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European Union Updates Drinking Water Standards

The European Union (EU) recently released a proposed update to its drinking water standards. EU’s current drinking water standards were last updated 20 years ago, and this update reflects the results of the latest research and policy decisions.

EU and Health Canada are typically the most comparable to the U.S. regulatory framework and can make for some interesting drinking water policy comparisons. For those that are interested in the details, one can read pages 14-19 of the proposal for the bottom line numbers for the proposed changes:

  • The EU considered removing the standards for 5 compounds and raising the standards for 3, but decided NOT to take these actions in the proposal
  • The EU is proposing standards for chlorate and chlorite of 0.25 mg/L
  • The EU is proposing standards for individual PFAS of 0.1 ug/L and for total PFAS of 0.5 ug/L
  • The EU is proposing standards for three endocrine disruptors – beta-estradiol at 0.001 ug/L, nonyphenol at 0.3 ug/L, and bisphenol A at 0.01 ug/L
  • For lead, the EU is proposing a transition from the current standard of 10 ug/L to 5 ug/L over a 10-year timeframe
  • For chromium, the EU is proposing a similar transition from the current standard of 50 ug/L to 25 ug/L over a 10-year timeframe.

The proposal also includes hazards assessments for source waters and a risk assessment for distribution systems.