The House passed legislation on Tuesday directing the Environmental Protection Agency to study how to test drinking water for algal toxins.
Passed 375-37, the bill would require the EPA to submit a strategy to Congress within 90 days about how it will manage health risks caused by the presence of algae in water systems used by the public.
The measure comes in the aftermath of algal toxins in water from Lake Erie last year contaminated drinking water for 400,000 people in the Toledo, Ohio area. Residents were urged not to drink water from the taps for two days.
Algal toxins can cause a variety of health problems, including skin and eye irritation, gastrointestinal illness and contamination of fish.
The Toledo contamination affected constituents of Rep. Bob Latta (R-Ohio), the bill’s sponsor.
“The situation demonstrated a need for a more strategic, comprehensive and strong scientific approach to protect our citizens’ public drinking water,” Latta said.
Rep. Frank Pallone (D-N.J.), the top Democrat on the House Energy and Commerce Committee, said Congress should anticipate providing states with resources and funding to test drinking water for the toxins.
“Addressing cyanotoxins in drinking water is very expensive for states and water utilities,” Pallone said. “This bill is a good step. More needs to be done.”