The National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS) has long studied the various potential health effects of low-level exposure to chemicals called endocrine disruptors that interfere with development and function. These substances, both natural and man-made, include pharmaceuticals, dioxin and dioxin-like compounds, polychlorinated biphenyls, DDT and other pesticides, and plastics such as bisphenol A (BPA).
Very little action has been taken on the basis of these studies, but new legislation working its way through Congress aims to change that.
The Endocrine Disruption Prevention Act of 2009 was introduced last December in the Senate (S-2828) by Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) and in the House of Representives (HR-4190) by Rep. Jim Moran (D-Va.).
TEDX , the Endrocine Disruption Exchange, provides a thorough overview:
Simply put, the main purpose of the program proposed in the bill is to develop reliable and reproducible methods to identify chemicals that can disrupt the human endocrine system. These protocols will:
- address the full range of possible health outcomes (including reproductive, behavioral, intellectual, metabolic, and endocrine disorders);
- be sensitive enough to detect effects at exposure levels relevant to human exposure (and not rely on the assumption that a lower dose produces less effect);
- consider the effects of exposure to multiple chemicals
The program will rely on a panel of scientific experts, free of conflict of interest, to design research efforts that will be conducted at the NIEHS and on academic campuses across the country. The panel will then evaluate the findings and determine their level of concern (taking into account routes and sources of exposure).
Kerry recently sent a letter to other members of the Senate looking for co-sponsors of the bill. TEDX is urging everyone to call their senators and encourage their sponsorships. And while the House bill has several co-sponsors, more is always better. See “How You Can Help.”
To get a feel for the full political context, read Elizabeth Grossman’s call for “Fixing Our Broken Chemicals Policy,” inspired by the introduction of the bill.