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Environment

EPA Reanalyzes Perchlorate Data

by Cheryl Hogue
August 10, 2009 | APPEARED IN VOLUME 87, ISSUE 32

EPA is reopening the possibility for a national limit on perchlorate in drinking water by reexamining data on people's exposure to the compound. The move is counter to the Bush Administration's preliminary determination in October 2008 that EPA would not regulate perchlorate, a component of rocket fuel and a naturally occurring compound, in drinking water (C&EN, Oct. 13, 2008, page 25). Last year's decision was seen as a victory for the military, the Department of Energy, NASA, and their contractors, whose operations contaminated aquifers and rivers with the substance in more than 20 states. Perchlorate disrupts thyroid metabolism and can cause neurological damage in developing babies and young children. Last week, EPA said it is reanalyzing perchlorate exposure data and taking into account that infants and children drink more water per unit of body weight than do adults. "It is critically important to protect sensitive populations, particularly infants and young children, from perchlorate in drinking water," EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson says. The agency is seeking public comment on approaches that EPA is taking to reevaluate perchlorate exposure data.

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