(Beyond Pesticides, November 18, 2010) Yesterday, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced that it has identified a list of 134 chemicals that will be screened for their potential to disrupt the endocrine system, along with a draft of the policies and procedures that the agency will follow for testing. Endocrine disruptors are chemicals that that interfere with the hormones produced or secreted by the human or animal endocrine system, which regulates development, metabolism, growth, and reproduction. These man-made chemicals are used in everyday materials but appearing in increasing levels throughout the environment.
For years, scientists have noted strange anomalies in fish and wildlife in locations where endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDCs) are found. A recent study found that an astounding 100 percent of small mouth bass in certain sites of the Potomac River basin have exhibited both male and female organs, a characteristic linked to EDCs. According to a 2009 study by the U.S. Geologic Survey, the occurrence of “intersex” fish is now found to be nationwide.
EPA is currently proceeding with endocrine disruptor screening on three fronts: 1) Developing and validating Tier 2 tests; 2) Selecting chemicals for screening and testing; and 3) Implementing the policies and procedures the agency will use to require screening.
EPA announced the initial list of chemicals to be screened for their potential effects on the endocrine system on April 15, 2009 and the first test orders were issued on October 29, 2009. The inadequacy of the current federal effort was highlighted when the EPA unveiled this first phase to determine the presence of endocrine disrupting chemicals under an initiative mandated by Congress in 1996. Despite more than a decade’s time, the tests were limited to only a handful of pesticides and based on science that many consider outdated. Testing will eventually be expanded to cover all pesticide chemicals. Now that screening is underway, EPA is reviewing test order responses and making available the status or test order responses and/or any decisions regarding testing requirements.
The list includes chemicals that have been identified as priorities under the Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA) and may be found in sources of drinking water where a substantial number of people are exposed. The list also includes pesticide active ingredients that are being evaluated under EPA’s registration review program to ensure they meet current scientific and regulatory standards. The data generated from the screens will provide robust and systematic scientific information to help EPA identify whether additional testing is necessary, or whether other steps are necessary to address potential endocrine disrupting chemicals.
The chemicals listed include those used in products such as solvents, gasoline, plastics, personal care products, pesticides, and pharmaceuticals, including benzene, perchlorate, urethane, ethylene glycol, and erythromycin.
“Endocrine disruptors represent a serious health concern for the American people, especially children. Americans today are exposed to more chemicals in our products, our environment and our bodies than ever before, and it is essential that EPA takes every step to gather information and prevent risks,” said EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson. “We are using the best available science to examine a larger list of chemicals and ensure that they are not contaminating the water we drink and exposing adults and children to potential harm.”
In 2009, Rep. Jim Moran (D-VA) and Senator John Kerry (D-MA) introduced The Endocrine Disruption Prevention Act of 2009 [H.R. 4190]. Congress to explore linkages between hormone disrupting chemicals in the environment and everyday products and the dramatic increase of autism, hyperactivity, diabetes, obesity, breast cancer, prostate cancer and other hormone related disorders. After the identification of endocrine disruptors, the bill, rquires federal agencies with regulatory authority to report to Congress on the action it plans to take.
For more information on Endocrine Disruptors, please see Beyond Pesticides’ Endorcrine Disruption brochure.
Take Action: EPA is accepting comments on their draft policies and procedures until January 16, 2011. All comments should be identified by docket identification (ID) no. EPA-HQ-OPPT-2007-1080. Comments can be submitted to http://www.regulations.gov, or mailed to Document Control Office (7407M), Office of Pollution Prevention and Toxics (OPPT), Environmental Protection Agency, 1200 Pennsylvania Ave., NW, Washington, DC 20460—0001.
After public comment and review, EPA will issue test orders to pesticide registrants and the manufacturers of these chemicals to compel them to generate data to determine whether their chemicals may disrupt the estrogen, androgen and thyroid pathways of the endocrine system.