A new study finds that even low doses of hormone-disrupting chemicals — used in everything from plastics to pesticides – can have serious effects on human health. These findings, the researchers say, point to the need for basic changes in how chemical safety testing is conducted.
Since before the publication of Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring 50 years ago, scientists have known that certain synthetic chemicals can interfere with the hormones that regulate the body’s most vital systems. Evidence of the health impacts of so-called endocrine-disrupting chemicals grew from the 1960s to the 1990s. With the 1996 publication of Our Stolen Future by Theo Colborn, Dianne Dumanoski, and J. Peterson Myers, many people heard for the first time how such exposures — from industrial pollution, pesticides, and contact with finished consumer products, such as plastics — were affecting people and wildlife. Since then public concern about these impacts has grown.
In 2009, the American Medical Association called for reduced exposure to endocrine- disrupting chemicals. Last year, eight scientific societies, representing some 40,000 researchers, urged federal regulators to incorporate the latest research on endocrine-disrupters into chemical safety testing.
Last week, 12 scientists – including such experts as Colborn and the University of Missouri’s Frederick vom Saal — published a paper that they say significantly advances the debate. Their research, based on a review of Some experts say there is not yet convincing proof that extremely low doses of these chemicals are harmful. 800 scientific studies, concludes that it is “remarkably common” for very small amounts of hormone-disrupting chemicals to have profound, adverse effects on human health. Hormone-disrupting chemicals, the paper explains, challenge a fundamental tenet of toxicology — “the dose makes the poison” — which contends that the greater the dose, the greater the effect. Hormone-disrupting chemicals don’t necessarily behave like this. Significant health effects, the researchers say, sometimes occur at low rather than high doses.
“Whether low doses of endocrine-disrupting compounds influence human disorders is no longer conjecture, as epidemiological studies show that environmental exposures are associated with human diseases and disabilities,” the paper’s authors write. The study, published in the journal Endocrine Reviews, maintains that the low-dose and special dose-response effects of hormone-disrupting chemicals means that “fundamental changes in chemical testing and safety determination are needed to protect human health.”
Read the full article: Scientists Warn of Low-Dose Risks of Chemical Exposure
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