5&5: News and science highlights from April 2013

May 2, 2013 at 3:51 pm | Posted in News and Science Bulletins | Leave a comment


Two votes in the European Parliament in favour of reducing exposure to EDCs. The European Parliament voted to adopt a report by Swedish MEP Asa Westlund calling for the EU to reduce exposure to endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDCs); while the European Parliament’s environment committee’s vote on a new environment action programme for Europe said the EU should focus on reducing exposure to harmful chemical substances, including endocrine disrupting chemicals, between now and 2018.

Pesticide industry and NGO clash over EFSA definition of endocrine disruptors. The Pesticide Action Network Europe (PAN Europe) has sent an open letter to the Commissioner for Health and Consumer Policy Tonio Borg complaining about an Opinion by the European Food Safety Authority on endocrine disruptors, in particular the distinction EFSA has drawn on the difference between “endocrine active substances” and “endocrine disruptors”. Industry, however, backs EFSA’s views.

Chemical in food packaging can harm unborn babies, say French officials. “In certain situations the exposure of a pregnant woman to BPA presents a risk for the mammary gland of the unborn child,” wrote ANSES, the French equivalent of the UK Food Standards Agency. The agency said its latest report reconfirms its previous opinion regarding health risks associated with exposure to BPA for pregnant women in terms of potential risk to the unborn child, although it described the confidence levels in the assessment as “moderate”. (A PDF of ANSES’ English summary of their findings is here.)

Think Those Chemicals Have Been Tested? The NYT is strongly critical of US chemical regulation, saying many Americans assume that the chemicals in their shampoos, detergents and other consumer products have been thoroughly tested and proved to be safe – but that assumption is wrong. They also describe the US Toxic Substances Control Act as “A Toothless Law on Toxic Chemicals“, stating it would be “hard to design a law more stacked against the regulators”.

Flame retardants in consumer products are linked to health and cognitive problems. NYT four-page feature: Synthetic chemicals added to consumer products to meet US federal and state flammability standards are showing up in waterways, wildlife and even human breast milk. In other news, early reports suggest ultrathin film made from a biopolymer and a sulfur-based acid could be an effective replacement for chlorine- and bromine-based commercial flame retardants.


The Impact of Endocrine Disruption: A Consensus Statement on the State of the Science. 20 scientists, a number of whom contributed to the WHO/UNEP State of the Science report on EDCs, present their consensus position on the impact of endocrine disruption on human and environmental health.

Phthalate Concentrations and Dietary Exposure from Food Purchased in New York State. Phthalates are widely present in U.S. foods. While estimated intakes for individual phthalates in this study were more than an order of magnitude lower than U.S. Environmental Protection Agency reference doses, it still concludes that cumulative exposure to phthalates is of concern and says a more representative survey of U.S. foods is needed.

Immunotoxicity of perfluorinated alkylates: calculation of benchmark doses based on serum concentrations in children. A benchmark dose study of PFC exposure which suggests current acceptable limits on PFC levels in drinking water appear to be several hundred-fold too high.

What is in our environment that effects puberty? This review article summarizes the current understanding of the major environmental influences on pubertal timing, focusing on factors for which the most scientific evidence exists, including intrinsic factors unique to each individual, naturally occurring endocrine disruptors and chemical endocrine disruptors.

Exposure to indoor pesticides and the risk of childhood brain tumors. The results of this Australian study suggest that preconception domestic pesticide exposure, and possibly exposure during pregnancy, is associated with an increased CBT risk, concluding that it may be advisable for both parents to avoid pesticide exposure during this time.

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