EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson announced on Wednesday, August 5, 2009, that the EPA is seeking public comment on its re-evaluation of the of the scientific information on perchlorate in drinking water. Perchlorate is both a naturally occurring and a man-made chemical. Perchlorate is used in the manufacture of fireworks, flares and solid rocket propellant. On October 10, 2008, the Bush Administration EPA made a preliminary decision not to regulate perchlorate. 73 Fed.Reg. 60262 (Oct. 10, 2008); see also, 73 Fed.Reg. 61857 (Oct. 17, 2008) (correcting docket number) and 73 Fed.Reg. 66895 (Nov. 12, 2008)(re-opening public comment period).
In the press release accompanying today’s announcement, Administrator Jackson directed EPA staff to review the October, 2008 decision focusing on an evaluation of the impact of perchlorate on infants and young children. “It is critically important to protect sensitive populations, particularly infants and young children, from perchlorate in drinking water,” Administrator Jackson stated in the press release. “As we re-evaluate the science around perchlorate, we will seek public input before making a regulatory determination based on the best science.”
The press release stated that the
analysis presented in the notice announced today more directly evaluates children’s exposure to perchlorate. This step takes into account the fact that infants and children consume more water per body weight than do adults. EPA is now considering a broader range of alternatives for interpreting the available data on the level of health concern, the frequency of occurrence of perchlorate in drinking water, and the opportunity for health risk reduction through a national primary drinking water standard. These alternative interpretation may impact the agency’s final regulatory determination for perchlorate.
This announcement follows EPA’s issuance in January, 2009, of an Interim Health Advisory for perchlorate to assist state and local officials in addressing local contamination of perchlorate in drinking water while the Agency evaluates the opportunity to reduce risks through a national primary drinking water standard.
Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Cal.), Chairman of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works, in a statement released after the EPA’s announcement, backed the EPA:
Perchlorate, a toxic chemical contained in rocket fuel, does not belong in our drinking water, so I am very pleased to see the Obama administration taking the first steps toward protecting our families from this dangerous contaminant. The science has made clear that perchlorate can threaten the health of pregnant women and young children across the nation, and that is why I have consistently worked for strong safeguards to protect people from this toxic chemical.
- EPA’s Webpage on Perchlorate, updated August 5, 2009.
- Las Vegas Sun, “EPA re-evaluates rocket fuel chemical’s effect on children,” posted August 5, 2009.
- GantDaily.com, “With New Administration In Power EPA Wants To Re-Evaluate Impact Of Chemical Perchlorate In Drinking Water On Infants, Children,” posted August 5, 2009.
- St. Louis Post Dispatch, “EPA seeking new comments on chemical found in rocket fuel,” posted August 5, 2009.