Issue: March 2011
March 01, 2011
1 min read

EPA to develop standard for perchlorate

Issue: March 2011
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The US Environmental Protection Agency will develop a national standard for perchlorate to protect Americans from potential health effects.

The decision — a reversal of a decision made by the previous administration — comes after EPA administrator Lisa P. Jackson ordered agency scientists to review the emerging science of perchlorate.

Perchlorate is a naturally occurring and man-made chemical used in the manufacture of rocket fuel, fireworks, flares and explosives, and may be present in bleach and some fertilizers. Scientific research indicates that perchlorate may impact normal thyroid function. Based on this potential concern, the EPA will move forward with proposing a formal rule. This process will include receiving input from key stakeholders as well as submitting any formal rule to a public comment process.

In a separate action, the agency aims to establish a drinking water standard to address a group of up to 16 toxic chemicals that may pose risks to human health, according to the release. In 2010, as part of the Drinking Water Strategy laid out by Jackson, the EPA committed to addressing contaminants as a group, rather than one at a time, to cost-effectively enhance drinking water protection efforts. The current action delivers on the same promise to strengthen public health protection from contaminants in drinking water.

According to monitoring data, more than 4% of public water systems have detected perchlorate and between 5 million and 17 million people may be served drinking water containing the chemical. Independent scientists and public health experts, including the National Academy of Sciences, have peer reviewed the data leading to the current decision.

Clean water is critical to the health and prosperity of every American community and a fundamental concern to every American family,” Jackson said in the release. “EPA is hard at work on innovative ways to improve protections for the water we drink and give to our children, and the development of these improved standards is an important step forward. Our decisions are based on extensive review of the best available science and the health needs of the American people.”

The EPA will continue to evaluate the science on perchlorate health effects and occurrence in public water systems. The agency will also now begin to evaluate the feasibility and affordability of treatment technologies to remove perchlorate and will examine the costs and benefits of potential standards.

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