Trump administration will no longer regulate chemical found in drinking water and linked to fetal brain damage
Perchlorate is an industrial chemical found in rocket propellants, explosives, fireworks, and road flares and which leaches into the water from contaminated soils
Trump administration will no longer monitor the limits on a toxic chemical present in drinking water and known to damage the developing brains of children and fetuses.
Perchlorate is an industrial chemical found in rocket propellants, explosives, fireworks, and road flares. The compound leaches into the water from contaminated soils. When ingested, it may interfere with the functioning of the thyroid gland. Children depend on the thyroid hormone for growth and brain development.
“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,” The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Andrew Wheeler said in a statement.
According to EPA, perchlorate levels in drinking water in the US were not high enough to need regulation. A 2010 report found perchlorate in the water, soil, and food supplies in 45 states. In 2011, the Obama administration said that the chemical compromised the quality of drinking water for as many as 16 million Americans, PBS reported.
Explaining the reasons for the change, the EPA said that their analysis found that the concentrations at which perchlorate may present a public health concern are higher than those considered earlier. "Based on this updated data and analysis, EPA is making a final determination that perchlorate is not found in drinking water with a frequency and at levels of public health concern to support a meaningful opportunity for health risk reduction through a national perchlorate drinking water regulation," reads a statement from the agency.
The agency also lauded state and local water systems for effectively and efficiently managing levels of perchlorate. "Our state partners deserve credit for their leadership on protecting public health in their communities, not unnecessary federal intervention," Wheeler said.
Others have expressed their disappointment over the move. "Today’s decision is illegal, unscientific, and unconscionable,” Erik Olson, senior strategic director for health at the advocacy group Natural Resources Defense Council, said on Thursday in a statement. “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 IQ points."
Some have pointed out that the EPA's move counters a court order that requires it to issue a national drinking water regulation for perchlorate. Sen. Tom Carper, a ranking member on the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, said: “EPA has abdicated its responsibility to set federal drinking water standards for a chemical long known to be unsafe, instead of leaving it up to states to decide whether or not to protect people from it,” Carper said in a statement. In response, a spokesperson of the federal agency said that the order was no longer valid and that they will ask the court to terminate the agreement.
Since Trump took office, at least 66 environmental regulations have been scrapped, according to The New York Times. The agency was recently in the news for relaxing enforcement of pollution laws. And more recently, they removed regulations requiring coal plants to cut their emissions of mercury and other pollutants that pose significant risks to human health.