Iodine occurs naturally in the geologic environment and is released from rocks by weathering. It is readily soluble in water, so most iodine makes its way to the sea after it is leached from bedrock or soil. A deficiency of iodine in the body can lead to several adverse health effects including thyroid disease and goiter.

There is a strong correlation between the geography of occurrence of thyroid disease and a deficiency of iodine in the environment. Much of the northern half of the conterminous united states has soils low in iodine; this same region yields most of the thyroid disease cases in the united states.

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