Richard Denison, Ph.D., is a Senior Scientist.
As a Washington policy geek, it’s sometimes hard not to let the ups and downs of political prospects for achieving real improvements in public health protections from toxic chemicals get me down. The tenacity with which some stakeholders insist on throwing wrenches into the works to block efforts to reach middle ground is indeed depressing.
But through it all, there is one constant that continually restores my optimism that we’ll eventually get where we need to get to: Science keeps moving forward and inexorably points toward the need for reform. I will use this post to briefly highlight four recent studies that demonstrate the changing landscape of our knowledge of how environmental factors, including toxic chemical exposures, are affecting our health. What’s noteworthy about these studies is that they all identified adverse health effects in human populations, and linked those effects to early-life exposures. They all also illustrate the complex interplay between chemical exposures and social or other environmental factors that directly challenges the overly simplistic and non-scientific approach to causation that our chemicals policies have taken for decades.
Below are summaries of and links to these new studies:
- Early-life exposure to PCE is associated with later-life risky behaviors.
- Phthalate exposure is associated with excess weight in New York City children.
- Exposure to perfluorinated chemicals may interfere with childhood vaccine effectiveness.
- Epigenetic changes are associated with socio-economic status and biomarkers for cardiovascular disease.