Preventing Perchlorate and Toxic Chemicals in Drinking Water
Administrator Jackson announced today that EPA will develop a regulation for limiting perchlorate in drinking water and update drinking water standards to address 16 toxic chemicals believed to threaten the public’s health. The announcement is an important step forward in the EPA’s mission to protect the health of the American people, and part of Administrator Jackson’s pledge of modernized, innovative drinking water protections for communities across the US.
Perchlorate is commonly found in rocket fuel, fireworks, flares and explosives, and may be present in bleach and some fertilizers. Science has indicated that perchlorate may impact the normal function of the thyroid, which produces important developmental hormones critical to the development and growth of fetuses, infants and children. EPA is acting out of concerns that perchlorate is present in public water systems serving between 5 and 17 million people.
Establishing a first-ever national standard for perchlorate reverses actions taken by the previous Administration’s position and follows Administrator Jackson’s directive to EPA scientists to thoroughly review the science around the contaminant. That research was peer reviewed by independent scientists and public health experts, including the National Academy of Sciences. As with every new health standard EPA sets, the proposal and finalization of updated protections from perchlorate will involve extensive input from key stakeholders and the public.
“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.”
In a separate action to protect the water we drink, the EPA is 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) includes chemicals such as industrial solvents, trichloroethylene (TCE) and tetrachloroethylene (PCE) as well as other regulated and unregulated contaminants discharged from industrial operations. As part of the Drinking Water Strategy laid out by Administrator Jackson in 2010, EPA is committed to addressing contaminants as a group, rather than one at a time, creating opportunities for enhanced, cost-effective drinking water protection.
EPA will continue to evaluate the science on perchlorate health effects and its occurrence in our public water systems, while exploring the feasibility and affordability of treatment technologies to remove contaminants from drinking water and examining the costs and benefits of potential standards.