5&5: News and science highlights from August 2012

September 6, 2012 at 8:10 pm | Posted in News and Science Bulletins | Leave a comment


Makers of flame retardants cut ties with industry front group. The world’s major manufacturers of flame retardants has officially cut ties with an industry-funded front group that waged a deceptive campaign to fuel demand for the chemicals in household furniture, electronics, baby products and other goods. In other flame retardant news, the EPA published a report identifying possible safer substitutes for flame retardants.

Boys Appear to Be More Vulnerable Than Girls to the Insecticide Chlorpyrifos: Lower IQs Seen in Boys Exposed in the Womb to Comparable Amounts of the Chemical. A new study is the first to find a difference between how boys and girls respond to prenatal exposure to the insecticide chlorpyrifos, still used in 24 out of 27 EU Member States. There is a detailed synopsis of the study available here.

UK proposes decaBDE for REACH candidate list. The UK REACH Competent Authority has submitted an Annex XV dossier proposing that the flame retardant deca bromodiphenyl ether (decaBDE) be designated a substance of very high concern and placed on the candidate list, one of 15 compounds proposed for the next batch of potential SVHCs in September. Meanwhile, In a surprise move aimed at hitting its target of 136 substances on the REACH candidate list by the end of 2012, the European Commission has requested ECHA prepare 38 dossiers nominating substances of very high concern (SVHCs).

Denmark defies EU with planned ban on phthalate chemicals. Danish Environment Minister Ida Auken has decided to ban four industrial chemicals linked to disrupting the human endocrine system, pushing Denmark ahead of the European Union which has already started a process of phasing out phthalates.

Big Chem, Big Harm? NYT columnist Nicholas Kristof says it may seem “surprising to read a newspaper column about chemical safety because this isn’t an issue in the presidential campaign or even firmly on the national agenda. It’s not the kind of thing that we in the news media cover much”.


Effects of Di(2-ethylhexyl) Phthalate (DEHP) on Female Fertility and Adipogenesis in C3H/N Mice. Although outwardly healthy, dams fed 0.05, 5 and 500 microgrammes DEHP per kg bw had significantly increased food intake, body weight, and visceral fat compared with controls. All treatment groups also showed increased gene expression of the hormone leptin (consistent with the animals’ increased visceral fat) and decreased expression of adiponectin (which may suggest potential effects on insulin sensitivity).

Current status of the epidemiologic evidence linking polychlorinated biphenyls and non-hodgkin lymphoma, and the role of immune dysregulation. This review determined that “the weight of evidence supports a causal role of PCBs in lymphomagenesis. The strongest epidemiological evidence for the relationship between PCBs and NHL comes from case-control studies conducted among the general population.”

Prenatal Bisphenol A Exposure and Child Behavior in an Inner-City Cohort. Among boys, high prenatal BPA exposure (highest quartile vs. the lowest three quartiles) was associated with significantly higher CBCL scores (more problems) on Emotionally Reactive [1.62 times greater; 95% confidence interval (CI): 1.13, 2.32] and Aggressive Behavior syndromes (1.29 times greater; 95% CI: 1.09, 1.53).

Urinary bisphenol a concentration and angiography-defined coronary artery stenosis. BPA exposure was higher in those with severe coronary artery stenoses compared to those with no vessel disease. Larger studies are needed to estimate true dose response relationships. The mechanisms underlying the association remain to be established.

Circulating levels of persistent organic pollutants are related to retrospective assessment of life-time weight change. This study examined associations between POP levels in human plasma and body weight to find that organochlorine pesticides and less-chlorinated PCBs are associated with weight gain, while highly-chlorinated PCBs are with weight loss. POPs clearly play a complex role in obesity.

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