U.S. Water News Online
TRENTON, N.J. -- New Jersey will dramatically toughen the
legal limits on arsenic in drinking water and on mercury emissions
from power plants, standards that state officials called the nation's
The 10 coal-fired power plants in the state must cut mercury
emissions by 90 percent before December 2007. Municipal trash
incinerators have seven years to cut mercury emissions back to 95
percent of what was measured in 1990.
Arsenic levels in drinking water must stay below five parts per
billion, half the newest federal standard for clean water.
The state Department of Environmental Protection said the new
pollution rules were formally adopted.
"If New Jersey's mercury rules were enacted nationally, annual
emissions from power plants alone would decline from approximately 48
tons to about five tons," DEP Commissioner Bradley Campbell said.
Several methods exist to allow water to be treated beyond the
limits set by the federal government, he said.
"We can provide greater health protections, reducing the risk of
cancers from arsenic in drinking water," Campbell said.
More than 600 public water systems and another 900 additional
water systems are monitored for arsenic levels. New Jersey also
requires private wells to be tested when homes are sold.
DEP officials estimate that 135 water systems will not meet the
new standard, which goes into effect in January 2006.
Arsenic in its natural form is found throughout New Jersey,
particularly the northern part of the state where it can leach out of
Mercury poisoning comes from eating contaminated fish. The metal
accumulates in water. Pregnant women and children are at risk of
brain damage from exposure to even low levels of mercury.
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