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Is your milk safe?

by Randall Neustaedter OMD


Much has been made over the story of rocket fuel discovered in California milk. This is potentially worrisome, but consumers should keep in perspective that pesticide exposure in dairy products is potentially much more dangerous than the small amounts of rocket fuel discovered in these samples. Perchlorate is the explosive component of solid rocket fuel, and it has been leaching into ground water from rocket fuel manufacturing plants and US Department of Defense sites. Most of the problem stems from alfalfa, which has a special affinity for accumulating perchlorate. When contaminated water originating in the Colorado River is used for irrigation cows eat the alfalfa and excrete rocket fuel in their milk. Other plants such as lettuce, cucumbers, and tomatoes also tend to concentrate perchlorate providing a potential source for perchlorate contamination of breast milk. Tests of cow’s millk from five California counties including Los Angeles, Orange, Alameda, San Joaquin, and Sacramento have shown high levels of perchlorate. The California Department of Food and Agriculture found an average perchlorate level of 5.8 parts per billion, but as much as 10.6 parts per billion. The EPA recommended safe dose is 1.0 ppb.

The Environmental Working Group (EWG) that discovered these test results calculated that half of all children one to five years old would exceed the EPA’s provisional daily safe dose just by drinking milk, and more than a third would get twice that dose. One-third of children 6 to 11 would get a larger dose than EPA says is safe, with one-fifth consuming twice as much. Perchlorate causes disruptions in thyroid hormone levels. In infants and children low thyroid levels can cause lowered IQ, mental retardation, loss of hearing and speech, and motor skill deficits.

The EWG has recommended that the FDA should conduct a study of perchlorate contamination of foods and irrigation water, and establish safety standards for perchlorate ingested in foods.

I recommend that you feed children only organic milk and dairy products that have been tested by the dairy for perchlorate levels or that do not use products irrigated with Colorado River water. Drink water that is filtered or that originates from safe mountain spring water sources. Follow this link to safe water choices.

To view the EWG study go to:

To find an organic dairy go to