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Senators Press EPA for Action on Perchlorate

WASHINGTON, DC, October 25, 2006 (ENS) - California's two senators are urging the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, EPA, to issue a perchlorate health advisory that addresses early life exposures.

Perchlorate is used in the manufacture of rockets, missiles and fireworks and can be found in products as diverse as airbags and fertilizers.

It can move through soil, leach into water, and concentrate in food. In 2005, the Government Accountability Office found 395 sites in 35 states with perchlorate levels above four parts per billion (ppb), including 106 sites in California.

A new study by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows that women in the United States regularly consume sufficient amounts of perchlorate to reduce their production of thyroid hormone.

This exposure can harm the health of adults and the mental development of infants. The CDC study shows that the perchlorate exposures that the EPA once thought were safe can, in fact, threaten public health.

Senators Barbara Boxer and Dianne Feinstein are asking the EPA to issue a health advisory. They also want the agency to establish a drinking water standard that protects vulnerable pregnant women and children.

"Given the serious health threat posed by widespread perchlorate exposure, we requested that EPA take immediate steps to incorporate the information from the new CDC study and issue new perchlorate standards," said Boxer.

In January, the EPA recommended a cleanup goal at toxic waste sites of 24.5 ppb. Two months later, EPA's Children's Health Protection Advisory Committee wrote to EPA saying that this goal was "not protective of children's health."

The Committee found that this goal allows infant exposures that are "approximately five to 10 times higher" than the safety level.

It is clear that more protective standards are necessary, said Boxer.