Presented by the University Archives of the University Libraries, with the Department of Biochemistry of Virginia Tech
Fifty-Year Celebration of the Department of Biochemistry

Roderick Young
"Bromine in Milk"
Interview by Robert R. Schmidt

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Schmidt: Then you became involved in the pesticide program.

Young: Well, Dr. Engel had the problem that they were trying to control nematodes in the peanut area in eastern Virginia. We worked with Dow Chemicals, so he said, "Here is a project for you." We had the dairy group in eastern Virginia give us some animals, a farm in fact, we could feed them the peanuts treated with ethylene dibromide (then used to control the nematodes in peanuts) and see what came out in the milk.

Peanuts had gone from a crawling vine to an upright type of peanut production, which they were going to use for hay. They found out that the control animals also had as much bromine as the animals eating the hay from peanuts treated with dibromide. That raised a question. So they took samples and sent to Michigan, to Dow Chemical, and they confirmed our results.

Well then we discovered that, from further testing, the milk from cows in the area which had no ethylene bromine added to the food also had high levels of bromine in the milk. With Dr. Engel's assistance, we were able to establish a value of 100 parts per million of bromine in milk. We discovered about 40 miles inland from the sea coast we got samples from different areas and the bromine was in the milk. Nobody was dying of bromine poisoning, so the FDA allowed bromine in milk.

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Last Updated on: Friday, 04-Apr-2003 15:02:57 EST by Trina M. Lane