Streams

Please Explain: Endocrine Disruptors and Human Health

Friday, February 22, 2013

There’s growing concern that endocrine disrupting chemicals have been linked to health problems in humans, and this month a report issued by the World Health Organization and the United Nations Environment Programme called these chemicals a "global threat" that should be addressed. Heather Patisaul, Associate Professor, Department of Biology, North Carolina State University, and Urvashi Rangan, director of the Consumer Safety and Sustainability Group at Consumer Reports, explain what endocrine disruptors—like BPA, phthalates, some pesticides and fire retardants—are, where they’re found, and how they affect human development and health.

Guests:

Heather Patisaul and Urvashi Rangan,
News, weather, Radiolab, Brian Lehrer and more.
Get the best of WNYC in your inbox, every morning.

Comments [28]

thatgirl

You assume far to much, Anne from Westport; tant pis pour vous.

Why not produce a data reference with all that clever satire? Then cross-reference for inate/spontaneous/ fertility versus "aided fertility." If the U.S. still "wins" for the inate sort (doubtful), consider the fact that the ability to conceive is irrelevant when the overall health of the infant and mother is so threatened by those indocrine-disrupting chemicals the program is discussing.

Feb. 22 2013 02:31 PM
Julie from Long island

I heard a comment on the show about a USDA website that lists phytoestrogen containing products and their effects. I can't find it online. Can we possibly get a link for that please?

Feb. 22 2013 02:20 PM
Anne encore from Westport, CT

thatgirl, I am referring to FERTILITY rate. I was being VERY satirical in suggesting that the poor American eating habits had any link with its high fertility rate. We are still a young country with a large immigrant presence.
Since you are (presumably) a young woman in Manhattan, I will spare you further since you probably know little about birth or fertility...

Feb. 22 2013 01:58 PM
Lucia from West 21st

Thank you for taking my call.

I HAD been hearing about the onset of early puberty and just a passing glance at today's elementary schoolchildren attests to the changes.

Here's hoping that our food decisions -- both at the macro and micro level -- are motivated by health and not by money.

Excellent segment, comme toujours.

Feb. 22 2013 01:53 PM
anonyme

http://www.westonaprice.org/soy-alert

I don't buy anything from any big multinational but that's no guarantee

Cancer is endemic

Link? Causal association? I would avoid as much as possible!

We need to stand up for ourselves! How do these people sleep at night?

Feb. 22 2013 01:51 PM
al from nyc

Male Breast Reduction surgeries up 2000 percent

Feb. 22 2013 01:51 PM
Amy from Manhattan

Oh, yeah, & the "phth" combination in "phthalate" is from Greek (the letters phi & theta).

Feb. 22 2013 01:48 PM
JFreely from NYC

Please answer that caller who asked about MILK CARTONS -- they only answered her question about cans!!

Feb. 22 2013 01:47 PM
thatgirl from manhattan

Anne in Westport - Seriously? You're talking about BIRTHrate, not FERTILITY rate--there's a huge difference! Ugh. Reading is fundamental.

Feb. 22 2013 01:46 PM
Peg

Cat food lady - don't feed from cans. Buy dry cat food and wet to proper consistency if your cat can't chew the dry kibbles. PS dry kibbles are good for keeping pets teeth in good condition. You don't need to always feed from a can.

Feb. 22 2013 01:46 PM
Stephanie

Can they discuss the link between hypospadias and endocrine disrupters.

Feb. 22 2013 01:45 PM
joshlev

Cancer takes 20 years to grow -- aren't a lot of pet animals totally exempt from many substances which cause cancer in humans -- and isn't that factored into the making of pet products?

Feb. 22 2013 01:43 PM
Anne in Westport from En France

How ironic! The industrialised nation with the highest fertility rate (the US) allows chemicals that are harmful to reproduction. Meanwhile the industrialised nationas with the lowest fertility rate (the Eurozone) have banned those substances. If I were an alien visiting the world, it would be hard to look at the taller, haler, younger American population and not think 'Huh, they must be doing something right!' Even though Europe is the one following the right path. Btw, I am writing from Bordeaux, France.

Feb. 22 2013 01:41 PM
Amy from Manhattan

Are the same chemicals more easily transmitted into human (& other animal) systems from some objects or substances (the guests mentioned backpacks, bottles, cosmetics, & furniture) than others?

