Danish Scientific Study Calls for Regulation of Chemical Estrogens

Danish Scientific Study Concludes Chemical Estrogens Causing Decreased Fertility and Maculinity

Chemicals found in Household Product contain Chemical Estrogens

Two-year-old children are being exposed to dangerous levels of hormone-disrupting chemicals in domestic products such as rubber clogs and sun creams, according to an EU investigation being studied by the government.

The 327-page report says that while risks from "anti-androgen" and "oestrogen-like" substances in individual items have been recognised, the cumulative impact of such chemicals, particularly on boys, is being ignored.

The EU's environment council of ministers is due to agree on a regulatory approach to the use of so-called "gender-bender" compounds before Christmas. On Monday, EU officials will try to work out a strategy for creating risk assessments of products causing concerns. Environmental campaigners fear controls will favour industry and not be sufficiently robust.

Phthalates, one of the main anti-androgen chemicals, which are used as softeners in soap, rubber shoes, bath mats and soft toys, have been blamed for blocking the action of testosterone in the womb and are alleged to cause low sperm counts, high rates of testicular cancer and malformations of the sexual organs.

Research has suggested that male foetuses around 8-12 weeks after conception can be effectively demasculinised by exposure to such chemicals.

The report presented to the environment council and passed on to the Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) comes from Denmark, which has experienced a significant increase in the rates of testicular cancer.

The warnings are backed by the Chem (Chemicals Health and Environment Monitoring) Trust, a UK charity which has taken over campaigning work on toxic chemicals from the WWF (World Wildlife Fund).

The Danish study, Survey and Health Assessment of the exposure of two-year-olds to chemical substances in consumer products, concludes: "A few exposures to a high content of an endocrine-disruptor, such as that of [the phthalate] DBP in rubber clogs may result in a critical risk for the two-year-old.

"...The amounts that two-year-olds absorb from the [preservative] parabens propylparaben and butylparaben can constitute a risk for oestrogen-like disruptions of the endocrine system. This contribution originates predominantly from cosmetic products such as oil-based creams, moisturising creams, lotions and sunscreen.

"Not only is there a need to reduce exposure to anti-androgens and oestrogen-like substances from food products, indoor air and dust, but also to reduce exposure to [domestic] products, as these contribute to both indoor air and dust and to direct exposure.

"There is also a need to reduce possible contributions from other sources, such as propyl-, butyl- and isobutyl paraben in cosmetics, and phthalates in footwear (such as light-weight sandals and rubber boots)."

Gwynne Lyons, director of Chem Trust, said she feared the recommendations would not be heeded. "There are worries that Poland and the UK are more focused on protecting industry. Without public pressure, these countries will only agree to wording that sounds good, but actually falls short of ensuring that regulation is based on total exposure to, for example, so-called gender-bender chemicals.

"Both the public and wildlife are inadequately protected from harm, as regulation is based on looking at exposure to each substance in isolation, and yet it is now proven beyond doubt that hormone disrupting chemicals can act together to cause effects even when each by itself would not."

Defra said: "Public safety is the government's priority, and we will be reading the Danish report with interest. The potential for "cocktail effects" from different chemicals should not be ignored, and we support the European Union's Environment Council's upcoming work on regulating combinations of chemicals."

The government's Interdepartmental Group on Health Risks from Chemicals has recently published a report offering a framework for assessing the risks of mixtures to human health. It suggested that cumulative risk assessment should not be the only way of approaching "cocktail effects".

Hormone disrupting chemicals in household products

Phthalates are used in the manufacture of rubber clogs, rubber boots, soap packaging, products made from PVC, bath mats and soft toys. They are also found in food products as a result of environmental pollution, according to the Danish study.

Oestrogen-like substances, including chemicals known as parabens, occur in cosmetics, sun creams and moisturising lotions.

Pesticides, such as DDT, dioxins and PCBs, are also known hormone-disruptors.

Young Men Less Fertile, More Likely to Play with Dolls

Here's something rather rotten from the State of Denmark. Its government yesterday unveiled official research showing that two-year-old children are at risk from a bewildering array of gender-bending chemicals in such everyday items as waterproof clothes, rubber boots, bed linen, food, nappies, sunscreen lotion and moisturising cream.

The 326-page report, published by the environment protection agency, is the latest piece in an increasingly alarming jigsaw. A picture is emerging of ubiquitous chemical contamination driving down sperm counts and feminising male children all over the developed world. And anti-pollution measures and regulations are falling far short of getting to grips with it.

Sperm counts are falling so fast that young men are less fertile than their fathers and produce only a third as much, proportionately, as hamsters. And gender-bending chemicals are increasingly being blamed for the mystery of the "lost boys": babies who should normally be male who have been born as girls instead.

The Danish government set out to find out how much contamination from gender-bending chemicals a two-year-old child was exposed to every day. It concluded that a child could be "at critical risk" from just a few exposures to high levels of the substances, such as from rubber clogs, and imperilled by the amount it absorbed from sources ranging from food to sunscreens.

The results build on earlier studies showing that British children have higher levels of gender-bending chemicals in their blood than their parents or grandparents. Indeed WWF (formerly the World Wildlife Fund), which commissioned the older research, warned that the chemicals were so widespread that "there is very little, if anything, individuals can do to prevent contamination of themselves and their families." Prominent among them are dioxins, PVC, flame retardants, phthalates (extensively used to soften plastics) and the now largely banned PCBs, one and a half million tons of which were used in countless products from paints to electrical equipment.

Young boys, like those in the Danish study, could end up producing less sperm and developing feminised behaviour. Research at Rotterdam's Erasmus University found that boys whose mothers were exposed to PCBs and dioxins were more likely to play with dolls and tea sets and dress up in female clothes.

And it is in the womb that babies are most vulnerable; a study of umbilical cords from British mothers found that every one contained hazardous chemicals. Scientists at the University of Rochester in New York discovered that boys born to women exposed to phthalates had smaller penises and other feminisation of the genitals.

The contamination may also offer a clue to a mysterious shift in the sex of babies. Normally 106 boys are born for every 100 girls: it is thought to be nature's way of making up for the fact that men were more likely to be killed hunting or in conflict. But the proportion of females is rising, so much so that some 250,000 babies who statistically should have been boys have ended up as girls in Japan and the United States alone. In Britain, the discrepancy amounts to thousands of babies a year.

A Canadian Indian community living on ancestral lands at the eastern tip of Lake Huron, hemmed in by one of the biggest agglomerations of chemical factories on earth, gives birth to twice as many girls as boys. It's the same around Seveso in Italy, contaminated with dioxins from a notorious accident in the 1970s, and among Russian pesticide workers. And there's more evidence from places as far apart as Israel and Taiwan, Brazil and the Arctic.

Yet gender-benders are largely exempt from new EU regulations controlling hazardous chemicals. Britain, then under Tony Blair's premiership, was largely responsible for this – restricting their inclusion in the first draft of the legislation, and then causing even what was included to be watered down.Confidential documents show that it did so after pressure from George W Bush's administration, which protested that US exports "could be impacted".

Now the Danish government is planning to lobby to have the rules toughened up. It is particularly concerned by other studies which show that gender-bending chemicals acting together have far worse effects than the expected sum of their individual impacts. It wants this to be reflected in the regulations, citing its discovery of the many sources to which the two-year-olds are exposed – modern slings and arrows, as it were, of outrageous fortune.

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