5&5: News and Science Highlights from March 2012

April 11, 2012 at 4:03 pm | Posted in News and Science Bulletins | Leave a comment


Transgenerational actions of environmental compounds on reproductive disease. Deliberate study of transgenerational effects of exposure to chemical mixtures, plastics, jet fuel, dioxin and pesticides, finding sperm death and premature female puberty.

Science highlight of the month: Scientists publish review describing regulatory testing as unfit for EDCs. In the largest review to date of studies examining low-dose effects of chemicals, scientists have concluded regulatory testing for chemical safety does not effectively examine the potential health risks of endocrine disruptors. Summaries of the findings in Yale360 and Scientific American.

In an editorial in Environmental Health Perspectives, Linda Birnbaum, Head of the US National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, says the question is no longer whether nonmonotonic dose responses are real. “Instead, it is which dose–response shapes should be expected for specific environmental chemicals and under what specific circumstances.”

Exposure to Phthalates and Phenols during Pregnancy and Offspring Size at Birth. Consistent with findings of a previous study, observed evidence of an inverse association of 2,5-DCP and a positive association of BP3 with male birth weight.

Effects of Chronic Exposure to an Environmentally Relevant Mixture of BFRs on the thyroid and reproductive systems of adult male rats. Exposure to three commercial brominated diphenyl ethers, formulated to mimic the relative congener levels in house dust, affected liver and thyroid physiology but not male reproductive parameters.

Early breast development in girls after prenatal exposure to non-persistent pesticides. Evidence that prenatal exposure to currently approved pesticides may cause earlier breast development in girls, possibly from aromatisation of androgens.


Going to Extreme Lengths to Purge Household Toxins. A subtle and easily misunderstood NYT piece, not about middle-class paranoia, but about how inadequate regulatory control over chemical exposures in consumer goods leads to people to going to almost bizarre lengths to “shop our way to some place which protects us”.

‘Green’ cleaners without cancer-causing ingredients. The Environmental Protection Agency has found that chemicals in household cleaners are three times more likely to cause cancer than air pollution. So what’s the alternative? (And so did the Silent Spring Institute. What, as reported in Forbes, did industry think of the institute’s research? “This study presents a clear example of biased, advocacy-based research,” says William Troy, Ph.D., Scientific Advisor to the International Fragrance Association North America.)

News highlight of the month. What is really making us fat? Man-made chemicals present in homes, schools, offices, cars and food are probably contributing to the sharp rise in obesity and diabetes in western societies, according to a review of scientific literature. The Atlantic recounts various perspectives on the problem and the UK Independent provides a basic overview of the review findings. Download the report here.

Children’s car seat makers to eliminate PVC and halogenated flame-retardants. Britax and Orbit, two major manufacturers of children’s car seats and pushchairs have pledged to eliminate polyvinyl chloride (PVC) and brominated and chlorinated flame retardants from their products.

Campbell’s to end use of BPA in can linings. Campbell’s Soup Co. spokesman Anthony Sanzio said the company has been working on alternatives for five years and will make the transition as soon as “feasible alternatives are available.”

How those pesticides persist even when you wash your fruit and veg. Washing fruit and vegetables does not remove chemical pesticide residues, tests commissioned by Government food watchdogs show.

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