Marion Nestle of Food Politics and Nicholas Kristof of the NY Times both report on a presidential panel’s advice on avoiding endocrine disrupters. As Nestle reports, there is some controversy about it, but I say the more controversy the better, as long as it gets people talking about all this. Here’s a sample piece of advice from the presidential panel:
Ideally, both mothers and fathers should avoid exposure to endocrine-disrupting chemicals.
So, we should avoid most shampoos, soaps, deodorants, factory-based meat, non-organic produce, um… let’s see, what else… The very fact that our government has actually noticed this now indicates just how serious the matter has become.
May 13, 2010 at 9:37 am
There is much to be said and learned about endocrine disruptors in water and the Water Environment Federation commends you for this brief but important post. My not-for-profit water professionals organization calls them Microconstituents as an umbrella term for pharmaceuticals and personal care products in water.
It is true modern science has produced innumerable products and medicines that have improved the quality and longevity of our lives and afforded many conveniences that we have come to take for granted. There are approximately 82,000 chemical compounds in commerce today and some of these are employed to produce these benefits. Not surprisingly, virtually all compounds used by humankind find their way into the earth’s air, water or soil. This is not a new phenomenon. What is new is that our analytical testing methods are more and more sensitive — so sensitive that we can now detect the presence of compounds at very minute levels.
Continually refined analytical methods are providing improved insight into the sources, transport and disposition of these substances. The positive and potentially negative affect these compounds have on human beings and other organisms varies depending upon the nature of the compounds and type of exposure as well as factors such as concentration, dose or quantity and duration of exposure. To illustrate this point one can observe that pure water can be fatal if consumed in too great a quantity over too short of time period while other materials can pose unacceptable risks at very low concentrations.
Considerable study therefore precedes the introduction of new products or compounds. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) have primary regulatory authority over the development, use and ultimate fate of these man-made compounds. There are also ongoing local, state, federal, academic and research association study efforts regarding their effects on aquatic life and human health. Such information and analysis is of value in shaping continuously evolving regulation of these materials’ manufacture, use and disposal.
Existing water and wastewater treatment processes significantly reduce the levels of such substances and to date state and federal regulatory authorities have not found cause to require further reductions. It is prudent and responsible, however, that local, state and federal agencies continue cooperative efforts to carefully monitor the presence and effects of such compounds.
The Water Environment Federation (WEF) is not a research organization, but a not-for-profit professional association, and we are committed to facilitating information about the water environment and wastewater treatment. http://www.wef.org. We hope to aid public and membership discourse on this highly technical subject. We also hope to acknowledge and support continuing efforts to safeguard the public and our environment against unacceptable impacts from these and other materials that find their way into the nations waters through conscientious monitoring and assessment.
Much research has been done; much more is in the works. For now, we can all do our part to protect our precious water resources on a daily basis. Clean water is everyone’s right, and also everyone’s responsibility.
Water Environment Federation
May 13, 2010 at 9:50 am
Wow, that was quite a response. Thanks.