The United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) has released a disturbing report on the prevalence of Endocrine Disrupting Chemicals (EDCs); which it says are found in many household products.
The endocrine system is the system of glands that secrete different types of hormones directly into the bloodstream.
EDC’s are believed to contribute to testicular issues, breast cancer, prostate cancer, developmental effects on the nervous system in children, attention deficit disorder and hyperactivity in children, plus thyroid cancer.
But it’s not just humans that these chemicals affect. It’s believed Endocrine Disrupting Chemicals are affecting some deer populations in Alaska and contributing to population declines in species such as otters and sea lions. Where there are bans and restrictions on the use of EDCs, the efforts have been associated with the recovery of wildlife populations and a reduction in health problems.
The report says an increasing number of chemicals have been shown to interfere with the hormonal and immune systems of wildlife species, but most of these chemicals are not monitored in ecosystems.
We’re exposed to these chemicals every day – in the food we eat, the soil, water and air.
In the last 70 years or so, new compounds have been developed at an alarming rate and without sufficient research as to their effects.
While nearly 800 chemicals are known or suspected to be capable of interfering with endocrine systems, the vast majority of chemicals in current commercial
use have not been tested at all.
“As science continues to advance, it is time for both management of endocrine disrupting chemicals and further research on exposure and effects of these chemicals in wildlife and humans,” says Professor Åke Bergman of Stockholm University and Chief Editor of the report.
While sometimes we can be a bit blasé about the effects the potions and powders we make and use have on the environment; the threat of cancer of the nads should make a few more blokes sit up and take notice (certainly caught my attention) as will the threat of breast cancer for women.
But probably the most chilling statement in the report summary – for me anyway – was this single sentence.
“There are no longer any pristine areas without environmental pollutants.”
How incredibly sad. We’ve done it – we’ve sullied entire planet; and our generation has the unpleasant distinction of being the one that took it over the line.
You can read the report summary of Endocrine Disrupting Chemicals 2012 here (PDF).