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CHEMICAL USED IN ROCKET FUEL FOUND IN COWS MILK, CROP LANDS AND DRINKING WATER SOURCES

Vol. 8 Issue 104

According to a recent study conducted by the Environmental Working Group (EWG), a toxic chemical used in rocket fuel has been found in the milk of California cows.

Perchlorate, the explosive ingredient used to fuel missiles that has been linked to thyroid damage, was found in 31 of 32 samples of milk purchased at grocery stores in Los Angeles and Orange Counties at an average level of 1.3 parts per billion; samples collected from milk silos in Alameda, Sacramento, and San Joaquin Counties were found to contain an average of 5.8 parts per billion.

Researchers haven't confirmed the effect perchlorate has on mental development; they are uncertain as to what exposure levels are considered safe.

California health officials suggest that perchlorate could be dangerous at levels above six parts per billion in drinking water; the EPA suggests it could be dangerous at as little as one part per billion.

This study didn't determine how the chemical ended up in cows milk, but perchlorate has been found in water supplies used to irrigate farmland and grow crops fed to cows.

Perchlorate has also been found in drinking water in more than 20 states, including California. It was also found in the Colorado River, the major source of drinking water and irrigation to Southern California and Arizona.

Despite the risk of being exposed to unsafe levels of perchlorate, the EWG did not ban California residents from drinking milk or giving it to their children. Research has not yet determined the effect perchlorate has on pregnant women, children and infants.

California's dairy industry will work with state and federal officials to determine how the chemical is getting in the milk and how to remove the chemical.  

SOURCE: USA Today, www.usatoday.com, June 22, 2004.

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