Environmental Regulation Commission approves Florida-specific human health criteria

INDIAN RIVER COUNTY — The Environmental Regulation Commission approved rules for health-based water-quality standards to ensure Floridians can continue to safely eat Florida’s seafood, swim in and drink potable water from state surface waters.

After working with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) since 2012 to develop Florida-specific human health criteria that are based on the best science available, guidance from EPA, support of a scientific peer review panel and input from the public, DEP presented these criteria improvements to the Florida ERC for approval.

“I thank the Environmental Regulation Commission for its approval of Florida’s human health criteria rules, which will increase protection of Florida’s water quality and the health of our state’s families and visitors,” said DEP Secretary Jon Steverson. “These approved standards, which are consistent with EPA’s recommendations, set stringent and protective criteria for 39 chemicals that currently have no limits, and also update 43 chemicals whose criteria are more than 20 years old.”

The criteria are consistent with the level of protection contained in EPA’s recommendations and consider a range of environmental variables, accounting for the most at-risk populations, including children, pregnant women and those whose diets comprise primarily of seafood.

DEP’s and EPA’s nationally recognized scientists have worked diligently to develop the criteria, which incorporate both the EPA guidance and data specific to Florida. The criteria take into account how, and how much, Floridians eat seafood, drink, shower and swim, and set the limits necessary to protect us all from adverse health effects. Each and every criterion protects Floridians, according to both the EPA and the World Health Organization.

As part of the current rule-making effort, scientists at EPA, Florida Department of Health, four Florida universities and the California Environmental Protection Agency all reviewed and supported the criteria development method. DEP has also conducted 11 public workshops statewide since 2012, and regularly communicated with more than 1,000 individuals, organizations and stakeholder groups to provide updates and solicit feedback.

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