Human Health Water Quality Criteria

Certain chemicals can harm human health when present in water in high enough concentrations. People are exposed to these chemicals when they drink the water. They are also exposed when eating seafood from contaminated waters since these chemicals can accumulate in the bodies of fish and shellfish.

EPA develops human health criteria which specify how much of a chemical may be present in a water body before there is a threat to human health. These criteria are recommendations for states and tribes that are developing water quality standards.

2015 EPA Updated Ambient Water Quality Criteria for the Protection of Human Health

EPA updated its national recommended water quality criteria for human health for 94 chemical pollutants to reflect the latest scientific information and EPA policies, including updated fish consumption rate, body weight, drinking water intake, health toxicity values, bioaccumulation factors, and relative source contributions. EPA accepted written comments from the public on the draft updated human health criteria from May to August 2014 and prepared responses to those comments. EPA water quality criteria provide recommendations to states and tribes authorized to establish water quality standards under the Clean Water Act.

2000 EPA Methodology for Deriving Ambient Water Quality Criteria for the Protection of Human Health

EPA’s Methodology for Deriving Ambient Water Quality Criteria for the Protection of Human Health is used in the development of EPA’s recommended criteria and offered as guidance for states and tribes in developing their own criteria.