EDF Health

Selected tag(s): endocrine disruption

Linking everyday chemicals to disease: New science keeps on intensifying the writing on the wall

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.

Read More »

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REACH starts to earn its “A”: 20 chemicals headed to the Candidate List and 13 to Authorization

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

The European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) has been busy this week implementing the EU’s chemical regulation, REACH (short for Registration, Evaluation, Authorization and Restriction of Chemicals).

On Monday, ECHA announced it has added 20 more Substances of Very High Concern (SVHCs) to REACH’s Candidate List.  These SVHCs are now eligible for later addition to Annex XIV, the list of SVHCs subject to Authorization.

Separately, the agency today forwarded its final recommendation that 13 chemicals already on the Candidate List be formally added to Annex XIV.  (We had blogged earlier about ECHA’s initial recommendation proposing these 13 SVHCs for Authorization.)  If the European Commission confirms this addition, after a specified sunset date, the use of these will be allowed only if specifically authorized by EU authorities.  Read More »

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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 »

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Chemical safety evaluation: Potential benefits of emerging test methods

Jennifer McPartland, Ph.D., is a Health Scientist.

Parts in this series:      Part 1     Part 2     Part 3     Part 4

This is the third in a series of blog posts on new approaches that federal agencies are exploring to improve how chemicals are evaluated for safety.  Previous posts primarily focused on the scientific principles underlying these efforts.  This post will take a pause from scientific fundamentals to discuss some of the opportunities presented by these more novel methods, while subsequent posts will address some of their limitations and remaining challenges.  (Not to worry, though, I’ll soon get back to computer-simulated organs as promised.)  Read More »

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Pediatricians: Reform TSCA to protect kids. ACC responds (a la W.C. Fields): We love kids, too

Richard Denison, Ph.D., is a Senior Scientist.

A long-awaited and full-throated endorsement of comprehensive reform of the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) from the venerable American Academy of Pediatricians (AAP) was published online yesterday in the journal Pediatrics.

Right down the line, the AAP’s 8-page policy statement calling for a wholesale overhaul of TSCA mirrors the recommendations of health and environmental advocates, academic researchers and just about anyone else who has paid attention to the mounting body of evidence documenting the linkages between rising chemical exposures and adverse effects on the health of our population, especially the most vulnerable among us:  the developing fetus, infants and young children.

The AAP’s recommendations also closely track key provisions in TSCA reform bills introduced last year in both Houses of Congress as well as the Safe Chemicals Act of 2011 just re-introduced in the U.S. Senate this month.

This latest statement from the Academy adds it to the list of other major medical and health associations that have previously called on Congress to  revamp TSCA, including the American Medical Association, the American Public Health Association and the American Nurses Association.

Given this growing chorus, it is perhaps not surprising that the American Chemistry Council (ACC) would seek to worm its way in to claim that it, too, loves kids and supports TSCA reform.

But dig a bit deeper, and what is most striking is that ACC stridently opposes essentially every element of TSCA reform called for by the American Academy of Pediatrics.  Read More »

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Chemical safety evaluation: Packing tox tests into single drops of liquid!

Jennifer McPartland, Ph.D., is a Health Scientist.

Parts in this series:      Part 1     Part 2     Part 3     Part 4

In my last post I introduced EPA’s collaborative NexGen effort and briefly described the scientific advances underpinning the program.  In this post, I’ll explore some of the potential power of EPA’s efforts, which will require that we get a bit into the nitty gritty (nerd spoiler alert!).

NexGen is focusing on how new scientific knowledge and technological capabilities may interplay with traditional hazard and risk assessment that predominantly relies on more expensive and time-consuming animal studies.

There has been a lot of buzz around what is called high-throughput (HT) testing of chemicals.  Just last week, EPA issued a public statement describing the unveiling of a new robot housed at the National Institutes of Health Chemical Genomics Center (NCGC).  I highly recommend watching the robot in action by clicking on the “Toxicity Testing Robot System” video link available on the NIH National Human Genome Research Institute’s website.  The robot is scheduled to test 10,000 chemicals for potential toxicity!   So, what does that actually mean?  Read More »

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