Press Releases

Senator Feinstein Applauds California’s Perchlorate Standard

- Renews call for national perchlorate standard -

Washington, DC – U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) today applauded California on its adoption of an official perchlorate drinking water standard, which went into effect yesterday.  The new standard sets a maximum contamination level for perchlorate of 6 parts per billion (ppb), which makes official the draft standard adopted in 2004.

 State officials have been monitoring contamination levels of perchlorate – a chemical used in rocket fuel – since 1997. According to the most recent statistics from the California Department of Public Health, perchlorate contamination has been detected in 251 wells and water sources throughout the State.  Of these, 160 have been found to have perchlorate concentrations above 6 parts per billion.  

“California has taken an important step forward in protecting the drinking water supply for millions of California families from the toxic chemical perchlorate,” Senator Feinstein said. “It’s important that Californians have access to drinking water that is clean and safe. And a legally enforceable drinking water standard gives cities, water districts, and communities across the State a defined and specific cleanup target.”

At the same time, we must take action on the federal level. We need to take steps to protect all Americans – particularly pregnant women and children – from the potential health hazards of perchlorate.

The true scope of perchlorate contamination may remain unknown for some time, but we cannot afford to gamble with the health of women and children in the meantime. So, I urge the EPA to develop a national perchlorate standard immediately that is safe for everyone.”

Perchlorate has been detected in drinking water sources in 35 states and the District of Columbia. Yesterday’s action makes California one of only two states (the other is Massachusetts) that have adopted a maximum contamination level for perchlorate in drinking water.

Since 2005 the EPA has been operating on a reference dose level equal to 24.5 ppb.  However, a 2006 Centers for Disease Control study showed that even less than 1 ppb of perchlorate in water may pose health risks to women.

In May the EPA issued a statement saying it “believes additional information may be needed to more fully characterize perchlorate exposure and determine whether it is appropriate to regulate perchlorate in drinking water (i.e., whether setting a national primary drinking water standard would provide a meaningful opportunity to reduce risk for people served by public water systems).”


In the 110th Congress, Senator Feinstein is a co-sponsor of two bills to protect the American public from drinking water contaminated by perchlorate:

  • The first, the “Perchlorate Monitoring and Right to Know Act of 2007” (S.24), requires the EPA to promptly establish a health advisory, followed by a drinking water standard, for perchlorate.
  • The second bill is the “Protecting Pregnant Women and Children from Perchlorate Act of 2007,” (S.150). The bill would require the EPA to announce a national drinking water standard for perchlorate that fully protects the health of vulnerable populations, including pregnant women, fetuses, infants and children.

The bills are cosponsored by Senators Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) and Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.)