It's Not Rocket Science

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is poised to end "a six-year-old battle between career EPA scientists" who want to regulate a chemical linked to thyroid problems in pregnant women and children, and the White House and Pentagon, where officials oppose setting a drinking-water safety standard for the chemical, perchlorate. Guess who's likely to win? The EPA's "preliminary regulatory determination," obtained by the Washington Post, claims that setting a perchlorate drinking-water standard wouldn't result in a "meaningful opportunity for health risk reduction for persons served by public water systems." The document was heavily edited by the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB). Among the OMB's comments was "that there was 'no need'" to include "detailed data" that showed that "infants would be exposed to perchlorate levels above" levels deemed safe by the National Academy of Sciences. Perchlorate is present in rocket fuel; many contaminated water sources are near military bases. In an attempt to avoid costly clean-ups, defense companies formed the Perchlorate Study Group, which has questioned whether perchlorate in drinking water poses a health problem.