Questions about Endocrine Disruptors?
It was a decade or so ago that our daughters raised our awareness about environmental concerns and the development of children linked to endocrine disruptors. This concern led us to look more closely at milk we purchased that contained no hormones nor anti-biotics, as well as the very coverings we used in the microwave oven to heat certain foods. We are not scientists, nor educators, nor physicians; we are, however, grandparents who take care for our grandchildren on a weekly (and yearly) basis.
The National Institutes for Health defines endocrine disruptors as:
"Endocrine disruptors are chemicals that may interfere with the body’s endocrine system and produce adverse developmental, reproductive, neurological, and immune effects in both humans and wildlife. A wide range of substances, both natural and man-made, are thought to cause endocrine disruption, including pharmaceuticals, dioxin and dioxin-like compounds, polychlorinated biphenyls, DDT and other pesticides, and plasticizers such as bisphenol A. Endocrine disruptors may be found in many everyday products— including plastic bottles, metal food cans, detergents, flame retardants, food, toys, cosmetics, and pesticides. The NIEHS supports studies to determine whether exposure to endocrine disruptors may result in human health effects including lowered fertility and an increased incidence of endometriosis and some cancers. Research shows that endocrine disruptors may pose the greatest risk during prenatal and early postnatal development when organ and neural systems are forming."
A recent New York Times column by Nicholas Kristof brought up this issue and led us to the Children's Environmental Health Center at Mount Sinai in New York City. His story used as a peg the symposium at Mount Sinai
"Children are not simply 'little adults'. They are uniquely vulnerable to toxic exposures in the environment. Exposures in early life can affect human health over the entire life span. We need to find definitive answers about the relationship between toxic chemicals and health so we can protect our children now and in the future." The preceding paragraph is a quote from Philip J. Landrigan, Professor and Chair of the CEHC.
There is an associate Web page that further defines and lists sites that can be helpful tho those who want to further investigate this concern:
A gateway to Web-based information on hormones and the environment. Provides a broad range of news stories, views on the latest research, research briefs over the past five years, lists of books and Web sites and learning tutorials.
The Endocrine Disruption Exchange (TEDX)
The Endocrine Disruption Exchange, Inc., or TEDX. focuses primarily on the human health and environmental problems caused by low-dosed/or ambient exposure to endocrine disruptors or chemicals that interfere with development and function. TEDX focuses on the effects of very low and ambient levels of exposure on developing tissue and resulting function before an individual is born, which can lead to irreversible, chronic disorders expressed at any time throughout the individual’s life. Endocrine disruption takes into consideration the vulnerability of every individual in the population during their most vulnerable life stages. TEDX fills in a large gap in public health protection. Drawing upon its computerized databases on endocrine disruption and coordination with researchers in the field of endocrine disruption, TEDX provides the very latest summaries of the state of knowledge and its meaning for human health and the environment.
Global Endocrine Disruptor Inventory
A compilation of world-wide ongoing research projects related to endocrine disruptions.
The CEHC does have an Ask An Expert telephone line if you have a question raised by this issue: Have a question on toxins (e.g. lead, pesticides, or artificial turf) and how they affect your child’s health? Call 1 (866) 265-6201 to speak with an expert at the Mount Sinai Pediatric Environmental Health Specialty Unit.
Mr. Kristof's article also cites Representative Louise Slaughter's introduction of a bill related to monitoring endocrine disruptors. Ms. Slaughter is a microbiologist.