endocrine disruptors                   

Endocrine systemEnvironmental Health

New Science: Understand new scientific results that expand knowledge of environmental links to health.


New research confirms that estrogenic contaminants can seep into sediment after being carried by sewage into rivers. Standard water treatment doesn't remove them from waste water effluent, so they pass from treatment plants into rivers. Once in river waters, they move into river sediments and thus potentially reach groundwater, contaminating sources of drinking water.

New experiments reveal that the synthetic estrogen used by women for birth control causes wide ranging health effects in minnows, but that the effects differed when the drug was tested alone compared with when it was mixed with wastewater effluent. The estrogen caused feminization of male fish, and altered DNA integrity, immune cell number, and ability to breakdown pollutants.
The study highlights the need for more research on the potential health effects of exposure to complex mixtures.

New data link low birth weight and body mass to very low levels of commonly used chemicals found in consumer products ranging from Teflon-coated cookware to water and stain repelling textiles. Analyzing the relationship between vital statistics of newborns born at a city hospital in Baltimore, MD -- measurements such as weight, length, and head circumference-- scientists found that babies with higher levels of perfluorinated compounds in their cord blood tended to be slightly but significantly smaller than those with lower exposure. More... [related stories]

Thirty-eight of the world's leading scientific experts on bisphenol A have warned policymakers of potential adverse health effects of exposure to the widespread molecule used to make plastic and food can lining. They conclude that average levels in people are above those that cause harm to animals in laboratory experiments.
And they calculate that average serum levels in people can only be explained by assuming that exposures today are already above the level that EPA considers safe.

A new study with mice is the first to link low level neonatal exposure to bisphenol A to uterine diseases that women develop as they age, including fibroids, adenomysois and cystic ovaries. Some of the adverse conditions induced by BPA in mice have been previously described in daughters of mothers who took the drug diethylstilbestrol, a synthetic estrogen which is structurally and functionally similar to BPA. These uterine defects, which often require severe medical intervention, are common and appear to be increasing in women but remain poorly understood.

In a unique, new study, scientists report that women exposed to relatively high levels of DDT prior to mid-adolescence are 5 times more likely to develop breast cancer later in life than women with lower exposures. In contrast, exposure after adolescence is not associated with increased risk. This new approach-- taking age of exposure into account-- may help explain why studies that depend upon exposure measurements after breast cancer develops often report no association.

Exposure to bisphenol A during development changes gene behavior in mice, causing genetically identical animals to develop differently. BPA exposure reduces DNA methylation, thereby increasing the expression of genes that would have been silenced. The results can be counteracting by supplementing the maternal diet during pregnancy and lactation with nutrients that increase methylation, such as genistein, a phytosterols found in soy.

New research exposing mice to a chemical used to make polyurethane foam and paints provides the first experimental confirmation that the compound causes respiratory tract disease. The findings corroborate epidemiological studies showing links between on-the-job exposure to toluene dissociant and both nasal inflammations, diseases that affect at least half the industrial workers in the US. The results help understand how breathing even small amounts of a chemical can lead to debilitating respiratory diseases.

Exposure to a mixture of phthalates causes reproductive harm in an additive manner. Rats exposed prenatally to a combination of DEHP and DBP had decreased testosterone levels and decreased expression of genes important for gonadal development. This research has important implications for humans who are continually exposed to low doses of a mixture of phthalates. Toxicological Sciences.

Women who reported mixing and applying agricultural pesticides during early pregnancy have a two times higher risk of developing gestational diabetes during the pregnancy. Consistent with other studies, the strong association between first trimester pesticide exposure and gestational diabetes mellitus suggests that pesticide exposures, including 2,4,5-T and atrazine, may affect glucose metabolism and insulin resistance.




Microcosm: Examples

San Francisco Bay,

Thirty five years after the signing of the Clean Water Act it is clear that tremendous progress has been made in cleaning up the San Francisco Bay, but significant and challenging water quality problems still remain. Four pollutants – mercury, PCBs, dioxins, and exotic species – are classified as having the most severe impacts. Selenium, legacy pesticides, and PAHs are also of concern. And new contaminants of rising concern include PBDEs and pyrethroids. Pulse of the Estuary. Published by San Francisco Estuary Institute. [related story]


Certain communities of color have higher prevalence and death rates from some of the most common respiratory illnesses, such as asthma, and most often reside in high-pollution areas. Asthma is found in all populations, but some racial and ethnic groups experience it at higher rates, particularly the inner-city African American and Puerto Rican communities. African American children are more than three times more likely than children of other races to develop sleep disordered breathing. State of Lung Disease in Diverse Communities: 2007. Published by American Lung Association.

Over the past five years, industry has repeatedly misused the Data Quality Act to suppress important cancer-related information being analyzed and published by the National Toxicology Program. Industry has tried to use the Act to challenge NTP's review and release process. The latest biennial Report on Carcinogens has been delayed by more than a year as a result of this interference. An Attack on Cancer Research: Industry's Obstruction of the National Toxicology Program. Published by OMB Watch.

Over the course of a few decades, the childhoods of U.S. girls have been significantly shortened.
Girls get their first periods today, on average, a few months earlier than did girls 40 years ago, but they get their breasts one to two years earlier. The Falling Age of Puberty. Published by Breast Cancer Fund. [related stories]


Carbon dioxide pollution linked to global warming from large, old, and inefficient electricity-generating facilities continues unchecked and could rise 34 percent by 2030. Nationwide, the power plants that provide electricity to run our homes, businesses, and factories also account for 40 percent of carbon dioxide, roughly two thirds of sulfur dioxide, 22 percent of nitrogen oxides, and roughly a third of all mercury emissions in the US. Dirty kilowatts. Published by Environmental Integrity Project. [related]

Power plants

Florida has proposed 5K+ capacity from coal proposed for 9 new plants worth $6.5 Billion in investment


50 Dirtiest U.S. Power Plants: CO2 Pollution Linked to Global Warming on Track to Rise by a Third, Mixed Picture on Other Key Pollutants (2007)
by Ilan Levin
Dirty Kilowatts: States With Most Problem Facilities for CO2 Emissions Are AL, FL, GA, IN, KY, NC, NM, OH, PA, TX, WV, and WY.

When the original Clean Air Act was passed in 1970, the electric utility industry persuaded Congress to not impose strict pollution controls on old power plants, because they would
soon be replaced by newer state-of-the-art facilities. Yet despite the industry’s promises, many of the nation’s oldest and dirtiest power plants continue to operate today.

Power plants are major contributors to global warming, emitting billions of tons of carbon dioxide (CO2) each year. In addition, power plants emit millions of tons of sulfur dioxide (SO2) and nitrogen oxides (NOx), pollutants that trigger asthma attacks and contribute to lung and heart disease, and cause smog and haze in cities and national parks.

And, power plants emit dangerous toxins like mercury, a neurotoxin especially
harmful to children and developing fetuses.

Data from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Department of Energy’s Energy
Information Administration (EIA) show that a disproportionate share of emissions comes from a handful of old plants that have been slow to install modern pollution controls, or which operate inefficiently. This report ranks the top fifty power plant polluters for sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxides, carbon dioxide, and mercury, according to:

• Emission rate, which measures the amount of pollution per megawatt-hour of electricity generated,
• Total annual amount of each pollutant emitted, which measures the gross impact on public health
and the environment.