- Exceprted from 'Our Stolen Future'
- By Theo Colborn, Diane Dumanoski, & John Peterson
Myers Published by Plume/Penguin
- For a long time now we have been aware that the toxic
chemicals which pervade our environment increase our cancer risk. But recent
studies have shown that toxic chemicals known as EDCs - "endocrine
disrupting chemicals" - have a wide range of serious health effects
- Younger males have lower sperm counts: Four studies to
date show a precipitous drop in human male sperm counts in recent decades.
The younger the males, those born in the 1970's, have lower sperm counts
because they - and their mothers - have been exposed to the EDCs longer
than those who were born in the 40's or 50's.
- Damage the immune system and the brain: Hormone disrupting
chemicals act broadly and insidiously to sabotage fertility and fetal development,
they also damage the immune system and the brain.
- EDCs can jeopardize the survival of an entire species
- perhaps in the long run, even humans.
- EDCs go into the blood stream and mimic estrogen. They
do not kill cells or attack DNA. They target hormones. Hormones control
the expression of the genes in the genetic blue print an individual inherits
from its parents. Theo Colborn describes them as "thugs" on the
biological information highway that sabotage vital communication. They
mug messengers or impersonate them. They jam signals. They scramble messages.
They sow disinformation.
- Hormone disrupting chemicals can diminish you without
making you sick. Having a poor short term memory or difficulty paying attention
because of exposure to PCBs is very different from having a brain tumor.
But memory loss and the inability to pay attention undermine and erode
your creative potential, your quality of life, and alter the ways in which
humans interact with one another.
- Stored in fat... Many EDCs travel throughout the food
web in fat and become more concentrated as they move upward to the top
predators such as polar bears and man. EDCs are found all over the planet,
even in the fat of Arctic polar bears. They mimic estrogen... To date researchers
have identified at least 51 synthetic chemicals - many of them ubiquitous
in the environment - that disrupt the hormone system in one way or another.
Some mimic estrogen like DES - a "wonder drug" used from 1938
on to treat pregnant women, to prevent miscarriages and premature births;
to alleviate menopausal symptoms; to treat acne, prostate cancer, and even
stunt the growth of teenage girls who were becoming "unfashionably"
tall. DES was freely added to animal feed to speed their growth and make
- Other chemicals interfere with other parts of the hormonal
system, such as testosterone and thyroid metabolism.
- EDCs include large chemical families such as the 209
compounds classified as PCBs, the 75 dioxins, and the 135 furans. Only
3 of the 51 chemicals - DDT, PCBs, and dioxin - have been studied in any
- Recent studies show that EDCs are effecting fertility,
learning ability, aggression, and even parenting and mating behavior. To
what extent have scrambled hormonal messages contributed to what we see
happening around us?
- * The reproductive problems of family and friends.
* The rash of learning problems showing up in our schools. * The
disintegration of the family and the neglect and abuse of children. *
The increasing violence in our society.
- Remember the youngest men show the lowest sperm counts
and the greatest number of malformed sperm.
- Cancer rates are increasing in children. In countries
such as India, pesticides like DDT-now banned in the US-make up at least
60% of pesticides used and their use is still increasing.
- Plastics are not as inert as was commonly assumed and
some of the chemicals leaching from plastics are hormonally active. Because
of manufacturers' claims of trade secrets, there is no way to know the
chemical composition of any given plastic container or to judge how much
of the plastic in use might be shedding hormone disrupting chemicals. Scientists
warn that EDC's might also lurk in cosmetics, shampoos, and other common
- A chemical assault on children...
- The authors of OUR STOLEN FUTURE go on to say: ...we
should consider chemical contamination as a factor contributing to the
increase prevalence of dysfunctional behavior in human society as well.
- Some might find irony in the prospect that humans in
their restless quest for dominance over nature may be inadvertently undermining
their own ability to reproduce, or to learn and think. They may see poetic
justice in the possiblity that we have become the unwitting guinea pigs
in our own vast experiment with synthetic chemicals.
- But in the end, it is hard to regard such a chemical
assault on our children and their potential for a full life as anything
- Chemicals that disrupt hormone messages have the power
to rob us of rich possibilities that have been the legacy of our species
and, indeed, the essence of humanity.
- There may be fates worse than extinction!
- Gender-Bending Risk To Children
- By Geoffrey Lean Environmental Editor October 20, 2002
- Minute amounts of ''gender bender'' chemicals found in
food and the environment are affecting the behaviour of pre-school children,
new research shows.
- The Environment minister Michael Meacher said yesterday
the research was very disturbing and he would ask his officials to "urgently''
examine its implications tomorrow morning.
