Saturday, August 1, 2009

Rocket Fuel Chemical Found in Powdered Infant Formula

ATLANTA, Georgia, April 3, 2009 (ENS) - All 15 brands of powdered infant formula tested by scientists with the federal government's Centers for Disease Control were found to be contaminated with perchlorate, a component of solid rocket fuel, flares, fireworks and some fertilizers. The chemical has been detected in drinking water in 28 states and territories and at low levels in food supplies.

The CDC researchers tested four different types of infant formulas - those made from cow's milk containing lactose, cow's milk-based but lactose-free, soy-based, and elemental formulas, typically consisting of synthetic amino acids.

Perchlorate was a contaminant of all commercially available powdered infant formula tested. Bovine milk-based powdered infant formula with lactose had a significantly higher perchlorate concentration perchlorate than soy, lactose-free, and elemental formulas.

Exposure to perchlorate has been shown to reduce thyroid hormone production and inhibit the uptake of iodide, which is required for healthy function of the thyroid gland. The thyroid controls human metabolism, growth and development - too little thyroid hormone, called hypothryroidism, leads to weight gain, low heart rate, water retention, poor muscle tone, and fatigue.

The National Academies of Science have identified the fetuses of pregnant women who have hypothyroidism or iodide deficiency as the subpopulation most sensitive to the effects of perchlorate exposure.

When powdered formula is reconstituted with water that is also contaminated with perchlorate, the infant may be ingesting more of the chemical than the so-called reference dose set by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the researchers warned.

The two most contaminated brands, made from cow's milk, accounted for 87 percent of the U.S. powdered formula market in 2000, the scientists said, although they did not identify the formula brands tested.

The study, published in the current edition of the "Journal of Exposure Science and Environmental Epidemiology," raise fresh concerns about perchlorate contamination.

Led by Dr. Joshua Schier with the CDC's Division of Environmental Hazards and Health Effects, the researchers conclude that perchlorate exposure may be higher in infants on powdered forumla compared with older persons because infants consume more of the substance for their weight than older persons.

"Perchlorate contamination of drinking water is a very serious concern, particularly for infants," said Anila Jacob, M.D., M.P.H., a senior scientist with the nonprofit Environmental Working Group.

"As this unprecedented study demonstrates, infants fed cow's milk-based powdered formula could be exposed to perchlorate from two sources – tap water and formula," said Jacob. "That suggests that millions of American babies are potentially at risk."

The CDC scientists pointed out that the Food and Drug Administration requires infant formula to be supplemented with iodine, a nutrient that can counter the adverse effects of perchlorate on the thyroid gland. The range of required iodine concentrations in formula is between five and 75 micrograms per 100kcal of energy.

Iodine supplements at higher levels may offer some protection from the effects of perchlorate, but the scientists warn that even adequate iodine intake among formula-fed infants is not guaranteed to prevent "perchlorate-induced thyroid dysfunction."

The Environmental Working Group is calling on U.S. EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson to "scrap Bush era perchlorate policies that shielded defense contractors and other big polluters from the costs of cleaning up perchlorate-contaminated water by setting a legally enforceable safe drinking water level that protects pregnant women, infants and others who are most vulnerable to the effects of this harmful chemical."

At her confirmation hearing before the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, Jackson promised chair Senator Barbara Boxer of California that she would act "immediately" to reduce perchlorate contamination in drinking water. Boxer has repeatedly introduced legislation to protect the public from perchlorate exposure.

To date, Jackson has not announced any nationwide action to limit perchlorate exposure.

However, on March 17, the U.S. EPA joined the City of Pasadena, California and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration at the groundbreaking for a facility that will remove perchlorate and other chemicals from the groundwater near the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory Superfund site.

"The EPA is pleased to support the Monk Hill water treatment plant, which will bring clean water to the people of Pasadena and prevent further migration of perchlorate in the groundwater basin," said Keith Takata, the U.S. EPA's Superfund director for the Pacific Southwest Region.

Surrounding Pasadena water wells have been shut down due to perchlorate contamination. NASA is funding construction and operating costs and the City of Pasadena will own and operate the plant. Completion is scheduled for 2010.

