Four in Five Americans Test Positive for ‘Emerging Contaminant’ Found in Popular Cereal Brands: Study | The Gateway Expert

A new report says federal officials need to take a closer look at an increasingly common chemical in oat products.

The Environmental Working Group published research in the Journal of Exposure Science & Environmental Epidemiology that found 80% of people tested positive for the chemical, according to the New York Post.

The study states that the chemical known as chlormequat is “an emerging contaminant with documented evidence of adverse health effects at low doses in animal studies.”

Emphasizing that no human research has been conducted on the drug, the study said that in animals the drug is linked to reduced fertility, impaired fetal growth and delayed puberty.

The study is based on research from three sets of samples taken in 2017, 2018-2022 and 2023. In the 2017 test, 16 out of 23 urine samples showed the presence of the chemical. Testing from 2018-2022 detected the chemical in 17 of 23 samples.

But in the 2023 round, the chemical was present in 45 out of 50 samples, a rate of 90%. Overall, the chemical was found in 80% of tests.

The study states that the chemical was “permitted for use on ornamental plants only in the United States,” but “a 2018 decision by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) allowed the importation of foods, primarily grains, treated with chlormequat”.

The chemical is used to decrease the stem height of cereals, making plants less likely to lean and making harvesting easier, the study says.

A press release on the Environmental Working Group’s website noted that “we detected the chemical in 92% of oat-based foods purchased in May 2023, including Quaker Oats and Cheerios.

“The fact that so many people are exposed raises concerns about its potential impact on public health,” the statement said.

General Mills, which makes Cheerios, and PepsiCo, which makes Quaker Oats, did not respond when the Post asked for comment on the study.

The release said the EPA has been asked to allow the chemical to be used on oats and other grains grown in the United States.

The study’s conclusion was that it had learned enough to warrant further investigation.

“This pilot investigation of an emerging chemical exposure in the United States indicates that chlormequat chloride is present in the US food supply, primarily in oat products, and is detectable in the majority of urine samples collected from nearly 100 individuals in the United States, suggesting continuous exposure,” the study concluded.

“Furthermore, trends in these data suggest that exposure levels have increased and may continue to increase in the future,” the study says.

“Given the toxicological concerns associated with chlormequat exposure in animal studies and widespread exposure among the general population, in European countries, and now likely also in the United States, monitoring of chlormequat in foods and people, together with epidemiological studies and animals, it is urgently necessary to understand the potential health harms of this agricultural chemical at environmentally relevant exposure levels, particularly during pregnancy,” the study states.

“Research into the effects of chlormequat is ongoing and no studies have determined the risk this chemical might pose. This is where the government has a vital role to play in overseeing the future of chlormequat in the United States,” the group said on its website.

This article originally appeared in The Western Journal.

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