[Federal Register Volume 80, Number 230 (Tuesday, December 1, 2015)]
[Pages 75097-75099]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2015-30493]



[EPA-HQ-OW-2015-0753; FRL-9939-57-OW]

Request for Scientific Views on the Draft Recommended Aquatic 
Life Ambient Water Quality Criteria for Cadmium--2015

AGENCY: Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

ACTION: Notice of availability.


SUMMARY: The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is announcing its 
draft recommended aquatic life water quality criteria for cadmium for 
public comment. EPA is updating its national recommended ambient water 
quality criteria for cadmium in order to reflect the latest scientific 
information, and current EPA policies and methods. Following closure of 
this public comment period, EPA will consider scientific views from the 
public on this draft document as well as any new data or information 
received. EPA will then publish a Federal Register notice announcing 
the availability of the final cadmium criteria. Once finalized, EPA's 
water quality criteria for cadmium will provide recommendations to 
states and tribes authorized to establish water quality standards under 
the Clean Water Act. In adopting water quality standards, states set 
exposure protections for aquatic life; chronic exposure to cadmium 
negatively impacts growth, development, behavior, reproduction, and 
immune and endocrine systems in aquatic life.

DATES: Comments must be received on or before February 1, 2016.

ADDRESSES: Submit your comments, identified by Docket ID No. EPA-HQ-OW-
2015-0753, to the Federal eRulemaking Portal: http://www.regulations.gov. Follow the online instructions for submitting 
comments. Once submitted, comments cannot be edited or withdrawn. EPA 
may publish any comment received to its public docket. Do not submit 
electronically any information you consider to be Confidential Business 
Information (CBI) or other information whose disclosure is restricted 
by statute. Multimedia submissions (audio, video, etc.) must be 
accompanied by a written comment. The written comment is considered the 
official comment and should include discussion of all points you wish 
to make. EPA will generally not consider comments or comment contents 
located outside of the primary submission (i.e., on the web, cloud, or 
other file sharing system). For additional submission methods, the full 
EPA public comment policy, information about CBI or multimedia 
submissions, and general guidance on making effective comments, please 
visit http://www2.epa.gov/dockets/commenting-epa-dockets.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Mike Elias, Health and Ecological 
Criteria Division, Office of Water (Mail Code 4304T), Environmental 
Protection Agency, 1200 Pennsylvania Avenue NW., Washington, DC 20460; 
telephone number: (202) 566-0120; email address: [email protected].


I. General Information

A. How can I get copies of this document and other related information?

    1. Docket: All documents in the docket are listed in the 
www.regulations.gov index. Although listed in the index, some 
information is not publicly available, e.g., CBI or other information 
whose disclosure is restricted by statute. Certain other material, such 
as copyrighted material, will be publicly available only in hard copy. 
Publicly available docket materials are available either electronically 
in www.regulations.gov or in hard copy at the EPA-HQ-OW-2015-0753 
Docket, EPA/DC, EPA West, Room 3334, 1301 Constitution Ave. NW., 
Washington, DC. The Public Reading Room is open from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 
p.m., Monday through Friday, excluding legal holidays. The telephone 
number for the Public Reading Room is (202) 566-1744, and the telephone 
number for the EPA-HQ-OW-2015-0753 Docket is (202) 566-2426. For 
additional information about EPA's public docket, visit EPA Docket 

[[Page 75098]]

homepage at http://www.epa.gov/epahome/dockets.htm.

II. What are EPA's recommended water quality criteria?

    EPA's recommended water quality criteria are scientifically derived 
numeric values that protect aquatic life or human health from the 
deleterious effects of pollutants in ambient water. Section 304(a)(1) 
of the Clean Water Act (CWA) directs EPA to develop and publish and, 
from time to time, revise criteria for protection of aquatic life and 
human health that accurately reflect the latest scientific knowledge. 
Water quality criteria developed under section 304(a) are based solely 
on data and the latest scientific knowledge on the relationship between 
pollutant concentrations and environmental and human health effects. 
Section 304(a) criteria do not reflect consideration of economic 
impacts or the technological feasibility of meeting pollutant 
concentrations in ambient water.
    EPA's recommended section 304(a) criteria provide technical 
information to states and authorized tribes in adopting water quality 
standards (WQS) that ultimately provide a basis for assessing water 
body health and controlling discharges or releases of pollutants. Under 
the CWA and its implementing regulations, states and authorized tribes 
are to adopt water quality criteria to protect designated uses (e.g., 
public water supply, aquatic life, recreational use, or industrial 
use). EPA's recommended water quality criteria do not substitute for 
the CWA or regulations, nor are they regulations themselves. EPA's 
recommended criteria do not impose legally binding requirements. States 
and authorized tribes have the discretion to adopt, where appropriate, 
other scientifically defensible water quality criteria that differ from 
these recommendations.

III. What is cadmium and why is EPA concerned about it?

    Cadmium is a relatively rare, naturally occurring metal found in 
mineral deposits and distributed ubiquitously at low concentrations in 
the environment. Cadmium's primary industrial uses are for the 
manufacturing of batteries, pigments, plastic stabilizers, metal 
coatings, alloys and electronics. Recently, cadmium has been used in 
manufacturing nanoparticles (quantum dots) for use in solar cells and 
color displays. Cadmium is a non-essential metal with no biological 
function in aquatic life. Chronic exposure leads to adverse effects on 
growth, reproduction, immune and endocrine systems, development and 
behavior in aquatic organisms.

