2005 CPEO Military List Archive

From: Lenny Siegel <lsiegel@cpeo.org>
Date: 10 Jan 2005 21:01:08 -0000
Reply: cpeo-military
Subject: [CPEO-MEF] NAS Perchlorate report
The National Academy of Sciences public briefing on perchlorate will be webcast Tuesday, January 11, at 2 pm EST. For details, go to http://www.nas.edu.

I've learned today that my prediction
was right on target. The NAS panel is recommending a perchlorate reference dose that roughly translates into midway in the 6 ppb (parts per billion) to 40 ppb range, largely for the reasons that I laid out in my analysis.

While this looks like a numerical compromise between EPA's 1 ppb proposal and the 200 ppb number thrown around by the Defense Department and its contractors, I consider it a major victory for the polluters. Wherever this standard (around 25 ppb) is applied, most perchlorate contamination sites will be wiped off the map. Only the large rocket production, testing, and disposal facilities, as well as other perchlorate manufacturing sites, will be required to conduct cleanup. Wherever this standard is applied to drinking water, no treatment will be required, and it will be more difficult (but legally possible) for water suppliers that choose to be protective to recover their treatment costs.

Millions of children and pregnant women will continue to be guinea pigs in the great perchlorate exposure experiment, except that the experiment is unlikely to generate useful scientific results - because the most prevalent health impacts (associated with mental development) are difficult to measure.

The two states (Massachusetts and California) that are far along in setting perchlorate standards are already using the study favored by the Academy. It's a short-term study of healthy adults. However, state toxicologists believe that there is a greater need to compensate for uncertainty in the extrapolation of the results of that study. Therefore, it's quite possible that they will stick to their initial conclusions and continue to recommend 1 ppb and 6 ppb respectively.

Personally, I'm concerned about the role that polluters and their political supporters have played in the scientific process, and frightened that this will set a precedent for future NAS reviews, such as the one being started on TCE. If EPA's draft toxicity assessment for TCE is ever turned into a promulgated standard, it could cost polluters, including the Defense and Energy Departments, even more than the initially proposed federal standard for perchlorate.

Lenny Siegel
Director, Center for Public Environmental Oversight
c/o PSC, 278-A Hope St., Mountain View, CA 94041
Voice: 650/961-8918 or 650/969-1545
Fax: 650/961-8918

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