EPA drinking water | 2011 update addresses rocket fuel tap water


Drinking water -- bottled or tap -- is regulated by a wide variety of agencies. The EPA is regulating 17 new chemicals in 2011. Image: Flickr / brimelow / CC-BY

This morning, an announcement was made that EPA drinking water standards are getting an update to address rocket fuel tap water. This reverses a 2008 edict of the Bush administration disallowing these new regulations. Perchlorate and 16 other volatile organic compounds will be included in new regulations.

EPA drinking water standards

The Environmental Protection Agency is responsible for setting standards of allowable contaminants in drinking water. Almost all drinking water contains something other than pure hydrogen dioxide — minerals, dissolved solids and thousands of chemicals can be in water. The EPA regulates how much of a wide variety of chemicals and bacterial contaminants can be in water before further purification steps have to be taken.

The EPA drinking water standards for perchlorate

Perchlorate is a naturally occurring chemical, but it can also be manufactured for use in rocket fuel, bleach, fertilizers and fireworks. Perchlorate is not directly dangerous to human health, but may affect iodine uptake in the thyroid. A lack of iodine can lead to clinical depression, neurological disorders, preterm births and obesity. Several states already limit perchlorate, but up to 4 percent of municipal water, consumed by about 17 million people, could have heavy perchlorate contamination. That means about 4 percent of municipal taps are pouring out rocket fuel tap water.

EPA drinking water standards for VOC compounds

The new 2011 EPA regulations for drinking water contain limits on more than just perchlorate. Volatile organic compounds, otherwise known as VOC compounds, are also going to be regulated. A total of 17 individual chemicals, including perchlorate, will have new limits set. Volatile organic compounds are usually found in industrial manufacturing and solvents and can have a wide variety of detrimental effects. In general, VOC compounds are considered dangerous. The new EPA regulations are set to take effect this year.


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