Arsenic is a chemical element that occurs in many minerals such as sulfur and metals. As such, groundwater contains much higher concentrations of arsenic than surface water. Unfortunately, as groundwater depth increases, so does the amount of arsenic. It is known that arsenic from drinking water can cause hypertension, diabetes and skin, lung, kidney and bladder cancers. The developing nervous systems of small children are particularly vulnerable to arsenic. About 90% of our public water systems each serve less than 10,000 people. Since many small communities depend on wells for drinking water, this natural contaminant is harming these Americans most. Until relatively recently, the amount of arsenic we allowed in our drinking water was 50 parts per billion (ppb). After studies revealed this 1942 standard would cause bladder and lung cancers, the Clinton and Bush administrations reduced arsenic limits to 10ppb, as recommended by the World Health Organization. However, the maximum safe contaminant level for arsenic continues to be debated.

Health advocates say that an even stricter standard of 5ppb is needed. They claim a 10ppb arsenic standard will still cause 30 deaths per 10,000 people, well above the EPA’s acceptable death rate of 1 in 1 million. In 2004, New Jersey adopted this 5ppb standard. Opponents claim implementing a stricter arsenic standard will do more harm than good. They claim the financial burden of forcing this standard on 20,000 small American communities will keep them from funding other important services.

Proposed Legislation: Introduction of legislation to mandate a 5ppb arsenic standard for all drinking water supplies and financially assisting communities with meeting this standard.
Prospective Sponsor: Rep. Raul Grijalva (AZ)

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Poll Opening Date
March 13, 2023
Poll Closing Date
March 19, 2023

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