Jul 16, 2009

House Bill Sets Deadline for Perchlorate Regulation

Under proposed bill, EPA would have a year to propose a national drinking water regulation for the substance

Representative Jackie Speier (D-Calif.) introduced a House bill July 14 that would require the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to set a drinking water standard for perchlorate, a common ingredient of rocket fuel and fireworks, E&E Daily reported.

H.R. 3206 gives EPA one year to propose a national drinking water regulation for the substance, which was found in the drinking water in at least 35 states and the District of Columbia.

In 2008, EPA said it would not limit perchlorate in drinking water, stating that there was no “meaningful opportunity for health risk reduction” through a regulation. In January, the agency said it would delay its final decision on whether to issue a regulation until the National Academy of Sciences studied the matter.

EPA has been studying the 2008 decision not to regulate the substance, EPA spokesman Dale Kemery said, and will make its findings public sometime this summer. The public will have opportunity to comment before EPA issues a final regulatory decision.

While there has been no federal action, states have made their own regulations. Massachusetts established a 2 parts per billion (ppb) standard in 2006, and California has a legal limit of 6 ppb for public drinking water.

Perchlorate may inhibit the thyroid gland's iodine uptake and, at high doses, interfere with fetus development.

Some make the argument that there is not sufficient proof that low levels of perchlorate pose any health threat. Some Republicans have also maintained that legislation mandating a drinking water standard for perchlorate would violate the regulatory process outlined in the Safe Drinking Water Act.