October 31, 2001 -- NEWS ALERT SERVICE
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Boo! EPA Announces Final Arsenic Standard of 10 ppb

Just in time for All Hallow's Eve, USEPA Administrator, Christie Whitman, announced today, October 31, 2001, that the final maximum contaminant level (MCL) for arsenic will be set at 10 ppb (Fact Sheet). This action follows the January 20, 2001 retraction for further review of the MCL set under the Clinton Administration. After nine months of intensive study and much new cost and health effects information, EPA has decided to stick with its original decision. Effects of this regulation will be felt nationwide but the largest impacts will undoubtedly be found in the western U.S.

Based on the summary below of what Halloween really means, it looks like the 10 ppb arsenic MCL was truly raised from the dead.

All Hallow's Eve is the eve of All Hallow's Day (November 1st). And for once, even popular tradition remembers that the Eve is more important than the Day itself, the traditional celebration focusing on October 31st, beginning at sundown. It is startling how many ancient and unconnected cultures (the Egyptians and pre-Spanish Mexicans, for example) celebrated this as a festival of the dead. But the majority of our modern traditions can be traced to the British Isles…

As a feast of the dead, it was believed the dead could, if they wished, return to the land of the living for this one night, to celebrate with their family, tribe, or clan. And so the great burial mounds of Ireland (sidh mounds) were opened up, with lighted torches lining the walls, so the dead could find their way. Extra places were set at the table and food set out for any who had died that year. And there are many stories that tell of Irish heroes making raids on the Underworld while the gates of faery stood open, though all must return to their appointed places by cock-crow.
With thanks to Mike Nichols.

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