Scientists criticise new EU proposal for identifying EDCs

July 14, 2016 at 10:28 am | Posted in Feature Articles, Uncategorized | 3 Comments

Concerns about “confused set of processes” and too high a burden of proof, says letter

Letterbox w768 - Christian Guthier - flickr

A group of scientists investigating how to make best use of the best evidence to identify and classify endocrine disruptors, have written to EU Health Commissioner Vytenis Andriukaitis to voice concerns about the EU’s newly-proposed criteria for identification and regulation of endocrine disruptors.

The scientists are concerned about two main things:

  • That the criteria place an under-defined, potentially unprecedentedly high, burden of proof on identifying problem compounds as having endocrine disrupting properties, with the result that the identification process will be either conducted inconsistently, or only a very small proportion of actual EDCs may be classified as such.
  • That the criteria present a confused set of processes for identifying, evaluating and integrating scientific evidence which unnecessarily privilege certain types of data, and cannot be adequately operationalised for regulatory identification of EDCs.

The concerns are summarised in an opinion piece published in Euractiv. They are derived from the SYRINA Framework, a newly-published piece of research which outlines how to make best use of existing evidence for identifying and classifying EDCs, which is available here.

Similar concerns to those raised in the letter have been raised by other researchers, including in a letter to the Lancet Diabetes and Endocrinology which says the criteria “ensure that hardly any endocrine disruptors used as pesticides will be barred from commerce”, and a report from environment lawyers ClientEarth which concludes the proposed criteria are illegal “because they limit the identification of endocrine disruptors to those that are known to cause adverse effects”.

July 2016 News Bulletin: Roundup chemical escapes immediate EU ban; new methods for “curing” controversy

July 13, 2016 at 4:42 pm | Posted in News and Science Bulletins | Leave a comment

July News Bulletin

Controversial chemical in Roundup weedkiller escapes immediate ban. The European commission has given a last-minute reprieve to glyphosate, the key ingredient in Monsanto’s bestselling Roundup weedkiller, just hours before it faced a recall from shops across the continent. (The Guardian)

Scientific controversy? Systematic review can help. Science is full of controversy. Is red wine good for you? Are there parallel universes? Is the antimicrobial triclosan toxic to humans? The aim of scientific research is to answer questions like these, but what happens when two or more studies produce conflicting results? (Elsevier Connect)

Low-Dose Chemical Exposure and Cancer. “If I had a drug that had no known side effects, and it decreased the cancer cell growth rate by 50% and increased cancer cell death from tamoxifen exposure by 50%, you’d be very interested in that drug. That’s exactly what happens when you take cancer cells away from the chemicals we are exposed to every day. Since removing cancer cells from chemicals has this effect, taking away chemicals should be investigated thoroughly.” (American Society of Clinical Oncology Post)

Early Puberty in Girls Is Becoming Epidemic and Getting Worse. Padded bras for kindergarteners with growing breasts to make them more comfortable? Sixteen percent of U.S. girls experiencing breast development by the age of 7? Thirty percent by the age of 8? Clearly something is affecting the hormones of U.S. girls—a phenomenon also seen in other developed countries. Girls in poorer countries seem to be spared—until they move to developed countries. (Alternet)

The Ecology of Breast Cancer: Opportunities for Prevention. Breast cancer is the most common cancer in women in the US. While a number of risk factors contribute to its incidence, one or two do not stand out nearly as strongly as the impact of tobacco smoking on lung cancer risk. Rather, dynamic interactions among multi-level variables, beginning early in life, create conditions out of which breast cancer emerges. This means that breast cancer is a systems problem requiring systems-level responses for prevention. (

July 2016 Science Bulletin: air pollution increases risk of mental health problems; why PFCs need a precautionary approach

July 13, 2016 at 4:17 pm | Posted in News and Science Bulletins | 1 Comment

July 2016 Science Bulletin

Air pollution, mental illness | Association between neighbourhood air pollution concentrations and dispensed medication for psychiatric disorders in a large longitudinal cohort of Swedish children and adolescents. There may be a link between exposure to air pollution and dispensed medications for certain psychiatric disorders in children and adolescents even at the relatively low levels of air pollution in the study regions.

Precautionary principle, PFCs | The precautionary principle and chemicals management: The example of perfluoroalkyl acids in groundwater. We argue that all PFASs entering groundwater, irrespective of their perfluoroalkyl chain length and bioaccumulation potential, will result in poorly reversible exposures and risks as well as further clean-up costs for society. To protect groundwater resources for future generations, society should consider a precautionary approach to chemicals management and prevent the use and release of highly persistent and mobile chemicals such as PFASs.

Flame retardants, thyroid function | Serum polybrominated diphenyl ether concentrations and thyroid function in young children. Compared with children in the lowest quartile of ∑PBDE exposure, children in higher quartiles had greater TSH concentrations as modeled on the log-scale (second quartile: β=0.32, 95% confidence interval (CI): -0.09, 0.74; third quartile: β=0.44, 95% CI: 0.04, 0.85; and fourth quartile: β=0.49, 95% CI: 0.09, 0.89). There was also a tendency toward lower total T4 and higher free T3 with increasing PBDE exposure. Results suggest that exposure to PBDEs during childhood subclinically disrupts thyroid hormone function, with impacts in the direction of hypothyroidism.

BPA, ADHD | Association of Bisphenol A exposure and Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder in a national sample of U.S. children. We found evidence that higher urinary BPA concentrations were associated with ADHD in U.S. children; these associations were stronger in boys than in girls. Considering the widespread use of BPA and growing literature on neurobehavioral effects of BPA in children, further study is warranted to determine if reducing exposure to BPA may represent an important avenue for ADHD prevention.

Phthalates, development | Maternal phthalate exposure during early pregnancy and at delivery in relation to gestational age and size at birth: A preliminary analysis. Maternal DEHP metabolite concentrations were significantly higher at delivery compared to the first trimester (p<0.05), suggesting increased DEHP exposure late in pregnancy. A number of phthalate metabolites were associated with birth size and gestational age in patterns that varied by sex and timing of exposure, independent of BPA exposure.

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