Posted by: Lawyer Sanders | May 8, 2009

Kentucky environmental attorney Sanders says CDC finds rocket fuel contaminant in infant formulas, but offers no plan of action.

The Center for Disease Control (“CSC”) recently published a study of perchlorate in infant formula published in The Journal of Exposure Science and Environmental Epidemiology. Perchlorate is a contaminant in groundwater and drinking water supplies around the country. It is widely used by the military as an oxider in explosives, fireworks, road flares, and rocket propellant.

Perchlorate has been found in the drinking water of at least 35 states and the District of Columbia. The chemical can inhibit the thyroid gland’s iodine uptake, interfering with fetal development. As a result, nearly everyone in the U.S. is exposed regularly to low levels of perchlorate.

People are exposed through eating food, and drinking milk and water that contain perchlorate. Fatty tissue in the breasts concentrates perchlorate, causing milk products to have higher levels of the chemical than some other food products.

High levels of perchlorate can affect the thyroid gland, causing changes in how our organs function, especially in fetuses and young children. High levels can be defined as thousands of times greater than those seen in this study, such as levels that were seen in the past when perchlorate was used for medical treatment.

Whether there may be health effects of low-level exposures is unknown. All of the powdered infant formulas tested contained perchlorate. Cow’s milk-based formula with lactose had a significantly higher concentration of perchlorate than the other types.  Face with no real answers to questions about the long-term effects of exposure to perchlorate on infants, the CDC recommends breastfeeding as optimal for both mothers and babies.  

Parents who do use infant formula should be aware that the U. S. FDA requires that all baby formulas include iodine, which may offset any potential effects of perchlorate in the formula. The study is at: http://www.nature.com/jes/journal/vaop/ncurrent/abs/jes200918a.html

Despite the existence of perchlorate in drinking water supplies across the country, U.S. EPA does not regulate perchlorate in water.

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