Sounding the alarm over rocket fuel in drinking water
EWG worked intensely to press EPA to crack down on pollution of perchlorate, a rocket fuel component and thyroid toxin, in drinking water. Agency leaders refused and were widely denounced by newspaper editorials and environmentalists.
On May 6, EWG Executive Director Richard Wiles testified before the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee at a hearing on legislation by committee Chair Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) to set national safety standards for perchlorate in drinking water.
Leached from military bases and manufacturing plants into water supplies, the chemical has contaminated the drinking water of 40 million people in nearly 30 states. Research shows it disrupts the production of thyroid hormones, essential for brain development. In 2001 EWG put perchlorate on the map by exposing an unethical human experiment: defense contractor Lockheed Martin was giving the chemical to people in a failed attempt to show it was safe.
California officials announced they would reassess a public health goal for perchlorate after EWG and other advocacy groups petitioned them to do so.