New urine test will check for perchlorate

County health officials hope a new test to check for perchlorate
exposure will be used in South County.
Developed by the Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta, the new
urine test would replace the more complex blood test now used to
determine a person’s exposure to the sodium-based contaminant.
Gilroy – County health officials hope a new test to check for perchlorate exposure will be used in South County.

Developed by the Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta, the new urine test would replace the more complex blood test now used to determine a person’s exposure to the sodium-based contaminant.

Dr. Marty Fenstersheib, health officer for Santa Clara County, said urine testing is effective because humans pass perchlorate hours after ingesting it. He said the test needs to be refined, but will eventually be a way to measure various sources of perchlorate. For instance, if a person drinking bottled water tests positive for perchlorate, it can be assumed he is ingesting it through diet or perhaps some other way.

“We still have to figure out what the numbers mean,” Fenstersheib said, but as they learn more about the test and how individuals excrete perchlorate, but I think the numbers will have more value.”

Dr. Ben Blount, a CDC research chemist, said Monday that the urine tests are part of a broader effort by the CDC to pursue research called for in the National Academy of Sciences perchlorate report released in January. Blount said CDC scientists are also currently finalizing a test for measuring perchlorate in breast milk.

County health education specialist Janie Burkhart said it will be some time before either the state department of Health Services or the CDC uses the test in San Martin, but that residents should eventually have access to it.

“The wheels turn slowly, but they are turning,” Burkhart said. “It’s probable that an exposure assessment will be done in Santa Clara County.”

The perchlorate contamination in San Martin and Morgan Hill has been linked to a former road-flare factory in Morgan Hill owned by Olin Corp. A sodium compound, perchlorate inhibits the thyroid gland’s ability to produce hormones by interfering with iodide uptake and has been shown to hamper brain development in baby rats.

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