Group Launches Website to Clear Up Perchlorate 'Myths'

Oct. 13, 2003
New effort to combat government, environmentalists seeking lower MCL for contaminant

In an effort to combat environmentalists, an industry group called the Council of Water Quality–spearheaded by Lockheed Martin, Aerojet and Kerr-McGee Chemical–launched a new website,, that says it will deliver the "facts" about perchlorate, reported the LA Daily News. One of the statements made on the site includes, "People could drink the rocket fuel component at more than 30 times the propsed limit and face no health effects."

Nancy Heffernan, spokeswoman for the industry council, said the Web site showcases solid scientific studies indicating that low levels of perchlorate are harmless, contrary to state and federal assessments.

Environmentalists and health officials have recently taken a different approach to the perchlorate issue that has rapidly emerged as a water pollution problem in California. Both state and federal governments are looking closer at the contaminant and its effects and are much closer to setting stricter standards. Although the Council of Water Quality claims that people can drink perchlorate at levels up to 200 ppb and face no measurable health effects, government officials are proposing a new rule of 6 parts per billion.

Perchlorate has been discovered in 251 public drinking-water wells in California, primarily in Southern California, and the clean-up cost is climbing into billions of dollars.

Because of the enormous cost of cleaning up perchlorate and the competing health risk studies, state and federal limits on the chemical are being double-checked by science panels.

California regulators are supposed to set a drinking-water standard for perchlorate by January. Health officials have proposed a public-health goal, which is the basis for setting drinking-water limits, of between 2 and 6 ppb. University of California scientists are reviewing the goal for a second time and should have their recommendation by the end of the year.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency proposed a reference dose considered protective of people from lifetime exposure to chemicals. That is 1 ppb.

Perchlorate is both a naturally occurring and man-made chemical. Most of the perchlorate manufactured in the United States is used as the primary ingredient of solid rocket propellant. Wastes from the manufacture and improper disposal of perchlorate-containing chemicals are increasingly being discovered in soil and water.

Several types of treatment systems designed to reduce perchlorate concentrations are operating around the United States, reducing perchlorate to below the 4 ppb quantitation level. Biological treatment and ion (anion) exchange systems are among the technologies that are being used, with additional treatment technologies under development.

Source: LA Daily News