Toxic potion

Published: Friday 31 October 2003

-- Fuel yourself with a glass of milk! This might well be the tagline of an advertisement for a range of packaged milk brands in Texas, us . Only, there would be an acrid tinge to it.

High levels of perchlorate, a carcinogenic constituent of rocket fuel, have been found in cow's milk sold at grocery stores in the state's Lubbock city. Researchers from the Institute of Environmental and Human Health, Texas Tech University, "unambiguously detected" the chemical in all the samples. Far exceeding the us Environmental Protection Agency's recently proposed standard of 1 part per billion (ppb) in drinking water, the levels found in the milk samples ranged from 1.7 ppb to 6.4 ppb.

Perchlorate leaks from military bases and defence plants, and contaminates over 500 drinking water sources in at least 20 us states. Previous research found high levels of concentrate perchlorate in feed crops such as alfalfa. "These troubling results are the first indication that perchlorate is not only contaminating drinking water and irrigation water, but that livestock can pass it on to humans too," observed Renee Sharp of Environmental Working Group, a us -based non-profit research body.

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