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Regulatory Context

Nationally, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and the EPA both regulate arsenic.

  • Reflecting its extreme toxicity, the OSHA permissible exposure limit (PEL) is set at the very low level of 0.01 milligrams per cubic meter, averaged over an 8-hour workshift.

The EPA regulates arsenic under the authority of six environmental statutes. Under the:

  • Clean Air Act arsenic is a “hazardous air pollutant.”
  • Clean Water Act arsenic is a “priority pollutant.”
  • Comprehensive Environmental Responsibility, Compensation and Liability Act (popularly known as “Superfund”), arsenic is a “hazardous substance.”
  • Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act, TRI program, all large quantity users of arsenic must submit data on arsenic releases and transfers.
  • Resource Conservation and Recovery Act arsenic is a “hazardous constituent.”
  • Safe Drinking Water Act a “maximum contaminant level” (MCL) is set for arsenic at 0.05 milligram per liter. The MCL is the maximum permissible level of a contaminant in drinking water from a public water system.

Arsenic has also been identified by the Swedish government as a “sunset” chemical — a chemical whose use should be phased-out due to extreme potential for environmental and human health damage. In particular, Sweden is concerned with its use as a wood preservative and in lead alloys.