251521 Empirical and legal evaluation of public health protection under the federal Lead and Copper Rule

Tuesday, November 1, 2011: 3:00 PM

Stephanie Pollack, JD , Kitty and Michael Dukakis Center for Urban and Regional Policy, Northeastern University, Boston, MA
Marc A. Edwards, PhD , Civil and Environmental Engineering, Virginia Tech, Blacksburg, VA
Ralph Scott, BA , Parents fot Nontoxic Alternatives, Washington, DC
Yanna Lambrinidou, PhD , Parents for Nontoxic Alternatives, Washington, DC
The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is considering revisions to the 1991 Lead and Copper Rule (LCR), issued under the Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA) to protect consumers from elevated lead and copper in drinking water. Under the LCR, responsibility for reducing water-lead exposures is shared by regulated water utilities and their unregulated customers. Recent laboratory, epidemiological, and legal research has revealed substantive gaps in the LCR's protection of public health, while concern about individual cases of childhood lead poisoning from drinking water and health harm from low-level lead exposures has increased. To evaluate the effectiveness of the LCR's most controversial remediation requirement partial lead service line replacement EPA convened a Science Advisory Board, which held its first meeting in March 2011. We will present an interdisciplinary study, funded by the Public Health Law Research program of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, that has identified deficiencies in the LCR's existing requirements related to 1) home water sampling to assess lead levels at the tap, 2) partial replacement of lead service lines to remediate contamination, and 3) public education to promote health protective water use. Emphasis will be given to long-term pilot studies showing that galvanic corrosion (or a "battery effect" between dissimilar metals), at a minimum, reduces the expected benefit of replacing only part of a lead service line with copper. Findings will inform a legal analysis to identify effective revisions to the LCR to address regulatory gaps using EPA's authority under the SDWA. If EPA's authority is found inadequate, additional legal research will be conducted to identify alternative regulatory models for better public health protection through meaningful shared responsibility between utilities and their customers. The results may help policy makers shape future laws and regulations, especially when regulated and unregulated entities share responsibility for preventing toxic exposures.

Learning Areas:
Public health or related laws, regulations, standards, or guidelines
Public health or related public policy
Public health or related research

Learning Objectives:
1. List the entities involved in the "shared responsibility" model of the federal Lead and Copper Rule (LCR). 2. Identify policy alternatives for decreasing the rate of partial lead service line replacement in cities exceeding the federal Lead and Copper Rule (LCR) "lead action level" to ameliorate the current Rule's unintended consequences.

Keywords: Water Quality, Public Health Policy

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am an attorney with extensive public health/lead poisoning experience and I am conducting all aspects of the legal work and analysis in connection with our research on EPA's lead and copper rule.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.