EDF Health

Lead service line inventories – Indiana as a good model of a voluntary survey

Tom Neltner, Lindsay McCormick, and Audrey McIntosh

This blog is part of a series focused on how states are handling the essential task of developing inventories of lead service lines (LSLs) and making them public. The first blog identified 14 states that were taking on the issue: 4 with mandatory programs and 10 with voluntary. The second blog described programs in four states that mandate an inventory. In this blog, we highlight Indiana’s 2016 voluntary survey of utilities operating community water systems (CWSs) as a model because it ask utilities to: 1) identify who owns the line and provide the legal basis for that claim; and 2) rate its confidence in its estimates on a 1 to 10 scale. 

We found no other state survey asked about LSL ownership even though it is a central question in determining who is expected to pay for replacement. The Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) National Drinking Water Advisory Council (NDWAC) recommended[1] in 2015 that the agency require utilities to provide states this information as part of a revised Lead and Copper Rule (LCR). Unfortunately, 43% of the 781 CWS did not respond to Indiana’s survey, revealing a serious limitation of voluntary surveys.

In January 2016, a month before EPA encouraged states to develop an inventory of LSLs and make it available to the public, the Indiana Department of Environmental Management (IDEM) sent a two-page survey to utilities that operate CWSs in the state asking about drinking water service lines. The agency posted scanned PDF copies of the individual responses online but has not yet released a summary.[2]

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Mandatory lead service line inventories – Illinois and Michigan as strong models

Tom Neltner, J.D.Chemicals Policy Director and Lindsay McCormick, Project Manager

This blog is part of a series focused on how states are handling the essential task of developing inventories of lead service lines (LSLs) and making them public. The first blog identified 14 states that were taking on the issue: four with mandatory programs and ten with voluntary.  In this blog, we explore the four mandatory programs and highlight Illinois and Michigan as strong models for other states to consider. 

Four states – California, Illinois, Michigan and Ohio – require utilities that operate community water systems (CWSs) to identify and report to the state in some form their number of lead service lines (LSLs). Illinois and Michigan both have strong approaches that could serve as models for other states and EPA to require nationally. California’s approach is seriously flawed because it ignores part of the service lines and can be misleading. Ohio requires utilities to either report they have zero LSLs or provide maps where the LSLs are likely to be found, with no requirement to provide an estimated number. We explore all of these approaches below.

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Also posted in Drinking Water, Health Policy, lead, Public Health, Regulation, States / Tagged , , , , , , | Comments are closed

Six Senators key to TSCA reform question EPA’s new chemical reviews in letter to Wheeler

Richard Denison, Ph.D.is a Lead Senior Scientist.

In a letter sent today to the Environmental Protection Agency’s Acting Administrator Andrew Wheeler, six Senators who were instrumental to achieving the 2016 Lautenberg Act’s reforms to the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) raised “serious concern” about further weakening changes EPA is poised to make in its review of new chemicals.

EDF had blogged about the changes last week.

The Senators’ letter includes a “request that your staff brief our offices about the planned changes prior to moving to implement them.”

The letter was signed by Senators Tom Udall, Tom Carper, Sheldon Whitehouse, Ed Markey, Cory Booker, and Jeff Merkley.

The Senators noted that “While in the months after passage EPA began to implement these provisions in a manner we believe was faithful to both the letter and spirit of the law, beginning in the middle of last year EPA signaled it would change course by narrowing the scope of its new chemical reviews and the requisite risk determinations in a manner that deviated from the statute.”

EDF has for many months raised concerns over the steady effort by Trump Administration political appointees at EPA to undermine the provisions of the Lautenberg Act intended to significantly enhance EPA reviews of new chemicals prior to allowing them onto the market.  The latest moves deviate even further from the requirements of the new law and threaten public and worker health.

EDF hopes that today’s letter will help convince EPA to return to a lawful, health-protective approach to conducting reviews of new chemicals under TSCA.

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EPA undermines its own proposal for more protective dust-lead hazard standards

Tom Neltner, J.D.is Chemicals Policy Director

On July 2, 2018, in response to a court order, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) published a proposed rule[1] tightening its standards for lead in dust on floors and window sills for housing and child-occupied facilities built before 1978. The agency declined to lower the standard for lead in paint – citing insufficient information – and did not consider tightening the standards for lead in soil. While the proposed rule is a tentative step forward for lead poisoning prevention, as explained below, it will create unnecessary confusion and falls far short of what the science and the law demands. Comments are due by August 16, 2018. Pursuant to an order from the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, EPA must finalize the rule by July 1, 2019.

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Trump’s EPA pivots yet again on reviews of new chemicals under TSCA, leaving public and worker health in the dust

Richard Denison, Ph.D.is a Lead Senior Scientist.

EDF has learned from multiple sources that political appointees at the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) are on the verge of taking yet another huge lurch away from what the 2016 reforms to the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) require when EPA reviews the safety of new chemicals prior to their market entry.  A reporter at Bloomberg Environment has heard the same thing, and published an article this morning on some of the changes.

The Trump EPA apparently intends to abandon its November 2017 “New Chemicals Decision-Making Framework,” which already strayed far from the law’s requirements.  That approach would have allowed EPA staff to limit their review of a new chemical only to the intended uses identified by its manufacturer, despite the law’s clear mandate that EPA consider known or reasonably foreseen, as well as intended, uses when conducting its review.  Under the framework, where EPA had concerns about reasonably foreseen but not intended uses – rather than issue an order as required by the law – EPA would take two other steps:  make a “not likely to present an unreasonable risk” determination for the chemical, clearing it to enter commerce; and issue a Significant New Use Rule (SNUR), which could trigger a separate, future review on any subsequently intended use, wholly divorced from the initial review.

Initially, EPA staff indicated the “not likely” finding would be made only once a final SNUR had been promulgated.  That then slipped to have issuance of the finding coincide with the proposal of the SNUR.  That then slipped further to allow the finding to be issued based on EPA’s mere intent to develop a SNUR.

Now, however, the Trump EPA plans to decouple completely its ability to issue a “not likely” finding from any dependency at all on promulgation of a SNUR.  How then, you might well ask, would EPA consider reasonably foreseen uses of a new chemical?  The short answer is, it won’t.   Read More »

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EDF Calls on EPA to Withdraw Censored Science Proposal

Experts for Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) called on the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) today to withdraw the “censored science” proposal – a proposed rule that would bar the agency from considering some of our most important public health studies in making decisions about vital protections for human health and the environment.

EPA held an all-day public hearing on its proposal at its Washington, D.C. headquarters today. EDF Senior Health Scientist Jennifer McPartland was among the more than 100 Americans who were expected to testify.

“EPA’s proposed rule represents a total disregard for the agency’s core mission: protection of human health and the environment,” said McPartland in her testimony. “If finalized the rule will erode critical public health protections, and with them, the scientific integrity and public trust of the agency.”

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