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Perchlorate Issues Plague Rialto, California

RIALTO - Marene Deischer is convinced perchlorate in the city's drinking water is responsible for her son's health problems.

Jerry Deischer's thyroid gland doesn't function. He has to be given testosterone, artificial growth hormones and drugs that boost his weak immune system.

He uses a wheelchair, wears supportive gear, has mild mental retardation, hearing loss and at 22, can't speak.

Marene's two older children who were born in Los Angeles County have no major health problems.

But she lived in Rialto while pregnant with Jerry and another baby who died after living only 9 days.

She can't think of anything that she did wrong.

"All I did was drink water," said Deischer, a volunteer member of the Center for Community Action and Environmental Justice.

A great deal of energy has been spent trying to clean up perchlorate, but no one really knows exactly how the contamination has affected people's health in the area.

City Councilman Ed Scott now wants a thorough study done of the area to figure that out.

"It's just something that we clearly do not know right now," he said, noting that he has a 10-year-old whose health he worries about.

As a rule, local agencies no longer serve water containing perchlorate.

Rialto says it has a zero-tolerance policy when it comes to perchlorate. The ingredient in rocket fuel and other explosives was not discovered in the water supply until 1997.

The health effects of perchlorate are not well understood, but a recent Centers for Disease Control and Prevention study said that even at low levels, perchlorate can interfere with the functioning of the thyroid gland. 

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