Exposure to perchlorates may result in hypothyroidism in pregnant women

During the Bush administration, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) determined that public water systems do not need to be monitored for perchlorate. However, the EPA has since changed its decision and announced that it will review the effects of perchlorate on infants and children, as they consume more water per body weight than adults, Environment News Service reports.

Perchlorate, a toxic chemical which is commonly found in rocket fuel and fireworks, contaminates water supplies in 35 states. The compound is colorless, odorless and dissolves easily in water.

"The science has made clear that perchlorate can threaten the health of pregnant women and young children across the nation, and that is why I have consistently worked for strong safeguards to protect people from this toxic chemical," said U.S. Senator Barbara Boxer, a proponent of drinking water standards, quoted by the news source.

The environment is exposed to perchlorates where rockets are made, tested and dismantled. People may also experience exposure before and after fireworks displays or when using road flares. The Agency for Toxic Substances reports that rain washes perchlorates out of soil and into ground water.

They also cited recent studies which show "widespread exposure to low levels of perchlorate by the general population."

A study conducted by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) found that perchlorate exposure has been associated with small-to-moderate changes in levels of thyroxine and thyroid stimulating hormone in women with lower levels of iodine. The CDC also discovered that 36 percent of women in the U.S. have lower iodine levels.