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Environ Sci Pollut Res Int. 2002;9(3):187-92.

Perchlorate as an environmental contaminant.

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  • 1United States Environmental Protection Agency, Office of Research and Development, National Risk Management Research Laboratory, Water Supply and Water Resources Division, 26 West Martin Luther King Drive, Cincinnati, OH 45268, USA.


Perchlorate anion (ClO4-) has been found in drinking water supplies throughout the southwestern United States. It is primarily associated with releases of ammonium perchlorate by defense contractors, military operations, and aerospace programs. Ammonium perchlorate is used as a solid oxidant in missile and rocket propulsion systems. Traces of perchlorate are found in Chile saltpeter, but the use of such fertilizer has not been associated with large scale contamination. Although it is a strong oxidant, perchlorate anion is very persistent in the environment due to the high activation energy associated with its reduction. At high enough concentrations, perchlorate can affect thyroid gland functions, where it is mistakenly taken up in place of iodide. A safe daily exposure has not yet been set, but is expected to be released in 2002. Perchlorate is measured in environmental samples primarily by ion chromatography. It can be removed by anion exchange or membrane filtration. It is destroyed by some biological and chemical processes. The environmental occurrence, toxicity, analytical chemistry, and remediative approaches are discussed.

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