2002 CPEO Military List Archive

From: CPEO Moderator <cpeo@cpeo.org>
Date: 23 Dec 2002 15:19:51 -0000
Reply: cpeo-military
Subject: [CPEO-MEF] Students' 'high-stakes science' eyes Aberdeen water pollutant
Students' 'high-stakes science' eyes Aberdeen water pollutant
UMass undergrads study the effects of perchlorate

By Lane Harvey Brown
Sun National Staff
Originally published December 23, 2002

AMHERST, Mass. - Students in Tom Zoeller's undergraduate endocrinology
lab at the University of Massachusetts sat shoulder to shoulder in a
glassy cube of a room, scrutinizing an equation they plugged into a
spreadsheet only to have it spew out an unexpected stream of negative

These students aren't in the professional world yet, but they, along
with private and government researchers, are studying how perchlorate
affects human health, with sometimes surprising results. The toxic
component of rocket fuel and explosive munitions has polluted water
supplies in 22 states, including Maryland.

Perchlorate was found this year in Aberdeen's drinking water, and the
Army acknowledges that military training exercises caused the

Though levels in Aberdeen are lower than those found in other parts of
the country, the concerns are acute.

Perchlorate is known to interfere with thyroid function - the question
is when, how seriously and who is most susceptible. The students'
experiment is designed to measure changes in behavior and thyroid
hormone levels in rat pups exposed to the chemical.

Early results from their experiment suggest that perchlorate could
influence several events in the developing brain, including naturally
occurring cell death, gene expression and cell migration.

But the work is preliminary, said Zoeller, a nationally known endocrine

"We need to really look carefully at these data to make sure we haven't
committed errors and to repeat those observations before we would be
comfortable about their significance," he said.

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