Our Stolen Futurea book by Theo Colborn, Dianne Dumanoski, and John Peterson Myers
 
 

 

 

This file holds archives of new developments during 2001. Other archives hold material from 1999 and 2000. New Developments contains the most recent materials. For a broad overview of the scientific trends since OSF was published, see Broad Trends. And for pointers to a host of important new research results, organized by topic, visit Recent Important Studies.


28 December 2001. In a study published in the end of last year, German scientists report extremely low levels of bisphenol A and octylphenol create superfemale snails in two different species. The superfemales had excessive egg and spawning mass production and distorted sex organs. Males of one species also had smaller penises. More...


22 December 2001. Three recently published studies using laboratory animals of the low dose effects of bisphenol A (BPA) reinforce public health concerns about the possible impacts of this ubiquitous plastic compound. In one, Dr. Caroline Markey and colleagues describe effects on mammary gland tissue in adult mice after exposure in the womb that raises plausible questions about BPA involvement in stimulation of breast cancer. In a second, Jorge Ramos et al. report on impacts that low level BPA exposure has on adult prostate, the details of which resemble processes involved in human prostate cancer. And the third, by a scientific team from Japan led by Dr. Motoharu Sakaue, demonstrates that BPA suppresses sperm count in adult mice. Added to already disturbing information about BPA impacts, these new studies highlight the need for an urgent reconsideration by FDA and EPA of the need for better protections for people from BPA exposure. For background on BPA...


12 December 2001. Environmental Science and Technology summarizes findings by Dr. Tyrone Hayes, U.C. Berkeley, indicating that atrazine, the most abundantly used herbicide in the world, causes reproductive damage to frogs at 0.1 parts per billion, levels far beneath standards for drinking water in the U.S. and even beneath concentrations found in rain water. Hayes presented these results at the annual meeting of the Society of Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry, in Baltimore. Approximately 20% of males of the species Xenopus laevus (the African clawed toad) exposed to atrazine at 0.1 ppb develop multiple mixed gonads. Normal males have two testes. Exposed males, in contrast can have several testes and several ovaries. At 1 ppb, Hayes also sees reductions in the size of the vocal chord. At scientific meetings in Japan on 17 December, Hayes reported that field investigations of the leopard frog Rana pipiens, a species native to much of North America, reveal eggs in the frogs' testes in regions where atrazine is applied, but not where atrazine is not used. He is currently simulating field conditions in the laboratory to determine whether atrazine can produce the same phenomenon. These findings may play a crucial role in EPA's ongoing assessment of atrazine risk. They would suggest that atrazine has adverse ecological effects at levels currently allowed in US drinking water. Moreover, the hormonal mechanism that appears to cause the frog effects— aromatase conversion of testosterone to estrogen—is common to all vertebrates, including human. According to Hayes, some of the commercial sources for Xenopus (the "lab rat" of frogs) are unwittingly raising Xenopus in atrazine-contaminated water. This means that generations of experiments on the endocrinology of amphibians may have been using contaminated animals and could thereby have produced false negatives in toxicological experiments. More on all this when Hayes's research is published in the peer-reviewed literature.


5 December 2001. The New York Times and Washington Post both report that EPA's Christie Todd Whitman has decided to reject GE's efforts to avoid its cleanup responsibilities in the Hudson River. Whitman had announced in early August that GE's PCB spills in the Hudson River would be dredged, and that GE would be required to pay almost $500M for the cleanup. That decision was followed by fierce, inside lobbying by GE to either reverse the decision or weaken it by requiring unattainable performance standards that could then be used to halt dredging. The final decision calls for removing 2.65 million cubic yards of contaminated sediment 40 miles of the Hudson.


26 November 2001. Betty Hileman reports in Chemical and Engineering News on what public health scientists are calling an epidemic of pre-term birth in the United States. Since the mid-1980s, the percentage of babies born prematurely has increased by 23%. Premature birth is linked to a greater risk of infant mortality, neurocognitive disorders, anemia, jaundice, cerebral palsy and other dysfunctions. The causes of the increased frequency of pre-term birth are unknown, but as reported by Hileman, exposure to environmental chemicals may be contributing. One of the problems in finding the causes is that animal research on chemical exposure rarely examines gestation length as a health endpoint. Research earlier in the year by the US CDC revealed that the risk of premature birth was associated with DDT exposure.


