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<a href="http://www.chron.com/cs/CDA/ssistory.mpl/nation/1886439" target="_blank">http://www.chron.com/cs/CDA/ssistory.mpl/nation/1886439</a><br><br><br><br><div class="quote-container"><span>Quote:</span>
<div class="quote-block">Toxic form of salt used in rocket fuel is found in lettuce<br><br>
By MIGUEL BUSTILLO<br><br>
Los Angeles Times<br><br>
OAKLAND, Calif. -- A laboratory test of 22 types of lettuce purchased at Northern California supermarkets found that four were contaminated with perchlorate, a toxic rocket-fuel ingredient that has polluted the Colorado River, the source of the water used to grow most of the nation's winter vegetables.<br><br><br><br>
The environmental group that paid for the testing by Texas Tech University conceded that the sample was far too small to draw any definite conclusions about how much perchlorate is in the lettuce Americans eat.<br><br><br><br>
But the organization, the Environmental Working Group, said the results were enough to warrant a broad examination by the Food and Drug Administration.<br><br><br><br>
"It appears perchlorate in produce is reaching consumers, which should be a wake-up call for the FDA," said Bill Walker, a representative in the group's Oakland office. "A lot of people might look at this and say it was only four out of 22 -- what is the problem? Well, when nearly one in five samples of a common produce item are contaminated with a chemical component of rocket fuel, that's significant."<br><br><br><br>
Todd Anderson, a professor of environmental toxicology at Texas Tech who conducted the lab tests, said they reflected a conservative estimate of the amount of perchlorate in the lettuce. If anything, Anderson said, more of the 22 lettuce samples might have contained some perchlorate because the test method used could detect the contaminant only at levels 10 times higher than the tests used to measure perchlorate in water.<br><br><br><br>
"We are very confident in this data," Anderson said.<br><br><br><br>
In response, FDA officials said they had been planning to begin testing foods for perchlorate at sites around the United States but were still developing scientific methods to do it.<br><br><br><br>
"We do understand that there is a potential for perchlorate from irrigation water to end up in food," said Terry Troxell, the director of the FDA's office of plant and dairy foods and beverages. "We have already been moving in this area. We will certainly take their results into account."<br><br><br><br>
The Environmental Working Group declined to disclose the brands of lettuce that were contaminated or where they had been purchased, saying it was wary of triggering a food scare. But it said it had bought the lettuce at supermarkets in Northern California in January, when an estimated 88 percent of the nation's lettuce comes from farms nourished with water from the Colorado River.<br><br><br><br>
The four types of lettuce that tested positive in the Environmental Working Group sample all had at least 30 to 40 parts per billion perchlorate. The organic lettuce registered 120 parts per billion.<br><br><br><br>
One of the four lettuce samples, a prepackaged variety of organic mixed baby greens, had a level of perchlorate contamination at least 20 times as high as the amount California now considers safe for drinking water. The other three were packaged butter lettuce and radicchio, romaine lettuce and radicchio and a plain head of iceberg lettuce. All were at least five times as high as California considers safe for water.<br><br><br><br>
Environmental officials now believe perchlorate, a salt widely used by the U.S. government to help power missiles and space shuttles, may cause health problems, even in trace amounts.<br><br><br><br>
Because it is known to affect the production of thyroid hormones, which are critical to early brain development, researchers believe perchlorate exposure may be especially dangerous for pregnant women and young children.<br><br><br><br>
But the Pentagon and defense contractors, who together produced most of the nation's perchlorate, dispute those conclusions, saying their scientists believe it poses a health threat only in doses dozens of times higher.</div>
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Too bad the test was only looking for rocketfuel.<br><br><br><br>
When consumer organisations in europe do tests on vegetables, they always find residues of "crop protection" (or poisson).
 
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