National Academies Report Proposes New Strategy for Evaluating Endocrine Disruptors

Application of Systematic Review Methods in an Overall Strategy for Evaluating Low-Dose Toxicity from Endocrine Active Chemicals

In 2015, at the request of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine convened a committee of experts to address concerns about the potential health effects from exposure to endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDCs) at low doses. EDCs are a class of chemicals that interfere with the body’s system of hormones. Small changes in hormone levels, particularly during critical periods of development, can have lasting health effects.

EDCs are found in an array of consumer products from food packaging and cosmetics to home furnishings and building materials. Silent Spring Institute’s extensive research through the years has found that consumer products are a major route of exposure to endocrine disruptors. The hormone-mimicking chemicals have been linked with numerous health problems including cancer, reproductive problems, and learning disabilities.

In order to help EPA make decisions regarding which chemicals of concern to regulate, the agency asked the committee to develop a strategy for evaluating EDCs at low-doses. The report, released in July 2017 and co-authored by Silent Spring's Research Director Ruthann Rudel, suggests EPA’s existing chemical testing and risk assessment methods are missing these low-dose health effects. As a result, some chemical exposures may be labelled incorrectly safe.

In their report, the committee recommends several ways EPA can update its methods to catch low-dose effects from EDCs. Ultimately, this will allow the agency to establish more accurate guidelines for safe exposure levels in order to protect public health, especially vulnerable populations including pregnant women, low-income communities, and occupationally exposed workers. You can access the full report here.

Read the press release from the National Academies.

A four-page summary of the report is available here.

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