Unacceptable: Reports indicate EPA will refuse to limit brain-damaging chemical in water

Decision would ignore the science, the law, and leave kids at risk from perchlorate exposure

May 14, 2020
Keith Gaby, (202) 572-3336, kgaby@edf.org

The New York Times today reported that the Environmental Protection Agency plans to abandon regulation of the chemical perchlorate, dismissing a nearly decades-old finding that the rocket fuel ingredient should not be in our drinking water. Last year, based on a flawed scientific assessment that was inconsistent with its peer reviewers’ conclusions, the EPA proposed a weak limit on perchlorate in water that was more than 3 times less protective than an advisory level set in 2008. Rather than fixing its flawed science, the agency appears to be sticking with its inadequate proposed limits to conclude that too few facilities have enough perchlorate contamination to warrant regulation. 

“This report is very disturbing. In an all-too common scenario for this Administration, EPA is putting its blinders on to ignore the science and the law in its decision-making,” said Tom Neltner, EDF Chemicals Policy Director. “The agency only reached this decision by distorting and rejecting critical scientific evidence linking this potent neurotoxin to development problems in kids. Plain and simple, this would put children at risk.”


Perchlorate, a rocket-fuel ingredient, is a known endocrine disruptor that impairs the thyroid’s ability to use iodine in the diet to make a hormone essential to brain development. For the estimated 20% of pregnant women who are already iodine-deficient, any exposure to perchlorate can pose a risk to a child’s healthy development.

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