A new analysis of data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control indicates that a toxic chemical in rocket fuel has severely contaminated the nation's food and water supply (read the Environmental Working Group study here).
Scientists warn that the chemical, known as perchlorate, could cause thyroid deficiency in more than 2.2 million women of childbearing age.
This thyroid deficiency could damage the fetus of pregnant women, if left untreated. 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.
Despite massive complaints, defense contractors such as Kerr-McGee have done little or nothing to clean up the pollution. Perchlorate has also been widely detected in milk, lettuce, produce and other foods. In an alarming study, the CDC found perchlorate in the urine of every person tested. The OCA has mobilized thousands of organic consumers to pressure the EPA and government officials to begin a massive clean up of perchlorate for over a year.
Background: The Environmental Working Groups new report is an anlaysis of data originally released in 2005, when the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) released its long anticipated report on the human health effects of perchlorates, a byproduct of rocket fuel. Perchlorates, which are a common pollutant near military sites, have recently been found in the water at concerning levels in 22 states as well as in 93% of lettuce and milk. 97% of breast milk samples taken randomly from around the U.S. have tested positive for perchlorates.
The government funded NAS report reveals that perchlorates are roughly ten times more toxic to humans than the Department of Defense has been claiming. Perchlorates can inhibit thyroid function, cause birth defects and lower IQs, and are considered particularly dangerous to children.
The NAS report recommends human exposure at no more than .0007 milligrams per kilogram of body weight. The EPA has responded to the report by announcing a new drinking water standard of 24.5 ppb for perchlorate. This is bad news for military sites and rocket fuel plants around the country, including Henderson, Nevada, where EPA well monitoring has found perchlorates at a level 30,000 times higher than that. There are over 12,000 military sites in the U.S. that are used for training with live explosives.
The Pentagon is urging Congress to pass a new law that would allow the military to freely violate a host of environmental regulations. Entitled "The Readiness and Range Preservation Initiative," the legislation would allow military facilities to ignore laws like the Clean Air Act. The Pentagon claims environmental regulations are a threat to national security, since they restrict the military.
To date, only one Senator has had the backbone to propose legislation that would hold the military (and other perchlorate polluters) responsible for this excessive pollution of the U.S. food and water supply.
Senator Feinstein (CA) has proposed legislation that would spend $200 million to identify and clean up perchlorate sources and provide grants for technologies to clean up existing contamination, while holding perchlorate polluters responsible for cleanup efforts.
"It is imperative that we reduce the perchlorate in our drinking water and protect Californians, especially pregnant women, the unborn, infants, and young children from this threat to their health," said Feinstein of the bill.
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