What Is Perchlorate?

Perchlorate Molecule

Perchlorate is a naturally occurring and man-made substance often found as a salt, consisting primarily of oxygen atoms.

Perchlorate is a simple substance made up of chlorine and oxygen. It is found in nature and can be man-made.

The military, NASA and the commercial space industry use perchlorate-based chemicals as an ingredient in solid rocket propellant (not "rocket fuel") and explosives, and it is also used as a component in safety flares, fireworks, auto air bag inflators, lubricating oils and aluminum refining. Perchlorate was approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration as a safe and effective medication to treat people with overactive thyroid glands, and is still used as a medicine in other parts of the world. Because of its long-standing use as a medicine, we know much today about how perchlorate works in the body.

As the federal government and states consider perchlorate standards, it's critical that the best, most credible scientific information serve as the basis for regulatory decision-making, especially in an environment where questionable claims are being used to spread fear and hysteria.

Since the 1950s, perchlorate has been used in the U.S. and abroad to treat thyroid disorders. As a result, a wealth of information exists about perchlorate and how it relates to human health. The doses used as a medicine are tens of thousands of times greater than the low levels of perchlorate being detected in drinking water today.

Credible, peer-reviewed scientific and medical research shows that low levels of perchlorate being detected in drinking water are not dangerous to human health. During the past decade, millions of dollars have been spent studying the possible public health risks of perchlorate.

According to a National Academy of Sciences' (NAS) 2005 report and other credible, peer-reviewed studies by respected and independent medical researchers, low levels of perchlorate are not linked to thyroid problems or thyroid cancer in humans.

Perchlorate Toxicology and Pharmacology

Mechanism of action known

Principle effect is on the thyroid gland and only at high doses

Water soluble

Not stored in the body

Not metabolized

Short half life

Evidence from human studies

Principle effect is on the thyroid gland and only at high doses