12 October 2001. Dianne Dumanoski speaks to the GEA Conference in Tokyo Japan: "The next century stretches ahead of us like an urgent question. The problem isn't simply that we don't have the answer. Our actions suggest the leaders of our now global civilization don't fully grasp the dilemma confronting us. We might get a better fix on our dilemma and target our efforts more effectively if we understood this as a "humanity crisis" rather than an environmental crisis. Whatever else is in jeopardy, this is first and foremost a crisis for humans and our current civilization. ...By now it should be clear that we must stop chasing brush fires and take on the pyromaniac.

more commentary by Dianne Dumanoski


15 September 2001. Scientists from Tulane University report in Nature that several EDCs can interfere with the chemical signaling from plant to bacteria that initiates the symbiotic relationship crucial for nitrogen fixation, an ecological process vital to life on earth. By binding with a bacterial receptor that normally receives the plant signals, these contaminants prevent activation of the bacterial gene that initiates formation of the nodules where nitrogen fixation takes place. More...


15 August 2001. In Tokyo, The Japanese newspaper Asahi Shimbun reports that research by three separate scientific institutions studying three different species have discovered feminization of fish living in marine waters around Japan. This surprised the scientists because they had expected the dilution effection of marine waters to be sufficient to negate any inputs of endocrine disrupting compounds. The fact that at least three species are involved means it is likely to be widespread. The research indicates that "the prevalence of the feminized fish is greater in waters near urban areas that produce large amounts of industrial and household waste water." Research in Japan has not clarified which contaminants are responsible for the feminization.
More on fish feminization...


15 August 2001. Legal star Johnny Cochrane visited Anniston, Alabama, yesterday to meet with residents about legal options in their fight against decades of massive PCB, mercury and lead pollution by Monsanto and other companies. As described in a story in the Anniston Star by reporter Elizabeth Bluemink, over 5000 people came to hear Cochrane speak to the community, and "more than 13,000 Anniston residents have already filled out health surveys that are under review by Cochran's legal team." According to observers of the meeting, "At one point Cochran likened the community's struggle to the civil rights movement, and called upon everyone present to summon the same kind of courage and fortitude that characterized Rosa Parks' stand against discrimination decades ago."
More about Monsanto's contamination of Anniston
in the Chemical Industry Archives...



13 August 2001. In a study published in the July issue of Environmental Health Perspectives, scientists report that some styrene compounds leaching out of food containers are estrogenic. They used two assays to assess estrogenicity: cell proliferation in a line of human breast cancer cells and binding affinity to the human estrogen receptor. More...


12 August 2001. PFOS--perfluorooctane sulfonate--has emerged as a new type of persistent, organic pollutant that binds to proteins rather than accumulating in fatty tissues. The widespread nature of PFOS contamination was missed for a long time, even though the compound has been in commercial use (in products like 3M's Scotchgard) since the 1950s.New studies are documenting PFOS contamination in many living organisms around the world, including people, polar bears and bald eagles. More...


 

12 August 2001. We've updated the list of chemicals implicated as endocrine disrupting compounds, and included more information about their mechanisms of action as well as references. We're also interested in receiving pointers from site visitors about emerging data on other chemicals. More...


5 August 2001. The Anchorage Daily News reports that contamination levels of a killer whale that died in Prince William Sound were extremely high. The whale, which died in July 2000 and whose tissue was assayed by National Marine Fisheries Service's contaminants lab in Seattle, carried PCB concentrations of 370 parts per million and about 470 parts per million DDT. The group to which the Orca belonged has decreased by over 50% in the last 12 years.The contamination is likely to have contributed to the animal's death but this is not known for certain. More on Orca contamination...


4 August 2001. Describing new research sponsored by the Japanese Environment Agency, the Japan Times reports that nonylphenol induces formation of eggs in the testes of fish exposed to very low levels of nonylphenol. Nonylphenol was detected in over one-third of Japanese rivers and streams surveyed by the Ministry, and at 71 of the 1574 sites surveyed the concentrations exceeded levels sufficient to disrupt sexual development based on this new research. The Ministry is in consultation with industry about possible substitutes for nonylphenol to reduce environmental burdens. According to the Japan Times, Japan's leading researcher on endocrine disruption, Dr. Taisen Iguchi, called for swift movement to eliminate nonylphenol discharges into the environment. More...


