Four Out of Five Americans Test Positive for ‘Emerging Contaminant’ Found in Popular Cereal Brands: Study

A new report claims that federal officials need to take a closer look at a chemical that is increasingly prevalent in oat-based products.

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

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

Noting that no human research has been done on the drug, the study said that in animals, the drug is linked to reduced fertility, altered 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 of 23 urine samples showed the presence of the chemical. The 2018-2022 tests found the chemical in 17 of 23 samples.

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

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

The chemical is used to decrease stem height on grains, making plants less likely to lean over, and making harvesting easier, the study said.

A news release on the website of the Environmental Working Group noted that “we detected the chemical in 92 percent 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 release said.

General Mills, which makes Cheerios, and PepsiCo, which makes Quaker Oats, did not reply when the Post sought comment about the study.

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

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

“This pilot investigation into an emerging chemical exposure within the U.S. indicates that chlormequat chloride is present in the U.S. food supply, primarily in oat-based products, and is detectable in a majority of urine samples collected from nearly 100 individuals in the U.S., suggesting continuous exposure,” the study concluded.

“Additionally, trends in these data suggest that exposure levels have increased and might continue to increase in the future,” the study said.

“Given the toxicological concerns associated with chlormequat exposure in animal studies, and widespread exposure to the general population, in European countries, and now also likely in the U.S., monitoring of chlormequat in foods and people, in conjunction with epidemiological and animal studies, is urgently needed to understand the potential health harms of this agricultural chemical at environmentally relevant exposure levels, particularly during pregnancy,” the study said.

“Research about chlormequat’s effects is ongoing, and no studies have determined how much of a risk this chemical might pose. That’s where the government has a vital role to play in overseeing the future of chlormequat in the U.S.,” the group said on its website.

This article appeared originally on The Western Journal.

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