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In idealistic terms, the EPA intends for most contaminant MCLGs to be zero (i.e., ideally there would not be any level of the contaminant present in drinking water).

Guidelines are perhaps the most misunderstood and misused contaminant levels when it comes to drinking water. Public health agencies use guidelines a few different ways: as recommended limits when standards do not exist. For example, the World Health Organization (WHO) maintains drinking water guidelines that may be adopted for bottled water trade purposes when the importing nation does not have its own regulatory drinking water quality standards. Any product that enters the nation, therefore, must meet the WHO guidelines, which are adopted by the importing nation as standards for bottled water. To arrive at its guidelines, the WHO conducts research using information and data from a wide spectrum of sources. as temporary standards while an MCl is under research or regulatory development. A current example of such a guideline is the EPA’s “interim drinking water health advisory” (guideline) for perchlorate. In a December 2008 Federal Register notice and accompanying publication, EPA established an advisory limit of 15 ug/l (ppb) for perchlorate in drinking water. The EPA advisory limit is based on a National Research Council exposure limit recommendation of 0.7 ug/kg body-weight/day. Although the 15 ug/l advisory limit is not enforceable, it is used as a yardstick to monitor perchlorate exposure in drinking water. In the EPA’s own words, “The Agency is issuing this interim health advisory to assist state and local officials in advance of a final regulatory determination. EPA expects to issue a final health advisory concurrent with the final regulatory determination for perchlorate.” When the EPA publishes its final regulatory determination, it will announce a proposed MCL for perchlorate.

Understanding gUidelines

all food contact materials, Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) incorrectly referred to a “standard” of 50 ug for BPA as she reported levels of BPA found in a food product survey conducted by non-governmental organizations (NGOs), the U.S. Public Interest Research Group and the National Workgroup for Safe Markets. What Sen. Feinstein was incorrectly referring to is a guideline for BPA exposure used by major public health agencies around the world, which is actually 50 ug/kg body-weight/day. This exposure guideline cannot be translated into an absolute guideline limit or standard for any food product without consideration of other factors, such as but not limited to body weight of the consuming individual, concentration of BPA in the food or beverage product, amount of the product consumed, and length of exposure. In fact, when calculated, the levels of BPA found in the foods listed in the NGOs’ report were well below the 50 ug/kg body-weight/day threshold guideline. Unfortunately, the misuse of the guideline provided the public with false information and caused further confusion about BPA’s safety.

The words used to discuss drinking water issues are understandably confusing at times. However, IBWA hopes its members will be able to use this article to educate themselves as well as their local media and political officials. If everyone is at ease with the terminology, the truth about bottled water and its safety as a FDAregulated food product will be easier to digest.

edUCation is Key

Use this article to learn drinking water terminology— and educate the media and your legislators too!

Bottled Water

Recently, the media and legislators have misused and misinterpreted guidelines for bisphenol-A (BPA). In a press conference to announce her legislative initiative to ban BPA in
August/septemBer 2010

the BPa Message

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August / September 2010 Bottled Water Reporter

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of August / September 2010 Bottled Water Reporter

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