Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Perchlorate in food/water/environment/etc

Perchlorate is a chemical used in rocket fuel, but it's being found widely throughout the U.S. environment, food supply, water supply, etc.

Rocket fuel chemical in California cow milk (June 22, 2004; CNN unfortunately CNN doesn't have it on their site any longer)

SAN FRANCISCO, California (AP) -- Young children and pregnant women who drink milk from California cows may be exposed to unsafe levels of a toxic chemical used in rocket fuel, according to a new study by an environmental group.

The study released Tuesday by the Environmental Working Group comes as state and federal regulators consider setting new standards to regulate perchlorate -- the explosive ingredient in missile fuel that has been linked to thyroid damage.

"Perchlorate exposure is more widespread than we have been led to believe," said Bill Walker, vice president for the West Coast office of the EWG, a research and advocacy organization based in Washington, D.C.

Study: Rocket fuel chemical taints food, water (By Michael Coren, CNN, Friday, February 25, 2005)

There are few sure ways to avoid ingesting perchlorate, the chemical used in rocket fuel that researchers have detected in breast milk at levels five to eight times higher than those considered safe, experts say.

Studies by the Food and Drug Administration and the Environmental Protection Agency suggest that perchlorate enters the food supply through reservoirs and tainted irrigation water that contaminates crops and livestock.

The chemical has been found in store-bought produce, such as lettuce, in milk and in public drinking water supplies across the United States. More than 11 million people have some level of perchlorate in their drinking water, according to the National Research Council.

Perchlorate is used in explosives and as an ingredient in solid rocket fuel. Although found naturally in some areas, production of the chemical began in the mid-1940s by the U.S. military and aerospace industry, which accounts for 90 percent of its use, according to the EPA. Few consumer products contain the chemical, which is used in mortars, grenades, fireworks, lubricating oils and air bags.

... "Our findings are very surprising because we found that perchlorate in breast milk is widespread, doesn't appear to come from drinking water, appears to suppress iodide in breast milk, and in some cases, the levels are really high," said Ph.D. student Andrea Kirk. Perchlorate can inhibit thyroid hormones and may cause iodine deficiencies that lead to learning disabilities or lower IQ.