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Endocrine Disrupting Chemical Program Released for Public Comment
(from March 17, 2003)

Three and half years after its Congressionally-mandated deadline, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is currently accepting public comments on draft guidelines for the Endocrine Disruptor Screening Program (EDSP), a program to test chemicals for endocrine disrupting potential. The comment period has been extended to April 1, 2003. In a controversial move, the agency has proposed to exclude from the first round investigation chemicals with a known or suspected ability to disrupt hormones in humans and animals. The agency will also not accept public input on which specific chemicals should be reviewed.

Endocrine disruptors are the synthetic chemicals and natural plant compounds that may affect the endocrine system (the communication system of glands, hormones and cellular receptors that control the body's internal functions). Many of these substances have been associated with developmental, reproductive and other health problems in wildlife and laboratory animals. Some experts suggest these compounds may affect humans in similar ways. Endocrine disruptors are often called by other names such as environmental estrogens, endocrine-modulators, ecoestrogens, environmental hormones, xenoestrogens and phytoestrogens.

EPA developed the EDSP in response to a Congressional mandate in the 1996 Food Quality Protection Act (FQPA), "to determine whether certain substances may have an effect in humans that is similar to an effect produced by a naturally occurring estrogen, or such other effects as [EPA] may designate" (21 U.S.C. 346a(p)). FQPA, Section 405, amended the Federal Food Drug and Cosmetic Act (FFDCA) to require two years after enactment the development of an endocrine screening program, and one year later the implementation of the program. To determine testing priority under the draft guidelines, EPA proposes to first evaluate test chemicals that have high "human exposure potential," rather then those known to have endocrine disrupting effects.

Endocrine disruptors are devastating chemicals that have serious consequences on human health. The EPA is taking comments on the proposed rule change until April 1, 2003. Environmentalists and public health advocates are asking the public to urge EPA to ensure that human and wildlife health are protected from the effects of endocrine disrupting pesticides and other chemicals. It is suggested that the following points are:

1) EPA must include effects related criteria along with human exposure criteria when selecting chemicals to be included in the Tier 1 (screening tests to determine potential endocrine disrupting effects) testing.
2) EPA must develop a timetable for the Tier 1 and Tier 2 (further testing to determine consequences to the organism of the activity observed in Tier 1) testing protocol. This process must move forward as quickly as possible while still considering stakeholder input.
3) EPA must consider nominations from the public for chemicals to be included in this initial and subsequent testing lists.

Comments on the draft guidelines for the Endocrine Disrupter Screening Program (EDSP) can be mailed or emailed to EPA.

By mail:
Document Control Office (7407M)
Office of Pollution Prevention and Toxics (OPPT)
Environmental Protection Agency
1200 Pennsylvania Ave., NW.
Washington, DC 20460-0001
Docket ID Number OPPT-2002-0066

By e-mail to:
oppt.ncic@epa.gov
Attention: Docket ID Number OPPT-2002-0066.