Why is there a need for a drinking water PAG when the EPA already has regulations for radionuclides in drinking water?
The Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA) gave the EPA the authority to create Maximum Contaminant Levels (MCLs) for various radionuclides in drinking water. MCLs are based on a lifetime’s continuous exposure and help ensure that, in non-emergent situations, the public’s water is safe to consistently drink over the course of 70 years. While the SDWA framework is appropriate for day-to-day (normal) operations, it does not provide the necessary tools to assist emergency responders with protecting public health directly after an emergency.
An emergency situation, however, is much shorter in scope; the EPA realized that maintaining the MCLs directly following an emergency may not be achievable and, therefore needed to provide guidance that would protect the public’s health during a shorter time period.
The goal of the drinking water PAG is to prioritize potentially scarce water resources for those most at risk in a disaster response. Regardless of the cause of an incident, EPA expects that any drinking water system impacted during a radiation incident will take action to return to compliance with the Safe Drinking Water Act levels as soon as is practical.
For more information on developing emergency drinking water supplies, see the EPA’s guidance on Planning for an Emergency Drinking Water Supply.
For more information, visit Protective Action Guides (PAGs).
- How do officials know when it is time to carry out protective actions?
- How do the PAGs inform safety measures during and after a radiological emergency?
- How does the drinking water PAG work with EPA’s existing Safe Drinking Water Act regulations?
- How is the new PAG Manual being implemented in the FEMA Radiological Emergency Preparedness (REP) Program?
- What are Protective Action Guides (PAGs) and why are they important?
- What are the critical changes between the 1992 and 2017 version of the PAG Manual?
- What is a drinking water PAG?
- When do states need to implement the 2017 PAG Manual?
- Where can I obtain a copy of the EPA's Protective Action Guides Manual?
- Where can I find trainings on using the 2017 PAG Manual?