Future: Are We Threatening Our Fertility, Intelligence, and Survival?
A Scientific Detective Story.
Theo Colborn, et. al.
Synthesizing the research on endocrine disrupting chemicals implicated in wildlife and human reproductive, developmental, and auto-immune diseases, the book is a testimony of what we have failed to understand, regulate, and from what to protect our progeny.
"This is still an unfolding scientific mystery."
"The health effects of synthetic chemicals on wildlife and humans,"
"We live in a complex world that is going to require innovative approaches to deal with the problems technology has created. It has taken a nontraditional approach involving cooperation among experts from many disciplines to reveal the nature of the chemicals that are stealing our future."
1947-52, Florida bald eagles & brown pelicans along the west coast
1950s English otter declines and dieldrin
Michigan mink farms and PCBs --- 1967
PCBs "synthetic chemicals used to insulate electrical equipment."
Dioxin, World Health organization warnings.
PCB covered in detail in Chapter Six.
Oregon Report on Portland Harbor.
"As Colborn tackled the wildlife files for a second time, her mind kept returning to the female gulls nesting together. She pulled out the papers by Fox and Fry and carefully reread them. She sensed that the 'gay gulls,' as someone had dubbed them, were an important piece of the puzzle, but she still didn't know how to put it all together. The feminization of the males was a consequence of disrupted hormones."
The study by Sandra and Joseph Jacobson, psychologists from Wayne State University in Detroit, had also found evidence that the mother's level of chemical contamination affected her baby's development."
"Moreover, the greater the amount of PCBs, a persistent industrial chemical that is a common pollutant in Great Lakes fish, in the umbilical cord blood, the more poorly the child scored on tests assessing neurological development, lagging behind various measures, such as short term memory, that tend to predict later IQ."
The emerging science is about what happens when something interferes with the delivery of that message. A signal doesn't arrive because it is blocked. One that was small becomes large. One that shouldn't have been there at all shows up nonetheless.
Have consequences that could last a lifetime, are hard to detect, and have unexpected consequences at very low densities.
1930s Northwestern University Medical School studies.
"by adding estrogen from outside the body. They showed that larger shifts in hormone levels scrambled the chemical messages and derailed sexual development. Although estrogen at normal levels is essential for development, too much of it can wreak havoc."
"The regulations, agencies and industry rules designed to protect humans and others species have been asleep at the wheel."
"Here was evidence that dioxin could have dramatic effects at very low doses-at levels close to those routinely found in humans."
"This turnaround in scientific thinking was stunning. The studies suggested that the worst fears about dioxin might, in fact, be justified. Dioxin might after all be more dangerous than anyone had suspected, but contrary to what many had thought, its greatest threat was not cancer. The newly emerging hazard was its power to disrupt natural hormones."
"In a June 1994 article in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives, Porterfield outlined her theory that 'very low levels' of PCBs and dioxins-levels well below those generally recognized as toxic – can alter thyroid function in the mother and the unborn baby and thereby impair neurological development.
Like Sharpe and Skakkebaek, Porterfield cites evidence showing that skewed hormone levels in the womb can cause permanent damage-in this case, learning disabilities, attention problems, and hyperactivity."
"it is important to stress that PCBs are not by any means the only culprit. Many other synthetic chemicals act on thyroid hormones as well, adding to the concern. The thyroid system is one of the most frequent targets for synthetic chemicals, according to Linda Birnbaum, who heads the environmental toxicology division at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's Health Effects Research Laboratory."
• Exposure to multiple chemicals presents a new challenge to toxicological testing that currently examines only each separate chemical at a time.
The so called rational skeptics have typically ignored the extensive animal evidence that demonstrates the hazards of environmental hormones and they have discounted that animal research provides a valuable guide for predicting human effects.
The people with multiple chemical sensitivities, or pregnant and nursing mothers have been unfairly burdened with these resilient and often disruptive molecules even at the lowest doses. Like radiation and methyl bromine pollution the unseen world is filled with products that may cause long-term damage to immune, reproductive, and excretory systems through their damaging influence on the endocrine system.
Case study in LAKE APOPKA, FLORIDA.
Theo Colborn, Dianne Dumanoski, & John Peterson Myers. Our Stolen Future: Are We Threatening Our Fertility, Intelligence, and Survival? Ð A Scientific Detective Story. New York: Penguin Publishing, 1997.