Frequent Questions

What does EPA consider when it sets drinking water standards?

The 1996 Amendments to Safe Drinking Water Act require EPA to go through several steps to determine, first, whether setting a standard is appropriate for a particular contaminant, and if so, what the standard should be.  Peer-reviewed science and data support an intensive technological evaluation, which includes many factors: occurrence in the environment; human exposure and risks of adverse health effects in the general population and sensitive subpopulations; analytical methods of detection; technical feasibility; and impacts of regulation on water systems, the economy and public health.  Considering public input throughout the process, EPA must identify drinking water problems; establish priorities; and set standards.  Additional information on drinking water standards is available at

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