The title of this blog entry says it all. Legislation in New Jersey pertaining to proposed testing for perchlorate in municipal water systems and private wells got a thrashing… and once again the public must take initiative and test for a suspected drinking water contaminant on their own.

The Christie administration has backed off plans to require testing and treatment of drinking water for a chemical ingredient of fertilizer and rocket fuel that has been found in some private and public wells in North Jersey and which poses health risks for pregnant women and infants even with short-term exposure.

Department of Environmental Protection Commissioner Bob Martin angered some environmentalists when he chose not to sign a proposed statewide rule that would have set a limit on how much perchlorate can remain in drinking water.

The rule would have required public water systems to test for perchlorate and treat the water if levels exceeded 5 parts per billion. The rule would also have required property owners with private wells to test for perchlorate during real estate transactions.

The New Jersey Realtors Association and the New Jersey Builders Association had opposed the rule, citing the potential financial costs to homeowners with private wells.

Perchlorate is a naturally occurring inorganic chemical compound. Deposits in Chile are mined and used as fertilizer in the U.S. Perchlorate is often used in the manufacture of rocket propellant. It is used in fireworks, matches, lubricating oils and air bags.

The chemical has been found in more than 20 states.

In 2005 the National Research Council determined that perchlorate interferes with iodide uptake in the thyroid, a gland that helps regulate metabolism in adults. The thyroid also plays a major role in development of the central nervous system and skeleton in children. The council determined that an impaired thyroid in pregnant mothers could harm the fetus by causing behavior changes and delayed development and reducing the child’s learning ability.

Between 2001 and 2003, 123 New Jersey public water systems were tested by the EPA for perchlorate; 10 recorded perchlorate at rates of 4 parts per billion or higher. The maximum concentration detected was 13 parts per billion.

The state DEP conducted additional tests between 2003 and 2005 and found perchlorate rates as high as 23 parts per billion in a well operated by the Park Ridge water system. The borough’s consultants concluded that a fertilizer used at a nearby greenhouse was a possible source of the contamination.

Park Ridge has since addressed the perchlorate concentrations with a treatment system.

The results in Park Ridge led officials to test nearby private wells in Park Ridge, Woodcliff Lake and Saddle River. At least 17 showed perchlorate concentrations above 4 parts per million, with the highest at 110 parts per billion. ( source )

We performed a quick search on Google to try and find out what perchlorate testing costs and had no luck. We then placed a quick call to a colleague at National Testing Labs and found out the following information:

  • National Testing Labs performs perchlorate testing.
  • The testing does not come as part of any ‘standard testing packeage’ for homeownners.
  • Individuals can call 800-458-3330 and ask for information on submitting a sample of water for perchlorate testing.
  • Cost for perchlorate testing — $125 per sample
  • Turnaround time for perchlorate testing — 10 to 15 business days from receipt of sample(s)