More iodine or less perchlorate?

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Author: Rebecca Renner
Date: July 2010
From: Environmental Health Perspectives(Vol. 118, Issue 7)
Publisher: National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences
Document Type: Report
Length: 1,229 words
Lexile Measure: 1930L

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Perchlorate is believed to block uptake of iodine into the thyroid, eventually resulting in the decreased production of the thyroid hormones thyroxine and triiodothyronine. But a science review of perchlorate concludes that reducing the risk of mental deficits in children whose mothers are exposed to the chemical may be achieved most efficiently by correcting the iodine deficiency that occurs in roughly a third of U.S. women of child-bearing age--not by reducing perchlorate intake. (1)

The review is a first for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Office of Inspector General (OIG), which primarily conducts audits, evaluations, and investigations of the EPA and its contractors to promote economy and efficiency, and to prevent and detect fraud, waste, and abuse. But rather than resolving controversy over the risk characterization of perchlorate, the review appears instead to be further fueling it. (2)

In comments offered in response to the review, the Environmental Working Group wrote that the OIG had used the review to justify their endorsement of the Bush Administration's failure to set a drinking water standard perchlorate, which pollutes the drinking water of an estimated 20-40 million people nationwide. (3) But Purnendu Dasgupta, an analytical chemist at the University of Texas, Arlington, applauds the OIG for stepping in to address a major public health gap. "The continued brouhaha about perchlorate alone, whether by activists or protectionists, merely acts as a smokescreen," he says. "We have urgent problems about iodine nutrition; the preoccupation with perchlorate alone is obscuring the fact that we are gambling with the intellectual future of the next generation at our peril."

Perchlorate is thought to affect thyroid function by blocking uptake of iodine, an essential component of thyroid hormones, which orchestrate brain development. Other chemicals--in particular, thiocyanate (found in tobacco smoke and cruciferous vegetables) and nitrate (found in leafy vegetables, processed meats, and some contaminated water...

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Gale Document Number: GALE|A232384045