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CDC: Rocket Fuel Chemical Perchlorate Found in Infant Formula

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By David Goguen on April 03, 2009 1:00 PM

Perchlorate, a dangerous chemical used in the production of rocket fuel, has been found at trace levels in infant formula, according to researchers from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

The study tested the makeup of 15 different brands of infant formula (brand names weren't disclosed), and found trace levels of perchlorate in each brand, with formula based from cow's milk registering the highest levels of the chemical.  The report was published in the Journal of Exposure Science and Environmental Epidemiology

According to the New York Times, perchlorate has also been find in the drinking water in 35 U.S. states and the District of Columbia.

So, what is perchlorate, and how dangerous is it?

Perchlorates are easily-dissolving and highly reactive chemicals that are used mainly in explosives, fireworks, and fuel production. While studies have shown that health problems are unlikely at lower levels of perchlorate exposure, high levels of exposure can affect the ability of the thyroid gland to take up iodine, an important chemical needed to make hormones that regulate many body functions. People exposed to perchlorate over a long period of time may develop a low level of thyroid activity called hypothyroidism. Learn more: Perchlorate Health and Legal Information.