Water pollution: The EPA is going to regulate perchlorate in drinking water

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From the San Francisco Chronicle (Kelly Zito):

The Obama administration’s announcement comes after two decades of research showing the dangers posed by the ubiquitous chemical and two years after the Bush administration exempted perchlorate from regulation. “I applaud EPA’s decision to regulate perchlorate in drinking water,” Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., said in a statement. “Americans simply shouldn’t have to worry that the water they drink and cook with will make them sick.”[…]

Public health advocates praised the decision but acknowledged the challenges of taking on those who dispersed most of the perchlorate into the environment: the aerospace and chemical industries, NASA and the Department of Defense. For years, efforts to curtail perchlorate and force the costly clean up of polluted sites have met with resistance from manufacturers and the military, which questioned perchlorate’s risks. “We’re extremely pleased – (the EPA) has wanted to do this for a long time,” said Jennifer Sass, senior scientist with the Natural Resources Defense Council in Washington, D.C. “We hope they can make it final without any more political interference.”[…]

Most perchlorate contamination in California and 44 other states where the compound has been detected stems from military and munitions operations. Known for its combustible nature, the tasteless, odorless perchlorate was historically used in rocket fuel. Today it is still used in air bags and fireworks. Its disposal wasn’t controlled, however, and excess or out-of-date perchlorate was often dumped into unlined ponds. From there it leached into underground aquifers and rivers – including the Colorado River, which provides water for millions of people throughout several states and Southern California.

More coverage from Mae Wu writing for the Natural Resources Defense Council weblog Switchboard. From the article:

Under the federal Safe Drinking Water Act, when EPA finds that a contaminant meets three criteria, it must begin the process of limiting its presence in drinking water. Today, EPA found that perchlorate meets all three criteria.

1) Perchlorate may have an adverse effect on the people’s health,

2) Perchlorate is known to occur or there is a substantial likelihood that the contaminant will occur in public water systems with a frequency and at levels of public health concern, and

3) Regulating perchlorate presents a meaningful opportunity for health risk reduction for those served by public water systems.

More water pollution coverage here. More perchlorate coverage here and here.

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