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Water contaminant linked to infant brain damage won't be regulated by EPA

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FILE - A photo illustration of water in a clear glass drinking glass. WASHINGTON - Upholding a Trump-era environmental policy, the Environmental Protection Agency said Thursday it will not regulate a drinking water contaminant that has been linked to brain damage in infants.The agency said the Trump administration's decision in 2020 not to regulate perchlorate in drinking water was made with the "best available peer reviewed science." The chemical is used in rocket fuel and fireworks.At the time, Trump's EPA said perchlorate was not found widely enough in drinking water or "at levels of public health concern" to warrant federal regulation.

The decision was one of many Trump-era rollbacks or eliminations of existing or pending public health and environmental protections.

The Biden administration ordered a review of that decision at the start of his term.EPA Assistant Administrator Radhika Fox said the agency was "applying the right tools to support public health protections."Environmental groups slammed the Biden administration’s decision."The Trump EPA gave perchlorate a pass; it was a bad decision then, and it’s a bad decision now," said Erik Olson of the Natural Resources Defense Council advocacy group. "Tap water across America will remain contaminated by this toxic chemical."Perchlorate from runoff contaminates the drinking water of as many as 16 million Americans, the Obama administration said in 2011 when it announced the EPA would for the first time set maximum limits for the chemical compound.

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