2002 CPEO Military List Archive

From: Lenny Siegel <lsiegel@cpeo.org>
Date: 6 Dec 2002 21:13:58 -0000
Reply: cpeo-military
Subject: [CPEO-MEF] California Proposes Perchlorate Health Goal
State of California says Rocket Fuel, a Persistent Drinking Water
Contaminant, Exists at Unsafe Levels In Water Supply of Millions of

Press Release

CALPIRG, California Communities Against Toxics,
Clean Water Action, Environmental Working Group,
Natural Resources Defense Council,
Physicians for Social Responsibility-Los Angeles

For Immediate Release
December 6, 2002

For More Information Contact:
Renee Sharp (EWG) 510-444-0974
Jane Williams (CCAT) 661-273-3098 
Jonathan Parfrey (PSR-LA) 310-386-4901

Today, California's Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment
(OEHHA) proposed a draft public health goal for perchlorate in drinking
water of between two and six parts-per-billion based on two differing
analytical methods - one of which came up 2ppb, and the other came up
with 6ppb. Perchlorate, a chemical used in rocket fuel, is contaminating
the drinking water supplies of millions of Californians. The Perchlorate
Action Group - represented by Physicians for Social Responsibility-Los
Angeles, Natural Resources Defense Council, Environmental Working Group,
Clean Water Action, California Communities Against Toxics, and CALPIRG -
believes that this proposed standard range is not sufficient to protect
California's infants and children from the toxic effects of perchlorate.

The public health goal level, as defined by state law, sets a level at
which no adverse effects will occur for sensitive populations with an
adequate margin of safety. Perchlorate is hazardous primarily because it
interferes with the uptake of iodide by the thyroid gland, decreasing
the body's production of thyroid hormones necessary for prenatal and
postnatal brain development. The thyroid also regulates physical growth
as well as adult body metabolism.

The Colorado River, which supplies drinking water to millions of people
in Southern California, Nevada, Arizona, and Northern Baja California,
is contaminated at levels above the draft public health goal due to
pollution from a perchlorate manufacturing facility in Henderson,
Nevada. According to the Department of Health Services, early
perchlorate monitoring has already identified 284 contaminated wells,
affecting 75 water systems in 10 counties. A list of
perchlorate-contaminated groundwater sources is maintained at

OEHHA began promulgation of the public health goal after public health
and environmental advocates raised concerns about widespread public
exposure to the contaminant. Adoption of the public health goal is the
first step leading to adoption of a maximum contaminant level, or
cleanup standard. Legislation enacted earlier this year, requires the
state to adopt a standard by January 1, 2004.

Gina Solomon, M.D., of the Natural Resource Defense Council, responded
to the announcement: "Even at a level of two parts per billion may not
sufficiently protect our most vulnerable population, infants drinking
perchlorate in water, from its adverse effects." 

The adoption of the perchlorate cleanup standard, and hence cleanup
action, is likely to be delayed by a recent Superior Court decision in
Los Angeles. Ruling on a lawsuit against the State of California by
Lockheed Martin and Kerr McGee (users and manufacturers of perchlorate),
the judge ordered that a second scientific peer review be performed
before issuance of the public health goal. The court took the
unprecedented action of allowing the polluters to recommend two of the
reviewers. Jane Williams of California Communities Against Toxics
charged, "This has the effect of biasing the peer review in favor of
interests who stand to lose hundreds of millions of dollars if forced to
clean up perchlorate contamination." 

"Giving the polluters two seats at the peer review table is not sound
science," added. Jonathan Parfrey, Executive Director of Physicians for
Social Responsibility-Los Angeles. "Industries that have polluted the
drinking water of millions of Californians should not be allowed to
hijack the scientific process."

In a related development, this week the Developmental and Reproductive
Toxicants Committee (DART Committee) at OEHHA advanced perchlorate on
the priority list of chemicals to be disclosed under Proposition 65
because of its reproductive toxicity. Coverage under proposition 65
would also assist communities in their efforts to hold polluters
accountable for clean up of contaminated water supplies.

OEHHA's announcement of the public health goal for perchlorate,
including a link to the draft document, may be found at http://www.oehha.org/water/phg/120602perchlorate.html.


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