2 August 2001. The New York Times editorializes that EPA Administrator Whitman deserves credit for saving the Bush Administration from another "catastrophe on the environment" with her decision to force GE to pay for cleaning up the Hudson River. The Times urges GE to accept the decision and become a constructive player in river clean-up.


1 August 2001. Bush vs. Big Business? You Never Know. Time Magazine. Whitman's decision supporting the Clinton plan to force GE to dredge its PCB wastes from the Hudson River appears to be part of a Bush administration effort to appear as if it is willing, occasionally, to stiff its corporate supporters. The devil is in the details. In this case, the one substantive change made by Whitman in the dredging plan is to proceed by stages, testing each step of the way to ensure its proceeding asplanned without adverse effects. Time suggests that Republican pollsters will be in there testing, too, and that the Administration is likely to back off aggressive implementation of this clean-up as soon as polls indicate they can get away with it.


1 August 2001. The New York Times reports that US EPA Administrator Christie Todd Whitman has decided to approve the Clinton Administration's plan to force GE to pay to clean up PCB contamination in the Hudson River. The total cost to GE will be almost $500 million. The clean up will take place in stages, with testing undertaken during the process to ensure that contamination does not spread. GE shareholders should voice their support for this decision and encourage the incoming Chairman Jeffrey Immelt to put Jack Welch's legacy behind them and support the EPA ruling. GE's reputation can only be tarnished and shareholder value decreased by further stonewalling. Washington Post coverage


28 July 2001. The Japan Times reports that a Japanese health ministry panel has decided to restrict the use of certain phthalates in pacifiers and other plastic objects that infants might put in their mouths. According to the Times, the Pharmaceutical Affairs and Food Sanitation Council "recommends that restrictions be placed on two kinds of phthalate ester -- diisononyl phthalate and diethylhexyl phthalate (DEHP). The panel also recommended a ban on the use of DEHP in the manufacture of plastic gloves and plastic wrap used in the processing, cooking and preservation of food with oil and fat. Large amounts of DEHP had been found in Japan last year in store boxed lunches; the source was thought to be contact with plastic gloves during food preparation.


 

28 July 2001. According to the New York Times, Governor George Pataki has voiced support for the EPA's plan to require GE to pay for dredging PCB wastes it dumped into the Hudson River. Quoted in the Times, Pataki said "science supports what the E.P.A. and the state's own Department of Environmental Conservation have already determined." Pataki's position is crucial because he is a moderate Republican and because of George W. Bush's professed wish to delegate responsibilities for environmental protection back to the states. If Bush is going to be consistent in his policies, then Pataki's position should trump GE's campaign contributions to Bush. Bush's earlier statements about PCBs and the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants would also be consistent with dredging. But since when did policy consistency trump campaign contributions? More...


27 July 2001. The National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences has signed a Memorandum of Agreement with the chemical industry trade association, American Chemistry Council, "to improve testing chemicals for potential human developmental and reproductive effects," according to a NIEHS press release dated 26 July. ACC is providing $1 million and the NIEHS $3 million to a fund for research on testing chemicals for developmental and reproductive effects. This agreement undermines the independence and integrity of NIEHS science. More...


 

27 July 2001. The Washington Post and the Los Angeles Times both carried prominent stories on the efforts by GE to fight EPA's draft decision that would require GE to pay for dredging the Hudson River of PCBs it dumped there prior to 1977. Gov. George Pataki and both New York Senators, Schumer and Clinton, are strong and vocal supporters of the EPA draft plan. Why is GE fighting this when the costs would be about 5 days of its annual profits? It probably has to do with the fact that GE is simultaneously involved in negotiations at 87 Superfund sites around the country. The precedent set in the Hudson will have huge national ramfications. GE may ultimately suffer the consequences for having been one of the largest polluters in the world for the last 4 decades.


26 July 2001. A New York Times editorial argues that EPA Administrator Christie Todd Whitman should not retreat from EPA's decision to force GE to clean up its PCB mess in the Hudson River:. "As President Bush's chief environmental officer, Christie Whitman has absorbed plenty of abuse for the administration's generally deplorable environmental record. Some of this criticism has been unfair, and in many cases she has taken the fall for policies dictated by others. But Mrs. Whitman will have only herself to blame if she chooses to scale back the Clinton administration's plan that would require General Electric to spend a half-billion dollars to begin the long-overdue task of cleaning the upper Hudson River of toxic chemicals known as PCB's."


