Rocket Fuel Chemical In Drinking Water May Harm Infants

Percholorates found in 86 water systems statewide

RIVERSIDE (CBS) — Drinking water containing low levels of a chemical used in rocket fuel poses a greater danger to infants than previously believed, a new research study shows.

Babies who drank water slightly contaminated by perchlorate had a 50 percent chance of developing poorly performing thyroid glands, said Dr. Craig Steinmaus, lead author of the study, The Riverside Press-Enterprise reported on Saturday.

The thyroid produces the hormones newborns need for proper nerve and brain development. Other studies have found that small declines in the production of thyroid hormone may negatively affect intelligence, Steinmaus said.

Groundwater supplies in several Inland Empire cities, including Riverside, are regularly tested to ensure they do not exceed the 6 parts per million limit established by the state. However, the study was based on a
contamination level of five parts per million.

The Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment, which conducted the study, is expected to develop new perchlorate goals, including setting a limit for drinking water, agency spokesman Sam Delson told The Press Enterprise.

In recent years, California has come under pressure from the federal government for setting its maximum perchlorate level of 6 ppm far below the federal standard. Perchlorates are naturally occurring in some places, but are a frequent pollutant washed into groundwater by industrial users, sometimes unaware of the risk.

Percholorates have been discovered in drinking water in 86 water systems in California, including 8 in Riverside County, the state says.

(©2010 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. Wire services contributed to this report.)


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