Environmental Science

EPA Decides Against Tap Water Regulation for Chemical Linked To Fetal Brain Damage

EPA Decides Against Tap Water Regulation for Chemical Linked To Fetal Brain Damage

According to an announcement from the Environmental Protection Agency, perchlorate, an environmental toxin related to brain damage in babies and thyroid disorders, will continue to flow freely into US tap water (EPA). The EPA announced on March 31 that it will stick to a Trump-era decision not to regulate or monitor perchlorate levels in drinking water. They state that their judgment is based on the most recent research on the safety of perchlorate.

However, many scientists disagree. According to the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), the Trump administration’s EPA employed a “seriously flawed study” to determine a safe level of perchlorate that is ten times greater than other authorities’ health-based standards. Now, Biden’s EPA is expected to follow this approach, claiming that there is no need for federal monitoring of the toxin in drinking water. In a statement, Erik D. Olson, Senior Strategic Director for Health at NRDC, said, “The EPA’s inability to protect drinking water from widespread perchlorate contamination is unscientific, unconstitutional, and inhumane.”

“Perchlorate was given a pass by the Trump EPA; it was a horrible judgment then, and it’s a bad decision now.” This hazardous toxin will continue to contaminate tap water across the United States, endangering the brain development of unborn babies, infants, and young children at extremely low levels.”

Perchlorate is a chemical present in small amounts in the natural environment and is used in pyrotechnics, road flares, explosives, and rocket fuel. It’s even found on Mars’s surface. The chemical has the potential to permeate surface and ground waters, eventually ending up in some drinking water and foods. It’s known to be particularly common in the natural environment of dry states in the United States’ Southwest.

Its effects on human health are unknown, although it is known that excessive doses of the chemical can interfere with iodide uptake into the thyroid gland, potentially resulting in a decrease in thyroid hormone synthesis. Thyroid hormone synthesis may have an effect on pregnant women, resulting in fetal brain development problems. High amounts of the chemical have also been linked to a lower IQ later in life after being exposed to them in the womb.

Massachusetts and California have taken matters into their own hands in the past, deciding to control perchlorate levels in drinking water on a state-by-state basis. The EPA uses these two states as an example of why there is no need for a national standard, but it’s unclear whether any other states have plans to follow suit. For the time being, the majority of the US people will remain unaware of the quantities of this possibly deadly chemical flowing through their taps. “By refusing to create a standard or water testing standards, the EPA decision will also keep the public in the dark, leaving them with no way of knowing whether they are being exposed to perchlorate,” Olson added.