that interim primary regulations be prescribed initially 905
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906 Appendix A and that, after a study by the National Academy of Sciences, health goals were to be established and revised primary regulations promul- gated. That portion of the Act pertaining to the NAS study and the scope of work is detailed below. d. Provided for a number of other requirements and administrative authorizations not directly related to the NAS study. NEED FOR LEGISLATION Congressional hearings, EPA studies, and evidence from a number of sources found that Federal legislative authority prior to passage of the Act was inadequate to assure that water supplied to the public was safe to drink. This conclusion was based on evidence that waterborne disease out- breaks still occur in this country. Examples include an epidemic at Riverside, California, in 1965 that affected 18,000 people, an outbreak of gastroenteritis in Angola, New York, in 1968 affecting 30% of the population, and an epidemic of giardiasis in Rome, New York, in 1974 affecting almost 5,000 people. According to a 1970 EPA survey of 969 drinking water supply systems, approximately 8 million people in this country are served water that is potentially dangerous in that it failed to meet the mandatory standards set by the Federal Govern- ment with respect to interstate carrier systems. The deficiencies in the majority of cases were in smaller systems. Until passage of the Act there was no provision in Federal law to protect the public from toxic chemicals, and none to protect those not traveling on interstate conveyances from being supplied with drink- ing water that might cause communicable or noncommunicable illness. Several extensive surveys have shown serious deficiencies in the number of water samples examined and in the bacteriological and chemical quality of drinking water. Many systems had physical deficien- cies, including poorly protected groundwater sources, inadequate disin- fection and clarification capacity. In addition, plant operators were inadequately trained. Plants were not being inspected by State or local authorities. In one survey, 50% of plant officials did not remember when, if ever, they had been surveyed by a State or local health depart- ment. House of Representatives Report No. 93-1185 and Senate Report No. 93-231 and Public Law 93-523 are the sources of information for the foregoing.
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Appendix A 907 THE NATIONAL ACADEMY OF SCIENCES STUDY Public Law 93-523 ISection 1412(eyl mandated the NAS study as follows: 1. The Administrator shall enter into appropriate arrangements with the National Academy of Sciences (or with another independent scien- tific organization if appropriate arrangements cannot be made with such Academy) to conduct a study to determine: A. The maximum contaminant levels which should be recom- mended in order to protect the health of persons from any known or anticipated adverse effects, and B. The existence of any contaminants the levels of which in drinking water cannot be determined but which may have an adverse effect on the health of persons. 2. The result of the study shall be reported to Congress no later than 2 years after the date of enactment of this title. The report shall contain: A. A summary and evaluation of relevant publications and un- published studies; B. A statement of methodologies and assumptions for estimat- ing the levels at which adverse health effects may occur; C. A statement of methodologies and assumptions for estimating the margin of safety that should be incorporated in the national pri- mary drinking water regulations; D. Proposals for recommended maximum contaminant levels for national primary drinking water regulations; E. A list of contaminants the level of which in drinking water cannot be determined but which may have an adverse effect on the health of persons; and F. Recommended studies and test protocols for future research on the health effects of drinking water contaminants, including a list of the major research priorities and estimated costs necessary to con- duct such priority research. 3. In developing its proposals for recommended maximum con- taminants levels, the National Academy of Sciences shall evaluate and explain the impact of the following considerations: A. The existence of groups or individuals in the population that are more susceptible to adverse effects than the normal healthy adult.
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908 Appendix A B. The exposure to contaminants in other media than drinking water (including exposures in food, in the ambient air, and in occupa- tional settings) and the resulting body burden of contaminants. C. Synergistic effects resulting from exposure to or interaction by two or more contaminants. D. The contaminant exposure and body burden levels that alter physiological function or structure in a manner reasonably suspected of increasing the risk of illness. 4. In making the study under this subsection, the National Academy of Sciences (or other organization) shall collect and correlate: A. Morbidity and mortality data and B. Monitored data on the quality of drinking water. Any con- clusions based on such correlation shall be included in the report of the study. 5. Neither the report of the study under this subsection nor any draft of such report shall be submitted to the Office of Management and Budget or to any other Federal agency (other than the Environmental Protection Agency) prior to its submission to Congress. 6. Of the funds authorized to be appropriated to the Administrator by this title, such amounts as may be required shall be available to carry out the study and make the report. SCOPE OF WORK The following definition of the scope of the study was elaborated jointly by the National Academy of Sciences and the Environmental Protection Agency. The Academy will undertake to complete the study and report de- scribed in Section 1412(e) of the Public Health Service Act, as amended by the Safe Drinking Water Act, with the following under- standing: The Academy considers that the intent of Congress in using the phrase "maximum contaminant levels which should be recom- mended . . . in order to protect the health of persons from any known or anticipated adverse effects" is to provide for recommendations that are consistent with the best scientific knowledge. It is the Academy's judgment that from a scientific point of view, the absolute guarantee of safety implied by this language cannot be made for most or all of the contaminants to be studied. The Academy report will explain and dis
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Appendix A 909 cuss this point. Accordingly, with respect to recommended levels, taking only health effects into account, the Academy's report will pro- vide the following: ( 1 ) Where there are sufficient data from which a human dose- response relationship can be projected with some degree of precision, a projection will be made. The projection will be explained and its qualifications will be made explicit. (2) For contaminants for which the data are of sufficient quantity and quality, the Academy will exercise its scientific judgment and identify and propose contaminant levels for which it anticipates the risk of adverse health effects to be specifiable and very small. The risks at the proposed levels will be described, with an explanation as to why no "safe" level has been identified. (3) For contaminants for which the evidence provides no scientific basis or methodology for recommending levels, the Academy will de- scribe the available data, and its significance in terms of known or anticipated adverse health effects.
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Representative terms from entire chapter: