NAS report on safe perchlorate levels creating controversy

A National Academy of Sciences panel report on safe levels of perchlorate — an ingredient in rocket fuel, firecrackers, and road flares — in drinking water has some enviros up in arms. The report, released yesterday, suggests that levels of perchlorate about 20 times higher than the U.S. EPA’s proposed guideline of 1 part per billion may be safe for ingestion. But the Natural Resources Defense Council claims the panel was strong-armed into producing results that would save the defense industry billions of dollars in cleanup costs at the 250-some areas in 35 states with affected water supplies. “We’ve never seen such a brazen campaign to pressure the National Academy of Sciences to downplay the hazards of a chemical, but it fits the pattern of this administration manipulating science at the expense of public health,” NRDC said. Other enviros, including Bill Walker of the Environmental Working Group, say that they accept the findings and that the panel’s numbers are much closer to the EPA’s than the “absurdly high levels” the Pentagon has been saying are safe.