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Vol. 2, No.  7 --  February 14, 2001


This week's NEWS

Radon rule-watchers get a surprise with an important development.  A water utility's experience with trihalomethanes and consumer information is examined in depth with revealing detail.  Legionella control measures elicit interesting discussion and disagreement.



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  • Washington, DC insiders report that a major development regarding USEPA's radon in drinking water regulation has quietly occurred.  It is reported that, at least in part in response to California Congressman Jerry Lewis' input, new Administrator Whitman has recalled the proposed final radon rule back from OMB for further review.  (It was sent to OMB by the Clinton EPA on the day before President Bush's inauguration.)  Whitman likely has solid knowledge of the radon issue because of her previous position as Governor of New Jersey.  Meanwhile, a routine article on Schools in New York area re-testing for radon due to high readings and local health concerns (Binghamton Press, February 9) serves as a reminder of what the real health issue related to radon might be.




  • Break-in at drinking water reservoir results in "Don't use the water" alert (Seattle Post-Intelligencer, February 7)
    Commentary: Uncertainty is the worst enemy of a water utility when faced with clear evidence that the security of a drinking water facility has been breached but where there is no indication that the water has been contaminated.  Precautionary measures are called for, but a normal "boil water advisory" is insufficient, because a chemical contaminant could have been added.  Testing is necessary, but for what?  The SDWA makes tampering with a drinking water system a crime (Section 1432a).






  • High PCE levels traced to Santa Rosa dry cleaner (Santa Rosa Press-Democrat, February 13)
    Commentary:  This high-profile case of groundwater contamination, with the resulting investigations and state action to assist private well-owners, is similar to others around the country.  In citing the proposed California Public Health Goal of 0.056 micrograms per liter (compared to the pending USEPA one-in-10,000 cancer risk level of 0.07), the article is a reminder that PCE is a possible candidate for a reduced MCL (currently 5 micrograms per liter) by both CDHS and the USEPA.  Carcinogenicity evidence is strong, analytical capability is good with detection significantly below the MCL, and treatment is generally feasible.




Salt Water Intrusion


  • Study concludes that extremely poor dental health in Sonoma County children is preventable (Santa Rosa Press-Democrat, February 10)
    Commentary: The primary problems identified are the inadequacy of health education and an  insufficient number of dentists willing to treat low-income kids.  Fluoridation of drinking water is identified as a long-term goal since only one small city (Healdsburg) and a U.S. Coast Guard station fluoridate their drinking water supplies.  The level of naturally-occurring fluoride in most Sonoma County drinking water is considerably below the recommended optimum range for prevention of dental caries.


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