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NAS Report on Radon in Drinking Water

EPA is developing a regulation to protect public health by limiting radon in drinking water, as required by the 1996 Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA).

A report released September 15, 1998, by the National Academy of Sciences is the most comprehensive accumulation of scientific data on the public health risks of radon in drinking water. The report, released September 15, 1998, was required by the Safe Drinking Water Act. An NAS report (BEIR VI) issued earlier this year confirmed that radon is a serious public health threat. This new report goes on to refine the risks of radon in drinking water and confirms that there are drinking water related cancer deaths, primarily due to lung cancer. The report in general confirms earlier EPA scientific conclusions and analyses for drinking water, and presents no major changes to EPA's 1994 risk assessment.

The Academy recommends a small reduction of the overall risk associated with radon in drinking water compared with previous EPA analyses. The Academy's recommendations are expected to be valuable inputs into the process of development of the regulatory limit (maximum contaminant level or MCL) for radon in drinking water, in combination with consideration of a variety of other factors. The Academy's review regarding multimedia mitigation provides some perspectives that may be of use to EPA as it drafts proposed guidelines for multimedia mitigation programs. As required by SDWA, the Agency is developing guidelines for state (and public water supply system) multimedia mitigation plans to be published along with the proposed maximum contaminant level (MCL) for public comment.

The Agency expects to publish a Health Risk Reduction and Cost Analysis for various MCL options for public comment in February 1999. A proposed regulation will be published for public comment by August 6, 1999 and the regulation will be promulgated in final form on August 6, 2000.

The Executive Summary of the NAS Report and initial EPA perspectives are available online:

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