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Perchlorate: A System to Track Sampling and Cleanup Results Is Needed

GAO-05-462 Published: May 20, 2005. Publicly Released: Jun 21, 2005.
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Perchlorate, a primary ingredient in propellant, has been used for decades in the manufacture and firing of rockets and missiles. Other uses include fireworks, flares, and explosives. Perchlorate has been found in drinking water, groundwater, surface water, and soil in the United States. The National Academy of Sciences (NAS) reviewed studies of perchlorate's health effects and reported in January 2005 that certain levels of exposure may not adversely affect healthy adults but recommended more studies be conducted on the effects of perchlorate exposure in children and pregnant women. GAO determined (1) the estimated extent of perchlorate in the United States, (2) what actions have been taken to address perchlorate, and (3) what studies of perchlorate's health risks have reported.


Recommendations for Executive Action

Agency Affected Recommendation Status
Environmental Protection Agency In order to ensure that EPA has reliable information on perchlorate and the status of cleanup efforts, and to better coordinate lessons learned between federal agencies and states on investigating and cleaning up perchlorate, in coordination with states and other federal agencies, EPA should use existing authorities or seek additional authority, if necessary, to establish a formal structure to centrally track and monitor perchlorate detections and the status of cleanup efforts across the federal government and state agencies.
Closed – Not Implemented
EPA officials disagree with this recommendation because they believe the agency can track and monitor perchlorate detections and cleanup efforts.

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ContaminantsEnvironmental lawEnvironmental monitoringEnvironmental policiesEnvironmental researchFederal regulationsstate relationsHazardous substancesHealth hazardsPerchloratesPotable waterSoil remediationStandardsWater pollutionWater pollution controlStandards (water quality)