U.S. Water News Online
PHOENIX -- Authorities are asking for more research into
whether Colorado River water contaminated by a chemical used to make
rocket fuel may have contributed to higher levels of potentially
dangerous hormones in Yuma newborns.
``We don't want to scare the public because there's nothing to be
scared about,'' said Ross Brechner, chief of the Arizona Department
of Health Services epidemiology office, who presented his study's
findings to the American Water Works Association annual convention in
Denver. ``But we hope it will put more money into some sort of
definitive study of the issue.''
Brechner studied the results of the state newborn screening
program in Yuma, which takes all of its drinking water from the
Colorado River, and Flagstaff, which uses no water from the river. He
found slightly higher levels of the thyroid stimulating hormone in
some Yuma babies.
Scientists believe ammonium perchlorate interferes with the
thyroid's ability to regulate hormone production and can impair
metabolism and growth, especially in young children. But so little is
known for certain that federal officials can't even establish a safe
level of exposure for the chemical.
``We don't know what this study means for sure, except that it
adds to the picture,'' Brechner said.
He expects more feedback from other scientists when his work is
published later this year in the Journal of Occupational and
Perchlorate seeped into the lower Colorado River, which provides
drinking water for 20 million people in Nevada, Arizona and
California, from an industrial complex outside Las Vegas.
Nevada officials have been monitoring levels since 1997 and have
discovered high concentrations in Lake Mead.
Arizona also has measured perchlorate levels along the Colorado
and in water delivered by the Central Arizona Project, which draws
1.5 million acre-feet a year from the river.
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