25 July 2001. In research published in the April issue of Toxicological Sciences, scientists in England report that even weakly estrogenic contaminants in mixtures can affect the outcome of estrogenic assays in the presence of 17ß-estradiol. This is important because one of the arguments used to defuse concerns about endocrine disruption is that native human estrogens, specifically 17ß-estradiol, are too powerful compared to contaminants for the contaminants to have an impact. This research makes that criticism scientifically indefensible. More...


22 July 2001. India's national newspaper, The Hindu reports on a scandal in the Indian state of Kerala: "the cashew plantations in Kasargod district, Kerala, have been devastated by an unusually large number of cancer deaths, neurological disorders and different kinds of physical and mental impairment. Recent reports in the media and studies done in the area indicate a strong link between the spraying of a pesticide called endosulfan and the deteriorating health of the local people. The State administration appears to be oblivious to the situation." A local physician first attempted to bring this to the attention of medical authorities in 1997, reporting an unusually large number of people suffering from diseases of the central nervous system and soliciting the intervention of medical researchers in the baffling problem. The Hindu Times reports that n a local random survey, he recorded 202 cases of people from about 400 houses in an area of four square kilometres with psychiatric problems, mental retardation, epilepsy, congenital anomalies, cancer deaths, suicides as well as those currently suffering from cancer. In a second story, The Hindu wrote about "a people's movement in Kasargod district to end the spraying." A local NGO, the Thanal Conservation Action and Information Network, played an important role in drawing attention to the poisonings.

 


 

21 July 2001. A paper published in the June issue of Environmental Health Perspectives reveals that dioxin affects behavior in standard psychological tests with rat offspring following a single exposure to the mother during pregnancy at extraordinarily low levels. The study confirms the inadequacy of traditional toxicology testing for setting standards to protect human health. More...


19 July 2001. The Washington Post reports on a new study in Nature, documenting a rising burden of Teflon-related chemicals in the environment. The breakdown products of Teflon are extremely persistent and bioaccumulative.


19 July 2001. In an op-ed in the New York Times, former US EPA General Counsel Gary Guzy summarizes why the Bush Administration should support EPA's decision to clean up the Hudson River with a $500M dredging program paid for by GE, the river's polluter.


18 July 2001. Writing in Nature, Virginia scientists report that brominated diphenyl ethers, some of which are powerful thyroid disruptors, can be found at high contamination levels in sewage sludge applied as fertilizers to US cropland. They also found the same contaminants in Virginia fish. More...


17 July 2001. A study in The Lancet strongly suggests that exposure in the womb to DDE may cause premature birth and small size at birth (controlling for gestational age). The study examined birth records and contamination data gathered between 1959 and 1966 in urban areas in the United States. Compared to other risk factors associated with premature birth and small size at birth, the apparent impact of DDE was quite large. While DDE levels have now dropped below these levels in the US , this study raises serious questions for countries where DDT continues to be used for vector control because of the link between premature birth and infant mortality. More...


17 July 2001. A study published in 2000 reveals a strong statistical association between undescended testes in young boys and levels of two organochlorine contaminants in their fat tissue, HCE and HCB. More on the study... The results are consistent with emerging molecular data on causes of cryptorchidism. Estrogenic substances interfere with expression of genes crucial to normal testicular descent. More on the causes...


17 July. The Las Vegas Sun editorializes against using human guinea pigs to test the toxicity of perchlorate, a rocket fuel contaminating the water of millions of people in the US west and a known thyroid disrupting chemical. The tests, sponsored by Lockheed Martin, would be used to justify avoiding clean-up costs. The Sun correctly concludes these tests are unethical. The editorial misses the reality, however, that the tests are also scientifically useless because the results they would produce would reveal nothing about the most vulnerable sector of the population to perchlorate, the developing fetus and young children. Lockheed Martin's strategy is to test the less vulnerable, adult men, and then claim, on that basis, that there is no human risk.


16 July 2001. The Washington Post reports on a US government investigation of scientific panels convened to advise the EPA on a broad range of issues related to toxicity testing and standards. These panels frequently include scientists with close ties to the industries whose products are being regulated. "The General Accounting Office report found serious deficiencies in the EPA's procedures for preventing conflicts of interest and ensuring a proper balance of views among members of Science Advisory Board panels." The result is that advice rendered by the panels is often biased in favor of the regulated industries.


