Perchlorate, nitrate, and iodide intake through tap water

Benjamin C. Blount, K. Udeni Alwis, Ram B. Jain, Benjamin L. Solomon, John C. Morrow, W. Andrew Jackson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

59 Scopus citations


Perchlorate is ubiquitous in the environment, leading to human exposure and potential impact on thyroid function. Nitrate can also competitively inhibit iodide uptake at the sodium-iodide symporter and thus reduce thyroid hormone production. This study investigates the intake of perchlorate, nitrate, and iodide attributable to direct and indirect tap water consumption. The National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey collected tap water samples and consumption data from 3262 U.S. residents during the years 2005-2006. The median perchlorate, nitrate, and iodide levels measured in tap water were 1.16, 758, and 4.55 μg/L, respectively. Measured perchlorate levels were below the United States Environmental Protection Agency (U.S. EPA) drinking water equivalent level for perchlorate (24.5 μg/L). Significant correlations were found between iodide and nitrate levels (r = 0.17, p < 0.0001) and perchlorate and nitrate levels (r = 0.25, p < 0.0001). On the basis of 24 h recall, 47% of the study participants reported drinking tap water; 89% reported either direct or indirect consumption of tap water. For the adult population (age ≥ 20 yrs) the median tap water consumption rate was 11.6 mL/kg-day. Using individual tap water consumption data and body weight, we estimated the median perchlorate, nitrate, and iodide dose attributable to tap water as 9.11, 11300, and 43.3 ng/kg-day, respectively, for U.S. adults. This perchlorate exposure dose from tap water is relatively small compared to the total perchlorate exposure dose previously characterized for the U.S. adults (median 64 ng/kg-day) and the U.S. EPA reference dose (700 ng/kg-day).

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)9564-9570
Number of pages7
JournalEnvironmental Science and Technology
Issue number24
StatePublished - Dec 15 2010


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