OEHHA Updates Public Health Goal for Perchlorate in Drinking Water

ACWA Regulatory Advisory:

OEHHA Updates Public Health Goal for Perchlorate in Drinking Water

Submitted by Emily Allshouse

The Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA) today published an updated public health goal (PHG) for perchlorate in drinking water of 1 part per billion (ppb), citing new research related to the health impacts of perchlorate on infants.

“This updated public health goal reflects infants’ increased susceptibility to the health effects of perchlorate,” said OEHHA Director Dr. George Alexeeff. “It is set at a level that would provide health protection for people of all ages.”

Though the updated PHG is not an enforceable regulatory standard and does not change California’s existing maximum contaminant level (MCL) of 6 ppb for perchlorate or the detection limit for purposes of reporting (DLR) of 4 ppb, state law requires the State Water Resources Control Board’s Division of Drinking Water to use a PHG as guidance in setting an MCL. State law also requires the Division of Drinking Water to set MCLs as close to the corresponding PHG as economically and technologically feasible, while placing primary emphasis on the protection of public health. PHGs are established solely on the basis of public health data and do not take into account technical or economic feasibility of treating the contaminant in drinking water.

A PHG identifies a level of a contaminant in drinking water that OEHHA determines poses no significant public health risk when consumed over a lifetime. According to OEHHA, drinking water still can be acceptable for public consumption if it contains contaminants at levels higher than the PHG.

State law requires public water systems to provide annual consumer confidence reports to customers that describe the source of water and list the current level of contaminants, their PHGs and their primary MCLs. California’s perchlorate MCL was set in 2007. There is no federal drinking water standard for perchlorate.

For more information on OEHHA’s PHG including a fact sheet and a technical support document that provides information on the health effects of perchlorate in drinking water, please visithttp://www.oehha.ca.gov/water/phg/2015perchlorate.html.

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