Misguided EPA decision would ignore rocket fuel chemical in drinking water

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Rollback would stop regulation of perchlorate

U.S. PIRG Education Fund

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced on Thursday that it is rolling back the regulation of perchlorate, a key component of rocket fuel, in Americans’ drinking water. Under the Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA), in 2011, the agency had classified perchlorate as a drinking water contaminant. 

In response, Danielle Melgar, U.S. PIRG Education Fund’s Toxics Program advocate and John Rumpler, Environment America Research and Policy Center’s Clean Water Program senior director, released the following statements:

“The new EPA decision ignores evidence that perchlorate interferes with thyroid function and can cause permanent damage to fetuses, newborns and children. The link between perchlorate and thyroid disruption is indisputable — it was previously used as a treatment for hyperthyroidism until patients started exhibiting serious adverse side effects,” said Melgar. “The EPA’s dubious justification for rolling back the 2011 regulation is that this harmful chemical is not found in drinking water in enough places or at high enough levels to merit regulation. But that’s because when the EPA shirked its responsibility, states such as California and Massachusetts began to regulate perchlorate on their own. This decision fails every American who relies on the agency to keep us healthy and safe.”

“Once again, we see the EPA reversing its previous, science-based determinations in ways that endanger the health of our water and our families,” said Rumpler. “The EPA’s own website notes that perchlorate is, ‘commonly used in solid rocket propellants, munitions, fireworks, airbag initiators for vehicles, matches, and signal flares.’ This is not something that we should find in the water our children drink.”