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EPA Regulates Fuel Explosive in Tap Water

Perchlorate first drinking water standard since 2001

WASHINGTON -  Perchlorate, a common ingredient in rocket fuel and a potent thyroid
toxin, will finally be regulated in drinking water, Environmental
Protection Agency Administrator Lisa P. Jackson announced today.

The agency promised upcoming limits for up to 16 other “toxic
chemicals” in drinking water. Currently, EPA regulates approximately 90
contaminants in drinking water.

Environmental Working Group has advocated for federal regulation of perchlorate
since its 2001 investigation of perchlorate contamination in California
drinking water. In 2009, after the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and
Prevention found perchlorate in 15 top-selling brands of infant
formula. Levels were high enough that if the formula was mixed with even
minimally perchlorate-tainted water, infants could ingest more than
EPA’s “safe” level. EWG immediately urged the Obama administration to take action to regulate the chemical, which EPA estimates to be in the drinking water of up to 17 million Americans.

“Since there is no question about the low-dose toxicity of
perchlorate, maybe its time for Americans to stop drinking rocket fuel,”
Ken Cook, president and co-founder of EWG, said. “Perchlorate
contamination from industrial, agricultural and natural sources will
continue to pollute us through other food exposures. It demands robust
safeguards in water to protect public health.”

Federal scientists have documented evidence of the dangers of the rocket fuel component for years. A 2006 CDC survey
suggested that perchlorate may be the culprit in altered thyroid
hormone levels in women. In 2008, three EPA scientific advisory panels
objected to a Bush administration decision not to regulate perchlorate
pollution. The administration took that position after strenuous
lobbying by the defense and aerospace industries, which hoped to avoid
expensive clean-ups. Today’s announcement reverses that stance.

Last month, California regulators proposed to decrease the state’s
public health goal for perchlorate from 6 to 1 part per billion. They
acted to ensure extra protections for infants. Perchlorate exposure can
interfere with normal brain development, according to recent research.

Jackson has made cleaning up drinking water a top priority for her
agency. “The aim is to find solutions that meet the health and economic
needs of communities across the country more effectively than the
current approach," Jackson said in an interview with CNN. A 2009 analysis by EWG of the nation’s drinking water found 315 pollutants in water, 202 of which have no legal limit in tap water.


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The mission of the Environmental Working Group (EWG) is to use the power of public information to protect public health and the environment. EWG is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, founded in 1993 by Ken Cook and Richard Wiles.

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