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What kids in MA are <i>not</i> saying: "More perchlorate please!"

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

girlatfountain.jpgThirsty students at Clough Elementary in Mendon, MA were treated to something refreshing when they returned to school last week: Water in the building's bubblers no longer contains rocket fuel.

Following tests in April and July that showed unacceptable levels of the chemical perchlorate (aka rocket fuel) in the building's water, the district spent the summer installing a state-approved filtration system. Tests performed since mid-August have shown no detectable level of the chemical, which can cause hypothyroidism in women and developmental problems for fetuses.

How did rocket fuel get into the water in the first place, you ask? From EWG's report Thyroid Threat:

Perchlorate, the explosive ingredient in solid rocket fuel, has leaked from military bases and defense and aerospace contractors' plants in at least 22 states, contaminating drinking water for millions of Americans. The chemical has also been found widely in supermarket milk, produce and many other foods and plants; in a separate study, the CDC found it in the urine of every person tested. As small changes in thyroid hormone levels during pregnancy -- even within the normal range -- are associated with decreased intellectual and learning capacity in childhood, the extensive reach of perchlorate contamination has huge implications for public health.
Massachusetts' perchlorate regulations are among the nation's strictest; the maximum contaminant level there is 2 parts per billion, while California is moving towards 6 ppb. But according to an EWG analysis, 1 ppb should be the maximum acceptable drinking water standard -- more than that and the health risks are too great. Bills to establish maximum safe levels of perchlorate in drinking water are making their way through the House and the Senate this session.