EPA Revises Drinking Water Rule for Lead

On Sept. 26, EPA announced a final rule that makes several revisions to the national primary drinking water regulations for lead and copper.

The purpose of the Lead and Copper Rule (LCR) is to protect public water system consumers from exposure to lead and copper in drinking water. Agency officials said the revisions to the LCR will:

  • enhance implementation in the areas of monitoring, treatment, customer awareness and lead service-line replacement.
  • improve compliance with the public education requirements and ensure drinking water consumers receive meaningful, timely, and useful information needed to help them limit their exposure to lead in drinking water.

"The public must have confidence in the safety of their tap water, which is, ounce-for-ounce, one of America's greatest and most affordable assets," said Benjamin H. Grumbles, EPA's assistant administrator for water. "EPA's targeted improvements will clarify requirements for utilities and provide more timely and useful information for the public."

The final rule is one outcome of EPA's March 2005 Drinking Water Lead Reduction Plan, which arose from EPA's analysis of the current regulation and state and local implementation. Since the development of the plan, the agency has released guidance to help public water systems better understand the potential impacts of treatment changes on their ability to control lead. EP also asked the National Drinking Water Advisory Council to provide recommendations on public education requirements. The agency has provided new or updated guidance and tools to help schools and child care facilities monitor for lead in drinking water.

Lead is a highly toxic metal that was used for many years in products found in and around homes. Even at low levels, lead may cause a range of health effects, including behavioral problems and learning disabilities.

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