Environmental Health in Israel | 2014

The 2013 standards stipulate that the sum of each parameter measured (within a contaminant group) in the drinking water source divided by the maximum contaminant level of that parameter is not allowed to exceed 1.5. This requirement is intended to minimize exposure to chemical mixtures in drinking water. The 2013 standards also require the Ministry of Health (MoH) to establish a permanent advisory committee to continuously evaluate international drinking water standards, evaluate data on drinking water quality in Israel, and recommend changes to existing standards. The 2013 standards cancel the existing requirement to fluoridate drinking water (as of August 2014) and require the MoH to conduct a pilot study on the feasibility of adding magnesium to desalinated drinking water. The quality of bottled water, much like other food products, is under the supervision of the National Food Service at the MoH. Regulations from 1986 establish maximum permissible concentrations of chemical parameters in drinking water sources of bottled water. The regulations require labeling if the mineral content in the water exceeds concentrations established by the regulations. In 2013 the MoH launched a campaign to increase public consumption of tap water in order to decrease consumption of sweetened beverages and bottled water. Data on Chemical Parameters in Drinking Water The MoH publishes annual reports on microbial and chemical water quality in drinking water sources based on reported data from drinking water suppliers. Based on data from 2009–2010, four chemical contaminants (pesticides and industrial pollutants) were detected in over 5% of drinking water sources in Israel: trichloroethylene (9.5%), tetrachloroethylene (6.9%), atrazine (13.8%), and simazine (14.1%). Chloroform was detected in 4.9% of drinking water sources. These results are consistent with data from 2006–2008. Heavy metals such as arsenic, mercury, lead and cadmium occur naturally in the environment and are detected in 2–7% of drinking water sources, usually at levels below 30% of the drinking water standard. The MoH publishes annual reports on water quality in municipal water supplies, including data on microbial quality, concentration of heavy metals, fluorides, and chlorination by-products (trihalomethanes). Heavy metals (chromium, lead, copper, iron and zinc) are generally below the drinking water standard in monitored municipal drinking water sources. However, it is important to point out that many municipalities do not meet the requirements for monitoring heavy metals in drinking water. The first major survey on drinking water quality in households and institutions in Israel was conducted by the MoH in 2011 following four smaller surveys in the 1990s. Of approximately 800 samples, 16 samples (2%) had lead concentrations above the standard (10 µg/L), while Environmental Health in Israel 2014  Chapter 4 - 32 -

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