On September 19, 2016 scientist Laura Vandenberg published a commentary article on Environmental Health News. Vandenberg is an expert on endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDCs) and the lead author on a key publication on low-dose effects and non-monotonic dose responses to EDCs (FPF reported). Her commentary was published on the occasion of the U.S. National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS’) ongoing symposium on “25 years of endocrine disruption research: Past lessons and future directions”, and Vandenberg writes that “scientists funded by NIH [U.S. National Institutes of Health] have made tremendous strides understanding how the environment contributes to diseases that affect the lives of millions of Americans.” Further, she writes that assuming ‘the dose makes the poison’ is “too simplistic when it comes to understanding the health effects associated with EDCs.” Other issues mentioned in the commentary are sensitive windows of development, constant exposure of the general population to many chemicals simultaneously, and the involvement of EDC exposures in the induction of chronic diseases which are increasing worldwide.
Further, people are often “outraged” when learning about the presence of EDCs in food packaging and other consumer products. Though understandable, Vandenberg writes, “we need to move beyond anger and frustration to identify solutions”. For example, finding safer alternatives to EDCs in everyday products, performing further research on their health risks, or deciding on safe levels of exposure. The latter is hampered by the fact that chemical exposures occur in mixtures, and Vandenberg calls for better understanding of this everyday exposure reality.
Vandenberg closes by calling for more attention to the issue of EDCs by allocating sufficient research funds because “much more is needed to protect the health of generations to come.”
Taking a very different stance on the same matter, the U.S. trade association American Chemistry Council (ACC) published a blog article on September 15, 2016 entitled “NIEHS celebrates 25 years of endocrine disruptor research – we ask, what’s to celebrate?” The ACC applauds the US Environmental Protection Agency’s Endocrine Disruptor Screening Program (FPF reported) which is “credible, validated and protective” thanks to a “strong commitment to safety that industry and leading government agencies such as the EPA share.”
In their blog, the ACC further goes into the use of risk assessment for identifying health issues associated with chemical exposures, and recommends making a distinction between “endocrine active” and “endocrine disrupting chemicals”, implying that adverse effects must be observed for a chemical to qualify as EDC—a perspective that is not shared by the Endocrine Society (FPF reported).
In a press release published on September 20, 2016 Endocrine Society informs that a Congressional briefing will be held on September 21, 2016 to explore the latest breakthroughs in the field of EDCs. “The evidence is more definitive than ever before that [sic] EDCs interfere with hormones in a manner that harms human health,” so Endocrine Society, calling for “stronger policies to protect public health.”
Vandenberg, L. (2016). “Commentary: 25 years of endocrine disruptor research – great strides, but still a long way to go.” Environmental Health News (published September 19, 2016).
American Chemistry Council (September 15, 2016). “NIEHS celebrates 25 years of endocrine disruptor research – we ask, what’s to celebrate?”
Endocrine Society (September 20, 2016). “Congressional briefing warns of dangers of endocrine-disrupting chemicals.“