Naturally, there are a lot of particles present in water some of which constitute valuable minerals while others are contaminants. Contaminants in water have profound health consequences on the health of the users of water. Despite the negligible influence which is not noticeable in the short run, there are dangerous health risks that are associated with the presence of these contaminants in the long run. Such is the case with the presence of perchlorate in public water systems. Perchlorate has negative influence on the health of water users and the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) came to the realization that more than 4% of the public water system in America contained perchlorate as a contaminant.
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This prompted EPA to increase research and this research resulted to public awareness of the presence of perchlorate in water. As a result, EPA formulated regulations as to the amount of healthy perchlorate that should be present in public drinking water. This essay intends to analyze the effect of the EPA rules on perchlorate in drinking water. Since perchlorate causes health risks on its users, the percentage of it in water should be regulated to reduce the possible health risks it poses.
Perchlorate is a naturally occurring chemical but it can also be synthesized. It is employed in the manufacture of rocket fuel and explosives. Perchlorate can also be found in bleach and other varieties of fertilizers. The crisis associated with perchlorate is the fact that there is the possibility of adverse health problems evidenced by research carried out by scientists. According to this research there are disruptions caused by the contaminant on the thyroid’s ability to efficiently produce hormones that are vital in support of normal growth.
The contaminant hinders the thyroids ability to effectively absorb iodine thus resulting to hormonal deficiencies. The thyroid is responsible for the production of developmental hormones that are necessary for usual growth and development and the contaminant negatively impacts on development such as hampering brain development in growing fetuses, newborns and children. The chemical is not only present in drinking water but a considerable amount has also been found in breast milk and infant formula as well as the environment.
This has led to increased concerns over the health implications of this chemical in drinking water and has led to voiced concerns over the issue “Since there is no question about the low-dose toxicity of perchlorate, maybe it’s time for Americans to stop drinking rocket fuel, perchlorate contamination from industrial, agricultural and natural sources will continue to pollute us through other food exposures, it demands robust safeguards in water to protect public health” (Siobhan 4). As a result of this concern, EPA decided to introduce a formal rule that would regulate the presence of perchlorate in drinking water.
In 2008, the Bush government had opposed the regulation of perchlorate in drinking water but this move was countered by Obama when the levels of perchlorate were noted to have increased and around 17 million Americans were drinking water contaminated by perchlorate. However the EPA has faced long years of bureaucratic resistance concerning the regulation of perchlorate from the Defense department where large amounts of perchlorate are used. A report filed by GAO revealed that the defense department had a perchlorate level in their installations that far exceeded the expected level by 71%.
Most of the Defense Department sites were found to be heavily contaminated by perchlorate in addition to the fact that the DOD has been interfering with EPAs endeavors at handling the level of this contaminant in drinking water “there’s been a lot of interference by DOD in terms of stopping EPA from doing anything, they want the limit to be as high as possible so they won’t have to clean up” (Siobhan 7). There have been high concentrations of perchlorate in areas surrounding military installations where the chemical is used during tests on rockets. Defense as well as military contractors find it difficult to respond to these regulations claiming that the other substitutes that can be used in place of perchlorate prove to be more expensive.
In response to the increased vigilance of perchlorate by EPA, the Defense Department has taken a significant action that consists of measures beyond the early sampling of the 48 out of the 53 facilities. They have taken measures to remediate whichever contamination that is caused by their department. However, there are discussions into the role played by the defense department in contributing to the increased level of perchlorate in water citing that the defense does not present a major threat as one of the key sources of perchlorate found in drinking water.
In addition to this response by the defense department, the Lockheed Martin Corp, a defense contractor and American Pacific Corp, a perchlorate maker have decided to challenge the EPA by arguing that there is no verifiable research which has shown evidence of the adverse effects of the perchlorate on human health. The two Corporations have formed a group known as Perchlorate Information Bureau and they continue to argue that the level of perchlorate has not yet been found in drinking water used by the public in levels that pose a threat to public health.
Despite the arguments raised by the two groups and the defense department, EPA can reveal the presence of more than the already known defense sites where large amounts of perchlorate exist if they increase their monitoring strategies. The NRDC supports the move adapted by EPA by encouraging continued reduction of the levels of perchlorate from 15 to 1 part for every billion. As a result there is continued research being carried by EPA in evaluation of the effects of perchlorate in drinking water and the impact it has on health.
In order to handle this problem and ensure effective implementation of the rule, EPA has decided to assess the feasibility as well as the affordability of the available technologies that would be utilized in the treatment and removal of perchlorate in drinking water. EPA will also asses the costs that will be involved in the process in addition to the benefits that would be brought about by the potential standards “EPA is hard at work on innovative ways to improve protections for the water we drink and give to our children, and the development of these improved standards is an important step forward, our decisions are based on extensive review of the best available science and the health needs of the American people” (Broder 6).
Another effect that has resulted due to the increased level of perchlorate, EPA will include as part of its regulation an additional 16 chemicals that might be responsible for causing cancer. This will constitute volatile organic compounds otherwise abbreviated as (VOCs), several industrial solvents and other contaminants. As a constituent of EPAs rules on drinking water, the VOC will also be developed. The awareness brought about by perchlorate and drinking water has caused EPA to address contaminants in the environment as groups instead of analyzing them individually to facilitate protection of public health.
As an additional effect, the rule formulated by EPA to check on the amount of perchlorate present in drinking water will create a situation of economic growth. This will come about as a result of the investments that will result due to the new rules since water purification companies will spring up. The purification companies will create employment opportunities for individuals thus increasing the per capita income of the nation.
Along with these benefits, there are operational costs that will be incurred in running these industries but the expenses do not override the benefits since there will be fewer cases of thyroid gland cases which result to impaired growth in infants and toddlers. The medical costs that would have been devoted to the treatment of these diseases is cut down or completely cancelled if the purification systems prove to be efficient. This, together with the peace of mind of a healthy nation will put many individuals at ease which will help them concentrate on better activities like jobs.
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The move adapted by EPA is arrived at a strategic time since the current presence of perchlorate in drinking water has health risks for both pregnant women and growing children. Even though the presence of particles in water is quite normal, perchlorate poses dire health risks and attention has to be brought to this case. As a result, EPA came into action and formulated rules that would regulate the percentage of perchlorate which can be allowed in drinking water. The Defense Department and manufacturers of perchlorates are two departments that are aimed at for the reduction of perchlorates as much as the contaminants occur naturally. This way the amounts of this chemical present in drinking water would be greatly reduced.
Broder, John. ‘E.P.A. Plans First Rules Ever on Perchlorate in Drinking Water’. New York Times, 2011. Web.
Siobhan, Hughes. ‘EPA Seeks New Limits on Chemicals in Drinking Water’. The wall Street journal, 2011. Web.