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Public Radio's Environmental News Magazine (follow us on Google News)

Health Update

Air Date: Week of

Living On Earth’s Diane Toomey reports on a California study in which scientists are exposing human volunteers to an industrial pollutant to determine its health effects.


TOOMEY: At Loma Linda Medical Center in California, people are popping pollution pills. It's part of a study involving the chemical perchlorate, a substance found in rocket fuel that's turned up in some drinking water supplies. The EPA is considering setting limits on the amount of perchlorate allowed in drinking water. Exposure to the chemical can affect the thyroid gland, but not a lot is known about its low-level effects. Paid volunteers in the study get a daily dose of perchlorate that's 83 times greater than the amount allowed in drinking water by the state of California. Critics of the study say exposing people to industrial chemicals is unethical. Researchers counter that perchlorate can be considered a drug because in rare cases it's used to treat thyroid conditions. The study has also drawn fire, since it's funded by Lockheed-Martin, which makes rocket fuel containing perchlorate. That's this week's health update. I'm Diane Toomey.



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