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Toxic chemical regulations

Scientists go to war with each other over toxicity of BPA

Tuesday, October 15, 2013 by: Ethan A. Huff, staff writer
Tags: toxic chemical regulations, endocrine disruptors, bisphenol A

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(NaturalNews) Now that the truth about the toxicity of endocrine-disrupting chemicals (EDCs) like bisphenol-A (BPA) is finally gaining real traction in mainstream scientific circles, scientists partial to the chemical industry are starting to lash out more aggressively against proposals to better regulate these ubiquitous poisons, not to mention against those making such proposals. And among those who support such regulatory reform are the more honest and progressive segments of the scientific community, which are now finding themselves embroiled in a scientific civil war that pits the inconvenient truth about EDCs against their status quo acceptance.

Documenting this escalating struggle over EDC safety is the peer-reviewed journal Nature, which as of late has been covering the issue extensively. A recent report by Nature's Daniel Cressey, for instance, explains how researchers in the fields of toxicology, endocrinology and food safety have been dueling it out following the leak of a European Commission (EC) proposal that aims to establish new guidelines for the regulation of EDCs in Europe.

Since existing European Union (EU) law does not cover this relatively new class of chemicals, EU officials, responding to the continued release of evidence showing that EDCs are harmful at all exposure levels, plan to implement a new EDC regulatory system by the year's end. But this has angered many scientists entrenched in the fictitious narrative that BPA and other EDCs are unquestionably safe, prompting some of them to publish scathing criticisms of these new EU proposals.

An editorial published in the journal Food and Chemical Toxicology back in July, for instance, decries the EC for relying on what it claims are "scientifically unfounded precautions" about EDCs, mainly an underlying agency concern that even low-level exposure to EDCs is dangerous. This editorial accuses the EC of basing its proposed regulatory framework on "virtually complete ignorance of all well-established and taught principles of pharmacology and toxicology," which includes what this same panel perceives as "irrelevant tests," i.e. in vitro and animal tests involving EDCs.

You can read this editorial in full at the following link:

Opposing better regulation of EDCs is a major 'disservice' to public health, says scientists

Not long after this editorial was published, however, another group of experts that includes highly regarded journal editors and scientists published a stinging rebuttal that highlights the copious and ever-growing body of evidence showing that EDCs are harmful to the environment, animals and humans. This rebuttal sharply rebukes the authors of the original editorial for engaging in "a profound disservice" to public health and urges them to reconsider their position based on a cohort of evidence obtained by the world's leading researchers and scientists.

"Thousands of published studies have revealed health effects of EDCs on wildlife and laboratory animals, and moreover, have shown associations of EDCs with effects in humans," explains the rebuttal, which was recently published in the journal Endocrinology. "The conclusions presented in each of these documents are extraordinarily consistent: Like hormones, EDCs are active at very low doses and can induce a range of adverse health outcomes, many of which are not examined in traditional toxicology assays."

"In sum, these reports point to the conclusion that EDCs pose a global health threat."

You can read this rebuttal in full at the following link:

EDCs like BPA act differently than traditional chemicals and thus require different regulations

The ill effects of EDCs are, indeed, well documented, which makes any contradiction to their proper regulation curiously suspect. What, exactly, is the motivation behind opposing the improved regulation of a chemical class that has been definitively linked to causing cancer, for instance, or developmental toxicity in unborn babies and children? Fetal exposure to BPA, it should be noted, has now reached full saturation according to the latest statistics, which means that 100 percent of unborn children are now exposed to this deadly chemical.

Not only is the more conventional wing of science opposed to the better regulation of BPA and other known EDCs, but it is also opposed to requirements that would force chemical companies to first verify the safety of new chemicals before gaining their approval. Daniel Dietrich, head of the environmental toxicology research group at the University of Konstanz in Germany and primary author of the original editorial opposing regulation of BPA, actually came out recently and said that forcing companies to show that their chemical are not EDCs is a "ludicrous" idea.

According to Dietrich and his like-minded colleagues, EDCs like BPA are no big deal and are perfectly safe at current exposure levels. But emerging science says otherwise, and an increasing number of progressive scientists now admit that EDCs have significant "low-dose effects," which means the classic linear relationship between dose and response does not apply to how they function within the body.

"We're seeing that for every one of these compounds [EDCs] we test, there will be a non-monotonic response -- every one!" says Frederick vom Saal, a neurobiologist at the University of Missouri - Columbia who has been warning about the unique dangers associated with EDCs since the 1970s. A non-monotonic response is one that does not follow the typical dose-response pattern for traditional chemicals. "Low doses of endocrine disruptors act in ways that are totally unpredicted by the traditional approaches of toxicology."

For a more complete explanation of the variant toxicology standards for EDCs, visit:

Low-dose exposure to EDCs threatens public health; precautionary approach required

So what we have, then, is a vicious power struggle between "old school" scientists who insist on clinging to outmoded ideals about how all chemicals work, at least in their own minds, and forward-thinking scientists who are willing to abandon their pride and admit that what was previously believed to be true about all chemicals is not necessarily true for EDCs like BPA.

At the very least, there is no definitive safety threshold for EDCs, as these pervasive chemicals act in ways that modern science does not fully understand and cannot fully explain. Because of this, it is only reasonable that government authorities take a precautionary approach to their use in the interests of protecting public health, which is exactly what the EC is trying to accomplish by establishing new EDC regulatory standards. And the U.S. would do well to follow the EC's lead by establishing its own updated regulatory standards as well.

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