Feb. 22 2013 01:40 PM
thatgirl from manhattan

Nydia - Why?? Because the petroleum and chemicals lobby have million$ more than, say the Environmental Working Group (whose database of endocrine-disrupting products is excellent, btw).

Kathryn - No. It never leaves the body completely, which is why tested mothers milk has been found to be incredibly high in plastic content.

Fermented, organic-source soy products are safe, but in moderation. Most baby formulas and soy milk products in the U.S. are being made from GMO-source soybeans.

Feb. 22 2013 01:39 PM
superf88

Where do these folks shop and how do they personally avoid endocrine disrupters, esp. in personal care products, supermarket foods and meat, etc.?

Also, do we eat pesticides when we eat meat, since the cows ate the treated grain? If so, is this a factor not to be overlooked, and is it in organic meats as well?

Finally -- how do we try to encourage our legislators to switch the rule to "prove safe before it hits the market"?

Feb. 22 2013 01:38 PM
Jf from Reality, dystopia

Just another example of how corporations are destroying and poisoning everything and everyone on earth. Maybee since they discovered bpa in the 30s, its just part of their marketing plan with planned obsolescence use estrogyne to make people anxious, and obese, with self loathing and depression, shopping can remedy.
They are dictatorships this is treason

Feb. 22 2013 01:33 PM
andy from manhattan

The reason that the "1" is included in phone numbers is so that everyone who hears can reach you - "1" is the country code for the USA. It seems we remain No1 in at least one way.

Feb. 22 2013 01:32 PM

Number of synthetic chemicals registered with the American Chemical Society: over 50,000,000.

Number regulated by the US government: less than 50,000

Chemical manufacturers are allowed to self-certify safety.

Any chemical that is not intentionally included in the ingredients of food (e.g., one used in the cleaning of machines used in manufacture) need not be listed as an ingredient. So we really don't know the complete list of ingredients of a processed food even when we are given the list of ingredients.

Feb. 22 2013 01:25 PM
Joel

Are they saying the BPA causes homosexuality in fetuses?

Feb. 22 2013 01:23 PM
thatgirl from manhattan

Until consumers take a stand against the so-called "convenience" of plastic-wrapped, prepared and fast foods, P&G-grade personal care products, and making the car king, their systems will be ever more loaded with endocrine-disrupting petroleum products.

Feb. 22 2013 01:17 PM
Liz

Same question as above---my daughter is allergic to milk and so drinks 14-16oz soy/day, per her pediatrician's instruction. Should I be concerned about soy milk as an endrogen disupter?

Feb. 22 2013 01:16 PM
Kathryn from Brooklyn

2 quick questions.

Does BPA leave the body eventually if not consumed through food?

Feb. 22 2013 01:16 PM
Nydia Leaf from Upper Westside NYC

WHY DOES THIS INFO TAKE SO LONG TO BECOME PUBLIC?? In 1997 Theo Colborn, author of OUR STOLEN FUTURE, warned of these chemicals. She told me I should make sure my granddaughter - then an infant - should drink milk only from glass bottles. My daughter followed her advice although glass bottles for infants were disappearing from the market and it wasn't easy to follow Dr. Colborn's advice.

What takes so long???
Thank you!

Feb. 22 2013 01:15 PM

Would be interesting to hear about differing policy approaches on these chemicals. The US has long taken the line chemicals are assumed safe until proven otherwise. Europe, by contrast, has required that manufacturers demonstrate safety. So BPA has been banned in Europe for some time. The US got around to addressing BPA only last year, when the FDA banned it in baby bottles and sippy cups, but not elsewhere.

Feb. 22 2013 01:14 PM
Dan from Fair Lawn (NJ)

What about feeding soy products to children? I've heard soy is a hormone disruptor.

Feb. 22 2013 01:13 PM
mary from Connecticut

What about soy?

Feb. 22 2013 01:12 PM
Peg

Humans will continue to BELCH poisons every which way we can, because we have not assigned a value to all these poisons - "Nature will just clean up after us, (I guess) is the notion."

Until we put a real negative $$ value on poisonous emissions, we will live in our own s**t.

Feb. 22 2013 12:17 PM

Leave a Comment

Register for your own account so you can vote on comments, save your favorites, and more. Learn more.
Please stay on topic, be civil, and be brief.
Email addresses are never displayed, but they are required to confirm your comments. Names are displayed with all comments. We reserve the right to edit any comments posted on this site. Please read the Comment Guidelines before posting. By leaving a comment, you agree to New York Public Radio's Privacy Policy and Terms Of Use.