2002 CPEO Military List Archive

From: CPEO Moderator <cpeo@cpeo.org>
Date: 13 Dec 2002 15:07:57 -0000
Reply: cpeo-military
Subject: [CPEO-MEF] Protecting people from tainted river
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Protecting people from tainted river

For a decade, Clarisa Mirelez filled glasses and cooking pots with the
tap water in her home without a second thought.

These days, however, Mirelez worries that a component of rocket fuel in
the water could be damaging the health of her family -- including her
week-old grandson -- and other residents living along a U-shaped street
of tribal housing at the Torres Martinez Indian Reservation near the
Salton Sea.

"Sometimes, it will taste funny to me, but I don't know if it's just my
imagination," said Mirelez, 49. "I'm kind of concerned about it."

Tribal leaders believe the chemical perchlorate is carried to their well
by the contaminated Colorado River, source of roughly a third of
Southern California's drinking water. River water is used to replenish
underground supplies not far from the reservation well.

The pollution in the river has been traced to a former perchlorate
factory near Las Vegas where, every day, an estimated 500 pounds of the
chemical is finding its way into a wash that empties into Lake Mead.
_From there, the water is carried to 17 million people in Southern
California via the Colorado River Aqueduct.

Perchlorate industry representatives and some water officials stress
that not enough is known about perchlorate to say that the river water
is harmful to health. No maximum contamination level has been set by the
state or federal governments.

But on Friday, the state's Office of Environmental Health Hazard
Assessment proposed a health goal for drinking water: no more than 2 to
6 parts of perchlorate per billion parts of water. The intent is to
protect the most vulnerable water consumers: pregnant women who have
iodine deficiencies, their fetuses, and anyone suffering from an
underactive thyroid.

The river carries 5 to 9 parts per billion.

Studies in areas with perchlorate-contaminated drinking water have shown
unusual levels of thyroid-related hormones in newborns. The thyroid
plays a key role in fetal development.

"At the really low levels (of contamination), the concern is the
development of the fetal brain," said Dr. Gina Solomon, an environmental
and occupational health physician at the UC San Francisco medical school
and a science adviser for the Natural Resources Defense Council, a
national environmental group.

"We are talking about slight differences in learning, IQ and reading
ability," she said

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