The EPA’s Plan to Protect the Public from Perchlorate in Our Water Supply

Description: How does the Environmental Protection Agency plan to protect the public from perchlorate? Eco-Rental Solutions shares their insights.

In March of 2022, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced that it had completed a review of a July 2020 determination not to regulate perchlorate in drinking water. The EPA announced multiple integrated actions to ensure the public’s health as it relates to this substance in our drinking water supplies. Read on to learn more.

What is perchlorate?

What exactly is perchlorate, exactly? This chemical compound is commonly used in fireworks, rocket propellants, munitions, signal flares, airbags in vehicles, and in other applications. It also occurs naturally, particularly in the southwestern part of the U.S., and is also a byproduct of hypochlorite solutions used to treat drinking water and of nitrate salts that are used in the production of fertilizers and explosives.

According to the Food and Drug Administration, the health risks associated with exposure to high levels of perchlorate include thyroid problems, which can result in the reduction of thyroid hormone. This hormone plays an important role in regulating our metabolism. The FDA also notes that pregnant women and their fetuses, as well as newborns, are at the greatest risk for adverse health effects from perchlorate.

What is the EPA’s plan?

Funding through the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, as well as a new monitoring study, financial and technical tools, and contaminated site cleanup plans are all part of the EPA’s plan. The funding through the law is one piece of the single-largest investment in U.S. water infrastructure – the agency supports better research into perchlorate and also plans on rolling out an online toolkit that communities can use to learn more about potential contamination of their drinking water sources.

What does the future hold?

While the EPA is not pursuing a nationwide drinking water regulation to combat perchlorate contamination – the March 2022 decision upheld the July 2020 review that determined perchlorate is not found in drinking water at high enough levels to be of concern – the agency will continue researching and providing tools for communities to ensure a safe drinking water supply. It’s possible that in the future, perchlorate will be added to the list of contaminants under the Safe Drinking Water Act.

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