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ORNL system eliminates perchlorate, helps scientists trace source

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A report on the study appears in the current edition of Environmental Science and Technology, which is published by the American Chemical Society.

"Isotopic comparison of natural and non-naturally occurring perchlorate has not been feasible because of the difficulties in extracting and analyzing trace quantities of perchlorate from soil or groundwater that contain large quantities of impurities like nitrates and other salt deposits," Gu said. "Our findings show that the ORNL treatment system provides a tool for the identification and forensics of perchlorate contamination in the environment."

ORNL has licensed the resin technology to the Purolite company and the regeneration and recovery technology to Calgon Carbon Corporation. The system also is being tested at two contaminated sites in California. Gu will present findings from those tests at meetings this month with municipal water utilities and environmental remediation groups in California.

The Environmental Protection Agency proposed one part per billion in 2002 as the legal limit for perchlorate in drinking water, but that standard is under debate, Gu said.

"The presence of natural or atmospheric perchlorate in the environment obviously has far-reaching ramifications, ranging from public health issues to huge liabilities that could be imposed by agricultural and environmental cleanup needs," Gu said. "It recently has been found in lettuce and milk, which begs the questions: How is it getting there and migrating through the environment? Where is the liability?

"Our technology could have a huge impact on how those questions are answered."


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Contact: Mike Bradley
bradleymk@ornl.gov
865-576-9553
DOE/Oak Ridge National Laboratory
20-Oct-2004


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