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Aquatic Life Criteria - Aluminum

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What is Aluminum?

Aluminum is a natural element and the most common metal in the earth's crust. It is found in most soils and rocks. Aluminum can enter the water via natural processes, like weathering of rocks.

Aluminum is also released to water by mining, industrial processes using aluminum, and waste water treated with alum, an aluminum compound.

How does Aluminum affect Aquatic Life?

Aluminum is considered a non-essential metal because fish and other aquatic life don’t need it to function. Elevated levels of aluminum can affect some species ability to regulate ions, like salts, and inhibit respiratory functions, like breathing. Aluminum can accumulate on the surface of a fish’s gill, leading to respiratory dysfunction, and possibly death.

2017 Draft Aquatic Life Criteria for Aluminum in Freshwater

EPA has released draft updated aluminum aquatic life ambient water quality criteria for freshwater under Section 304(a)(1) of the Clean Water Act. Once final, states and authorized tribes can adopt these recommended criteria into water quality standards to protect against harmful effects of aluminum on aquatic life.

EPA is accepting public comments on the draft criteria document. The original 60-day comment period, ending on September 26, 2017, has been extended an additional 30 days to October 26, 2017.

1988 Aquatic Life Criteria for Aluminum

The Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) national recommended ambient water quality criteria for aluminum reflects the latest scientific information, and current EPA policies and methods. EPA’s water quality criteria for aluminum provide recommendations to states and tribes authorized to establish water quality standards under the Clean Water Act.

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