Risk of Perchlorate in Powdered Infant Formula
Researchers conducting a federal study have found that samples of powdered infant formula contain trace levels of perchlorate, a rocket fuel ingredient.
The findings of the study were published in the March issue of the Journal of Exposure Science and Environmental Epidemiology. The study was done to look at the possible risk an infant might have for exposure to trace amounts of perchlorate. One weakness of the study is that samples were only taken from one city.
The study reports finding the highest levels of perchlorate in formulas derived from cow's milk. No brand names were mentioned in the study which also looked at soy-based formulas, formulas from lactose-free cow's milk and synthetic amino acids. All were found to contain detectable levels of perchlorate.
The study mentions that some factors could offset the chemical, most importantly the presence of iodine. An infant's formula consumption can also influence risk.
Though the testing was only done in one city, perchlorate has been found to be present in the drinking water of at least 35 states and the District of Columbia. This alone means that infants fed with these cow's milk-based powdered formula may potentially be exposed to perchlorate from two sources -- tap water and formula.
EPA in January delayed deciding on regulation of perchlorate in drinking water until the National Academy of Sciences studies the matter.
Senate Environment and Public Works Chairwoman Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) has said in a statement that the CDC study puts further pressure on EPA to set a safe drinking water standard. Boxer introduced legislation last year aimed at limiting the amount of perchlorate in drinking water and requiring some public water systems to monitor it and inform the public of any contamination.
The EPA’s website states “The committee concluded that the available epidemiological evidence is not consistent with a causal association between perchlorate and congenital hypothyroidism, changes in thyroid function in normal-birthweight, full-term newborns, or hypothyroidism or other thyroid disorders in adults. The committee considered the evidence to be inadequate to determine whether or not there is a causal association between perchlorate exposure and adverse neurodevelopmental outcomes in children. The committee noted that no studies have investigated the relationship between perchlorate exposure and adverse outcomes among especially vulnerable groups, such as the offspring of mothers who had low dietary iodide intake, or low-birthweight or preterm infants.”
Perchlorate exposure from infant formula and comparisons with the perchlorate reference dose; Journal of Exposure Science and Environmental Epidemiology advance online publication 18 March 2009; doi: 10.1038/jes.2009.18; Joshua G Schier, Amy F Wolkin, Lisa Valentin-Blasini, Martin G Belson, Stephanie M Kieszak, Carol S Rubin and Benjamin C Blount
New York Times
EPA – Perchlorate in Drinking Water