Water Quality Criteria Documents
Water quality standards and criteria are the foundation for a wide range of programs under the Clean Water Act. Specifically, under section 304(a)(1) of the Clean Water Act it requires EPA to develop criteria for water quality that accurately reflects the latest scientific knowledge. These criteria are based solely on data and scientific judgments on pollutant concentrations and environmental or human health effects.
These National Center for Environmental Assessment (NCEA) risk assessment criteria documents address this need through characterizing the adverse health consequences of exposure to toxic or pathogenic agents in drinking water. They provide for the integration and interpretation of the scientific data (health and exposure) to predict potential human health risks associated with various disinfectants, disinfectant by products and pathogens. NCEA has developed analytical methodologies and models for the qualitative and quantitative estimates of individual or aggregate risks posed by these contaminants, thereby allowing different risk reduction options to be evaluated.
In addition, NCEA is developing a comprehensive strategy for comparing the different health risks and the adverse outcomes associated with exposure to chemicals and microbes in drinking water. For drinking water the focus is to develop a comparative risk model to measure and compare the known and potential health risks that might result from exposure to multiple stressors transmitted from the same drinking water source. Exposure to these stressors may result in a variety of adverse health outcomes including acute and chronic gastrointestinal illness, cancer, liver toxicity, and reproductive and developmental disorders. This methodology would allow the assessment of these different risks in a structured framework in order that they can be directly compared in a meaningful way.
NCEA has several Water Quality Criteria Documents many produced in the 1990's.