In the Drink
In other news from the Golden State, regulators in California are reviving a campaign to clean up perchlorate, a Cold War-era pollutant that has been showing up in drinking water supplies across the country. Since the 1950s, the substance has been used as an oxidizer in rockets, munitions, and fireworks. It was not considered particularly dangerous to humans until a decade ago, when the U.S. EPA determined that it disrupted thyroid function when consumed. Earlier this year, the agency proposed a maximum perchlorate level of one part per billion, a standard the defense industry and the Pentagon oppose as overly strict and too costly. Eight states have set their own provisional levels, ranging from one to 18 parts per billion. California’s current level is four ppb, but contamination far exceeds that in San Bernardino County, where defense contractors and others have manufactured, tested and stored explosives for decades — and where wells have tested at hundreds of parts per billion. A California task force plans to publicly accuse the county government today of gross mishandling of a landfill suspected of harboring massive quantities of perchlorate.
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