- The study - carried out by doctors and scientists at
the Erasmus University in Rotterdam - is the first in the world to show
that normal levels of the chemicals affect humans. It follows a host of
studies showing that gender-benders can turn wildlife species, from gulls
and alligators to fish and turtles, into hermaphrodites. In the case of
the children in the study, the chemicals caused girls to play with guns
and pretend to be soldiers, and boys to play with dolls and tea sets and
dress up in female clothes.
- The research, published in the scientific journal Environmental
Health Perspectives, is part of a long-term study into the effects of PCBs
and dioxins on children. The researchers measured levels of the chemicals
in the blood of 207 mothers in their final month of pregnancy, in umbilical
blood at birth, and in breast milk two weeks after birth, to determine
exposure in the womb.
- They later asked the parents of the children, now aged
seven, to record their patterns of play.
- The girls exposed to higher levels of PCBs were more
likely to engage in masculine play, while similarly exposed boys were more
likely to enjoy feminine play. Dioxins produced more feminine play in boys
- The most disturbing aspect of the study is that the mothers
were exposed to routine amounts of the chemicals - probably from eating
normal food, experts believe. Previous studies have found that the chemicals
damage the immune systems, neurological development and intelligence of
- Nearly one and a half million tons of PCBs have been
spread around the world in materials such as paint and plastic. They have
been banned in industrialised countries but persist in the environment
and in body fat. Dioxins and PCBs both contaminate food at low levels.
- ...catastrophic the ubiquitous spread of organochlorines
and other toxic chemicals into our water, air, and food is for the future
of the entire planet.
- ORGANOCHLORIDES NOW CONTAMINATE EVERY INCH OF THE PLANET!
- If you are wondering why you haven't heard much about
this deadly phenomena since the book "Our Stolen Future" was
published, then understand that since 1994 the Chlorine Chemical Council
(CCC) has been spending about $130 million per year to protect the industry.
- The following information is taken from the excellent
- Pandora's Poison: Chlorine, Health, and a New Environmental
Strategy By Joe Thornton MIT Press; ISBN: 0262700840; Reprint edition (April
- 40 million tons of chlorine are produced every year world
- ...virtually all organochlorines examined to date cause
one or more of a wide variety of adverse effects on essential biological
processes, including development, reproduction, brain function, and immunity.
- Some...at extraordinarily low doses...organochlorines
disrupt biological processes at the most fundamental levels.
- Some are potent mutagens, undermining the integrity of
the genetic messages in our DNA...others...block communication between
cells or interfere with the control of gene expression.
- Reduce sperm counts
- Disrupt female reproductive cycles
- Cause endometriosis
- Induce spontaneous abortion
- Alter sexual behavior
- Cause birth defects
- Impair the development and function of the brain
- Reduce cognitive ability
- Interfere with the controlled development and growth
of body tissues
- Cause cancer
- Compromise immunity
- If we stopped all further pollution today, these compounds
would remain in the environment, the food web, our tissues and those of
future generations for centuries.
- Still eating fish as a 'healthy' alternative to meat
products? Nothing like some fresh salmon caught in a mountain stream -
just down from a dioxin spewing pulp mill in the Pacific Northwest....
- Yes, I'm at it again.
- "Many organochlorides love fat: fish fat...TCDD
accumulates in the tissues of fish to levels 159,000 times greater that
that in the water in which the fish swims (a figure known as a bioconcentration
- "Bioconcentration factors for other dioxins, polychlorinated
dibenzofurans ("furans" for short), PCBs, hexachlorobenzene,
and octachlor-ostyrene are all 10,000 or more. Many chlorinated pesticides,
including DDT, chlordane, and mirex, have bioconcentration factors in the
- These persistent molecules migrate up out of the environment
through the air that we breath, the food that we eat, and the water we
drink to "take up residence in the fatty tissues of our body, never
to let go."
- This means we carry these chemicals in our fat all our
lives and the bioaccumulation continues to build as we age. Men have no
way of getting rid of these poisons; on the other hand, a woman have the
ability to pass them out of their bodies to their new born infants through
her breast milk at levels totally intolerable to its development.
- Ever wonder why the whales are beaching themselves to
die? Seals, dolphins, whales, even Orcas, all have concentrations of organochlorines
thought high enough to cause health effects.
- When you burn these chemicals in order to get rid of
them, they simply go up into the air, move around the planet, and find
new resting places. "Chlorinated pollutants in air and precipitation
are a particular danger to forests. Trees breathe: leaves and needles constantly
exchange gases and vapor with the atmosphere." Could this be the source
of the Sudden Oak Death now threatening the forests on the west coast?
