EDCs a "global threat"
The World Health Organization and the United Nations Environment Programme have just listed endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDCs) a "global threat" after the release of a collaborative study, State of the Science of Endocrine-Disrupting Chemicals. The document is the most comprehensive review of EDC research to date. The review panel of 16 international scientists came to anonymous agreement that endocrine-related diseases and disorders are on a steep rise and are having severe negative impacts on humans and wildlife. The consensus is an urgent call for more research to understand fully the associations between endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDCs), found in many household and industrial products, and specific diseases and disorders occuring in both humans and wildlife. Existing evidence shows that exposure to EDCs during fetal development and puberty plays a role in the current increased incidences of reproductive diseases, endocrine-related cancers, behavioural and learning problems, including ADHD, infections, asthma, obesity and diabetes.
Close to 800 chemicals are known or suspected to be capable of interfering with hormone receptors, hormone synthesis or hormone conversion. Yet the study states that only a very small percentage of these 800 have been tested for endocrine effects. The vast majority of EDC chemicals in current commercial use have not been tested at all.
The study states that the speed with which the increases in disease incidence have occurred, rules out genetic factors as the sole plausible explanation. Environmental factors are clearly at play.
Diseases induced by exposures to Endocrine Disruptors:
Endocrine-related cancers (breast, ovarian, prostate, testicular and thyroid)
(Trend towards earlier onset of breast development in young girls in all countries where this has been studied.)
Susceptibility to infections
Just a few of our 50 hormones. symam.com
A hormone is a molecule produced by an endocrine gland that travels through the blood to produce effects on distant cells and tissues via integrated complex interacting signalling pathways usually involving hormone receptors. There are over 50 different hormones and hormone-related molecules (cytokines and neurotransmitters) in humans that integrate and control normal body functions across and between tissues and organs over ones lifespan. This is also the case in wildlife. Hormones and their signalling pathways are critical to the normal functioning of every tissue and organ in both vertebrates and invertebrates.
Endocrine disruptors are chemicals that interfere in some way with hormone action and in so doing can alter endocrine function such that it leads to adverse effects on human and wildlife health and or their progeny.
We know that humans and wildlife are simaltaneously exposed to a potpouri of EDCs, therefore studies of the affects of just one chemical are often complicated. In addition, it is likely that exposure to a single EDC may cause disease syndromes or multiple diseases, another area that has not been adequately studied. Also, exposures during fetal development and childhood, can cause changes that, while not evident at onset, can induce permanent changes that lead to increased incidence of diseases throughout life.
Synthetic endocrine disruptors are ubiquitous and found in pesticides, flame retardants, plastic additives, electronics, pharmaceuticals, textiles, building materials, personal care products and cosmetics. They can also appear as residue on food and bioaccumulate in animal flesh. EDCs may leach from the products that contain them, such as plastic packaging.
EDCs can enter the environment and affect wildlife through industrial and urban discharges, agricultural run-off and the burning and release of waste. Human exposure can occur via the ingestion of food, dust and water, inhalation of gases and particles in the air, and skin contact.
"If a consumer used an alternative surface cleaner, tub and tile cleaner, laundry detergent, bar soap, shampoo and conditioner, facial cleanser and lotion, and toothpaste [he or she] would potentially be exposed to at least 19 compounds: 2 parabens, 3 phthalates, MEA, DEA, 5 alkylphenols, and 7 fragrances."
“We seem to be accepting as a society that it’s acceptable to load up our next generation with chemicals in an unregulated manner and hope they’re not bad. We need to change that entire culture.” states one of the authors of the study, R. Thomas Zoeller, professor at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst.
The study recommends:
- Testing: known EDCs are only the 'tip of the iceberg' and more comprehensive testing methods are required to identify other possible endocrine disruptors, their sources, and routes of exposure.
- Research: more scientific evidence is needed to identify the effects of mixtures of EDCs on humans and wildlife (mainly from industrial by-products) to which humans and wildlife are increasingly exposed.
- Reporting: many sources of EDCs are not known because of insufficient reporting and information on chemicals in products, materials and goods. Proprietary ingredients mean the chemicals do not have to be listed.
- Collaboration: more data sharing between scientists and between countries can fill gaps in data, primarily in developing countries and emerging economies.
Don't be guinea pig! Get these chemicals out of your life, before the additional studies prove EDCs harm.
A summary of the report is available at:
Endocrine Disruptors: www.niehs.nih.gov
Factsheets for some common pesticides and herbicides. pesticide.org
1) Dodson RE, Nishioka M, Standley LJ, Perovich LJ, Brody JG, Rudel RA (March 2012). "Endocrine Disruptors and Asthma-Associated Chemicals in Consumer Products". Environ Health Perspect. doi:10.1289/ehp.1104052 PMID 22398195
Just a few of the 800:
dioxin and dioxin-like compounds,
polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs),
persistent organic pollutants (POP's),
flame retardants, PBDE...