14 July 2001. The Sacramento Bee reports on a new study by the Environmental Working Group, analyzing drinking water contamination by perchlorate, a thyroid disrupting chemical used in rocket fuel. "EPA officials say the bulk of the estimated 20 million people affected by the chemical live in Los Angeles, San Diego and other Southern California cities that take some of their water from the Colorado River." Read EWG's report...

 


12 July 2001. Writing in the Detroit News, Jeremy Pearce describes a 9-year study of Michigan residents that ties PCBs in contaminated Lake Michigan fish to memory loss and brain damage in adults who eat them. Heretofore, the main focus on neurological impacts of PCBs from contaminated fish has been on impacts caused by exposure in the womb. This suggests serious health affects on adult males.


12 July 2001. The New York Times reports that high level PCB contamination remains in an upstate New York neighborhood in West Glens Falls, NY, despite two clean-up efforts, first in 1979 and then again in 1999. Several hundred homes may be affected. Contamination levels range up to 1,500 parts per million PCBs. Anything above 50 ppm is considered toxic waste. Local residents manifest many health symptoms of PCB exposure. The neighborhood was contaminated in the 1950s when workers at a GE plant would bring home old capacitors to disassemble, extracting copper wire to sell and pouring the PCB-contaminated oil on the ground.


11 July 2001. National Public Radio reports that hundreds of people over a 20 year period mayhave been affected by a PCB contamination in West Glens Falls, NY. Plant workers reportedly took home capacitors and other equipment laden with PCBs, disassembled them to resell their parts (such as copper wire) and then poured PCB-contaminated oil onto the ground. As a result, some homes in this residential are contaminated at levels 500 times U.S. soil clean up standards.
Details in a .pdf file at www.toxicstargeting.com


8 July 2001. Experimental results published this spring indicate that standard assays used to assess estrogen toxicity with rats may underestimate the potency of bisphenol A in people, because rats are more efficient at converting BPA to a non-estrogenic metabolite. More...


5 July 2001. Charlie Cray writes in Multinational Monitor about the history of GE's contamination of the Hudson River Valley with PCBs, and the corporation's ongoing efforts to avoid payment for clean-up. "Attention to GE’s Hudson PCB mess could also bring out some additional skeletons in GE’s closet."


4 July 2001. The New York Times opines in an editorial that Jack Welch and GE should stop fighting against EPA's recommendation to dredge the Hudson River and clean it of PCBs. "Mr. Welch, however, does have a fine chance to burnish his legacy of decisive action. He can end his company's long legal battle against paying to dredge the Hudson River to remove polychlorinated biphenyls, cancer-causing chemicals known as PCB's."


2 July 2001. Reuters reports from a scientific meeting in Switzerland on a new infertility syndrome in males, called the "Testicular Dysgenesis Syndrome," or TDS. According to Dr. Neils Skakkabæk, a Danish expert on male infertility and a leading investigator of the impacts of endocrine disruption on reproductive function in men, genetics or environmental factors, or both, could be causing a new syndrome whose symptoms include male infertility and rising rates of testicular cancer.


29 June 2001. The US EPA announced the implementation of a program for evaluating the health risks from exposure to 20 common chemicals, involving voluntary participation by 36 chemical companies. While it sounds good at first blush, the program is woefully inadequate compared to the need, and is more likely to provide an excuse for inaction than the information necessary to develop realistic standards that protect children's health. More...


28 June 2001. Canada's Supreme Court ruled that municipalities have the right to outlaw use of pesticides on lawns. The decision was over a challenge by lawn-care companies in Quebec, who claimed that a 1991 law implemented by Hudson, Quebec (a suburb of Montreal) was wrong to block use of chemicals that had been approved by federal and provincial authorities. The decision will allow municipalities across the country to implement similar laws. Reuters coverage. Editorial by Dr. David Suzuki.

 


23 June 2001. In an article in Environmental Health Perspectives, scientists report that exposure to very low levels of a pesticide, endosulfan, interferes with reproduction in a salamander, the red spotted newt, by disrupting development of glands that synthesize chemical signals used in communication between males and females. More...


22 June 2001. A team of scientists from Tufts University in Boston present data confirming low level effects of bisphenol A. Their study is another example of the ability of independent academic laboratories to detect bisphenol A effects even as industry continues to report they find no impacts. More...


