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On rocket fuel in infant formula

Thursday, April 2, 2009

You don't need to be a parent to know that moms and dads have a lot to worry about--anything from their kids' healthy growth and development to the friends they choose and those math homework assignments. Now, parents need to add one more thing to the list: the rocket fuel chemical perchlorate.

What - and where - is perchlorate?
Perchlorate is a thyroid hormone disruptor that contaminates water supplies of millions of Americans in 28 states and territories. The chemical is also in food: our analysis of data from the federal Food and Drug Administration (FDA) found that three quarters of the most commonly consumed foods and beverages contain traces of perchlorate. Many Americans are getting a double perchlorate hit - from both food and water. At particular risk are babies in the womb and newborn infants; normal brain development depends on adequate levels of thyroid hormone.

CDC scientists study powdered infant formulas
Now we have another piece of the news for you. The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has found perchlorate in powdered infant formula. The study found that two most contaminated brands, made from cow's milk, accounted for 87 percent of the U.S. powdered formula market in 2000.

These findings raise new concerns about the rocket fuel ingredient, found in most of us. The CDC has warned that reconstituting cow's milk/lactose formula with water contaminated with perchlorate would cause over half the infants consuming the mix to exceed the so-called "safe" dose set by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). And the "safe" level is not very protective of public health to begin with.

We need a strong federal safe drinking water standard for perchlorate
This study presents more proof that what we need is a federal standard that would protect the public from this potent chemical. At her confirmation hearing, EPA administrator Lisa Jackson pledged that she would act "immediately" to reduce perchlorate contamination in drinking water.

Since then, EWG has called on Jackson to fulfill that promise, but so far the agency has not made public a plan of action. The CDC study provides some of the strongest evidence that it is time for EPA to change Bush era perchlorate policies that protect polluters and defense contractors and set a stringent, mandatory standard that protects the health of pregnant women, infants and other vulnerable populations.

What you can do
Until that happens, you can limit the exposure to perchlorate in water you drink by using a good filtration system. The best first step is to call your local water utility or look on its website and see if it found perchlorate in the water you are drinking.

Also, you can write to EPA officials and ask them to take action - like they said they would.

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