'Safe dose' of rocket fuel now larger

  Perchlorate, a tasteless, colorless component of solid rocket fuel, has been detected in the drinking water of 26 states. Despite its toxicity, it is not yet regulated.

However, the Environmental Protection Agency’s Office of Water is considering new drinking water standards for the dangerous salt, following a recent National Academy of Sciences report. The EPA had previously estimated that a safe dose was 1 part per billion. But in February, based on the report’s findings, the agency raised that number to 24.5 parts per billion.

Critics cite two problems with the new number: It ignores perchlorate exposure from food, and it is based on adult bodyweight and water consumption, although children face the greatest risks.

"I thought it was a bit reckless," says Dr. Gina Solomon, senior scientist with the Natural Resources Defense Council.

Perchlorate disrupts iodine intake and thyroid function. In adults, the thyroid gland regulates metabolism, but in developing infants, low levels of thyroid hormone can cause cretinism — a severe form of mental retardation.

During the Cold War, large-scale missile production inundated military sites with perchlorate (HCN, 4/28/03: Perchlorate: it’s not just for rocket fuel anymore). Specific regulations for cleanup efforts do not currently exist, but the study will provide guidelines, says Suzanne Ackerman, an EPA spokesperson.

Dissatisfied with the lack of federal regulation, some states are taking action on their own. California plans to enforce drinking water standards of 6 parts per billion by the end of this year. "None of us should have to drink perchlorate," says Renee Sharp of the Washington, D.C.-based Environmental Working Group. "The stuff is rocket fuel."

High Country News Classifieds
  • CABIN FOR RENT IN KELLY
    1 room, furnished cabin, full kitchen, full bath, washer/dryer in basement. No smoking, no vaping, no marijuana, no parties, no drugs. View of the Tetons....
  • GRANT WRITER (PART-TIME, FREELANCE CONTRACT)
    High Country News seeks an energetic, eloquent and highly organized grant writer to support a growing foundations program. This position works closely with our Executive...
  • ASSOCIATE PROGRAM MANAGER
    Associate Program Manager ORGANIZATION BACKGROUND Parks California is a new organization working to ensure that our State Parks thrive. From redwood groves and desert springs...
  • ATTORNEY AD
    Criminal Defense, Code Enforcement, Water Rights, Mental Health Defense, Resentencing.
  • LUNATEC HYDRATION SPRAY BOTTLE
    A must for campers and outdoor enthusiasts. Cools, cleans and hydrates with mist, stream and shower patterns. Hundreds of uses.
  • LUNATEC ODOR-FREE DISHCLOTHS
    are a must try. They stay odor-free, dry fast, are durable and don't require machine washing. Try today.
  • PROFESSIONAL GIS SERVICES
    Custom Geospatial Solutions is available for all of your GIS needs. Affordable, flexible and accurate data visualization and analysis for any sized project.
  • FREE RANGE BISON AVAILABLE
    Hard grass raised bison available in east Montana. You harvest or possible deliver quartered carcass to your butcher or cut/wrapped pickup. Contact Crazy Woman Bison...
  • CONSERVATION ASSOCIATE - OKANOGAN LAND TRUST (NORTH CENTRAL WA)
    Do you enjoy rural living, wild places, and the chance to work with many different kinds of people and accomplish big conservation outcomes? Do you...
  • CARDIGAN WELSH CORGIS
    10 adorable, healthy puppies for sale. 4 males and 6 females. DM and PRA clear. Excellent pedigree from champion lineage. One Red Brindle male. The...
  • A CHILDREN'S BOOK FOR THE CLIMATE CRISIS!!
    "Goodnight Fossil Fuels!" is a an engaging, beautiful, factual and somewhat silly picture book by a climate scientist and a climate artist, both based in...
  • DIGITAL ADVOCACY & MEMBERSHIP MANAGER
    The Digital Advocacy & Membership Manager will be responsible for creating and delivering compelling, engaging digital content to Guardians members, email activists, and social media...
  • DIGITAL OUTREACH COORDINATOR, ARIZONA
    Job Title: Digital Outreach Coordinator, Arizona Position Location: Phoenix or Tucson, AZ Status: Salaried Job ID Number: 52198 We are looking for you! We are...
  • DESCHUTES LAND TRUST VOLUNTEER PROGRAM MANAGER
    The Deschutes Land Trust is seeking an experienced Volunteer Program Manager to join its dedicated team! Deschutes Land Trust conserves and cares for the lands...
  • ASSOCIATE DIRECTOR OF DEVELOPMENT
    The Nature Conservancy in Wyoming seeks an experienced fundraiser to join our team. We're looking for a great communicator who is passionate about conservation and...
  • INDIAN COUNTRY FELLOWSHIP
    Western Leaders Network is accepting applications for its paid, part-time, 6-month fellowship. Mentorship, training, and engaging tribal leaders in advancing conservation initiatives and climate policy....
  • MULESHOE RANCH PRESERVE MANAGER
    The Muleshoe Ranch Preserve Manager develops, manages, and advances conservation programs, plans and methods for large-scale geographic areas. The Muleshoe Ranch Cooperative Management Area (MRCMA)...
  • ARTEMIS PROGRAM MANAGER
    Founded in 1936, the National Wildlife Federation (NWF or Federation) is America's largest and most trusted grassroots conservation organization with 52 state/territorial affiliates and more...
  • ASSISTANT OR ASSOCIATE PROFESSOR OF ENVIRONMENTAL HUMANITIES
    Assistant or Associate Professor of Environmental Humanities Whitman College The Environmental Humanities Program at Whitman College seeks candidates for a tenure-track position beginning August 2023...
  • EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR
    High Country Conservation Advocates (HCCA) in Crested Butte, CO is seeking an enthusiastic Executive Director who is passionate about the public lands, natural waters and...