 

4 June 2001. The New Jersey Star Ledger reports that EPA's Administrator Christie Todd Whitman is in the middle of a political and regulatory wrangle over whether or not to require GE to pay for dredging PCB waste out of the Hudson River. See also www.CleanUpGe.org.

 


1 June 2001. Research by scientists at the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences reveals that exposure of newborn mice to a plant estrogen found naturally in soy, genistein, causes uterine cancer later in life. This effect is comparable to the impact of DES (diethylstilbestrol) on newborn mice and it is induced by concentrations of genistein within the range of those found in infant formula made from soy. More...


On 22 May in Stockholm Sweden, delegates from 127 countries formally voted approval of the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants. After the vote, ministerial representatives signed the agreement on behalf of their governments. The Convention now returns to each government for ratification. This process is expected to take up to 5 years. Once 50 nations have ratified the Convention it will enter into force. More...


14 May. A report from a panel of experts convened by the National Toxicology Program of the US National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences confirms the existence of low-dose effects of endocrine disrupting compounds "well below the "no effect" levels determined by traditional testing." More...


19 April. George W. Bush announced his support for the UN Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants in a ceremony in the Rose Garden. Bush was accompanied by Secretary of State Colin Powell and EPA Administrator Christie Todd Whitman. Observers speculated that the prominence given his announcement was due to recent criticisms of the Administration's environmental policy and concern about public opinion. New York Times. Washington Post.


11 April 2001. John Peterson Myers and Lisa Guide write in the New Jersey Star Ledger about the dilemma George W. Bush faces as he must decide whether or not to support EPA's draft decision to dredge PCBs out of the Hudson River. Should he side with two moderate Republican Governors both of whom support dredging (and one of whom is now his EPA head)? Or should he bow to the political pressures of GE?


31 March. The Economist observes that for the chemical industry to earn the public trust, might require "admitting that some of the chemicals deemed so essential to modern life might--just possibly--be slowly poisoning us. It certainly requires a better show than that put on by the industry's spokesman on Mr Moyers's programme, who insisted that all chemicals are safe and have been tested."


March 2000. Writing in Toxicology Letters, scientist Richard M. Sharpe concludes "until the appropriate in vivo studies are undertaken, the safety of hormonally-active environmental chemicals, especially in mixtures, will continue to give cause for concern as far as testicular development is concerned. More...


28 March. A member of the California State Assembly has introduced AB 498 targeting persistent, bioaccumulative toxins (PBTs). The bill would charge the Secretary for Environmental Protection to examine pollution prevention practices in procurement, property design, construction, maintenance and demolition, materials use, and waste management; and develop a statewide plan to eliminate new PBTs for consideration by the Legislature by March 1, 2002. More...


27 March. Two websites launched following the broadcasting of Trade Secrets. The first is the 'official website' for the documentary. It includes a wide range of resources about the show, including background material and steps you can take. It also includes a Flash animation of "To the ends of the Earth," Chapter Six of Our Stolen Future. The second website by the Environmental Working Group is a complete archive of the documents on which Trade Secrets was based. It turns out that the material covered in the documentary is only the tip of the iceberg.


25 March. Read a review of Bill Moyers' Trade Secrets published in the Houston Chronicle.

 

"Bill Moyers' new PBS special has all the elements of a blood feud, and Moyers takes a blood test to prove it.

He was tested for 150 industrial chemicals, and when he learns there are 84 of them running around in his bloodstream, he goes for blood.

His paper trail of "trade secrets" ends at the doorstep of the chemical industry. And it is not a happy ending for the big-name chemical producers."

 




 

24 March. Chemical industry attacks on Bill Moyers became public during the week of 18 March in anticipation of the airing of Trade Secrets on 26 March, on PBS nationwide. This investigative special by Moyers reveals decades of corruption of science and politics by companies, trade associations and PR firms defending the chemical industry. The attacks claim that Moyers' treatment is unfair because he did not interview them for the report. Moyers counters by stating that the show is all about what they did and said, all written down in documents they never intended anyone outside the industry to see, and that the report actually presents an accurate portrayal of their positions, unfettered by the spin they would use to attempt to obscure the damning nature of the documents. Moreover, for 30 minutes on air immediately after the program, industry representatives will have an unedited opportunity to respond to the program. Washington Post coverage

