A large portion of the United States' milk and lettuce supply may be contaminated with potentially unsafe levels of a toxic chemical used in rocket fuel, according to data released by the Food and Drug Administration on Monday.

The data, part of a preliminary survey of milk and lettuce in 15 states, revealed perchlorate contamination in nearly 94 percent of reviewed samples. The results echo earlier findings by the Environmental Working Group, a nonprofit watchdog that issued a warning about perchlorate contamination in California-produced milk in June.

"The study confirms what we and some other people have been saying for a while -- that perchlorate is not only a problem in areas with known water contamination but for anyone who eats food grown in the U.S.," said Bill Walker, vice president of the Environmental Working Group's West Coast operations.

Perchlorate is both a naturally occurring and man-made chemical. It is used by the aerospace and defense industries to help rocket fuel burn. In humans, high concentrations can disrupt the thyroid gland, which regulates metabolism and is linked to the development of motor skills in children.

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