EDF Health

A new power couple: The combined impact of the microbiome and chemical exposures on disease susceptibility (Part 1 of 2)

Allison Tracy is a Chemicals Policy Fellow.  EDF Health Scientist Dr. Jennifer McPartland and Senior Scientist Dr. Richard Denison contributed to this post.

When you’re standing at the kitchen counter this holiday season wrestling with the nebulous world of weight gain, think about synthetic chemicals.  A good number of them are in you.  And studies show that some of them are pretty busy in there, interacting with various biological systems – including your metabolism.

But they’re not the only show in town.  Microbes are busy in your gut doing important things like digesting food and degrading harmful compounds.  But could they also influence the size of your love handles?  New science suggests that these microbes—in concert with certain chemicals—may have just this effect.

It is becoming increasingly clear that it’s not just your genes and your self control that determine your risk for obesity and related complications like diabetes.  Environmental factors are a big part of the equation, and those factors just might extend to synthetic chemicals to which you’re exposed, such as the flame retardants in your furniture and the plasticizers in food can linings.  Read More »

Posted in Emerging Science, Health Science / Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Read 1 Response

New Ways in the Ancient World: Japan and China advance their chemicals policies

Allison Tracy is a Chemicals Policy Fellow.

This isn’t the first time on this blog that we’ve observed that chemicals reform is popping up all over the world.  Whatever their strengths and shortcomings, the 1999 amendments to the Canadian Environmental Protection Act and the European Union’s REACH Regulation got the ball rolling.  The momentum of chemicals reform is reaching around the globe as governments pay more attention to the risks posed by chemicals.  In this post, we will focus on recent developments in Japan and China.

Japan and China are two of the U.S.’s top competitors, so it’s noteworthy that they have not allowed themselves to fall behind in chemicals management.  Why are they expanding their chemicals regulations?  Do they know something we don’t?  Read More »

Posted in Health Policy, International / Tagged , , , , , , , | Comments are closed

What are you, really? How our microbiome mediates chemical exposures

Allison Tracy is a Chemicals Policy Fellow. Richard Denison, Ph.D., is a Senior Scientist.

For millennia people have contemplated the question “who am I?”  But how about the even more fundamental question, “what am I”?  The human body is made up of about 10 trillion cells that form our tissues and organs.  But did you know that the human gut is the home to microbes that comprise 10 times more – that is, 100 trillion – cells?  And that, while the human genome contains about 23,000 genes, there are some 3 million genes in the microbes living in the human gut?  Obviously, this complicates things.  It arguably means we could be considered to be more microbe than human!

These numbers should tip us off to the importance of what is known as our “microbiome.”  New science is shedding light on the central function of the microbiome as a mediator between external agents to which we’re exposed and the impacts of those exposures.  Recent studies show, for example, that as chemicals pass through the gastrointestinal tract, they undergo major changes in bioavailability (i.e., how easily they are taken up into our bodies) and in their toxicity.  Recognition of the role of the microbiome is shifting the playing field for toxicology in fundamental ways.   Read More »

Posted in Emerging Science, Health Science / Tagged , , , , , , | Comments are closed

More progress under REACH: 13 more chemicals en route to the Authorization list

Allison Tracy is a Chemicals Policy Fellow.

The European Chemicals Agency (ECHA), the agency responsible for implementation of the EU’s REACH Regulation, posted a press release last week listing 13 chemicals it proposes to advance from its list of “Substances of Very High Concern” (SVHCs), also known as the Candidate List for Authorization, to its list of chemicals subject to Authorization, also known as Annex XIV.

Authorization is one of the main pillars of REACH, via which use of designated SVHCs is limited to those uses specifically authorized by EU authorities. Following the public consultation period that is now underway, some or all of the 13 chemicals will move to the Authorization list.   Read More »

Posted in EU REACH, Health Policy / Tagged , , , , | Comments are closed

ECHA adds seven more Substances of Very High Concern to REACH Candidate List

Allison Tracy is a Chemicals Policy Fellow. Richard Denison, Ph.D., is a Senior Scientist.

The European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) issued a press release on Tuesday announcing the addition of seven chemicals to the Candidate List of Substances of Very High Concern (SVHC) under the European Union’s REACH Regulation.  [Update 6/20/11:  The formal addition of these substances to the candidate list, the initial announcement of which this post addressed, happened today.  See ECHA’s press release, which also contains some additional information about the uses of these chemicals.  The full candidate list including these seven substances is available here.]

All of the chemicals are officially classified as Carcinogenic, Mutagenic or Reproductive toxicants (CMRs).  Their addition brings the total number of chemicals on the Candidate List to 53.  Adding a chemical to REACH’s Candidate List is the first step toward subjecting it to REACH’s Authorization process, whereby the chemical can be used only if specifically authorized by EU authorities.

In this brief post we present a bit more information on these latest seven SVHCs, including the extent of their presence in U.S. commerce and their main uses.  Read More »

Posted in EU REACH, Health Policy / Tagged , , , , , , | Comments are closed

Ripples of REACH: Chemicals policy changes in Japan, Turkey and South Korea

Allison Tracy is a Chemicals Policy Fellow. Richard Denison, Ph.D., is a Senior Scientist.

The November 31st deadline for the first batch of registrations under REACH (the European Union’s Regulation for Registration, Evaluation, Authorization and Restriction of Chemicals) may have passed, but life is far from dull on the international scene of chemicals policy.  As discussed in a previous post, chemicals policy enhancements are ramping up across the globe, many of them mirroring the innovations introduced under REACH.

In this post, we’ll discuss significant advances in Japan, Turkey and South Korea that drive home the message that the ripples from REACH are ever-widening.  Read More »

Posted in EU REACH, Health Policy, International / Tagged , , , , , , , , | Comments are closed