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June 2, 2016
Eric Shaw, Environmental Manager
Standards Development Section
Florida Department of Environmental Protection
2600 Blairstone Rd. MS 6511
Tallahassee, FL 32399-2400
RE: Proposed Revisions to Human Health-based Surface Water Quality Criteria in Chapter 62-302, F.A.C.
Dear Mr. Shaw:
Florida Clean Water Network represents over 300 organizations and many thousand individuals across the state of Florida. We will be submitting formal, technical comments through our attorney David Ludder regarding this rulemaking. This comment letter is in addition to and incorporates by reference Mr. Ludders comment letter.
The Department’s proposed criteria for Human-Health Based Toxics purports to ensure that Floridians can safely eat Florida fish, drink local tap water and swim in Florida’s surface waters. It purports to be based on updated scientific information, including more recent fish and drinking water consumption rate information, updated toxicological information, and revised methods to estimate bioaccumulation of pollutants in fish.
These statements are misleading, half-truths and in some cases fraudulent. We can not disagree more with your statement. Your proposed criteria are designed serve two purposes only:
- To get the weakest possible criteria past EPA’s scrutiny;
- To allow Florida’s largest corporate polluters to dump as much toxic chemicals in our waters as possible, thereby externalizing their costs onto the citizens and visitors to Florida.
We have three primary comments at this time:
- We strongly object to your use of the probabilistic approach and believe that you should use the same methodology used by EPA, but using Florida fish consumption data, to set the criteria for our waters;
- We object to your exclusion of some 25 human health-based toxic chemicals from your rulemaking. These are chemicals for which EPA offers proposed criteria, but that DEP ignores or chooses to not revise the existing criteria;
- We object to changing the non-carcinogen criteria to annual averages without reducing their concentrations.
FDEP is proposing to use a new methodology (probabilistic method) for calculating water quality criteria that allows more pollution than the methodology used by EPA and every other state (deterministic methods) for calculating criteria.
EPA and every other state uses an equation with absolute values for each factor in the equation to calculate criteria (deterministic method). These include body weight (EPA recommends 80 kg – represents the national mean weight for adults ages 21 and older), fish consumption (EPA recommends 22.0 g/d – represents the national 90th percentile per capita consumption rate of fish from inland and nearshore waters at the 90th percentile for adults ages 21 years and older), and water consumption (EPA recommends 2.4 l/d – represents the national per capita estimate of combined direct and indirect community water ingestion at the 90th percentile for adults ages 21 years and older). The criteria derived from the equation used by EPA protects a hypothetical person that weighs 80 kg , consumes 22 g/d of fish, and consumes 2.4 l/d of water from excessive risk of cancer or other adverse health effects. It also protects every person that weighs more than 80 kg, consumes less than 22 g/d of fish, and consumes less than 2.4 l/d of water from excessive risk of cancer or other adverse health effects.
FDEP’s new probabilistic method substitutes a distribution of values for several factors in the equation (body weight, fish consumption, and water consumption). FDEP then runs 10,000 computations using different combinations of values from the three distributions and absolute values for the other factors . Many of the computations will include body weights that are less than 80 kg, fish consumption rates that are more than 22.0 g/d, and water consumption rates that are more than 2.4 l/d. From the results of these computations, FDEP selects the criteria that they contend will protect most of the population from excessive risk of cancer or other adverse health effects. Because FDEP uses a distribution of values for several factors (including some values that are not as protective as the values used in the deterministic method) , the calculated criteria (allowable pollution) will be higher than allowed by the deterministic method.
FDEP justifies the change in methodology as “better science.” It may be a more precise method of characterizing the population, but it will produce higher criteria values (more allowable pollution) than the deterministic method. The bottom line is that human exposures to toxics will be higher using the probabilistic method than they would be using the deterministic method.
There is no valid reason to actually increase the amount of cancer-causing chemicals that can be dumped into our drinking water supplies, or our fishing and swimming waters. Your priority, which is to save money for large polluting corporations is not acceptable. Therefore, if the political directives that dictate your proposal cannot accept the concept that public health is more important than corporate profits, then you should allow EPA to promulgate criteria for Florida waters for the 120 human health-based toxics that they have done the necessary research for to justify regulations.
For all of Florida’s waters,
Linda L. Young, Executive Director
Florida Clean Water Network
PO Box 5124
Navarre, FL 32566