IV. Information on the Draft Aquatic Life Ambient Water Quality 
Criteria for Cadmium

    EPA prepared an update of the chronic aquatic life criteria 
document for cadmium based on the latest scientific information and 
current EPA policies and methods, including EPA's Guidelines for 
Deriving Numerical National Water Quality Criteria for the Protection 
of Aquatic Organisms and Their Uses (1985) (EPA/R-85-100) and 
Guidelines for Ecological Risk Assessment (1998) (EPA/630/R-95/002F). 
The draft 2015 updated criteria include new data for 70 species and 49 
genera not previously represented. The draft freshwater acute criterion 
was derived to be protective of endangered species and further lowered 
to protect the commercially and recreationally important rainbow trout, 
consistent with procedures described in EPA's current aquatic life 
criteria guidelines; the freshwater acute value is approximately the 
same as the 2001 acute criterion for dissolved cadmium. The draft 
freshwater chronic criterion is slightly higher (i.e., less stringent) 
compared to the 2001 criterion for dissolved cadmium; this increase is 
primarily due to the inclusion of new data.
    The draft estuarine/marine acute criterion for dissolved cadmium is 
slightly more stringent than the 2001 recommended criterion, which is 
primarily due to the addition of data. Draft changes in suggested 
values between 2001 and 2015 can be found in Table 1 below.

                      Table 1--Summary of 2001 and 2015 Draft Aquatic Life AWQC for Cadmium
                                             2015 AWQC Update                            2001 AWQC
                                    Acute (1-hour,      Chronic (4-day,      Acute (1-day,      Chronic (4-day,
                                   dissolved Cd)\c\      dissolved Cd)       dissolved Cd)       dissolved Cd)
Freshwater (Total Hardness = 100  2.1 [micro]g/L \b\  0.73 [micro]g/L...  2.0 [micro]g/L \b\  0.25 [micro]g/L.
 mg/L as CaCO3) \a\.
Estuarine/marine................  35 [micro]g/L.....  8.3 [micro]g/L....  40 [micro]g/L.....  8.8 [micro]g/L.
\a\ Freshwater acute and chronic criteria are hardness-dependent and were normalized to a hardness of 100 mg/L
  as CaCO3 to allow the presentation of representative criteria values.
\b\ Lowered to protect the commercially and recreationally important species (rainbow trout), as per the 1985
  Guidelines, Stephen et al. (1985).
\c\ The duration of the 2015 acute criteria was changed to 1-hour to reflect the 1985 Guidelines-based
  recommended acute duration.

    EPA will consider the public comments, revise the document as 
necessary, and issue a final updated cadmium criteria document. This 
draft criteria document does not represent and should not be construed 
to represent any final EPA policy, viewpoint, or determination.

V. What is the relationship between the draft chronic water quality 
criterion and your state or tribal water quality standards?

    As part of the WQS triennial review process defined in section 
303(c)(1) of the CWA, the states and authorized tribes are responsible 
for maintaining and revising WQS. Standards consist of designated uses, 
water quality criteria to protect those uses, a policy for 
antidegradation, and may include general policies for application and 
implementation. Section 303(c)(1) requires states and authorized tribes 
to review and modify, if appropriate, their WQS at least once every 
three years.
    States and authorized tribes must adopt water quality criteria that 
protect designated uses. Protective criteria are based on a sound 
scientific rationale and contain sufficient parameters or constituents 
to protect the designated uses. Criteria may be expressed in either 
narrative or numeric form. States and authorized tribes have four 
options when adopting water quality criteria for

[[Page 75099]]

which EPA has published section 304(a) criteria. They can:
    (1) Establish numerical values based on recommended section 304(a) 
    (2) Adopt section 304(a) criteria modified to reflect site-specific 
    (3) Adopt criteria derived using other scientifically defensible 
methods; or
    (4) Establish narrative criteria where numeric criteria cannot be 
established or to supplement numerical criteria (40 CFR 131.11(b)).
    EPA's regulation at 40 CFR 131.20(a) states that if a state does 
not adopt new or revised criteria parameters for which EPA has 
published new or updated recommendations, then the state shall provide 
an explanation when it submits the results of its triennial review to 
the Regional Administrator consistent with CWA section 303(c)(1). The 
recommendations in the draft cadmium criteria document may change based 
on scientific views shared in response to this notice. Upon 
finalization, the updated cadmium criteria would supersede EPA's 
previous 304(a) criteria for cadmium. Consistent with 40 CFR 131.21, 
new or revised water quality criteria adopted into law or regulation by 
states and authorized tribes on or after May 30, 2 000 are applicable 
water quality standards for CWA purposes only after EPA approval.

VI. Solicitation of Scientific Views

    EPA is soliciting additional scientific views, data, and 
information regarding the science and technical approach used by the 
Agency in the derivation of this draft criteria for cadmium. The Agency 
is also interested in obtaining information regarding new toxicity 
tests on Hyalella azteca (amphipod); latent acute effects of cadmium 
following short exposures; and new estuarine marine chronic toxicity 

VII. Additional Information

    EPA conducted a contractor-led and independent external peer review 
of the draft Aquatic Life Ambient Water Quality Criteria for Cadmium 
document in October 2015. EPA will make the external peer review 
comments and Agency responses to these comments available in the docket 
with the revised draft cadmium criteria document at http://www.regulations.gov.

    Dated: November 24, 2015.
Joel Beauvais,
Acting Deputy Assistant Administrator, Office of Water.
[FR Doc. 2015-30493 Filed 11-30-15; 8:45 am]