On December 1, the Docs for Truro Safe Water made a compelling case to the Board of Health for reducing the maximum contamination level for nitrate in drinking water and groundwater to 5 mg/L – half of the current outdated EPA standard. They concluded urgent action is needed based upon their comprehensive review of the scientific evidence since the 1950s on the relationship between nitrate contamination and incidences of serious medical conditions, including cancers and non-cancer diseases.
The bottom line: the scientific evidence, especially over the last 25 years,
shows harmful effects of nitrate on human health. Nitrates are a marker for additional contaminants that are also harmful to human health.
The arc of lower threshold levels has been consistent for more than 25 years, finding significant health consequences at and below nitrate concentrations of 5 mg/L, and as low as 1 mg/L.
Calling this “Truro’s public health emergency” they urged the BoH to officially adopt this standard as policy. Public commenters urged the BoH to do so before the Cloverleaf Project is to be approved by the ZBA for development. The proposed Cloverleaf sewage system is slated to achieve 10 mg/L in nitrate contamination in effluence/discharge. The ZBA could set achieving 5 mg/L as a condition if approval.
The Board of Health declined to take the matter up before the ZBA decides on the Cloverleaf, but indicated a willingness to look seriously at the recommendation going forward.
Docs for Truro Safe Water is voluntary group of medical practitioners and scientists collaborating to compile, understand and communicate the science related to safe water. They aimed in this report to broaden public engagement and enable knowledge-based decisions, especially those that lead to town-wide mitigation efforts that forestall or reduce contamination and support a sustainable supply of safe water.