Rocket Fuel in Baby Formula Exceeds Safe Dose
Although it can occur naturally, the chemical perchlorate is most often found in rocket fuel and environmental contamination of this chemical has been tied to the aerospace and defense industries. Some governmental organizations and their policy advisors, such as the National Research Council, have listed a safe dosage of perchlorate for adults at 0.0007 milligrams per kilogram of body weight. This seems like an extremely miniscule amount of the chemical to be ingesting. However, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced that some types of powdered baby formula exceed this safe amount when mixed with water.
Though there have been tests and studies done on perchlorate, no test has ever shown perchlorate to have caused health problems. However, scientists say that significant amounts of perchlorate can inhibit thyroid function. Because the thyroid regulates the body’s metabolism, problems with it can affect fetuses and the brains of infants.
The risk of the amount of perchlorate is difficult to assess because the government also adds iodine to baby formula, which counteracts perclorate. Other factors may include the size of the infant and how much formula they are ingesting. As one of the CDC scientists stated, “This wasn’t a study of health effects.”
Another reason the risks are hard to quantify is because only a few samples were studied, so it is unknown if higher perchlorate levels would be found in all samples. Researchers have also not revealed the brands of affected formula, which may be one of the biggest concerns of this story.
While perchlorate sometimes occurs naturally, making it difficult to avoid since we all drink water, mothers who are already concerned about the health of their infants may be unaware the formula they are using may adversely affect their children. Though some states have already decided on a new limit to the amount of perchlorate in their drinking water, the US Environmental Protection Agency is still considering new limits to make it a federal guideline.