In an article published on June 28, 2020, the New York Times reported that the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has decided not to set any limits on the presence of perchlorate in public drinking water. The decision comes after years of discussion within the government since the early 2000s and follows calls for action to restrict the toxic chemical by stakeholders. In 2016, the EPA was instructed to issue a limit on the substance in drinking water by the end of June 2020. In the meantime, some US states have independently started to regulate the chemical in their water systems, prompting the EPA to see no need for a nationwide monitoring program. Director of the EPA, Andrew Wheeler, defended the move saying “today’s decision is built on science and local success stories and fulfills President Trump’s promise to pare back burdensome ‘one-size-fits-all’ overregulation for the American people.”

However, Erik Olson from the non-governmental organization Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) argues that “today’s decision is illegal, unscientific and unconscionable. The Environmental Protection Agency is threatening the health of pregnant moms and young children with toxic chemicals in their drinking water at levels that literally can cause loss of I.Q. points.”

Perchlorate can be present in drinking water systems as a degradation product from chemicals used in water treatment. It has also been authorized in the US for use as an antistatic agent in packaging for dry food and has been detected in food samples (FPF The chemical is suspected to harm brain development (FPF reported) and be of particular concern for childhood exposure (FPF reported). A recent study found contamination in drinking water may be more dangerous than previously thought and require a safe concentration ten times lower than estimated earlier (FPF reported).

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Lisa Friedman and Coral Davenport (June 18, 2020). “E.P.A. Won’t Regulate Toxic Compound Linked to Fetal Brain Damage.”

Common Dreams (June 20, 2020). “Trump EPA OK’s Rocket Fuel Chemical for Water Supplies.” EcoWatch