ATLANTA, Georgia, April 3, 2009 (ENS) - All 15 brands of powdered infant formula tested by scientists with the federal government's Centers for Disease Control were found to be contaminated with perchlorate, a component of solid rocket fuel, flares, fireworks and some fertilizers. The chemical has been detected in drinking water in 28 states and territories and at low levels in food supplies.

The CDC researchers tested four different types of infant formulas - those made from cow's milk containing lactose, cow's milk-based but lactose-free, soy-based, and elemental formulas, typically consisting of synthetic amino acids.

Perchlorate was a contaminant of all commercially available powdered infant formula tested. Bovine milk-based powdered infant formula with lactose had a significantly higher perchlorate concentration perchlorate than soy, lactose-free, and elemental formulas.

Exposure to perchlorate has been shown to reduce thyroid hormone production and inhibit the uptake of iodide, which is required for healthy function of the thyroid gland. The thyroid controls human metabolism, growth and development - too little thyroid hormone, called hypothryroidism, leads to weight gain, low heart rate, water retention, poor muscle tone, and fatigue.

The National Academies of Science have identified the fetuses of pregnant women who have hypothyroidism or iodide deficiency as the subpopulation most sensitive to the effects of perchlorate exposure.

When powdered formula is reconstituted with water that is also contaminated with perchlorate, the infant may be ingesting more of the chemical than the so-called reference dose set by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the researchers warned.

The two most contaminated brands, made from cow's milk, accounted for 87 percent of the U.S. powdered formula market in 2000, the scientists said, although they did not identify the formula brands tested.

The study, published in the current edition of the "Journal of Exposure Science and Environmental Epidemiology," raise fresh concerns about perchlorate contamination.

Led by Dr. Joshua Schier with the CDC's Division of Environmental Hazards and Health Effects, the researchers conclude that perchlorate exposure may be higher in infants on powdered forumla compared with older persons because infants consume more of the substance for their weight than older persons.

"Perchlorate contamination of drinking water is a very serious concern, particularly for infants," said Anila Jacob, M.D., M.P.H., a senior scientist with the nonprofit Environmental Working Group.

"As this unprecedented study demonstrates, infants fed cow's milk-based powdered formula could be exposed to perchlorate from two sources – tap water and formula," said Jacob. "That suggests that millions of American babies are potentially at risk."

The CDC scientists pointed out that the Food and Drug Administration requires infant formula to be supplemented with iodine, a nutrient that can counter the adverse effects of perchlorate on the thyroid gland. The range of required iodine concentrations in formula is between five and 75 micrograms per 100kcal of energy.

Iodine supplements at higher levels may offer some protection from the effects of perchlorate, but the scientists warn that even adequate iodine intake among formula-fed infants is not guaranteed to prevent "perchlorate-induced thyroid dysfunction."

The Environmental Working Group is calling on U.S. EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson to "scrap Bush era perchlorate policies that shielded defense contractors and other big polluters from the costs of cleaning up perchlorate-contaminated water by setting a legally enforceable safe drinking water level that protects pregnant women, infants and others who are most vulnerable to the effects of this harmful chemical."

At her confirmation hearing before the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, Jackson promised chair Senator Barbara Boxer of California that she would act "immediately" to reduce perchlorate contamination in drinking water. Boxer has repeatedly introduced legislation to protect the public from perchlorate exposure.

To date, Jackson has not announced any nationwide action to limit perchlorate exposure.

However, on March 17, the U.S. EPA joined the City of Pasadena, California and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration at the groundbreaking for a facility that will remove perchlorate and other chemicals from the groundwater near the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory Superfund site.

"The EPA is pleased to support the Monk Hill water treatment plant, which will bring clean water to the people of Pasadena and prevent further migration of perchlorate in the groundwater basin," said Keith Takata, the U.S. EPA's Superfund director for the Pacific Southwest Region.

Surrounding Pasadena water wells have been shut down due to perchlorate contamination. NASA is funding construction and operating costs and the City of Pasadena will own and operate the plant. Completion is scheduled for 2010.

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