2005 CPEO Military List Archive

From: Lenny Siegel <lsiegel@cpeo.org>
Date: 31 Mar 2005 19:59:01 -0000
Reply: cpeo-military
Subject: [CPEO-MEF] Perchlorate Retards Development of Young Minnows
News Release
March 31, 2005
Source: Environmental Health Perspectives (NIEHS) 

Perchlorate, a Groundwater Contaminant, Retards Development of Young Minnows

Fathead minnows exposed to environmentally relevant levels of ammonium
perchlorate in the earliest stages of life showed retarded development
compared with control fish, according to a study. 

Newswise -  Fathead minnows exposed to environmentally relevant levels
of ammonium perchlorate in the earliest stages of life showed retarded
development compared with control fish, according to a study published
today in the April 2005 issue of the peer-reviewed journal Environmental
Health Perspectives. The fish, which were exposed to the chemical for
the first 28 days of development after fertilization, had poorly
developed scales, poor pigmentation, and altered thyroid hormone levels,
and were significantly lower in weight and length than unexposed

Ammonium perchlorate is the primary ingredient of the solid propellant
in rockets and missiles. Perchlorate salts are also used in smaller
amounts in air bag inflators, road flares, and fireworks, and in the
making of leather, fabrics, and paints. Discharge from rocket fuel
manufacturing plants, the decommissioning of missiles, and the refueling
of rockets are believed to be responsible for most of the ammonium
perchlorate released into the environment. 

In recent years, there has been increased concern about the presence of
perchlorate in drinking water. Perchlorate has been shown to inhibit
synthesis of thyroid hormones in mammals. However, relatively little
research has been performed on the impact of perchlorate exposure on

Scientists exposed fathead minnow embryos to water with concentrations
of 1, 10, and 100 milligrams per liter (mg/L) ammonium perchlorate,
levels that can occur in the environment. The exposed minnows hatched
normally, but continued exposure to 10 and 100 mg/L ammonium perchlorate
resulted in developmental retardation. These fish had minimal appearance
of scales, and their viscera were still visible through their skin.
According to the authors, this indicated that "the larval to juvenile
transition in these fish had not been completed within the 28-day study
period, whereas control fish successfully completed this transition."

The exposed fish were also significantly lighter-weight and shorter than
control fish, and had altered whole-body levels of the thyroid hormones
T3 and T4. Thyroid hormones are well known to play an important role in
larval metamorphosis in certain other types of fish, the authors wrote,
although the role played in minnow development is less certain. The
authors noted a need to study the fish over a longer period time to
understand longer-term impacts of exposure. 

Dr. Jim Burkhart, science editor for EHP, says, "The potential
environmental impacts of perchlorate currently are being widely studied.
This research contributes to a more complete understanding of potential
impacts on fish and other marine life."

The lead author of the study was Helen M. Crane of the University of
Exeter, United Kingdom, and AstraZeneca's Brixham Environmental
Laboratory. Other authors included Daniel B. Pickford, Thomas H.
Hutchinson, and J. Anne Brown. Funding sources for the research as
reported by the authors included AstraZeneca and a Natural Environment
Research Council Studentship. The article is available free of charge at

EHP is published by the National Institute of Environmental Health
Sciences, part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. EHP
is an Open Access journal. More information is available online at http://www.ehponline.org/.

For the original press release, go to


Lenny Siegel
Director, Center for Public Environmental Oversight
c/o PSC, 278-A Hope St., Mountain View, CA 94041
Voice: 650/961-8918 or 650/969-1545
Fax: 650/961-8918
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