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February 15, 2011

     
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Government Relations


EPA to Develop Regulation for Perchlorate and Toxic Chemicals in Drinking Water

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency recently announced a decision to move forward with the development of a regulation for perchlorate that's designed to protect Americans from any potential health impacts, while also continuing to take steps to ensure the quality of the water they drink. The decision to implement a first-ever national standard for perchlorate reverses a decision made by the previous administration and comes after EPA administrator Lisa P. Jackson ordered EPA scientists to undertake a thorough review of the emerging science of perchlorate. Perchlorate is both a naturally occurring and man-made chemical, and scientific research indicates that it may impact the normal function of the thyroid, which produces important developmental hormones. Thyroid hormones are critical to the normal development and growth of fetuses, infants and children. Based on this potential concern, the EPA will move forward with proposing a formal rule. This process will include receiving input from key stakeholders, as well as submitting any formal rule to a public comment process.

In a separate action, the agency is also moving towards establishing a drinking water standard to address a group of up to 16 toxic chemicals that may pose risks to human health. This group of volatile organic compounds (VOCs), which are chemicals such as industrial solvents, includes trichloroethylene (TCE) and tetrachloroethylene (PCE), as well as other regulated and some unregulated contaminants that are discharged from industrial operations. The VOC standard will be developed as part of EPA’s new strategy for drinking water, announced by the agency in March 2010. A key principle of the strategy is to address contaminants as groups rather than individually in order to provide public health protections more quickly and also allow utilities to more effectively and efficiently plan for improvements.

“Clean water is critical to the health and prosperity of every American community and a fundamental concern to every American family. EPA is hard at work on innovative ways to improve protections for the water we drink and give to our children, and the development of these improved standards is an important step forward,” said EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson. “Our decisions are based on extensive review of the best available science and the health needs of the American people.”

The EPA will continue to evaluate the science on perchlorate health effects and occurrence in public water systems. The agency will also now begin to evaluate the feasibility and affordability of treatment technologies to remove perchlorate and will examine the costs and benefits of potential standards.

Jackson’s 2010 Speech on the EPA’s new Drinking Water Strategy (DWS) can be found by clicking here.