2003 CPEO Military List Archive

From: Lenny Siegel <lsiegel@cpeo.org>
Date: 6 Nov 2003 17:32:14 -0000
Reply: cpeo-military
Subject: [CPEO-MEF] perchlorate study may require human testing
More than a month into the fiscal year, the Defense Authorization Bill
(as opposed to the Defense Appropriations Act) is finally headed back to
the floors of Congress. The text of the Conference Committee report is
not yet available, but the House may take up the bill as soon as Friday,
November 7.

It may be too late to change it, but we've recently become concerned
about the details of the language of a Senate provision calling for a
perchlorate study. We don't know how this will read in the Conference
Committee version of the bill, but the Senate's version (Section 331)
calls for the Defense Department "to provide for an independent
epidemiological study of exposure to perchlorate in drinking water." In
principle, this is a good thing, but the language goes too far by
mandating, in statute, a scientific approach that should be determined
by the investigators and other scientists. In particular, it would
require the entity conducting the study:

"to study thyroid function, including measurements of urinary iodine and
thyroid hormone levels, in a sufficient number of pregnant women,
neonates, and infants exposed to perchlorate in drinking water and match
measurements of perchlorate levels in the drinking water of each study
participant in order to permit the development of meaningful conclusions
on the public health threat to individuals exposed to perchlorate."

Not only is this micromanagement inappropriate for statutory language,
but it would require that pregnant women and babies be subjected to
continuing exposure to perchlorate, at levels many scientists belief
unsafe, for the purposes of the study. Using fetuses and infants as
guinea pigs raises serious ethical questions, and it's wrong for
Congress to mandate it. Furthermore, such a requirement might force any
ethical researcher who believes that low-level exposures are unsafe to
refuse to take part in the study, leaving the research to those who are
convinced that perchlorate poses little or no health hazard in drinking water.



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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