The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has found perchlorate -- the chemical used to make rocket fuel -- in powdered baby formula at doses that are considered unhealthy even for adults, according to the Associated Press.
By disrupting the normal development of the thyroid, the chemical could have a range of potential health effects, thought he presence of iodine in baby formula.
The study, publicized by the Environmental Working Group (one of The Daily Green's 10 Godparents of Green), leaves a lot of key questions unanaswered: Which brands were contaminated, whether the contamination was widespread, what health effects might be expected from feeding the tainted formula to babies, and how it got in there in the first place.
Unlike the melamine scare in China, when the industrial chemical was added to milk or formula -- seemingly deliberately -- to boost its apparent protein content, perchlorate is more likely to have become part of formula from pollution. Groundwater polluted from a military installation, for instance, could hypothetically be contaminated and then fed to cows, which would produce contaminated milk used to make formula.
Regulating perchlorate, a naturally occurring chemical, has been controversial because -- like several other chemicals -- the health effects from exposure to low levels are hard to definitively prove, and many highly polluted sites are connected to the U.S. military and well-connected aerospace industries. So there are powerful economic incentives to leaving the chemical alone ... Finding it in baby formula may be a spark to inspire a more robust regulatory policy, though.
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