Title: Derogation from drinking water quality standards in Italy according to the European Directive 98/83/EC and the Legislative Decree 31/2001 – a look at the recent past.


BACKGROUND: Until 2012, the European Directive 98/83/EC and the Italian Legislative Decree 31/2001 allowed derogation from the drinking water quality standards in Italy with a number of requests higher than any other European country. The present work aims to assess the extent of the derogation granted in Italy, in particular by noting those issued from 2001 to 2012, in order to obtain a retrospective quality indicator, useful for evaluating the risk arising from population exposure.

METHODS: The most significant factors leading to derogation were analyzed. We first carried out an in-depth analysis of the European, national and regional legislation and subsequently distributed the obtained data according to: parameters regarding derogation; length of the derogation; area involved; and maximum parameter value granted by the derogation acts.

RESULTS: We found approximately 100 derogation acts, granted in 14 Regions and concerning 19, mostly chemical, parameters. The most frequently granted derogation, in 12 Regions, was due to the presence of arsenic. Furthermore, given its 10-year presence in Campania and Lazio, fluoride was the most widespread parameter in the Italian territory. The year 2006 had the largest number of derogations issued with 22 acts found: this decreased to one during the third three-year derogation granted in 2012.

CONCLUSIONS: Data collected showed how often Italy applied for drinking water quality derogation in recent years, going so far as to request a third three-year derogation. While this phenomenon has highlighted a practice largely ignored by the public, derogation acts have often involved the same parameters, underlining how difficult it can be to comply with the standards in a timely manner.


… The derogation requests concerned three parameters (arsenic, fluoride and boron) in five Regions (Lombardy, Tuscany, Lazio, Campania and Umbria); and two parameters (arsenic and fluoride) in Trentino Alto Adige (8).

… in July 2014 the EC sent a formal note regarding an infringement procedure against Italy, for failing to ensure compliance of its drinking water with European standards (in particular for arsenic and fluoride, especially in Lazio) (12).

… However, specific local requirements have often been indicated, even on a municipal scale, due to particular geological environmental conditions. This phenomenon arose, for example, regarding fluoride in various municipalities in the “Vesuvius area” and in Rome District. Moreover, arsenic frequently appeared in many municipalities of Lazio, Lombardy, Tuscany and Trento.

… In order to assess the length of derogation granted and to highlight more easily how widespread this phenomenon sometimes was, we counted the years during which the above-mentioned parameters derogated in the Italian Regions. Thus, we found that fluoride was in derogation for over 10 years in Campania and Lazio, even exceeding deadlines foreseen by the law.

… exceeded the European Directive standards (2), but also the most recent WHO guidelines… fluoride, mostly from 1.5 to 3 mg/l, although in Lazio (in the municipalities of Anguillara and Cerveteri) the MPV was 4 mg/l;

… we wish to underline that in the same spatial area the MPVs decreased compared with the previous derogation (eg fluoride from 3 to 2.5 mg/l in Campania;

*Read full paper at http://fluoridealert.org/wp-content/uploads/azara-2018.pdf