The state wants to increase the amount of toxins it can put in Florida’s surface waters. State officials said they’re doing this based on federal guidelines. But some people worry it could harm residents.
This recommended update would affect Florida’s waters, like rivers, estuaries, and wetlands. The Florida Department of Environmental Protection wants to increase the allowable levels of about 20 different toxins the agency currently regulates, such as chloroform and benzene-- both of those, specifically, are known cancer causers.
The DEP’s Drew Bartlett said these proposed numbers just mirror ones released last year by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
"We are not in any way changing the level of protection for any of these chemicals," he said. "What you do is you take what we know about how people eat, how they swim, how they bathe, how they drink. You take the latest toxicology data."
However, Dr. Lonnie Draper said the possible changes could actually harm people. He's president of Physicians for Social Responsibility in Florida.
"The more pollutants you put in an environment, the more likely a human will get in contact with it, and the more likely that it will be in a sufficient quantity to hurt a human," said Draper.
The public comment period ended June 2. The DEP's Environmental Regulation Commission may sign off on this proposal in the fall. It would then require federal approval.
The chart below compares the DEP's current allowed toxin levels with proposed changes:
This chart was created and provided by the Florida Department of Environmental Protection