Thomas Robinson | June 9th, 2020
In a new study, researchers have suggested that perchlorate, a chemical commonly found in fireworks, is more dangerous to human health than was previously thought.
Perchlorate is a highly mobile chemical that can be found in many contaminated sites across the country. In their study, the researchers discovered that perchlorate poses a greater threat to human health than previously thought because it can reduce the amount of iodide that accumulates in thyroid cells. Low iodide concentrations can interfere with hormone production which can negatively influence human metabolism and development.
Perchlorate has both synthetic and natural routes into the environment, but a common source for the chemical is from fireworks displays. A different study demonstrated that after fireworks displays, perchlorate levels in adjacent bodies of water spiked up to 1028 times above the mean baseline concentration.
Iowa has experienced perchlorate contamination in Hills, IA, where the chemical has been detected in the communities well water since 2001. Thankfully, perchlorate levels have decreased after the installation of expensive reverse osmosis water units. Unfortunately, considering the risk perchlorate likely poses to human health, the EPA has yet to decide on a maximum contaminant level (MCL) for perchlorate in drinking water.