PDF _ RS21961 - Perchlorate Contamination of Drinking Water: Regulatory Issues and Legislative Actions
22-May-2008; Mary Tiemann; 6 p.

Update: Previous Releases:
November 9, 2007
April 4, 2007
January 10, 2007
November 29, 2006
June 1, 2006
June 1, 2005
February 3, 2005

Abstract: Perchlorate is the explosive component of solid rocket fuel, fireworks, road flares, and other products. Used heavily by the Department of Defense (DOD) and related industries, perchlorate also occurs naturally and is present in some organic fertilizer. This soluble, persistent compound has been detected in drinking water supplies, especially in California. It also has been found in milk and many foods. Because of this widespread occurrence, concern over the potential health risks of perchlorate exposure has increased, and some states and Members of Congress have urged the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to set a drinking water standard for perchlorate. EPA has been assessing perchlorate’s health effects and occurrence, but has not determined whether a national standard is warranted, noting the frequency with which perchlorate has been detected in food; a decision is expected this year. Regulatory issues have involved the relative benefits and costs of federal regulation, including environmental cleanup and water treatment costs, both of which are driven by federal and state standards. (California and Massachusetts have set standards.) Interagency disagreements over the risks of perchlorate exposure led several federal agencies to ask the National Research Council (NRC) to evaluate perchlorate’s health effects and EPA’s risk analyses. In 2005, the NRC issued its report, and EPA adopted the NRC’s recommended reference dose (i.e., the expected safe dose) for perchlorate exposure. Recent studies raise more concerns about potential effects of low-level exposures, particularly for infants in certain cases. This report reviews perchlorate water contamination issues and developments.

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Topics: Water, Federal Agencies, Pollution

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