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Perchlorate…. It’s baaaack

| 2 min read | Tagged: , ,
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While various States have enacted various regulations covering a wide variety of differing standards over the years, the EPA never created a national standard for remedial or drinking water levels. Finally, after decades of considering proposals and counter proposals, the EPA made a “final” determination in July 2020 during the Trump administration that perchlorate was not found in drinking water with a frequency and at levels of public health concern enough to “support a meaningful opportunity for health risk reduction through a national perchlorate drinking water regulation”, and determined that no national standard was necessary. In March of 2022, the EPA ’s review of that action was completed in accordance with an Executive Order issued by the Biden administration.

And so, it was thought, the long battle over a national standard was finally over. Drinking water providers and those responsible for perchlorate releases needed only to comply with their local regulations, and everyone thought there was finally a resolution as to what needed to be done in any given situation and locale.

The recent appellate decision in Natural Resource Defense Council v. Regan throws everything back into turmoil. How long will it take to create a standard, and what will be the requirements in the meantime? Will the EPA issue non-binding Advisories? Assuming EPA does eventually create a standard, will that over-ride local standards? And, of course, what will the standard be?

Perchlorate is commonly used in solid rocket propellants, munitions, fireworks, and airbag initiators for vehicles, matches, and signal flares. Perchlorate may occur naturally, particularly in arid regions such as the southwestern U.S., and can be found as a byproduct in hypochlorite solutions used for treating drinking water and nitrate salts used to produce fertilizers, explosives, and other products.