In a new draft regulatory document, the EPA has declined to regulate the presence of perchlorate in public drinking water. Perchlorate, an ingredient in rocket fuel, has already been found at significant levels at nearly 400 sites in 35 states. Some scientists fear that the level of perchlorate contamination already found could be enough to impact thyroid function and cause developmental problems, especially in exposed infants and fetuses. It has also begun showing up in some foods, like lettuce. Nevertheless, the EPA concluded that setting a required cleanup level would not “meaningfully” reduce the health risk to those using the polluted water.
Democrats and environmentalists have expressed outrage over this end to the long dispute, charging that the EPA is bowing to pressure from the White House and the Pentagon. Because the Defense Department has spent decades using perchlorate to test rockets and missiles, most of the perchlorate contamination now being found has been caused by defense and aerospace activities, according to congressional investigators.
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