Public Health Goals (PHGs)

What Is a Public Health Goal?
A PHG is the level of a chemical contaminant in drinking water that does not pose a significant risk to health. PHGs are not regulatory standards. However, state law requires SWRCB to set drinking water standards for chemical contaminants as close to the corresponding PHG as is economically and technologically feasible. In some cases, it may not be feasible for SWRCB to set the drinking water standard for a contaminant at the same level as the PHG. The technology to treat the chemicals may not be available, or the cost of treatment may be very high. SWRCB must consider these factors when developing a drinking water standard.

How Does OEHHA Establish a Public Health Goal?
The process for establishing a PHG for a chemical contaminant in drinking water is very rigorous. OEHHA scientists first compile all relevant scientific information available, which includes studies of the chemical's effects on laboratory animals and studies of humans who have been exposed to the chemical. The scientists use data from these studies to perform a health risk assessment, in which they determine the levels of the contaminant in drinking water that could be associated with various adverse health effects. When calculating a PHG, OEHHA uses all the information it has compiled to identify the level of the chemical in drinking water that would not cause significant adverse health effects in people who drink that water every day for 70 years. OEHHA must also consider any evidence of immediate and severe health effects when setting the PHG.

For cancer‐causing chemicals, OEHHA typically establishes the PHG at the “one‐in‐one million” risk level. At that level, not more than one person in a population of one million people drinking the water daily for 70 years would be expected to develop cancer as a result of exposure to that chemical.

Public Health Goals

Chemical Name Public Health Goal (mg/L) Last Updated
Alachlor 0.004 Feb 1, 2013
Aluminum 0.6 Apr 6, 2001
Antimony 0.02 Dec 1, 1997
Arsenic 0.000004 Apr 1, 2004
Asbestos 7 million fibers/L Sep 26, 2003
Atrazine 0.00015 Feb 16, 1999
Barium 2 Sep 26, 2003
Bentazon 0.2 Sep 28, 2009
Benzene 0.00015 Jun 29, 2001
Benzo(a)pyrene 0.000007 Sep 16, 2010
Beryllium and Beryllium Compounds 0.001 Sep 23, 2003
Bromate 0.0001 Dec 31, 2009
Cadmium 0.00004 Dec 22, 2006
Carbofuran 0.0017 Sep 8, 2000
Carbon Tetrachloride 0.0001 Sep 8, 2000
Chlordane 0.00003 Dec 22, 2006
Chlorite 0.05 May 22, 2009
Chlorobenzene 0.07 Apr 24, 2014
Chromium-hexavalent 0.00002 Jul 29, 2011
Copper 0.3 Feb 8, 2008

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