PCBs Are EDCs - Endocrine
Disrupting Chemicals


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 beyond cancer.
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 them fat.
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 depth.
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 products.
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 but sad.
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 and girls.
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 children.
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.
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 book:
Pandora's Poison: Chlorine, Health, and a New Environmental Strategy By Joe Thornton MIT Press; ISBN: 0262700840; Reprint edition (April 1, 2001)
40 million tons of chlorine are produced every year world wide.
...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. 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. 103-5535587-6098215?v=glance&vi=reader&img=1#reader-link
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 factor).
"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 same range."
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!) - remember that:
"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) -1/ref=sr_1_1/103-5535587-6098215?v=glance
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!
" 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 their emissions."
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




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