12/24/2008 05:12 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

Parents and Citizens Should Take Advantage of EPA's Comment Period On Perchlorate in Drinking Water

Concerned parents and citizens can add their public comments on the Environmental Protection Agency's recent decision against perchlorate regulation in drinking water.

The EPA extended the public comment period for 15 days to Nov. 28 before they make a final determination on the contaminant.

Advisers and critics strongly urged the EPA to extend the public comment deadline in response to concerns about the health effects of unchecked perchlorate in the nation's drinking water supply.

Perchlorate is a chemical used by the Defense Department for testing missiles
and rockets. Most perchlorate contamination is believed to be the result of
defense and aerospace activities.

The Environmental Working Group (EWG), an environmental advocacy group that has been following the EPA's handling of the regulations wants the agency to adopt a maximum contaminant level for perchlorate in drinking water based on the most recent scientific studies.

The group claimed that a Centers for Disease Control national survey found perchlorate in the
urine of every person tested and that children between ages 6 and 11
had perchlorate levels 1.6 times higher than adults. In addition, related studies have shown the presence of perchlorate at dangerously high levels in the breast milk of nursing mothers.

According to the EWG, tests show that
the chemical disrupts production of thyroid hormones at the levels claimed to be safe by the EPA. Adequate thyroid hormones are crucial to normal brain development
and growth in infants and children.

EPA officials
contracted their perchlorate assessment out to the Chemical Industry
Institute of Toxicology
(CIIT), which its website says was created in
1974 by "chemical industry leaders." They then based their Oct. 10 decision on this information.

Furthermore, in a related release, the EWG said that in 2004, CIIT provided a risk
assessment for formaldehyde and

"claimed the chemical was 2,500 to 10,000 times less dangerous than EPA had previously asserted. Since 1981, the U.S. federal government has listed formaldehyde as a "probable human carcinogen." (Formaldehyde-treated plywood and other components were found to have sickened Hurricane Katrina survivors living in trailers provided by the Federal Emergency Management Agency.) "

The EPA's decision against perchlorate regulation runs counter to its
own guidelines on contaminant regulation, due to the faulty data used to back their decision:

To regulate a contaminant the Safe Drinking Water Act requires that the EPA determine whether:

1. The contaminant may have an adverse effect on the health of persons;

2. The
contaminant is known to occur or there is a substantial likelihood the
contaminant will occur in public water systems with a frequency and at
levels of public health concern; and

3. In the sole judgment
of the Administrator, regulation of the contaminant presents a
meaningful opportunity for health risk reductions for persons served by
public water systems.

For information and instructions on how and where to send comments on the upcoming decision, see the EPA's website. Comments are accepted online, by mail and in person by hand delivery. Submit comments identified by Docket ID No. EPA-HQ-OW-