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Development of Health-Based Screening Levels for USGS Water-Quality Data

Patty Toccalino1, Oregon Health & Science University
Lisa Nowell and Mark Ayers, U.S. Geological Survey
Gloria Post and Sandra Krietzman, N.J. Department of Environmental Protection
Joyce Donohue2, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Office of Water


The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) is conducting an interagency pilot project in cooperation with the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) to develop, test, and refine approaches to effectively communicate USGS water-quality information in a human-health context to a variety of audiences. For this pilot project, contaminants detected in ground water collected as part of the USGS National Water-Quality Assessment (NAWQA) program in Glassboro, New Jersey, were separated into two categories, regulated and unregulated compounds. Regulated compounds are those for which USEPA maximum contaminant levels and (or) New Jersey drinking-water standards are available; unregulated compounds are those for which no such standards exist. Contaminant data for regulated compounds were compared to Federal and State drinking-water standards. Contaminant data for unregulated compounds were compared to “health-based screening levels” (for noncarcinogens) and “screening-level ranges” (for most carcinogens). Screening levels for unregulated noncarcinogens and screening-level ranges for unregulated carcinogens were developed by using USEPA Office of Water methodologies for calculating lifetime health advisory and risk-specific dose values, respectively. An application of these screening levels to a New Jersey ground-water data set demonstrates how these screening levels enhance the usefulness of NAWQA water-quality findings. The information from the screening process will be shared with State agencies and USEPA for the purpose of providing information on those contaminants that may warrant additional monitoring or management.

1Oregon Health & Science University
Department of Environmental Science and Engineering
20000 NW Walker Rd.
Beaverton, OR 97006-8921

2The opinions expressed in this article represent those of the author and are not necessarily the opinion or policies of the USEPA.
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