An official website of the United States government.

We've made some changes to EPA.gov. If the information you are looking for is not here, you may be able to find it on the EPA Web Archive or the January 19, 2017 Web Snapshot.

Perchlorate in Drinking Water

Perchlorate Molecule

Background

Perchlorate is a naturally occurring and manufactured chemical anion that consists of one chlorine atom bonded to four oxygen atoms (ClO4-). Perchlorate is commonly used as an oxidizer in rocket propellants, munitions, fireworks, airbag initiators for vehicles, matches, and signal flares. It is naturally occuring in some fertilizers.

On February 11, 2011, EPA determined that perchlorate meets the Safe Drinking Water Act criteria for regulation as a contaminant. The Agency found that perchlorate may have an adverse effect on the health of persons and is known to occur in public drinking water systems with a frequency and at levels that present a public health concern. Since that time, EPA has been reviewing the best available scientific data on a range of issues related to perchlorate in drinking water including its health effects, occurrence, treatment technologies, analytical methods, and the costs and benefits of potential standards.

Perchlorate Peer Reviews

 As part of EPA’s commitment to ensuring the safety of America’s drinking water, the Agency conducted two independent, expert peer reviews to determine the appropriate scientific approach for understanding the adverse health impacts of perchlorate in drinking water.

EPA collaborated with Food and Drug Administration scientists to implement the 2013 Science Advisory Board (SAB) recommendations to develop a Physiologically Based Pharmacokinetic/Pharmacodynamic (PBPK/PD) or Biologically Based Dose Response (BBDR) model that integrated available health related information in a robust and transparent analysis of the effects of perchlorate on thyroid hormone production. A peer review was conducted on the draft model and model report in January 2017. After considering the findings of this review, EPA revised the Perchlorate BBDR Model to focus on increasing the scientific rigor of the model and modeling results. In addition, EPA developed a two-stage approach linking the revised BBDR model results with quantitative information on neurodevelopmental outcomes from epidemiological studies. EPA also developed an alternative population-based approach that uses the revised Perchlorate BBDR Model to evaluate a shift in the population of pregnant women who could be hypothyroxinemic.

Final Peer Review Reports

The final reports for both peer reviews are available through Docket ID No. EPA-HQ-OW-2016-0439

Top of Page


Supplemental Information

Technical Fact Sheet

A technical fact sheet has been developed for perchlorate that includes: physical and chemical properties; environmental health impacts; existing federal and state guidelines; and detection and treatment methods.

Perchlorate Reference Dose

EPA has established a reference dose (RfD) for perchlorate, which is consistent with the reference dose recommended by the National Research Council’s 2005 report.

Interim Health Advisory

In January 2009, EPA issued an Interim Health Advisory for perchlorate to assist state and local officials in addressing local contamination of perchlorate in drinking water while the Agency conducted its evaluation of the opportunity to reduce risks through a national primary drinking water regulation.

Top of Page


Federal Register Notices

Public Meeting Notices

Final Regulatory Determination Notice for Perchlorate 

EPA decided to regulate perchlorate under the Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA). The science that lead to this decision has been peer reviewed by independent scientists and public health experts including the National Academy of Sciences.

Supplemental Request for Comments on Preliminary Regulatory Determination

On August 19, 2009, EPA published the Perchlorate Supplemental Request for Comments requesting comment on additional approaches to analyzing data related to EPA’s perchlorate preliminary regulatory determination. 

Preliminary Regulatory Determination Notice for Perchlorate

On October 10, 2008, EPA published a preliminary regulatory determination for perchlorate. This notice requested public comment on its determination that perchlorate did not occur with a frequency and at levels of public health concern and that development of a regulation did not present a meaningful opportunity for health risk reduction for persons served by public water systems.
Additional information including support documents for the regulatory determination may be found in:

Regulatory Determination Fact Sheets

Read about perchlorate's regulatory stage in EPA's Regulatory Development and Retrospective Review Tracker

Top of Page