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America's Children and the Environment, Third Edition (ACE3)

Perchlorate

Indicator B13 graph
*The 95th percentile concentration for 2003-2004 is not reported because it has large uncertainty: the relative standard error, RSE, is 40% or greater (RSE = standard error divided by the estimate).

Download high-resolution JPEG file of this graph | Data Tables for this Topic (PDF) (4pp, 463K, About PDF)

Data characterization

  • Data for this indicator are obtained from an ongoing continuous survey conducted by the National Center for Health Statistics.
  • Survey data are representative of the U.S. civilian noninstitutionalized population.
  • Perchlorate is measured in urine samples obtained from individual survey participants.
  • From 2001-2002 to 2007-2008, the median level of perchlorate in urine among women ages 16 to 49 years was 3 µg/L with little variation over time. Over the same period, the 95th percentile varied between 13 and 17 µg/L.

  • In 2005-2008, there was little variation in median or 95th percentile perchlorate levels by race/ethnicity or income among women ages 16 to 49 years. (See Tables B13a and B13b (PDF). (4pp, 463K, About PDF))

  • From 2001-2002 to 2007-2008, the median level of perchlorate among children ages 6 to 17 years was 5 µg/L with little variation over time. The 95th percentile perchlorate level among children increased from 15 µg/L in 2001-2002 to 19 µg/L in 2007-2008. (See Tables B13c (PDF). (4pp, 463K, About PDF))
    • The increasing trend in children's 95th percentile perchlorate levels was statistically significant.
  • The median perchlorate level among children ages 6 to 17 years was about 42% higher than the level found in women of childbearing age in 2005-2008, while the 95th percentile level among children ages 6 to 17 years was about 19% higher than in women of childbearing age. (See Tables B13 and B13c (PDF). (4pp, 463K, About PDF))

  • Differences in urinary perchlorate levels by race/ethnicity and income among children ages 6 to 17 years were relatively limited. (See Tables B13d and B13e (PDF). (4pp, 463K, About PDF))
  • There were minimal differences in urinary perchlorate levels by age group among children ages 6 to 17 years. (See Tables B13f (PDF). (4pp, 463K, About PDF))

About the Perchlorate Indicator

Indicator B13 presents information about perchlorate levels measured in women. The data are from a national survey that collects urine specimens from a representative sample of the population every two years, and then measures the concentration of various contaminants in urine. The indicator focuses on women of child-bearing age because of concern for potential adverse effects in children born to women who have been exposed to perchlorate.

  • Indicator B13 presents concentrations of perchlorate in urine of women ages 16 to 49 years from 2001-2008.

Perchlorate is a naturally occurring and man-made chemical that is used to manufacture fireworks, explosives, flares, and rocket fuel. It is found naturally in groundwater and soils throughout many arid regions; and has been detected in surface water, dairy products, and some food crops. Perchlorate has also been detected in bodily fluids like human breast milk, urine, blood, amniotic fluid, and saliva. It has also been found in some infant formulas.

Exposure to high doses of perchlorate has been shown to block the uptake of iodide into the thyroid gland. This is of particular concern for women of child-bearing age, because thyroid hormones are important for growth and development of the central nervous system in fetuses and infants. Moderate deficits in maternal thyroid hormone levels during early pregnancy have been linked to reduced childhood IQ scores and other neurodevelopmental effects. In 2005, the National Research Council (NRC) concluded that the available epidemiological evidence did not indicate an association with thyroid disorders in adults or infants, and was inadequate for assessing the potential for adverse associations between prenatal perchlorate exposure and adverse neurodevelopmental outcomes in children. The NRC also noted a lack of studies to evaluate potential effects of prenatal perchlorate exposures in infants and children, particularly in vulnerable populations.

Indicator B13 presents perchlorate levels measured in urine of women from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES).

More information about perchlorate and Indicator B13 is provided in the Perchlorate section of America's Children and the Environment, Third Edition (PDF) (16 pp, 1.5MB, About PDF).

Related Links

Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR): Public Health Statement for Perchlorates

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC): National Report on Human Exposure to Environmental Chemicals

National Academy of Sciences (NAS): Health Implications of Perchlorate IngestionExit EPA Disclaimer

U.S. EPA: Perchlorate

U.S. EPA: IRIS Assessment of Perchlorate

U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA): Perchlorate Questions and Answers - For Consumers: Information about Perchlorate

Summary of Methods - Perchlorate

The National Center for Health Statistics, a division of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, conducts the National Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys (NHANES), a series of U.S. national surveys of the health and nutrition status of the noninstitutionalized civilian population. Interviews and physical examinations are conducted with approximately 10,000 people in each two-year survey cycle. The survey measures perchlorate levels in urine samples collected from NHANES participants.

Indicator B13 uses the NHANES data to present median and 95th percentile concentrations of perchlorate measured in urine of women ages 16 to 49.

Detailed Methods for Indicator B13 (PDF) (15pp, 238K)

Metadata for National Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys (NHANES) (PDF) (2 pp, 111K, About PDF)

 

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