EPA Decides Not to Set Standard for Perchlorate

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced on June 18 it will not be setting a national drinking water standard for perchlorate, a rocket fuel chemical.

The decision, which reverses one from 2011 to set a standard, will become final once it is published in the Federal Register. The EPA stated that considering the steps it has already taken to reduce perchlorate levels, as well as those that states and public water systems have taken, perchlorate does not meet the criteria for regulation as a drinking water contaminant under the Safe Drinking Water Act.

“(The) decision is built on science and local success stories and fulfills President Trump’s promise to pare back burdensome ‘one-size-fits-all’ overregulation for the American people,” EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler said. “State and local water systems are effectively and efficiently managing levels of perchlorate. Our state partners deserve credit for their leadership on protecting public health in their communities, not unnecessary federal intervention.”

Perchlorate is commonly used in solid rocket propellants, munitions, fireworks, and airbag initiators for vehicles, matches, and signal flares. It can occur naturally, particularly in arid regions such as the southwestern United States.

NGWA has a best suggested practice for treating perchlorate in residential well systems. In it, the BSP states “Ingestion of perchlorate affects iodine uptake by the human thyroid and thus thyroidal hormone production,” while adding “public health risk from perchlorate remains controversial.” It has also been reported perchlorate causes cognitive and physical damage to children.

The decision is expected to result in litigation.