Contaminants in surface and ground waters that serve as sources of drinking water may be quite varied and may cause a range of health effects in children, including acute diseases such as gastrointestinal illness, developmental effects such as learning disorders, and serious long-term illnesses such as cancer.62 The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) sets drinking water standards designed to protect people against adverse health effects. These standards currently include Maximum Contaminant Levels (MCLs) and treatment technique requirements for over 90 chemical, radiological, and microbiological contaminants.63 One way to gain insight into children's potential exposure to drinking water contaminants is to look at community water system compliance with these standards. EPA's drinking water regulations require public water systems, including community water systems, to monitor for compliance with Federal health-based standards and to treat their water if needed to meet standards. About 15 percent of the population receives drinking water from private water systems that are not required to monitor and report the quality of drinking water.64
NOTE: A new standard for disinfection byproducts was implemented beginning in 2002 for larger drinking water systems and in 2004 for smaller systems. Revisions to the standard for surface water treatment took effect in 2002. A revised standard for radionuclides went into effect in 2003. A revised standard for arsenic (included in the Chemical and radionuclide category) went into effect in 2006. No other revisions to the standards have taken effect during the period of trend data (beginning with 1993). Data have been revised since previous publication in America's Children. Values for years prior to 2009 have been recalculated based on updated data in the Safe Drinking Water Information System.
SOURCE: Environmental Protection Agency, Office of Water, Safe Drinking Water Information System.
63 U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. (2011). Current drinking water regulations. EPA Office of Water. Retrieved from http://water.epa.gov/lawsregs/rulesregs/sdwa/currentregulations.cfm.
64 Hutson, S.S., Barber, N.L., Kenny, J.F., Linsey, K.S., Lumia, D.S., and Maupin, M.A. (2004). Estimated use of water in the United States in 2000. U.S. Geological Survey Circular 1268. Reston, VA: U.S. Geological Survey. Available at http://pubs.usgs.gov/circ/2004/circ1268/pdf/circular1268.pdf.
65 U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. (2005). Economic analysis for the final stage 2 disinfectants and disinfection byproducts rule (EPA/815/R-05/010). Washington, DC: Office of Water.