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Inspector General Faults EPA Jet Fuel Report

Jan 2, 2009 | Parker Waichman LLP The Environmental Protection Administration (EPA) has long ignored the need remove perchlorate—a toxic rocket-fuel ingredient—from public water supplies.  Now, according to a recently released EPA letter written by its Deputy Inspector General, Bill A. Roderick, it seems that the EPA is reevaluating its original determination and has said that its initial report should have used a cumulative risk assessment for perchlorate, among other chemicals and should have also looked at iodine in the American diet.  In other words, the EPA erred in its original reporting.

Years ago, the military and missile makers dumped perchlorate into the ground where it has since spread into wells and rivers nationwide, but, according to the DPA, it was okay to leave the poison in the nation’s water, reported the SFGate.  Worse, points out the Boston Phoenix, the Bush Administration blocked a multi-year EPA initiative to limit perchlorate in the nation’s drinking water.  Most perchlorate “plumes” in the United States range between four and 100 ppb.  To date, the EPA has identified 75 such plumes in 22 states, including Arizona, Texas, Nebraska, Iowa, New York, Maryland, Massachusetts, and California; defense-industry dumping is suspected in nearly all these cases.  The SFGate reported that perchlorate contamination can be found in at least 35 states and 153 public water system.

Perchlorate is one of a group of toxins called endocrine disrupters, which can alter hormonal balances and impede human reproduction and development.  Although the EPA has said that based on laboratory and epidemiological studies, perchlorate is dangerous in drinking water at levels above one part per billion (ppb), at the national level, it is closing in on formally determining that setting a perchlorate standard in drinking water is not necessary.

The EPA says it will take hundreds of years and cost several billion dollars to clean up the plumes and in September said that setting perchlorate limits would not result in a "meaningful opportunity for health risk reduction," quoted the SFGate, pointing out that the government seemed to be more concerned about perchlorate clean-up costs over human safety.  Also, the government stopped EPA activities after listening to key members in industry—namely, Lockheed Martin and Aerojet—which clamed perchlorate risks were overstated, said the SFGate.

The EPA’s negligence has far-flung effects.  Perchlorate inteferes with thyroid gland processes, how iodide is utilized, and with mental and physical development in fetuses and infants.  And, according to the Redlands Daily Facts and the Inland Valley Daily Bulletin, a variety of emerging studies—including one from 2006 by the national Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)—concluded that even low perchlorate levels can affect thyroid hormone levels in women.  The Redlands Daily Facts and the Inland Valley Daily Bulletin are both reporting that the California Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment will review the public health goal for perchlorate in 2009, according to an email sent by Sam Delson, the office's deputy director for external and legislative affairs.  This could lead to setting a new drinking water standard for the toxin, noted.

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