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Perchlorate (ClO4-) is a water-soluble, inorganic anion that is often combined with ammonium, potassium or other cations for use in industry and agriculture. Ammonium perchlorate, for example, is a potent oxidizer and is used in various military applications including rocket fuel. It has also been found in an historically widely used fertilizer, Chilean nitrate and in other fertilizers. It has been found in ground and surface waters of over 30 states and is considered a human health risk. Because of its similar atomic radius and volume, perchlorate competes with iodide for thyroid uptake and storage and thereby inhibits production of thyroid hormones. Amphibians may be particularly affected by perchlorate because they rely on the thyroid for metamorphosis. This study exposed early larval Hyla versicolor to concentrations of perchlorate ranging from 2.2 to 50 ppm to determine the effects of perchlorate on a native amphibian. In addition, three controls, 0 perchlorate, 0 perchlorate with 0.10 ppm iodide (C + I) and 50 ppm perchlorate + 0.10 ppm iodide (50 + I) were tested. Mortality (< 11% with all treatments) and growth appeared to be unaffected by perchlorate. Inhibition of development started with 2.2 ppm perchlorate and little or no development occurred at 22.9 ppm and above. This inhibition was particularly apparent at the latter stages of development including hindlimb formation and metamorphosis. The estimated EC50 for total inhibition of metamorphosis at 70 days of treatment was 3.63 ppm. There was no evidence of inhibition of development with the 50 + I, C + I, or controls, indicating that the presence of small concentrations of iodide could counter the effects of perchlorate. When tadpoles that had been inhibited by perchlorate were subsequently treated with iodide, development through prometamorphosis progressed but mortality was very high.
perchlorate, iodide, Hyla versicolor, metamorphosis, amphibians, thyroid
Research Biologist, US Geological Survey, Patuxent Wildlife Research Center, Laurel, MD
Wright Patterson Air Force Base, Wright Patterson, OH
Associate Professor, University of Georgia, Athens, GA