Perchlorate is both a natural and man-made substance that has been proven to inhibit thyroid function, even at low levels. Perchlorate is the main explosive ingredient in rocket fuel and is also commonly used in the production of fireworks, road flares and car airbags. Bleach and some fertilizers may also contain perchlorate.
In the United States, perchlorate contamination of groundwater has been discovered in at least 43 states from California to New York. Specifically, the Colorado River, which supplies approximately 15 million homes and many agricultural areas in the Southwestern U.S., is highly polluted by perchlorate. Perchlorate levels of seven ppb (parts per billion) have been detected in the Colorado River, which is seven times greater than the one ppb level the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has deemed safe.
The EPA has been concerned about and has monitored perchlorate contamination as part of the Safe Drinking Water Act since March 1998. Currently, public water systems are not required to test for perchlorate contamination. However, in January 2011, the EPA took steps to regulate perchlorate. The process will take approximately 18-24 months before public water systems will be required to monitor and reduce perchlorate contamination to levels the EPA deems safe (currently 1 ppb).
In humans, perchlorate exposure has been proven to cause conditions such as breast disease, hypothyroidism, immune system problems, menstrual cycle disruption, poor fetal development and thyroid cancer. In pregnant women, even small disruptions in thyroid hormones have resulted in lower IQ in children, while greater disruptions may cause more severe problems.
Produce and livestock are also affected by water contaminated with perchlorate. Lettuce, dairy products and baked goods made from wheat have tested high for perchlorate.
While perchlorate contamination is growing, there are steps that individuals can take to minimize the associated risks. As Dr. David Brownstein describes in his book, Iodine: Why You Need It, Why You Can’t Live Without It, “perchlorate contains one atom of chlorine and four atoms of oxygen.” Chlorine is a member of the toxic halide family, which interferes with the thyroid’s absorption of iodine. As discussed in a previous article, “Iodine Deficiency", the majority of people are iodine deficient. When there is not enough iodine available in the thyroid, the toxic halide cousins of iodine, such as chlorine and bromine, invade the iodine receptors in the body. By ensuring that you have adequate iodine levels in your body, the toxic halides will not be able to find a place to reside, and will be flushed through your system.
To ensure adequate levels of iodine in my body, I take at least 2.4 mg of Nascent Iodine every day. Of course, you should check with your doctor if you have any concerns about adding supplemental iodine. Many doctors recommend Iodoral or Lugol’s Solution. My doctor and I have agreed that Nascent Iodine has been effective in correcting my iodine levels. I like it because it is mild, easy to take, protects my body and makes me feel great!
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