Effects of chronic iodine excess in a cohort of long-term American workers in West Africa

J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2002 Dec;87(12):5499-502. doi: 10.1210/jc.2002-020692.


A cross-sectional survey of 102 Peace Corps volunteers in Niger, West Africa, in 1998 had previously demonstrated a high rate of thyroid dysfunction and goiter attributable to excess iodine from their water filters. The Peace Corps volunteers were followed-up a mean of 30 wk after they ceased using iodine-based water filtration systems. Goiter was present in 44% of subjects during excess iodine ingestion and in 30% after removal of excess iodine. Mean serum iodine decreased from 293 micro g/liter during excess iodine ingestion to 84 micro g/liter after cessation of excess iodine. Mean total serum T(4) values increased from 100.4 to 113.3 nmol/liter (7.8 to 8.8 micro g/dl). Mean serum free T(4) increased from 32.2 to 34.7 pmol/liter (2.5 to 2.7 ng/dl). Mean serum TSH decreased from 4.9 to 1.8 mU/liter. Mean serum thyroid peroxidase antibody levels decreased from 33,000 to 22,000 IU/liter (33 to 22 IU/ml). We found that during prolonged excess iodine exposure there were marked increases in serum total iodine concentrations, and the prevalence of goiter, elevated serum TSH values, and elevated serum thyroid peroxidase antibody values increased. The prevalence of all abnormalities decreased after removal of excess iodine from the drinking water system.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Africa, Western
  • Anti-Infective Agents, Local / administration & dosage*
  • Anti-Infective Agents, Local / adverse effects*
  • Anti-Infective Agents, Local / blood
  • Cohort Studies
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Goiter / chemically induced*
  • Government Agencies*
  • Health Surveys
  • Humans
  • Iodine / administration & dosage*
  • Iodine / adverse effects*
  • Iodine / blood
  • Male
  • Thyroid Diseases / chemically induced*
  • Thyroxine / blood
  • Time Factors
  • Water Purification / methods


  • Anti-Infective Agents, Local
  • Iodine
  • Thyroxine