I Didn't Know It Either

by James Glaser
March 6, 2006

The National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) found perchlorate in the urine of every one of 61 Atlanta residents studied, and scientists at Texas Tech University found it in every sample of human milk from all 36 mothers tested.

According to the Environmental Working Group, "Perchlorate, the explosive ingredient in solid rocket fuel, has contaminated drinking and soil in at least 36 states, with most of the known contamination coming from military bases and defense contractors."

This should surprise no one.

Washington—March 3—Following a published report that the Bush Administration is holding up a study that shows most Americans carry a toxic rocket fuel chemical in their bodies at levels close to federal safety limits, Environmental Working Group (EWG) is calling for the immediate release of the study so EPA and state agencies can take steps to protect the public.

It really should be no surprise that we are contaminated with some chemical or other, after all we are working night and day, every day trying to develop new and better weapons. Fear dictates that safety should not get in the way. Development of better and better weapons is what is important to our leaders in Washington. Worrying about pollution is secondary.

New weapon systems cost billions in research and development. They are really where the money is when it comes to being a defense contractor. Old weapons get "cheap' when you start building them by the thousand or thousands. New weapons, "experimental weapons are where the money is.

No one wanted Perchlorate to get into the soil and drinking water of our country, but building new weapons takes precedence over safety. Tests by EWG, scientists in Texas and Arizona, state officials in California, and the US Food and Drug Administration "have found perchlorate in milk, produce and many other foods and animal feed crops from coast the coast. Perchlorate is a thyroid toxin, and animal tests show that even small amounts can disrupt normal growth and development in fetuses, infants, and children."

There is no safe level established for perchlorate. The EPA is talking about 24.5 parts per billion (ppb), while Massachusetts wants it set at 1 ppb,and California says 6 ppb. The NHANES says, "In the absence of national standards, the CDC should not be sitting on data so clearly needed to protect the public from a chemical that appears to be widespread in the drinking water and food." "The NHANES perchlorate data should be released immediately."

The Bush administration has taken so many hits in the last few weeks, keeping this report on the shelf for a while longer seems to them to be a good idea. While there is no direct link between Bush and this chemical, any wrong doing by Washington seems to fall on whoever is the sitting President. So the American scientific community will have to wait a while before this report of widespread federal pollution is made public.

There is even a good chance that this report may soon be classified in another Bush White House attempt to "protect America."

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