Rocket-fuel chemical taints lettuce and milk throughout the U.S.

Here’s some unsettling food news: Perchlorate, an explosive component of rocket fuel, was found in about 90 percent of lettuce samples and 97 percent of milk samples from around the U.S. tested by the Food and Drug Administration. Health officials said the levels of contamination found shouldn’t be a problem for healthy adults, though nearly all the samples tested had perchlorate in higher concentrations than the U.S. EPA’s preliminary recommendation for an acceptable level in drinking water. Perchlorate can disrupt thyroid function, potentially leading to delayed development, mental retardation, impaired motor skills, hearing loss, or thyroid tumors, and it poses particular dangers for kids. The chemical makes its way into the food supply by tainting waters used for crop irrigation. The feds are continuing to study perchlorate contamination and what should be done about it. In the meantime, both government officials and enviros agree that you should keep eating your veggies, as their salutary benefits outweigh their risks.