S 78

112th CONGRESS
1st Session

S. 78

To amend the Safe Drinking Water Act to protect the health of pregnant women, fetuses, infants, and children by requiring a health advisory and drinking water standard for perchlorate.

IN THE SENATE OF THE UNITED STATES

January 25 (legislative day, January 5), 2011

Mrs. BOXER introduced the following bill; which was read twice and referred to the Committee on Environment and Public Works


A BILL

To amend the Safe Drinking Water Act to protect the health of pregnant women, fetuses, infants, and children by requiring a health advisory and drinking water standard for perchlorate.

    Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled,

SECTION 1. SHORT TITLE.

    This Act may be cited as the `Protecting Pregnant Women and Children From Perchlorate Act of 2011'.

SEC. 2. FINDINGS AND PURPOSES.

    (a) Findings- Congress finds that--

      (1) perchlorate--

        (A) is a chemical used as the primary ingredient of solid rocket propellant; and

        (B) is also used in fireworks, road flares, and other applications;

      (2) waste from the manufacture and improper disposal of chemicals containing perchlorate is increasingly being discovered in soil and water;

      (3) according to the Government Accountability Office, perchlorate contamination has been detected in water and soil at almost 400 sites in the United States, with concentration levels ranging from 4 parts per billion to millions of parts per billion;

      (4) the Government Accountability Office has determined that the Environmental Protection Agency does not centrally track or monitor perchlorate detections or the status of perchlorate cleanup, so a greater number of contaminated sites may already exist;

      (5) according to the Government Accountability Office, limited Environmental Protection Agency data show that perchlorate has been found in 35 States and the District of Columbia and is known to have contaminated 153 public water systems in 26 States;

      (6) those data are likely underestimates of total drinking water exposure, as illustrated by the finding of the California Department of Health Services that perchlorate contamination sites have affected approximately 273 drinking water sources and 86 drinking water systems in the State of California alone;

      (7) Food and Drug Administration scientists and other scientific researchers have detected perchlorate in the United States food supply, including in lettuce, milk, cucumbers, tomatoes, carrots, cantaloupe, wheat, and spinach, and in human breast milk;

      (8)(A) perchlorate can harm human health, especially in pregnant women and children, by interfering with uptake of iodide by the thyroid gland, which is necessary to produce important hormones that help control human health and development;

      (B) in adults, the thyroid helps to regulate metabolism;

      (C) in children, the thyroid helps to ensure proper mental and physical development; and

      (D) impairment of thyroid function in expectant mothers or infants may result in effects including delayed development and decreased learning capability;

      (9)(A) in October 2006, researchers from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention published the largest, most comprehensive study to date on the effects of low levels of perchlorate exposure in women, finding that--

        (i) significant changes existed in thyroid hormones in women with low iodine levels who were exposed to perchlorate; and

        (ii) even low-level perchlorate exposure may affect the production of hormones by the thyroid in iodine-deficient women; and

      (B) in the United States, about 36 percent of women have iodine levels equivalent to or below the levels of the women in the study described in subparagraph (A); and

      (10) the Environmental Protection Agency has not established a health advisory or national primary drinking water regulation for perchlorate, but instead established a `Drinking Water Equivalent Level' of 24.5 parts per billion for perchlorate, which--

        (A) does not take into consideration all routes of exposure to perchlorate;

        (B) has been criticized by experts as failing to sufficiently consider the body weight, unique exposure, and vulnerabilities of certain pregnant women and fetuses, infants, and children; and

        (C) is based primarily on a small study and does not take into account new, larger studies of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention or other data indicating potential effects at lower perchlorate levels than previously found.

    (b) Purposes- The purposes of this Act are--

      (1) to require the Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency to establish, by not later than 90 days after the date of enactment of this Act, a health advisory for perchlorate in drinking water that--

        (A) is fully protective of, and considers, the body weight and exposure patterns of pregnant women, infants, and children;

        (B) provides an adequate margin of safety; and

        (C) takes into account all routes of exposure to perchlorate;

      (2) to require the Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency to establish not later than 1 year after the date of enactment of this Act a national primary drinking water regulation for perchlorate that fully protects pregnant women, infants, and children, taking into consideration body weight, exposure patterns, and all routes of exposure to perchlorate.

SEC. 3. HEALTH ADVISORY AND NATIONAL PRIMARY DRINKING WATER REGULATION FOR PERCHLORATE.

    Section 1412(b)(12) of the Safe Drinking Water Act (42 U.S.C. 300g-1(b)(12)) is amended by adding at the end the following:

        `(C) PERCHLORATE-

          `(i) HEALTH ADVISORY- Notwithstanding any other provision of this section, not later than 90 days after the date of enactment of this subparagraph, the Administrator shall publish a health advisory for perchlorate that is fully protective, with an adequate margin of safety, of the health of vulnerable persons (including pregnant women, infants, and children), taking into consideration body weight, exposure patterns, and all routes of exposure.

          `(ii) PROPOSED REGULATIONS- Notwithstanding any other provision of this section, the Administrator shall propose (not later than 180 days after the date of enactment of this subparagraph) and shall finalize (not later than 1 year after the date of enactment of this subparagraph) a national primary drinking water regulation for perchlorate--

            `(I) that based on the factors in clause (i) and other relevant data, is protective, with an adequate margin of safety, of vulnerable persons (including pregnant women, infants, and children); and

            `(II) the maximum contaminant level of which is as close to the maximum contaminant level goal for perchlorate, and as protective of vulnerable persons, as is feasible.'.

END