In a speech at the National Press Club on 22 March, Moyers gave additional details of the attacks that have attempted to dissuade PBS from airing the show. He also describes a previous and far more successful effort by chemical interests to suppress and falsely discredit a 1993 Moyers production about pesticides and children's health. Part of industry's effort in 1993 involved a PR firm's brazen abuse of a pro bono client relationship with the American Cancer Society, which led to ACS unwittingly assisting industry's attack. [a Real Audio streaming audio version of this speech available at C-SPAN]


 

21 March. The CDC released a new report on exposure levels of 27 contaminants in the blood and urine of Americans. While lead and cotinine exposures are down dramatically over the past decade, changes that triumphs for public for health and chemical exposure regulation, the CDC notes troubling exposures to a suite of organophosphate pesticides and some phthalates. Washington Post coverage. CDC website. Public reaction. Lycos coverage on the web.


21 March. The New York Times reports that the Bush Administration plans to reject new, more protective arsenic standards that would have lowered permissible contamination in drinking water by 80%, from 50 parts per billion to 10 parts per billion. The old standard had been implemented in 1942, the new one proposed by the Clinton Administration. Ironically, this announcement comes shortly after new research revealed that arsenic is an endocrine disruptor with demonstrable effects on gene expression at the level of the new proposed standard. The Bush decision leaves the American public exposed without a protective safety factor. In a recent study, the National Academy of Sciences concluded that the old standard could easily result in a cancer risk of 1 in 100. They claim the new standard is not justified economically. According to the New York Times, mining companies played a role in the Bush Administration decision. They were also heavy contributors to the Bush campaign.


17 March. According to new research in Environmental Health Perspectives, arsenic inteferes with glucocorticoid-receptor control of DNA transcription at extremely low levels (10 ppb). This is far below the level of arsenic needed to cause cell toxicity. Arsenic's endocrine disruption may be provide important insight into links between low level chronic exposure to arsenic and human disease, including cancer and diabetes. More...


 

15 March. While there is an ongoing, spirited debate about whether American girls are reaching puberty earlier, and if so, what is causing it, there is no question but that the rate of sexual development in animals is vulnerable to contamination in the womb. Humans, moreover, receive widespread exposure to these very same contaminants. More...


14 March. According to a story in the Japan Times, the Japanese Environment Ministry has added four substances to their priority list of chemicals under study as endocrine disruptors. The new compounds are butyl benzyl phthalate, diethyl phthalate, diethylexyl phthalate and triphenyl tin.


8 March. According to a study published in the March 2001 issue of Epidemiology, the risk of congenital birth defects leading to fetal death is increased if the mother is living within a 9 square mile area within which agricultural pesticides are being used. The largest risks are found when exposure takes place during weeks 3-8 of the pregnancy. Exposures to multiple types of pesticides increased the risk further. More...


6 March. According to the London Independent, Environment Minister Michael Meacher said "he would press his European Union counterparts to take international action on chemicals with dangerous side-effects, which include commonly used pesticides, solvents and flame retardants." According to the Independent, "the chemicals under review include flame retardants used in sofa fabrics that contain hormone-disrupting chemicals and phthalates, which are used as a solvent in many cosmetics and could affect humans. Alkyltin, an antibacterial agent used in shoe insoles, can be absorbed through the skin and has been shown to be a powerful hormone disrupter in wildlife – it has made female dog whelks grow penises." More...


5 March 2001. In response to requests, we have posted short summaries of the fourteen chapters of Our Stolen Future on the web and included excerpts from each of them. More...


 

3 March and 20 February 2001. In two articles examining the rate of sexual development in American girls, the NYT's Gina Kolata reports that doubts exist in medical community about whether, indeed, girls are maturing earlier and if so, what to do about it. More...


16 February 2001. New research on tadpoles of the North American gray treefrog reveals an unexpected interaction between a common pesticide, carbaryl, and stress induced in the tadpoles by predators. Without the predator-induced stress, short-term exposure to low levels of carbaryl had no effect on survival. Longer exposure increased mortality. By far the highest mortality, however, was caused by exposure to carbaryl while in the presence of a predator. Up to 97% of tadpoles died under these conditions. [The experiments were conducted in a way that the tadpoles could sense the predator's presence but the predator could not reach them.] These results indicate that frogs are far more sensitive to pesticides in real-world conditions than traditional toxicity testing will ever reveal. More...


