Trump EPA sets tap water limit for rocket fuel chemical 3X higher than agency scientists recommend

"Instead of taking action to lower the levels of this rocket fuel chemical in drinking water, the administration’s plan will endanger the health of future generations of kids.”

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Image Credit: Royalty-Free/Corbis

WASHINGTON – The Trump administration’s Environmental Protection Agency is proposing to set a drinking limit for a toxic rocket fuel chemical three times higher than agency scientists recommended during the Obama administration.

This week, the EPA announced it plans to implement a legal limit for perchlorate under the Safe Drinking Water Act at 56 parts per billion, or ppb. The proposed safe level published by the EPA under the Obama administration was 15 ppb.

EWG scientists endorse a health-protective limit for perchlorate of 1 ppb to safeguard against its toxicity to children. Massachusetts has the country’s most health-protective drinking water regulation for the chemical, at 2 ppb. Perchlorate in drinking water is also regulated in Arizona, California, New Jersey, New York and Texas. In 2015, California set a public health goal of 1 ppb – the level the state’s scientists believe poses no significant risk to health – but its legal limit remains 6 ppb.

“The science on perchlorate is very clear: It harms infants and the developing fetus,” said Olga Naidenko, Ph.D, senior science advisor for children’s environmental health at EWG. “Perchlorate can cause irreparable damage to both cognitive and physical development. Instead of taking action to lower the levels of this rocket fuel chemical in drinking water, the administration’s plan will endanger the health of future generations of kids.”

Perchlorate, a component of rocket fuel, flares and fireworks, occurs both naturally and as a synthetic chemical. EPA-mandated testing between 2001 and 2003 found perchlorate in drinking water systems serving more than 16.6 million Americans. Perchlorate has also been reported in bagged produce, milk, and different packaged foods.

The EPA proposal comes after a decade of delay and a lawsuit by the Natural Resources Defense Council. It is the first standard proposed for a new chemical under the Safe Drinking Water Act in more than two decades.

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