The environmental and health issues related to AP are:
● Acid rain formation
● Ozone depletion
● Thyroid gland interference
AP contains 30% chlorine which on combustion forms hydrochloric gas. By one launch of the Ariane 5 rocket, 100 tons of hydrochloric gas is formed which corresponds to 270 tons of concentrated hydrochloric acid.
Part of the chlorine emission is injected directly into the stratosphere where it catalytically promotes ozone depletion. At present, the global rocket launches do not contribute significantly to the ozone layer depletion, but over the course of time, due to the expected increased numbers of launches, this contribution may become significant. It has even been suggested that this might require the number of launches to be regulated in the future.
Groundwater contaminated from the production of perchlorate might adversely affect human health by interfering with iodide uptake into the thyroid gland. Interference with both the thyroid and available thyroid hormones is known to produce adverse effects on neurodevelopment in humans, with foetuses and infants being most vulnerable.
Recently in Europe the presence of perchlorate in fruits and vegetables has attracted attention. In view of a possible Union legislation all Member States are currently requested by the European Commission to monitor the presence of perchlorate in food. The European Food Safety Authority Panel on Contaminants in the Food Chain concluded that the chronic dietary exposure to perchlorate is of potential concern.
On 29 April 2015, the Commission Recommendation 2015/682 (EU), on the monitoring of perchlorate in food and drinking water was adopted. During the course of 2016, the setting of maximum levels for perchlorate in certain foods will be considered, based upon the outcome of the scientific opinion and monitoring data generated in execution of the Commission Recommendation.
Read more about perchlorates:
FOI, Swedish Defence Research Agency
This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement no. 638719.