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Water: Water Quality Standards Academy

Basic Course: Supplemental Topics (Human Health Criteria)

Human Health Ambient Water Quality Criteria

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Introduction: What's Covered in This Module?


Human health criteria are estimates of concentrations of pollutants in ambient water that are not likely to pose a significant risk to the exposed human population. This module introduces concepts used in the development of human health ambient water quality criteria (AWQC) as well as the methods for deriving these criteria. (Ambient refers to open waters such as rivers, lakes, and streams, as opposed to closed water supply systems that distribute treated water or wastewater.)

Note that a module in the Key Concepts section of this online training provides an introduction to criteria development. Along with human health, other criteria that need to be addressed by a State’s or authorized Tribe’s water quality standards are aquatic life criteria, nutrient criteria, and biological criteria.

In particular, this module provides answers to the following:

  • What approaches are used for conducting quantitative risk assessment relevant to development of human health AWQC?
  • How has the thinking on such assessments evolved?
  • What are the data needs for conducting the assessments?
  • How is the toxicology of an adverse effect addressed?
  • What exposure considerations need to be taken into account?

At the end of the module is a brief quiz intended to touch on aspects of human health ambient water quality criteria. These will be further examined in the classroom session of this module.


This module's main pages and brief quiz at the end take about 1 hour to complete.

Disclaimer: This online course presentation and any associated links have been prepared by EPA staff for informational purposes only. Their sole purpose is to make available training online from recent Water Quality Standards Academy classroom courses. As such, this online course and any associated links are not binding on EPA or the public and have no legal effect. They do not constitute an EPA statute, regulation or other requirement and do not substitute for such authorities. In addition, the course and any associated links have not been reviewed or endorsed by EPA management. Thus, they are not intended or written as official statements of EPA’s scientific views, policies, guidance, or requirements and cannot be used or cited as evidence of EPA’s position on any matter.

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