2003 CPEO Military List Archive

From: Lenny Siegel <lsiegel@cpeo.org>
Date: 19 Sep 2003 16:42:54 -0000
Reply: cpeo-military
Subject: [CPEO-MEF] Perchlorate Found in Milk
[Press Release from the Environmental Working Group]

LUBBOCK, TX, Sept. 19 - A toxic component of rocket fuel has been found
in supermarket milk at levels exceeding the federal government's
currently recommended safe dose for drinking water, according to a
peer-reviewed scientific study published today.

A team of five researchers from the Institute of Environmental and Human
Health at Texas Tech University report in the journal Environmental
Science and Technology that perchlorate was "unambiguously detected" in
seven of seven cow's milk samples from Lubbock grocery stores.


Perchlorate levels in the milk ranged from 1.7 to 6.4 parts per billion
- all higher than the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's most recent
proposed safety standard of 1 ppb. Enforceable federal standards are not
expected for at least five years, but the State of California has set 4
ppb of perchlorate as the "action level" at which a public water supply
should be shut down.

Perchlorate, the explosive main ingredient of solid rocket and missile
fuel, can disrupt the thyroid gland's ability to make essential
hormones. For fetuses, infants and children, disruptions in thyroid
hormone levels can cause lowered IQ, mental retardation, loss of hearing
and speech, and motor skill deficits.

Perchlorate, most of it leaking from military bases or defense plants,
contaminates more than 500 drinking water supplies in at least 20
states, serving well over 20 million people. Among major
perchlorate-polluted sources is the Colorado River, which is used to
irrigate 1.4 million acres of cropland in California and Arizona.
Earlier this year, a study for the Environmental Working Group,
conducted by the same team from Texas Tech, reported that about 1 in 5
samples tested of winter lettuce irrigated by the Colorado had
perchlorate levels averaging four times the EPA's draft safety standard. 

"These troubling results are the first indication that perchlorate is
not only contaminating drinking water and irrigation water, but that
livestock can pass it on to humans," said EWG Senior Analyst Renee
Sharp. "How much more evidence do we need before the government takes
action to protect our water, our food and our selves from this toxic chemical?"

The milk samples represented six different brands, four packaged locally
at the same plant and two at separate plants outside Texas. Researchers
also found perchlorate in one sample of evaporated cow's milk (1 ppb)
and one sample of human breast milk (about 4 ppb), but none was found in
a sample of reconstituted powdered milk.

Levels of perchlorate in Lubbock-area drinking water range from below
the limit of detection to 4 ppb, with the average about 2.5 ppb.
Previous research by the Texas Tech scientists has shown that feed crops
such as alfalfa can take up and concentrate perchlorate to high levels.
The researchers have also documented perchlorate contamination of
field-grown wheat, blackberries, chinaberries, mulberries and in
lab-grown lettuce, soybeans, strawberries and cucumbers.

"The significant occurrence of perchlorate in all milk samples analyzed
at levels that are comparable or even greater than the current
California action level for the concentration of perchlorate in drinking
water came as a considerable surprise to us," wrote the authors. "Based
on this limited study, it is not clear how widespread perchlorate
contamination of milk may be, but clearly such a study is warranted."

EWG renews its call for the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and
Department of Agriculture to fast-track a definitive study of
perchlorate contamination in the U.S. food supply, and make all results
public. All future drinking water standards, such as those currently
under consideration by California, must adequately reflect the potential
for exposure through food. Farmers and ranchers must be fully
compensated for lost profits and property values.

 FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: September 19, 2003

CONTACT: Bill Walker or Renee Sharp, Environmental Working Group (510)
<bwalker@ewg.org> or (510) 444-0974 <renee@ewg.org>

Dr. Purnendu K. Dasgupta, Texas Tech University (806) 885-4567 


Lenny Siegel
Director, Center for Public Environmental Oversight
c/o PSC, 278-A Hope St., Mountain View, CA 94041
Voice: 650/961-8918 or 650/969-1545
Fax: 650/961-8918

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