Perchlorate Update

By Loretta Macktal, Executive Assistant to the Vice President, Government Relations

Capitol Update, March 12, 2004 Share this on FacebookTweet thisEmail this to a friend

On March 11th, the California Environmental Protection Agency's Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA) announced that it had published a "Public Health Goal" (PHG) for perchlorate in drinking water. The development of the PHG was mandated by SB 1822 (Sher) in 2002.

The PHG identifies 6 parts per billion (ppb) as a level of perchlorate in drinking water that does not pose a significant human health risk. This goal is not a regulation, but it provides required guidance to the Department of Health Services (DHS) in setting a regulatory standard for perchlorate in drinking water.

State law requires DHS to set a regulatory drinking water standard for perchlorate that is as close to the PHG as is economically and technically feasible.

OEHHA based their PHG on a 2002 study that was peer reviewed by the University of California. It had been the hope of the business community that OEHHA would hold off on publishing a PHG until after a much more thorough evaluation by the National Academy of Sciences, the nation's premier scientific institute, later this year. In OEHHA's press release, however, they did state that they “would carefully review the NAS conclusions and will revise the PHG as necessary.” In the interim, California regulators had been recognizing an artificial, preliminary and conservative drinking water level of 4 ppb for perchlorate.

On OEHHA's website, it's reported that perchlorate levels in the Colorado River currently range from 4 to 6 ppb. The newly established PHG diminishes concerns about the feasibility and costs associated with remediation of Colorado River water for safe drinking.

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