Jun 22, 2020

EPA Issues Final Action for Perchlorate in Drinking Water

The U.S. EPA determined that perchlorate does not meet the criteria for regulation as a drinking water contaminant 

drinking water contaminant

The U.S. EPA issued a final action regarding the regulation of perchlorate under the Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA). 

Perchlorate does not meet the criteria for regulation as a drinking water contaminant under the SDWA, reported the EPA in its recent press release. This means the agency is withdrawing the 2011 regulatory determination and is making a final determination to not issue a national regulation for perchlorate.

“State and local water systems are effectively and efficiently managing levels of perchlorate. Our state partners deserve credit for their leadership on protecting public health in their communities, not unnecessary federal intervention,” said EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler. 

The agency published a notice of proposed rulemaking in the Federal Register on Jun. 26, 2019 seeking public input on a range of options regarding the regulation of perchlorate in public drinking water systems. 

In addition, the EPA requested comment on three alternative regulatory options, including:

  • An MCL and MCLG for perchlorate set at 18 micrograms per liter.
  • An MCL and MCLG for perchlorate set at 90 micrograms per liter.
  • Withdrawal of the agency’s 2011 determination to regulate perchlorate in drinking water.

According to the EPA, the main factors contributing to the decrease in perchlorate levels include: drinking water regulations for perchlorate in Massachusetts and California; federal and state remediation activities at perchlorate contaminated sites; and improved procedures for storage and handling of hypochlorite solutions used as drinking water disinfectants.

The agency also performed a new health impact analysis based on recommendations from the Science Advisory Board, which shows that the concentrations at which perchlorate may present a public health concern are higher than the concentrations considered in the 2011 regulatory determination.

“Based on this updated data and analysis, EPA is making a final determination that perchlorate is not found in drinking water with a frequency and at levels of public health concern to support a meaningful opportunity for health risk reduction through a national perchlorate drinking water regulation,” said the agency in the recent press release.

The EPA has provided steps water systems can take to mitigate the contaminant if and where it occurs, however. 

The Federal Register Notice can be read here and additional supporting information is available in Docket ID No. EPA-HQ-OW-2018-0780.

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