Organic Consumers Association

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California Working on Perchlorate Limit

The state is in the final stages of setting a standard dictating how much perchlorate can be in your drinking water.

The cap on the amount of the widespread contaminant that can be in the drinking water could be in place within weeks.

But the proposal of 6 parts per billion is not one that will sit well with the environmental community.

It could also lead to hikes in water rates, as water purveyors are forced to begin cleaning perchlorate from the water they serve.

"We're disappointed that in light of all the accumulating evidence that perchlorate is harmful at levels well below this that California decided to stick with 6 ppb," said Bill Walker, vice president for the Environmental Working Group's West Coast office.

Perchlorate has been discovered in drinking water throughout areas of Southern California used for agricultural, industrial and military purposes.

On Aug. 6, the state Department of Public Health submitted a standard of 6 ppb to the state Office of Administrative Law. Once its review is complete, it will send the regulation to the secretary of state to sign off on.

Since the state began developing the standard, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released a study showing that even at low levels, perchlorate can affect hormone levels in a large percentage of women.

The proposed standard is also higher than the 2 ppb set by Massachusetts last year.

Perchlorate is used in the production of explosives like fireworks and rocket fuel.

Chilean fertilizer used in agricultural areas around the Southland is also thought to be responsible for perchlorate contamination.

It can affect the functioning of the thyroid, which is important for metabolism and neurological development.

Between August 2002 and August 2007, 251 wells had reported having perchlorate at a level of 4 ppb or higher in California...

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