In an article published on November 28, 2015 by the New York Times, journalist Nicholas Kristof reports on the many adverse health effects associated with exposure to chemicals found in everyday products. The link between exposure to toxic environmental chemicals and adverse health outcomes is increasingly studied, and scientists and health professionals are issuing warnings. In September 2015, the International Federation of Gynecology and Obstetrics (FIGO) published a statement on the effects of preconception and prenatal exposure to toxic chemicals on fertility, pregnancy, neurodevelopment, and cancer, and called for action to prevent further harm (FPF reported). In November 2015, the Endocrine Society published its second Scientific Statement on endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDCs) presenting emerging evidence linking EDC exposure to health problems such as diabetes and obesity, infertility, hormone-related cancers, neurological issues, and thyroid disorders (FPF reported). Kristof compares the chemical industry to the tobacco industry, stating that it is “minimizing science and resisting regulation in ways that cause devastating harm to unsuspecting citizens.” Further, Kristof highlights the regulatory situation in the U.S. where most chemicals go on the market untested for safety and are assumed to be safe unless proven otherwise. “We should not have to use the public as guinea pigs,” stated Tracey J. Woodruff, professor in the Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology, and Reproductive Sciences at the University of California, San Francisco, U.S.. According to experts, the best way for people to protect themselves – especially pregnant women and young children – is to eat organic food, reduce plastic use, avoid cash register receipts and flame-retardant couches, and consult consumer guides, Kristof writes.
On November 30, 2015 the news provider Examiner responded to Kristof’s article. Journalist James Cooper considers Kristof’s piece “alarmingly vague and not very well science based.” There is no definitive evidence for the links between chemical exposures and adverse health effects, Cooper writes. Further, he notes that the FIGO statement is an opinion paper and not a research paper. Regarding EDCs, Cooper states that “there is so little solid research in this area.” Cooper concludes that “trace chemicals represent an active area of research, but very little has been determined so far.”
Nicholas Kristof (November 28, 2015). “Contaminating our bodies with everyday products.” New York Times
James Cooper (November 30, 2015). “Nicholas Kristof scares us with chemical misinformation.” Examiner
Di Renzo, G.C. et al. (2015). “International Federation of Gynecology and Obstetrics opinion on reproductive health impacts of exposure to toxic environmental chemicals.” International Journal of Gynecology and Obstetrics (published online September 30, 2015).
Gore, A.C. et al (2015). “EDC-2: The Endocrine Society’s second Scientific Statement on endocrine disrupting chemicals.” Endocrine Reviews (published online November 6, 2015).