As if we don’t have enough to worry about with BPA in infant formula, now the Environmental Working Group warns us that perchlorate (a rocket fuel ingredient than can interfere with infant brain development) is showing up in infant formula.
Mix that formula with tainted water (found in 28 states) and baby gets a double dose of perchlorate which is known to interfere with the thyroid hormones essential for brain development. Perchlorate poses particular risks to the developing fetus, infants and young children.
The CDC has reported the presence of perchlorate in 15 formula brands. Many scientists state that the EPA’s existing “safe” level for perchlorate is to high for public health safety. The CDC study said that reconstituting bovine (cow) lactose formula with water contaminated with perchlorate at 4 ppb would cause 54 percent of the infants consuming the mix to ingest more than the current safe amount of perchlorate set by the EPA. The issue here appears to be bovine based lactose formula products as soy, lactose free and elemental formulas had significantly less perchlorate contamination.
Infant formulas supplemented with high concentrations of iodine (the FDA requires iodine supplementation in infant formula at 5-75 mcg per 100 k/cal) may help counteract the negative effects of perchlorate. Formulas with the minimum (5mcg per 100 k/cal) will leave infants iodine deficient and will leave infants more vulnerable to the effects of the toxin. However, iodine supplementation is not a guarantee against perchlorate-induced thyroid dysfunction.
It’s time we take a stand. Require the EPA to become more stringent about toxin contamination in our water supply. Require the FDA to impose stringent testing and safety standards on all infant formulas. The EWG’s message to EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson states,
“Infants’ widespread and potentially unsafe exposure to perchlorate in powdered formula and tap water argues for speedy measures from your agency. As you know, under the previous administration, EPA declined to set a safety standard for perchlorate contamination in drinking water, even though such a standard is vital to ensuring that infants and other vulnerable people are protected from this toxic chemical.
Instead, during the last days of the Bush administration, your agency called for yet another blue-ribbon panel to study the issue. I urge you to change course and take immediate steps to reduce babies’ exposure to perchlorate by setting a legally enforceable safe drinking water level that protects pregnant women, infants and others from perchlorate.”
President Obama, it’s time to stand up and force these groups to take the health of our children seriously. Providing a safe food source for our children should be the number one priority to ensure a healthy and strong future for our country.
Photo by Alessandro Perilli on Flickr under Creative Commons.