Thursday, February 3, 2011

Perchlorate and VOC Standards For Drinking Water Supplies

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has announced the agency’s decision to develop to regulate perchlorate in drinking water. The decision will lead to the development of the first-ever national standard for perchlorate. In a separate action, the agency also plans to establish a drinking water standard to address a group of up to 16 toxic chemicals that may pose risks to human health. According to EPA, scientific research indicates that perchlorate may disrupt the thyroid’s ability to produce hormones that are critical to developing fetuses and infants. Monitoring data show more than 4% of public water systems have detected perchlorate and 5 - 17 million people may be served drinking water containing perchlorate. Perchlorate is both a naturally-occurring and man-made chemical that is used in the manufacture of rocket fuel, fireworks, flares and explosives, and may be present in bleach and in some fertilizers. This decision reverses a 2008 preliminary determination by the previous administration. EPA expects to continue to evaluate potential perchlorate health effects and occurrence in public water systems. The agency will also evaluate the feasibility and affordability of treatment technologies to remove perchlorate and examine the costs and benefits of potential standards. EPA will also be developing one regulation covering as many as 16 volatile organic compounds (VOCs), includes trichloroethylene (TCE) and tetrachloroethylene (PCE) as well as other regulated and some unregulated contaminants that are discharged from industrial operations. The VOC standard will be developed as part of EPA’s new strategy for drinking water to address contaminants as groups rather than individually in order to provide public health protections more quickly and also allow utilities to more effectively and efficiently plan for improvements.

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