04 February 2011, 18:16 BST
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is moving forward with a first-ever drinking water standard for perchlorate--a chemical used in the production of rocket fuel and explosives.
The decision to create a national standard for perchlorate reverses a decision made by the previous administration and comes after 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, EPA will move forward with proposing a formal rule.
Monitoring data show more than 4% of public water systems have detected perchlorate and between 5 million and 17 million people may be served drinking water containing perchlorate. The science that has led to this decision has been peer reviewed by independent scientists and public health experts including the National Academy of Sciences, EPA said.
Perchlorate is used in the manufacture of rocket fuel, fireworks, flares and explosives, and may be present in bleach and in some fertilizers.
EPA said it 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.
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. As part of the Drinking Water Strategy laid out by Administrator Jackson in 2010, EPA committed to addressing contaminants as a group rather than one at a time so that enhancement of drinking water protection can be achieved cost effectively.
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 administrator in March 2010.
More information on perchlorate is available at the link below.
Source: Sustainable Business