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Obama administration to set perchlorate levels in drinking water

TapwaterThe Obama administration may be poised to reverse another Bush administration decision on toxic chemicals.

Under President Bush in 2008, the Environment Protection Agency decided not to regulate perchlorate, a chemical used to make rocket fuel that has been found in drinking water and has been linked to thyroid hormone disruption in young children. Now, it looks like the agency is reconsidering that stance.

In California, perchlorate used in manufacturing has seeped into groundwater. High levels of the chemical in drinking water has caused alarm in Rialto and Santa Clarita. The chemical has also turned up in tainted lettuce. In the absence of federal regulations, California moved to set state standards for perchlorate in drinking water in 2006. Massachusetts was the only other state with an enforceable standard on the chemical. 

That same year, the EPA drew a response  from scientists at its the Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment, who said the agency's recommended standard on perchlorate failed to protect infants and children.

Now, EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson has said the organization will take another look at the chemical and accept public comments. “It is critically important to protect sensitive populations, particularly infants and young children, from perchlorate in drinking water,” Jackson said.  “As we re- re-evaluate the science around perchlorate, we will seek public input before making a regulatory determination based on the best science.”

The chemical is found naturally on Earth and is used to make fireworks, flares and rocket propellant. It has also been found on Mars.

-- Amy Littlefield

Photo: Perchlorate is a chemical found in drinking water that has been linked to thyroid hormone disruption. Credit: Ricardo DeAratanha/Los Angeles Times

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Drinking Water: Perchlorate Supplemental Request for Public Comments has been extended to October 8th, 2009

SUMMARY: In an August 19, 2009, Federal Register notice, EPA announced that it was seeking comments on additional approaches to analyzing data related to the Agency's preliminary regulatory determination for perchlorate. (Perchlorates are the salts derived from perchloric acid (HClO4). They occur both naturally and through manufacturing.) The additional comments are sought in an effort to ensure consideration of all the potential options for evaluating whether there is a meaningful opportunity for human health risk reduction of perchlorate through a national primary drinking water rule. In response to requests from several stakeholders, this action reopens the public comment period for an additional 15 days.

DATES: EPA must receive your comments on or before October 8, 2009.

ADDRESSES: Submit your comments, identified by Docket ID No. EPA-HQ-OW-2009-0297, by one of the following methods:
* Follow the on-line instructions for submitting comments.
* Mail: Water Docket, Environmental Protection Agency, Mailcode: 2822T, 1200 Pennsylvania Ave., NW., Washington, DC 20460.
* Hand Delivery: Water Docket, EPA Docket Center (EPA/DC) EPA West, Room 3334, 1301 Constitution Ave., NW., Washington, DC. Such deliveries are only accepted during the Docket's normal hours of operation, and special arrangements should be made for deliveries of boxed information.

74 FR 48541 -- Sep. 23, 2009 This EPA source came from

This is good news - and so worth taking the time to comment and push EPA to make the right decision! Perchlorate causes developmental problems in children, and infertility and thyroid cancer in women. Women who breastfeed should be especially concerned about perchlorate as it tends to concentrate in breastmik to levels that can be extremely dangerous for babies.

To learn more about perchlorate visit Nuprana's water news blog where there is a full article dedicated to the topic, with links. Go to and view the editorial "Infertility and Tainted Breastmilk..."

And please, let's take action and get the EPA to finally regulate this toxic chemical!

Here is some more information on the issue with perchlorate and our drinking water:


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