Young children and pregnant women who drink milk from California cows may be exposed to unsafe levels of a toxic chemical used in rocket fuel, according to a new study by an environmental group. The study released Tuesday by the Environmental Working Group comes as state and federal regulators consider setting new standards to regulate perchlorate -- the explosive ingredient in missile fuel that has been linked to thyroid damage. [...] In March, California health officials concluded that perchlorate could be dangerous at levels above 6 parts per billion in drinking water -- a level that could be used later this year to set the nation's first state standard.
But U.S. Environmental Protection Agency officials, and some environmental groups, say that standard would be too weak. The EPA advocates a standard of just 1 part per billion. The new study on milk was based on laboratory tests the EWG commissioned as well as unreleased tests by the California Department of Food and Agriculture. The EWG tests, conducted by researchers at Texas Tech University, found the chemical in 31 of 32 samples from milk purchased at grocery stores in Los Angeles and Orange counties. The average level of the chemical was 1.3 parts per billion.
I have to admit, the thing that surprises me most about this isn't that they found the chemical in milk -- nothing they find anywhere seems terribly surprising these days -- but that Our Glorious Shrub's eviscerated EPA is actually advocating a considerably more restrictive contamination standard than the state of California. Perchlorate manufacturers must not be major contributors.
Mind, one wonders if perchlorate manufacturers might not be major donors here and there in California, given the most peculiar reaction of the California Department of Food and Agriculture.
The EWG tests, conducted by researchers at Texas Tech University, found the chemical in 31 of 32 samples from milk purchased at grocery stores in Los Angeles and Orange counties. The average level of the chemical was 1.3 parts per billion. The EWG said the Food and Agriculture Department tests found an average level of 5.8 parts per billion of perchlorate in 34 samples it tested from milk silos in Alameda, Sacramento and San Joaquin counties. Department officials confirmed those results, but spokesman Steve Lyle said the findings didn't show any need for consumers to drink less milk. "At this point, there is not enough information to suggest that eating foods with low levels of perchlorate poses a significant health concern," Lyle said.
So the EPA feels that milk containing more than 1 part per billion of perchlorate is unhealthy. California's tests find levels nearly six times that, but says that there's no cause for alarm.
(Yes, I do realize that they're trying to protect their dairy industry, but there's reasonable protection, and then there's idiocy, and this shades strongly toward the latter.)Posted by iain at June 24, 2004 12:31 AM