From Scientific American (Brian Bienkowski):
Babies born to mothers with high levels of perchlorate during their first trimester are more likely to have lower IQs later in life, according to a new study.
The research is the first to link pregnant women’s perchlorate levels to their babies’ brain development. It adds to evidence that the drinking water contaminant may disrupt thyroid hormones that are crucial for proper brain development.
Perchlorate, which is both naturally occurring and manmade, is used in rocket fuel, fireworks and fertilizers. It has been found in 4 percent of U.S. public water systems serving an estimated 5 to 17 million people, largely near military bases and defense contractors in the U.S. West, particularly around Las Vegas and in Southern California.
“We would not recommend action on perchlorate levels from this study alone, although our report highlights a pressing need for larger studies of perchlorate levels from the general pregnant population and those with undetected hypothyroidism,” the authors from the United Kingdom, Italy and Boston wrote in the study published in The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism.
The Environmental Protection Agency for decades has debated setting a national drinking water standard for perchlorate. The agency in 2011 announced it would start developing a standard, reversing an earlier decision. In the meantime, two states, California and Massachusetts, have set their own standards.
EPA officials said they expect to unveil their proposed standard in the summer of 2015, missing their deadline by two years. They would not comment on the new findings.
More water pollution coverage here.