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Environmental Studies

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Development of the drinking water standards for arsenic since the year 2000 Exposure to Arsenic has become a considerable global environmental health concern as contact through contaminated drinking water leads to cases of several medical conditions and ailments as well as human reproduction and development effects. The source of arsenic in drinking water consists of natural supplies such as rocks, soil and from human activities for instance in preservatives, paints, and agricultural activities. There are increased levels of arsenic in the ground water sources as compared to surface water and this makes people who rely on ground water to be vulnerable to water that is contaminated.
In the U.S. the mean arsenic levels from the measurements taken from ground water samples is usually estimated at one part per every billion litres of water although in some regions high levels of arsenic concentration in ground water is recorded. There have been several amendments and developments with regards to drinking water standards and contamination from arsenic. The Environmental Protection Agency in the year 2001 enacted a law regarding to the arsenic contamination of drinking water in accordance to the 1995 Safe Drinking Water Act and it set a threshold for arsenic contamination in drinking water at 10 ppb as a replacement for the initial threshold of 50 ppb that was settled on in 1975 (Thomas & Copeland, 2008).
The regulation on the level of arsenic contamination at 10 ppb proved to be costly to small systems but the arsenic standard was enacted in March, 2001 while the public water firms were given a period of five years to comply to the standards. Afterwards, in February 2002 EPA delayed the standard while it reviewed the scientific and cost analysis in support to the regulation and after the review the 10 ppb standard on drinking water was confirmed. As a result, the drinking water standard for arsenic was enforced for the drinking water systems in the year 2006 while the federal government and the EPA focused on helping the community in complying with the new regulation (Thomas & Copeland, 2008).

Current federal regulations for managing environmental impacts related to hydro-fracking for oil and gas development. Hydro fracking is a process that is used in increasing the surge of oil or gas from wells that are drilled deep into permeable rocks formation such as shale. The process is used in the U.S. ever since the early 1940s and it uses a combination of water, sand and several that are pumped into permeable rocks formation under high pressure. The high pressure produces fractures in the permeable rocks extending outwards from the bore and this creates a network of connected fractures. The interconnected fractures are kept open by sand particles and this allows oil and gas to stream from the pores in the rock formation to the oil wells (Schultz, 2012). The use of Hydro fracking in extracting oil and gas has resulted in considerable concerns with regards to human health and environmental impacts in the United States. For instance, there have been concerns over the contamination of the ground water with chemicals used in hydraulic fracturing. Secondly, the contaminated water can flow back into the surface waters, the drilling can lead to potential spills of detrimental waste products and the oil and gas reservoirs can interconnect with the ground water reservoirs. Similarly, the fracturing leads to the release of methane into the atmosphere leading to environmental and atmospheric pollution.
There are several current federal regulations that address the environmental impacts due to hydraulic fracturing. The regulation of hydro fracking activities in the U.S. is mostly left to the states with the exemption that the state laws must meet the least requirements of the federal laws that are enacted. The current federal regulations used in combating environmental impacts of hydro fracking include; Safe Drinking Water Act, Clean Water Act, Clean Air Act and the Resources Conserving and Recovery Act. Safe Drinking Water Act regulates the underground injections such as hydro fracking that jeopardize the drinking water sources. The Clean Water Act offers the fundamental regulations with regards to discharge of pollutants into water bodies particularly the surface waters. In addition, the Clean Air Act controls emission of air pollutants from activities that pose environmental pollution dangers such as the release of methane gas from hydraulic fracturing. The other federal regulations include the National Environmental Policy Act and the Comprehensive Environment Responses and Compensation, and Liabilities Act that hold the firms responsible for environmental pollution such as in cleaning up spills (Schultz, 2012).

References
Schultz, A. (2012). Hydraulic Fracturing and Natural Gas Drilling: Questions and Concerns. New York: Nova Science Publishers
Spellman, F. R. (2013). Environmental Impacts of Hydraulic Fracturing. New York: Taylor and Francis Group.
Thomas, S. V., & Copeland, C. (2008). Water pollution issues and developments. New York: Nova Science Publishers.

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