DEP ADOPTS NEW MERCURY,
New Rules Are Strictest in the Nation
(04/130) PRINCETON - New Jersey
Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) Commissioner
Bradley M. Campbell today announced the adoption of new
rules that establish the strongest mercury and arsenic standards
in the nation. These rules will reduce mercury emissions
from certain facilities by up to 90 percent by the end of
2007 and will cut in half the acceptable limit of arsenic
in drinking water by 2006.
"These rules build upon Governor McGreevey's strong
legacy of fighting pollution and protecting New Jersey's
drinking water," said Campbell. "If New Jersey's
mercury rules were enacted nationally, annual emissions
from coal-fired power plants alone would decline from approximately
48 tons to about five tons. At the same time, through existing
technologies we can provide greater health protections,
reducing the risk of cancers from arsenic in drinking water."
The adopted mercury regulations call for a 90-percent reduction
of mercury emissions from the state's 10 coal-fired boilers
in power plants by the end of 2007. The rules allow for
some flexibility, giving plants the option of meeting the
standards in 2012 if they also make major reductions in
their emissions of sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxides, and
The new regulations also mandate a reduction of mercury
emissions from the state's six iron and steel melters of
75 percent by the end of 2009. The state estimates that
iron and steel manufacturing plants are the largest New
Jersey-based sources of mercury emissions with much of their
materials coming from shredded automobiles' scrap metal.
The rules also call for a further reduction of mercury
emissions from New Jersey's five municipal solid waste (MSW)
incinerators of at least 95 percent below 1990 levels in
In addition, the mercury rules contain standards for medical
waste incinerators that are already being met by the three
facilities operating in New Jersey. These protective standards
will ensure that these incinerators continue to minimize
mercury emissions, allowing for a maximum level of emissions
that is one-tenth the current federal limit.
The new arsenic rules establish a maximum contaminant level
of five parts per billion (ppb) for arsenic concentrations
in drinking water, effective January 23, 2006. In February
2002, the federal government adopted a 10-ppb arsenic drinking
water standard, also effective January 23, 2006. No state
other than New Jersey has adopted an arsenic standard as
protective as 5 ppb.
New Jersey requires monitoring for arsenic at more than
600 public community water systems and 900 non-transient,
non-community systems, which combined serve around 85 percent
of the state's population. Based on past data, the DEP predicts
approximately 34 community and 101 non-community systems
will have arsenic levels exceeding the new 5-ppb standard.
In addition, the new state arsenic standard will apply
to private well owners regulated under New Jersey's Private
Well Testing Act, requiring notification of consumers about
arsenic concentrations during a real estate transaction
and when renting property.
Long-term exposure to arsenic through drinking water can
cause cancer of the skin, lungs, urinary bladder, and other
organs. As arsenic is a naturally occurring element found
throughout New Jersey, it is important for water purveyors
to take active steps to reduce arsenic levels in drinking
Water systems in the Piedmont region of New Jersey are
most likely to be affected by naturally occurring arsenic,
including areas of Bergen, Essex, Hudson, Hunterdon, Mercer,
Middlesex, Morris, Passaic, Somerset and Union Counties.
Arsenic in these areas leaches into the ground due to the
erosion of rock deposits that contain arsenic.
Four treatment technologies have been identified as capable
of removing arsenic in New Jersey's drinking water supplies
below the adopted maximum contaminant level of 5 ppb. The
New Jersey Corporation for Advanced Technology (NJCAT) has
certified one of these technologies.
Exposure to a toxic form of mercury comes primarily from
eating contaminated fish and shellfish. Children and pregnant
women are especially susceptible to mercury contamination.
Even exposure to low levels can potentially cause permanent
brain damage to the fetus, infants, and young children.
Scientists estimate up to 60,000 children may be born annually
in the United States at elevated risk for neurological problems
leading to poor school performance because of mercury exposure
while in utero.
Mercury is a problem both from long-range sources and from
regional and local sources. Contaminated fish have been
found in remote areas of the state, such as the Pinelands,
as well as in industrialized areas. Mercury can contaminate
waterbodies either directly through runoff or from air pollution
that deposits in the water. Once in an aquatic ecosystem,
it accumulates in the tissues of animals as methylmercury,
a toxic and harmful form of mercury.
New Jersey is one of more than 40 states that issued fish
advisories for certain species of fish contaminated with
mercury. Studies have shown that reducing mercury emissions
can significantly reduce contamination in nearby ecosystems.
In Florida, scientists found that mercury concentrations
in fish and wading birds in the Everglades have declined
by 60 to 70 percent in the last 10 years as a result of
controls in mercury emissions in neighboring industries.
DEP developed the mercury and arsenic rules in consultation
with other governmental agencies, universities, scientists,
regulated industry officials, and environmental and public
health advocates. The adopted rules will appear in the December
6, 2004 New Jersey Register.
Courtesy copies of the rules may be accessed below:
and Prohibition of Mercury Emissions (PDF
- 372 kb)(posted 9:20am, 11/5. This version is different
and supersedes the one posted last night.)
Drinking Water Act Rules - Arsenic (PDF
- 237 kb)