16 February 2001. In a story in the Los Angeles Times, Marla Cone describes the contamination plight of Orcas (killer whales) living in the Puget Sound off the coast of Washington and British Columbia. Interviewed in the Times, marine mammal contamination expert Peter Ross reports these are worst PCB levels ever seen in still-living marine mammals. Comparable PCB contamination in other marine mammals, including seals and dolphins, has led to severe suppression of the immune system, making them vulnerable to viruses and other diseases. Ross's research "has shown that male killer whales contain as much as 15 times more contamination than the seals that suffered suppressed immunity." LA Times reporter Cone cites Ross as saying that disruption of the whales' immune systems and reproduction is likely, since there is no reason to believe that PCBs' effects on whales are different from effects on seals. And the Puget Sound Orcas the death rate of these Orca has been climbing over the past 5 years.
More on immune suppression...
More on Orca contamination in Puget Sound...


14 February 2001. As reported by Reuters and ENN, scientists have identified several factors that may be contribuing to why girls in the United States and elsewhere appear to be reaching puberty earlier in life. While there are as yet no certain answers, evidence points to obesity, social factors and contamination all playing potential roles. A complex pattern may emerge as ongoing research continues, with there not be a single cause nor a single trend, but instead patterns that vary geographically and among different groups of people. In some, obesity may be the driving force, in others contamination, and in still others, social factors.

More on early puberty...


13 February 2001. The European Union is preparing to require that more safety information be obtained about chemicals in the environment. Without proof of the chemical's safety, they will be banned from use. For substances thought to be particularly harmful, data would have to be submitted within five years. Data for the entire list of high volume chemicals (roughly 30,000 used in the EU) studies would have to be complete by 2018. Reuters story.


8 January 2001. Mice exposed at low levels to a combination of pesticides develop symptoms behaviorally and anatomically very similar to Parkinson's disease in humans. The pesticides involved are from two different types: a herbicide, paraquat, and a fungicide, maneb. Both these compounds are used on millions of acres of crops such as potatoes, tomatoes, lettuce, corn, soybeans, cotton and fruit.

Mice exposed to low levels of either paraquat or maneb alone were unaffected, but with repeated exposure they combined synergistically to cause cell death in precisely the same pattern seen in Parkinson's disease in people. In an interview on Lycos ENN, the research team leader, Dr. Deborah Cory-Schlecta of Rochester University, noted that "In the real world, we're exposed to mixtures of chemicals every day. There are thousands upon thousands of combinations. I think what we have found is the tip of the iceberg."

More on mixtures...


 

3 January 2001. Based on the largest number of women with documented exposure to diethylstilbestrol in the womb, a study published in Obstetrics & Gynecology (October 2000) confirms that women exposed to DES during development in the womb suffer, throughout their reproductive life, from worse pregnancy outcomes than unexposed counterparts. They are less likely to have had full-term live births, as well as more likely to have premature births, spontaneous pregnancy losses and ectopic pregnancies. More...


3 January 2001. According to the BBC scientists in Britain "are calling for urgent research to be carried out into the safety of farmed salmon after research showed that some fish contain worrying levels of potentially dangerous chemicals." PCBs, the chemicals discovered in the salmon, are thought to be coming from fish harvested in open ocean trawling that is then ground into pellets to manufacture salmon food. "Concentrating the nutritional value of these fish into pellets to produce a high-protein diet for farmed salmon multiplies the minute traces of toxins present in each individual fish to a more significant level. " In otherwords, fishing for salmon food has created a human variation on bioaccumulation in the food chain, thereby contributing to human health risks. PCBs have been implicated in a variety of human and wildlife health problems, including neurodevelopmental impairment, immune system errors and cancer. Go to the BBC.


3 January. In an article published on 10 December, 2000, Richard Raeke reports in the Anniston Star on Superfund-level PCB contamination around Anniston, Alabama, that remains 30 years after Monsanto first reported leaks from its production facility. According to this newspaper story, internal documents obtained during disclosure in a law suit currently underway indicate that Monsanto misrepresented the scope of the contamination, and that at times as many as 250 pounds were leaking from the plant on a daily basis. A particularly revealing internal memo states: “From the Legal standpoint there is extreme reluctance to report even the relatively low emission figures because the information could be subpoenaed and used against us in legal actions. Obviously having to report these gross losses multiplies, enormously, our problems because the figures would appear to indicate a lack of control.”


 

 

 

 

 

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