Despite sensational headlines regarding a recent paper published in Nature Structural and Molecular Biology by researchers at Vanderbilt University, (“Allosteric Regulation of Mammalian Na+/I- Symporter Activity by Perchlorate”), this paper adds little-to-no new information to the database of perchlorate science.

The Vanderbilt paper is based on the use of a mathematical model and measurement of perchlorate and iodide transport in a cell culture. This experimental design provides mechanistic insight, but is insufficient for determining what occurs in a whole organism or to attribute any effects to drinking water containing perchlorate. As such, it lacks the scientific weight of a clinical study on humans, and its results do not change the findings or interpretation of any clinical studies in the perchlorate literature.

The fact that perchlorate may lead to inhibition of iodide uptake (IUI) has been documented for at least six decades and, moreover, the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) specifically emphasized that IUI is a non-adverse effect in its 2005 report, Health Implications of Perchlorate Ingestion. NAS stated that any adverse health effects from perchlorate have been only theorized and never demonstrated in any studies of humans exposed to perchlorate.

The level of perchlorate exposure required to cause IUI is higher than levels of perchlorate detected in drinking water. Adverse effects, if they could occur, would subsequently require daily doses of perchlorate that are thousands of times greater than those that could cause IUI.

Based on these facts, any statement that perchlorate is somehow “more dangerous than previously thought” simply cannot be supported by the weight of scientific literature, or even the design and methodology of the Vanderbilt paper itself.
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