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Water: Office of Ground Water & Drinking Water

Drinking Water Standards

The Environmental Protection Agency sets standards that, when combined with protecting ground water and surface water, are a critical to ensuring safe drinking water. EPA works with its regional offices, states, tribes and its many partners to protect public health through implementing the Safe Drinking Water Act.

• For a table of currently regulated contaminants, potential health effects, and sources, read National Primary Drinking Water Standards, which lists the legally enforceable standards that apply to public water systems as well as National Secondary Drinking Water Regulations, the non-enforceable guidelines regulating contaminants that may cause cosmetic or aesthetic effects in drinking water. En español

Timeline: This chart shows the order in which EPA regulated more than 90 drinking water contaminants.

• Nineteen ninety-nine marked the 25th year of public health protection under the Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA). The Act, passed in 1974 and amended in 1986 and 1996, gives the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) the authority to set drinking water standards. Setting Standards for Safe Drinking Water explains how drinking water standards are set, and how the public is involved in the process.

Fact sheets are available on regulated contaminants that may be found in some public or private drinking water supplies.

Health advisories provide information on certain contaminants. Health Advisories are guidance values based on non-cancer health effects for different durations of exposure (e.g., one-day, ten-day, longer-term, and lifetime).

Drinking Water Contaminant Regulations: From 1987-92, EPA issued six rules limiting the levels of more than 80 drinking water contaminants. This fact sheet explains those rules.

• For links to drinking water regulations and guidance dealing with standards and their implementation, see Regulations and Guidance.[CS page broken]

You will need Adobe Reader to view some of the files on this page. See EPA's PDF page to learn more.

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