REVIEW OF NATIONAL ARRANGEMENTS FOR THE SETTING OF HEALTH RELATED STANDARDS FOR CHEMICAL PARAMETERS

DWI0802

May 1999

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

This report details the approaches to risk assessment and standard setting in Denmark, France, Germany, the Netherlands and Italy in relation to chemical parameters in drinking water. The different national arrangements are then compared with the UK approach. The main findings of the review are summarised below and in Table 1.

For substances which have a safe threshold below which there is no risk, all five Member States in principle use, or would use, the same approach to appraisal of toxicological data as that used by the World Health Organisation (WHO), although there are minor national variations.

In relation to genotoxic carcinogens, the accepted level of risk that would generally be used in Denmark and the Netherlands is 10-6 and thereby the same as that used for the majority of substances for which this approach was used in the Directive 98/83. It should be noted that in the Netherlands flexibility in relation to the level of risk would be allowed in relation to cost and technical difficulty. In Germany, the acceptable risk approach has until now not been used. Germany has instead taken the approach to potential carcinogens that their presence should be reduced as much as possible and therefore in principle not accepted any level of risk. However, when implementing the new Directive it is expected that those EU standards which are based on the acceptable risk approach will be implemented without change.

In Denmark, Italy, the Netherlands and to some extent also in Germany the policy has been to set more stringent standards than those given in the 1980 Directive if technically feasible. This may also be the case in France through contractual arrangements.

The competent authority is the ministry related to the environment in Denmark and the Netherlands, a combination of the ministry related to the environment and the Ministry of Health in France, and the Ministry of Health in Germany and Italy.

All the Member States use expert bodies to advise in the process of setting drinking water standards. These bodies generally have representatives from health authorities, environmental authorities, and institutions with an interest in the health effects of drinking water. The water supply companies have direct involvement in Denmark and France and provide expertise in Germany. In addition, industry is represented in Denmark, France and Germany, and research institutions and universities are represented in Germany, Italy and the Netherlands.

Table 1 summarises the different national arrangements and allows them to be compared with the UK approach.

 

Table 1 Summary of Policy Approaches

Policy feature

Denmark

France

Germany

Netherlands

Italy

UK

Competent authority

Environmental Protection Agency

Ministry of Environment and Ministry of Health

Federal Ministry for Environment

Ministry of Housing, Spatial Planning and Environment

Ministry of Health

DETR (formerly DoE)

Additional standards for health related chemical parameters

None

Aldrin Dieldrin Heptachlor Heptachlor epoxide

1,1,1-Trichloroethane Trichloroethene Tetrachloroethene Dichloromethane Tetrachloromathane

None

None

Benzo 3,4 pyrene Tetrachloromethane Trichloroethene Tetrachloroethene Trihalomethanes

More stringent standards for health related chemical parameters

None

None

Arsenic
Lead
Barium
Boron
Sulphate

Sodium Barium

Other organochlorines

Barium
Boron

WHO Guideline followed

Same approach

Yes

Same approach except for some potential carcinogens

Yes

Yes

Same approach except for some potential carcinogens

Acceptable excess lifetime cancer risk

10-6

No information

Acceptable risk approach is not used

10-6, some flexibility

No information

10-5, subject to medical advice

Influence of cost and technical difficulty in setting standards

More stringent standards if technically feasible

More stringent standards set in contracts for water if technically feasible

Minimising exposure to potential carcinogens as much as technically feasible

More stringent standards if technicalyy feasible

More stringent standards if technically feasible with current technology

Health based, subject to practcability

Consultation with experts

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Consultation with public

No

No

Being considered

No

No

Yes

 

Copies of this report may be available as an Acrobat pdf download under the 'Pre 2000 Reports' heading on the DWI website.