Tuesday, March 6, 2007

Rocket Fuel in Milk Could Harm Children

Rocket Fuel in Milk

The headline in the San Francisco Chronicle pretty much summed it up: "Rocket fuel found in milk in California: Not clear if amount imperils children."[1]

For decades the Pentagon has been contaminating the drinking water of hundreds of U.S. communities across at least 43 states with ammonium perchlorate, the main explosive component of solid missile fuel.[2]Utah, where NASA and the military test their rockets, recently saw a local news broadcast wherein grocery store milk samples were randomly tested and all turned up alarming levels of perchlorate. Not surprisingly, the Bush Administration, despite the fact that every milk sample taken in Bush's home state of Texas was also found to be perchlorate contaminated,[3] attempted once again this year[4] to exempt chemical companies and military contractors like Lockheed Martin and Morton Thiokol from cleaning up this toxic waste which, as Senator Barbara Boxer noted, is "endangering the health of millions of Americans."[5]

Perchlorate leaches into the irrigation water used to grow feed crops for cattle who can then concentrate this agent into their milk. Testing milk off California grocery store shelves for the first time, the Environmental Working Group (EWG) recently found that infants and children may be exposed to more of this toxic chemical than is considered safe by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)[6] and other independent scientific bodies.[7] The average 1-year-old in Southern California, for example, is estimated to be getting twice the EPA's "provisional daily safe dose." The EWG also unearthed previously unreleased tests done by the California Food and Agriculture Department that found an average level of perchlorate contamination in California milk over 5 times the EPA safety standard. Cheese, yogurt and other dairy products are likely to be as contaminated as milk.[8]

Scientists know that at the levels that were found in milk, perchlorate can affect a baby's ability to make essential thyroid hormones.[9,10] What we don't know is if the disruptions in thyroid hormone levels caused by milk would be enough to cause the lowered IQ, mental retardation, loss of hearing and speech, and motor skill deficits seen in thyroid deficient fetuses, infants, and children.

The spokesperson for the state's $4.5 billion dairy industry agrees with the California Ag department that there is a "paucity of science" as to the potential effects of children drinking rocket fuel chemicals.[11]Government and industry both admit, though, that there could be some risk, but that moms and kids should NOT stop drinking milk because of all its "calcium, protein and minerals."[12] Is that the choice our children get? Rocket fuel or malnutrition? Pouring fortified SOY milk on one's cereal, kids can get comparable amounts of protein and calcium and even more minerals--without the toxic waste.Rice milk, almond milk, oatmilk, hazelnut milk and soy, are available in stores everywhere. You don't have to be a rocket scientist to figure out the healthier choice.

1 San Francisco Chronicle 22 June 2004.
2 http://www.ewg.org/issues/perchlorate/20030715/index.php
3 http://www.ewg.org/issues/perchlorate/20030919/index.php
4 http://www.ewg.org/issues/perchlorate/20040420/index.php
5 http://www.ewg.org/issues/perchlorate/20030401/index.php
6 Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). 2002. Perchlorate Environmental Contamination. NCEA-1-0503.
7 Massachusetts Department Of Environmental Protection (MADEP). 2004a. Perchlorate Toxicological Profile And Health Assessment (Final Draft). Office of Research and Standards. May 2004. Available at http://www.mass.gov/dep/brp/dws/percinfo.htm
8 Los Angeles Times 22 June 2004
9 Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine 42(2000):777.
10 [24] Schwartz, J. 2001. Gestational exposure to perchlorate is associated with measures of decreased thyroid function in a population of California neonates [thesis]. Berkeley, CA: University of California.
11 Associated Press 22 June 2004.
12 Los Angeles Times 22 June 2004.

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