California can Benefit from NAS Review on Perchlorate

Wednesday, January 28, 2004
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James Strock, former Secretary of the California Environmental Protection Agency (Cal /EPA) and former chief law enforcement officer of the U.S. EPA, issued the following statement regarding today's meeting of the Senate Select Committee on Perchlorate Contamination:

Sacramento, CA - As California regulators consider how best to set perchlorate standards, they have a unique opportunity to benefit from parallel work now being done by the National Academy of Sciences (NAS).

It's critical that the best, most credible scientific information be used as a basis for regulatory decision-making relating to perchlorate. To settle for less could risk creating a drinking water standard that fails to provide public health benefits and could potentially impose an economic burden on taxpayers and ratepayers.

The NAS review provides an internationally respected, neutral forum, receptive to all data and able to evaluate it. The preeminent position of the NAS is recognized in the California statute relating to external peer review of Cal/EPA regulations, which states in relevant part: "The agency. shall enter into an agreement with the National Academy of Sciences, the University of California, the California State University, or any similar scientific institution of higher learning, [or] any combination of those entities.." Cal. Health & Safety Code 57004.

The NAS has a large body of credible research on perchlorate from which to draw, going back half a century, when perchlorate was used as a medication to treat thyroid problems. Credible scientific studies indicate that adverse human health effects are highly unlikely from exposures to low levels of perchlorate.

Currently, California has a provisional "action level" limit of four parts per billion for perchlorate in drinking water. This level was selected as a conservative, highly protective interim measure while the state explores setting a long-term regulatory standard.

When regulations are based on science, our environment and health are best protected. California has a unique opportunity to get the science on perchlorate right from the start.