California Aims To Cut Rocket Fuel Pollution in Drinking Water

Oakland, Calif. – California environmental officials have issued a draft public health goal for drinking water polluted with perchlorate, a toxic rocket fuel chemical that is six times lower than the current legal limit.

“Although the federal government has not acted to reduce the levels of perchlorate in the drinking water nationwide, California is blazing its own path to protecting the people of the state from ingesting hazardous levels of this toxic chemical,” said Renee Sharp, director of Environmental Working Group’s California office and senior EWG scientist. “Let’s hope the federal Environmental Protection Agency will follow California’s lead and move to cut perchlorate in drinking water coast-to-coast.”

California’s Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment has issued a peer-reviewed draft that would establish 1 part per billion as the state’s new “public health goal” for perchlorate when finalized. The state’s public health goal is not legally binding but serves as the starting point for lowering the legal limit for this type of pollution. The existing legal cap for perchlorate is 6 parts per billion.

Scientific research shows that even small amounts of perchlorate can disrupt the body’s production of thyroid hormones critical to normal brain development. For this reason, even small amounts of perchlorate can be dangerous to the fetus, infants and young children.

The Bush administration did not attempt to lower perchlorate levels in drinking water despite overwhelming evidence that the chemical contaminated water supplies in at least 28 states.

The Obama administration, under the leadership of EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson, has pledged to reduce perchlorate water pollution under the authority of the federal Safe Drinking Water Act. However, EPA’s plan to regulate the chemical is still in the review process at EPA.

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