April 28, 2003

Health watch: Lettuce may be toxic

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 southwest of the Grand Canyon, the source of the water used to grow most of the nation's winter vegetables. link to story
The Environmental Working Group paid Texas Tech University to test the lettuce, but conceded that the sample was far too small to draw any definite conclusions about how much perchlorate is in the lettuce Americans eat.They warn, however, that the results were alarming enough to warrant a broad examination by the Food and Drug Administration. They further 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 purchased the lettuce in California supermarkets in January. Posted by Tiger at April 28, 2003 02:57 AM

As California’s former Secretary for Environmental Protection and former chief law enforcement officer for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, I share the public demand that the facts about perchlorate become available and accessible to as many people as possible.

It is absolutely essential that regulatory agencies have access to the best possible scientific information on which to base critical decisions. To do otherwise would risk creating a drinking water standard for perchlorate that fails to provide public health benefit while imposing staggering costs—not only unnecessarily burdening taxpayers and ratepayers, but also diverting resources from other important needs. This is important everywhere, and nowhere more than in California, where we are struggling to maintain services during a historic budgetary crisis.

In the midst of these challenges, there is very good news. The National Academy of Sciences (NAS), recognizing the importance of this issue nationally, has convened a panel of experts to review the science. This affords state governments the opportunity to obtain and apply the best available scientific information in setting regulatory standards. Given California’s longstanding commitment to environmental leadership, the timing could not be better.

The NAS will have a large body of credible research on perchlorate from which to draw, going back half a century, when perchlorate was in widespread use as a medication to treat thyroid problems. You will see on the Web site www.councilonwaterquality.org, credible scientific studies have found no adverse effects on human health from low levels of perchlorate. Widely accepted scientific evidence indicates that perchlorate does not cause cancer or birth defects, and is not stored in the body.

Just as the NAS is a unique forum to bring together science in neutral, respected forum, the Council on Water Quality Web site aims to become a reliable source of information on perchlorate.


Posted by: James Strock at November 7, 2003 11:52 AM

I, too, am looking forward to the results of the National Academy of Sciences study on the health effects of perchlorate.

Readers should know that Mr. Strock's organization, the Council on Water Quality, is not a disinterested party. It is an organization created and funded by the perchlorate industry. More reliable information can be found on the Web sites of the U.S. EPA and FDA.

Posted by: N. Viro at December 15, 2003 11:55 PM

Does anyone know of sources of winter lettuce, or brands, that are not from California? Are organic lettuce brands any safer? I would assume not, if using the same water sources.
Please email at ralph@grosswald.com

Posted by: Ralph at January 2, 2004 08:56 PM