At the same time, while most of the perchlorate contamination nationwide comes from military bases or plants operated by federal defense contractors, the White House is asking Congress to exempt defense facilities from a number of environmental regulations, including cleanup of toxic waste.
U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., and State Sen. Nell Soto, D-Ontario, have each introduced bills that would require all past and present perchlorate polluters to disclose their use, method of disposal and history of leaks.
Concerns about perchlorate have been around since 1997, but to date, there have been no systematic cleanup efforts. We've been reporting here at the About.com thyroid site since 1999.
Perchlorate interferes with iodide uptake into the thyroid gland. Because iodide is an essential component of thyroid hormones, perchlorate disrupts how the thyroid functions. In adults, the thyroid helps to regulate metabolism. In children, the thyroid plays a major role in proper development in addition to metabolism. Impairment of thyroid function in expectant mothers may impact the fetus and newborn and result in effects including changes in behavior, delayed development and decreased learning capability. Changes in thyroid hormone levels may also result in thyroid gland tumors. EPAs draft analysis of perchlorate toxicity is that perchlorates disruption of iodide uptake is the key event leading to changes in development or tumor formation.
According to the California Environmental Protection Agency, there are scientific studies suggesting that perchlorate can disrupt thyroid hormone production, resulting in hypothyroidism and more rarely, thyroid tumors. The risk is greatest for pregnant women, children and people who have health problems or compromised thyroid conditions.
No Evidence, Say Thyroid Foundation of America, Pentagon, and Defense Contractors
On the opposite side of the fence from the EWG and health departments are the Pentagon and defense contractors, whose manufacturing process created the perchlorate. They claim that if it is a risk, perchlorate is only a concern at levels dozens of times higher than the California standards.
On the issue of perchlorate dangers to Americans, and the risks of thyroid disease, the Thyroid Foundation of America (TFA) also believes there is no reason for concern. In fact, they are actively working to dissuade any concern on the issue.
In an article regarding the perchlorate issue published in their most recent issue of their newsletter "The Bridge," TFA writes: "The American Thyroid Association's Public Health Committee under Dr. Victor Bernet's leadership has addressed the issue, which appears to be largely a matter of reassuring people that there really is no evidence linking the levels of perchlorate exposure known to occur environmentally to either thyroid dysfunction or thyroid cancer."
While the Environmental Protection Agency, Federal and State-based Departments of Health and Human Services, and numerous environmental organizations have concluded that there is clearly a toxic relationship between perchlorate exposure and the thyroid, TFA, the national group charged with helping to prevent thyroid disease and increase public awareness, has apparently determined otherwise.
Take Action: What Can You Do?
The TFA's failure to take this issue more seriously puts more people at risk of thyroid disease. If you want to share your thoughts about the perchlorate issue with TFA, contact them now
or email them at firstname.lastname@example.org.