Perchlorate Impacts in Soil and Groundwater

Perchlorate is a known thyroid gland disruptor. In the body, perchlorate prevents the production of thyroid hormones. The perchlorate concentrations in soil and groundwater are regulated. Its maximum contaminant limit (MCL) in the State of California is six micrograms per liter (µg/L). In January 2011, the Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA) proposed a one µg/L perchlorate public heath goal (PHG) for drinking water.

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In the United States, soil and groundwater at several properties have been impacted with perchlorate. Historical releases of perchlorate to the environment have resulted from the perchlorate manufacturing process, and the manufacture of perchlorate-containing products which includes matches, fireworks, flares and perchlorate containing waste associated with these products. Perchlorate was also used to manufacture and test ordnance, explosives, and solid rocket-fuel propulsion based systems.

Solid perchlorate is used as an oxidant since it decomposes exothermically to produce oxygen; however, perchlorate is a very stable molecule in solution as a result of its chemical structure which consists of a chlorine molecule encased in four oxygen molecules. When perchlorate dissolves in water, it is stable, but generally will not be reduced in groundwater.

Perchlorate in groundwater may be difficult to contain since the perchlorate is stable and is very soluble. This causes perchlorate to disperse quickly when compared to other chemicals of concern such as petroleum hydrocarbons.

Samples can be analyzed for perchlorate using EPA Method 314.0 (a chromatographic method), which has a detection limit of 2.0 µg/L; and EPA Method 331.0 (a mass spectrometer method) has a detection limit less than 0.1 µg/L.

We offer a broad range of services to investigate the presence of perchlorate in soil and groundwater, and and remediate soil and groundwater using proven technologies such as ion-exchange and anoxic filters.

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