Got perchlorate?

Anyone wondering what perchlorate is? I didn’t, until today. So I looked it up. Perchlorate is an interesting little chemical:

Perchlorate is both a naturally occurring and manmade chemical.

Hmmm. That doesn’t answer the question. I guess I should read a little further. Read along with me.

Naturally occurring perchlorate, for example, is found in nitrate fertilizer deposits from Chile.

That still doesn’t explain it. Why can’t the FDA get to the point. Continuing:

Most of the perchlorate manufactured in the United States is used as the primary ingredient of solid rocket propellant.

I still don’t know what it is, but I now know enough to understand that I don’t want to ingest it. But what are the other uses, since only “most” of the manufactured perchlorate is used in solid rocket propellant? Oh, there are good uses. Dare I even say it? There are great uses.

Perchlorate is also used in a wide variety of industrial processes, including, but not limited to, tanning and leather finishing, rubber manufacture, paint and enamel production and additives in lubricating oils. Perchlorate is also used in pyrotechnics, such as fireworks, gun powder, explosives, and highway flares.

As if perchlorate wasn’t cool enough, it’s even found it’s way into California cows. That’s right, folks. It’s floating around in the milk produced by California cows.

While California health officials propose a maximum level of 6 parts per billion in drinking water, the EPA proposes a standard of 1 part per billion.

The [Environmental Working Group] tests, conducted by researchers at Texas Tech University, found the chemical in 31 of 32 samples from milk purchased at grocery stores in Los Angeles and Orange counties. The average level of the chemical was 1.3 parts per billion.

The EWG said the Food and Agriculture Department tests found an average level of 5.8 parts per billion of perchlorate in 34 samples it tested from milk silos in Alameda, Sacramento and San Joaquin counties.

Are you concerned? The government isn’t.

Department officials confirmed those results, but spokesman Steve Lyle said the findings didn’t show any need for consumers to drink less milk.

“At this point, there is not enough information to suggest that eating foods with low levels of perchlorate poses a significant health concern,” Lyle said.

Just because perchlorate causes thyroid malfunction, which can lead to “lowered IQ, mental retardation, loss of hearing and speech, and motor skill deficits,” why should we worry? A few chemicals can only work to strengthen our immune systems. Consider:

California’s dairy industry will work with state and federal officials to find out how perchlorate is getting into milk and how to remove the chemical, said Michael Marsh, CEO of the Western United Dairymen, which represents the state’s $4.5 billion dairy industry. But Marsh said there is a “paucity of science” showing perchlorate’s harmful effects on human health.

I do not need overwhelming proof from the scientific community to realize that drinking rocket fuel isn’t smart. It’s good that I’m a vegan.


Now, I must announce a nifty little secret. California cows are getting their perchlorate from the multiple-state water supply.

After beginning my entry, I finished reading the article. The study wasn’t slanted, but the articles about the study bury the full details in the bottom of the story. I slanted my story to prove something I take pride in: I won’t slant facts to prove a point I wish to make. But I slanted my entry against milk to show how easy it is to spin a story. The lesson from the EWG study is deeper than the danger of drinking milk, but the headline will be used to prove the advantages of veganism. (Cow milk isn’t meant for human consumption. Don’t hurt the cows.) Or to prove that President Bush is decimating the environment by allowing perchlorate. (Perchlorate is used in missiles. Bush likes missiles. etc., etc. etc.) Or whatever other pet issue someone needs to push.

Spin occurs on every point of the American political/ideological spectrum. For some reason, we don’t understand the concept of debate and the logic that fuels it. I won’t go as far as to say that we’ve forgotten how to do this, that the “good ol’ days” were more civil. One only needs to look at the muckraking of Yellow Journalism and the coerced paranoia of McCarthyism to understand that this is the basic mode of thought for most humans. We have the ability to rise above it but rarely choose to do so. I’m being sincere when I ask this next question. Why?

I don’t claim to be superior to anyone in this regard, but I do value intellectual debate and reason in promoting beliefs. “Because” has never been acceptable to me. I don’t accept it when it’s offered, so I won’t offer it back. Please know that when I write about something that interests me, I’m going to do my best let the facts lead the discussion. I’m going to push my beliefs, but I will not bend the facts to support them.

5 thoughts on “Got perchlorate?”

  1. You should see what I feed MY COW! I can hardly wait till I see u2 again! Tony, you are a bright cloud in my grey day!!!!!! NOT Diana

  2. I did the same thing you did by looking it up after I read an article that it’s been found in our milk and also found that you can buy it by the pound on e-bay! That’s weird. Why doesn’t anyone take this seriously! I don’t know if I should even let my son drink milk anymore.

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