Rocket Fuel In Drinking Water Gets Regulated

Perchlorate, a main component in making explosives, fireworks, air bags and rocket fuel, is contaminating our water and food supply due to improper disposal at rocket-testing sites, military bases and chemical plants. Known to cause development delays and low IQ levels when exposed to young children, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) found “unsafe levels” to be in the drinking water of 17 million people. Independent researchers estimate the number to be closer to the 20-40 million range. In a 2006 study, the FDA found the toxin hiding in over half of the food samples they analyzed, including fruits, vegetables and infant formulas.

This month, the EPA announced its plan to begin immediately forming regulation standards for the chemical over the next two years. This comes after many years of heavy opposition to regulation from the Pentagon and Defense Department, whose military bases and rocket test sites are the causes of the contamination. Cleanup of such sites would cost them millions of dollars. The Perchlorate Information Bureau, an industry-supported group, has argued that there is “no research” to support health claims regarding perchlorate.

These groups “have distorted the science to such an extent that they can justify not regulating [the chemical]. Infants and children will continue to be damaged, and that damage is significant,” said Robert Zoeller, a professor at the University of Massachusetts who specializes in thyroid hormone and brain development.

The EPA’s regulation will implement new clean-water technologies to treat perchlorate-contaminated groundwater, pioneered by the award-winning engineering firm Solutions-IES.

“(C)lean and safe water is not a luxury or a privilege, it is a right of all Americans,” said EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson in statements to U.S. lawmakers. California legislators, the state with the most affected water supplies, celebrated the victory. “I will do everything I can to make sure this new protection moves forward,” said Senator Barbara Boxer.

Sources: EPA; Natural Resources Defense Council;