It's the Environment, Stupid.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Endocrine disruptors in children

Endocrine disruptors in fish have been talked about recently - chemicals or high levels of hormones that have changed the sex of fish in some rivers. Now news is re-surfacing that these endocrine disruptors are affecting children.

A recent article in the NY Times reveals some recent studies of pre-school aged children showing signs of early puberty - the reason in many of the cases is speculated to be chemicals released into the environment and hormones used in shampoos, cosmetics and steroid creams.

Preventing these hormone changing chemicals from being released into the environment has been stalled due to lack of hard, scientific proof (what else is new), and preventing their use in cosmetics and shampoos looks like a lost cause.

According to the NY Times, "In 1989, the Food and Drug Administration proposed allowing up to 10,000 units of estrogen per ounce of cosmetic, the approximate oral daily dose of hormone replacement therapy for postmenopausal women...a spokeswoman for the F.D.A. said that the agency was 'aware of some reports describing premature sexual devolepment' with shampoos but that it had concluded that 'there is no reason for consumers to be concerned.'

No reason to be concerned? I always find it troubling when agencies and product producers insist there is no cause for concern when apparent (though not scientifically backed) correllations exist. Such as when, "In 1973, thousands of Michigan residents ate food contaminated by a flame retardant, PBB, which was later correlated with earlier menstruation in girls. In Puerto Rico, which has some of the world’s highest rates of early puberty, the condition was linked to higher levels of a plasticizer called phthalate in affected children."

If problems in fish don't isn't worrying people, maybe problems in their children will. This is yet again an example where the practicing the precautionary principle would be advised.

Some endocrine disruptor faq from NRDC.


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