May 14, 2020 - Energy & Environment

NYT: EPA will not limit chemical compound linked to fetal damage

Andrew Wheeler.
Photo: Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images

The Environmental Protection Agency will no longer impose limits on perchlorate, a toxic chemical compound linked to fetal and infant brain damage, the New York Times reports.

Where it stands: “The agency has determined that perchlorate does not occur with a frequency and at levels of public health concern, and that regulation of perchlorate does not present a meaningful opportunity for health risk reduction for persons served by public water systems,” the draft policy reads, the NYT reported according to unnamed EPA staff members.

The big picture: Agency administrator Andrew Wheeler made the call, which "appears to defy a court order that required the agency to establish a safe drinking-water standard for the chemical by the end of June," the Times writes. The policy acknowledges that perchlorate can cause IQ damage.

  • The EPA last year proposed regulating the chemical compound at 56 micrograms per liter, a limit that's three times higher than what was previously deemed safe.
  • A court ordered the EPA to set a new standard by June, but according to the Times, the agency plans on arguing that it's “not in the public interest” to regulate perchlorate.

What they're saying: An EPA spokesperson told Axios the agency hasn't made a final decision on regulating perchlorate.

"EPA is continuing to work on the final action regarding the regulation of perchlorate in public drinking water systems. EPA’s proposal included four clear options for the public to consider. The agency has not yet made a final decision and any information that is shared or reported now would be premature, inappropriate and would be prejudging the formal process. The next step in the process is to send the final action to the Office of Management and Budget for interagency review. The agency expects to complete this step shortly."
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