EPA Looking At Perchlorate Exposure And Kids

A toxic component of rocket fuel, <"http://www.yourlawyer.com/topics/overview/perchlorate">perchlorate, has shown up in unlikely places, such as public water supplies and baby formula. At last, the dangerous chemical is a bit closer to being federally regulated, reports Environment News Service, citing the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

Perchlorate is also used to make fireworks and safety flares, noted Environment News Service; regulation could follow completion of a scientific review.

Years ago, the military and missile makers dumped perchlorate into the ground where it has since spread into wells and rivers nationwide. According to a prior SFGate piece, perchlorate contamination can be found in at least 35 states and 153 public water systems. Worse, pointed out the Boston Phoenix, also from a prior piece, the former Bush Administration blocked a multi-year EPA initiative to limit perchlorate in the nation’s drinking water. “The agency has determined that a national primary drinking water regulation for perchlorate would not present a meaningful opportunity for health risk reduction for persons served by public water systems,” said the agency, quoted the Environmental News Service.

Perchlorate is one of a group of toxins called endocrine disrupters, which can alter hormonal balances and impede human reproduction and development. Although the EPA has said that based on laboratory and epidemiological studies, perchlorate is dangerous in drinking water at levels above one part per billion (ppb); at the national level, it had been looking into formally determining that setting a perchlorate standard in drinking water was unnecessary. According to a previous USA Today piece, the new administrator for the EPA—Lisa Jackson—has reportedly pledged to act quickly to address and reduce the toxin’s contamination in drinking water.

Today, Jackson announced that the EPA will review the decision again with a focus on the effects of the toxin on infants and young children, said Environment News Today. “It is critically important to protect sensitive populations, particularly infants and young children, from perchlorate in drinking water,” said Jackson. “As we re-evaluate the science around perchlorate, we will seek public input before making a regulatory determination based on the best science,” quoted Environment News Today.

The EPA had long ignored the need to remove perchlorate from public water supplies; however, it has since announced that its initial report should have used a cumulative risk assessment for perchlorate, among other chemicals, as well as the issue of iodine. In other words, the EPA erred in its original reporting.

Of note, in 2005, the National Research Council (NRC) wrote about potential adverse health effects of perchlorate exposure and found a link between the toxin and iodine interference, said Environment News Today. Iodine uptake is critical to normal thyroid function.

The emerging analysis looks more closely at perchlorate and the pediatric population, in part because this demographic takes in more water per pound than adults, noted Environment News Today.

The federal Agency for Toxic Substances, said Environment News Today, mentions analysis that reveals the “widespread exposure to low levels of perchlorate by the general population.”

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