The EPA will not set safety standards for perchlorate in drinking water after all.
White House and Pentagon officials have pressured the EPA for years to refrain from establishing safe allowable levels of the chemical in tap water. Recently, these officials deleted sections of a report by EPA scientists that underscored the dangers of perchlorate and advocated for its regulation.
The report estimates that 16 million Americans are exposed to unsafe levels of the chemical. Independent scientists using state and federal data suggest the number is twice as high.
Perchlorate is a rocket fuel additive that causes thyroid abnormalities in newborns and children. Redacted from the EPA report were results from research by UMass professor Robert Zoeller, who found that even tiny amounts of perchlorate can impair thyroid hormone production. This can cause irreversible loss of IQ and a host of perception and behavioral problems in children.
Nearly all perchlorate in drinking water results from lax disposal methods at chemical plants, rocket test sites and military installations. A national cleanup would cost several hundred million dollars.
The Bush administration has “distorted the science,” Zoeller said. “Infants and children will continue to be damaged, and that damage is significant.”