Perchlorate in Water Supplies: Sources, Exposures, and Health Effects

Curr Environ Health Rep. 2016 Jun;3(2):136-43. doi: 10.1007/s40572-016-0087-y.


Perchlorate exposure occurs from ingestion of natural or man-made perchlorate in food or water. Perchlorate is used in a variety of industrial products including missile fuel, fireworks, and fertilizers, and industrial contamination of drinking water supplies has occurred in a number of areas. Perchlorate blocks iodide uptake into the thyroid and decreases the production of thyroid hormone, a critical hormone for metabolism, neurodevelopment, and other physiologic functions. Occupational and clinical dosing studies have not identified clear adverse effects, but may be limited by small sample sizes, short study durations, and the inclusion of mostly healthy adults. Expanding evidence suggests that young children, pregnant women, fetuses, and people co-exposed to similarly acting agents may be especially susceptible to perchlorate. Given the ubiquitous nature of perchlorate exposure, and the importance of thyroid hormone for brain development, studying the impact of perchlorate on human health could have far-reaching public health implications.

Keywords: Drinking water; Iodine; Perchlorate; Thyroid.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Drinking Water / chemistry*
  • Drinking Water / standards
  • Humans
  • Iodides / metabolism
  • Perchlorates / analysis*
  • Perchlorates / pharmacokinetics
  • Perchlorates / poisoning*
  • Thyroid Gland / drug effects
  • Thyroid Gland / metabolism
  • Thyroid Hormones / metabolism
  • Water Pollutants, Chemical / analysis*
  • Water Pollutants, Chemical / pharmacokinetics
  • Water Pollutants, Chemical / poisoning*
  • Water Supply / standards


  • Drinking Water
  • Iodides
  • Perchlorates
  • Thyroid Hormones
  • Water Pollutants, Chemical
  • perchlorate