In an article published on May 29, 2020 in the peer-reviewed journal Nature Structural & Molecular Biology, a team of researchers led by Vanderbilt University and the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in the US have discovered a mechanism used by the chemical perchlorate (CAS 14797-73-0) to adversely affect the functioning of the thyroid gland. The study identified that perchlorate blocks a protein channel for the uptake of the essential element iodine into thyroid cells. Overall, the study says that it has found that perchlorate “pollution in drinking water is more dangerous than previously thought” and suggests a safe concentration may be ten times less than previously estimated.

Perchlorate has been authorized in the US for use as an antistatic agent in packaging for dry food, despite being suspected to harm brain development (FPF reported) and be of particular concern for childhood exposure (FPF reported). The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has defended its current authorization arguing that the substance will not enter the food supply at levels that could adversely affect public health (FPF reported). The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has reported that perchlorate levels in US drinking water have declined since introduction of regulations in 2011.

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Science Daily (June 5, 2020). “Something in the water: Pollutant may be more hazardous than previously thought.”


Llorente-Esteban, A. et al. (May 25, 2020). “Allosteric regulation of mammalian Na+/I− symporter activity by perchlorate.” Nature Structural & Molecular Biology.