- Next time you reach for that 'healthy' salmon or tuna
sandwich - not to mention meats which have been doused with antibiotics
and hormones designed to put fat on the poor animal (think organic!) -
- "Analyses of human fat, mother's milk, blood, semen,
and urine demonstrate that absolutely EVERYONE - not just people living
near major pollution sources - now carries a 'body burden' of toxic organochlorines
in his or her body."
- OK, I realize that there is no way to totally stop ingesting
organochlorines - but you can make choices that are "less" toxic,
for your own sake, for your life. Organic food may be more expensive, but
so is cancer.
- All quotes are taken from: Pandora's Poison: Chlorine,
Health, and a New Environmental Strategy By Joe Thornton MIT Press; ISBN:
0262700840; Reprint edition (April 1, 2001)
- Are you Eating TOXIC FISH? Based on an article written
by Becky Gillette in the July/August 1998 E, The Environmental Magazine.
- Do you eat fish believing it is a healthy choice? E,
The Environmental Magazine, sheds some light on "toxic fish."
Recent research shows that seafood and freshwater fish can contain dangerous
levels of mercury, PBCs and dioxins! Yum!
- "...as little as half a can of tuna per day contains
enough mercury to be harmful to developing fetuses, infants and young children...The
fish are often contaminated by emissions from coal fired power plants,
incinerators and other industrial facilities that end up in the water,
where mercury turns into its organic form, methylmercury, and accumulates
in fish tissue."
- "...there are 1,600 places where people can't fish
out of their local waters safely."
- Do you ever dream of the ol' fishing hole? According
to this article, there were 1,600 fish advisories in 1996 alone.
- Pregnant women and children are the most at risk!
- Jackie Savitz, the executive director of Coast Alliance,
a coalition of 300 environmental groups across the country, says that pregnant
women are most at risk because mercury consumption can cross the placenta
and effect the developing fetus. Children's nervous systems are just developing
and are much more sensitive to toxic exposure.
- "Most people probably know a child who didn't develop
neurologically as quickly as he or she should have. Delayed neurological
development is actually the result that would be caused by mercury poisoning."
- An annual release of about 158 tons of mercury The article
goes on to say that coal-fired power plants represent an estimated 33 percent
of mercury emissions; while "municipal, industrial, and medical waste
incinerators contribute another 29 percent to the annual release of about
158 tons of mercury."
- A policy associate with the Environmental Law and Policy
Center says, "...there are no requirements for power plants to cut
- PCBs and Dioxins Along with delicious mercury, you can
find PCBs and dioxins in fish. According to Dr. Amy Kyle, "All three
compounds have harmful effects on developing fetuses and infants, and are
passed from mother to child both through the placenta and breast feeding."
- Dr. Kyle was the principle author and researcher of Contaminated
Catch: The Public Health Threat from Toxics in Fish, published by the Natural
Resources Defense Council.
- "Methylmercury is a potent neurotoxin that affects
the nervous system and brain development," Kyle says. "PCBs affect
the mental and physical development of children and are thought to cause
cancer. Dioxins have reproductive, developmental, and immune system effects
and are one of the most potent carcinogens ever tested on animals."
- Apparently, the Great Lakes are highly impacted, but
mercury also tends to accumulate in reservoir fish. Naturally the fishing
industry isn't thrilled by these findings. People have been switching to
fish to find a healthier source of protein. But according to this article,
"fish are also the most significant source of mercury and PCBs that
people absorb into their bodies.
- Tuna in a can is considered the biggest risk because
it is widely consumed
- Dr. Kyle: "The contaminants found in fish have been
linked to a number of long-term health effects, including problems with
the reproductive system, development, intelligence, and the balance of
hormones in our bodies. Several toxic compounds cause cancer. Some damage
the immune system so that it is less capable of fighting off disease. Others
affect the nervous system."
- Toxins in fish can also poison other wildlife and birds;
toxins are accumulating in our environment. I can understand why the fishing
industry is wary of these reports; but in the end, I believe they will
pressure the sources of these toxins for both the health of their businesses
and their children.
- Smaller is better; the bigger fish, like swordfish or
tuna have eaten lots of little toxic fish.
- How about aquaculture? Do you feel safe when you eat
'farm raised' fish? E Magazine: "Airborne mercury deposited streams
and rivers can also land on a fish farm pond. And there are other concerns
about aquaculture, such as the use of antibiotics and other feed additives
at fish farms."
- In the amazing book, Our Stolen Future, Theo Colburn
also connects these ubiquitous toxins to the loss of memory.
- Here's some resources: Natural Resources Defense Council
40 West 20th St. New York, NY 10011