Rocket fuel in baby formula?

Consumer Reports News: April 06, 2009 05:30 PM

The chemical perchlorate, which is used in solid rocket and jet fuels, was recently detected in 15 powdered baby formulas, according to ABC News. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found the chemical in 15 tested brands of powdered infant formula. The agency says the total is below the reference dose , which the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has set as the level of concern.

The researchers note that "this is reassuring at first glance," but add that "ingestion of [powdered infant formulas] that use water with even minimal amounts of perchlorate for reconstitution could result in a perchlorate dose that exceeds the [reference dose] in many cases." But the researchers note that the potential effects of exceeding that dose are unclear.

Low levels of perchlorate have long been detected in a number of foods and drinking water supplies around the country, with sources linked to military and aerospace facilities. Research with laboratory animals suggests that perchlorate can disrupt thyroid functions, inhibiting the gland’s ability to absorb iodine, potentially interfering with the production of hormones necessary for early development, and normal metabolism. However, the amount of exposure needed to cause problems in humans is not clear.

There’s no definitive government guidance on this yet. But if you're concerned about perchlorate exposure from drinking water, we recommend that you follow the EPA recommendations and ask your water utility or state drinking water program about the perchlorate levels from past monitoring. Try looking up your local water supplier, or find water quality reports at the EPA's Web site.

Kevin McCarthy, associate editor

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