Interactions between maternal stress and chemical exposures

2018 Study Highlights

  • Prenatal stress (PS) can modulate the neurotoxicity of endocrine active metals.
  • PS enhanced developmental toxicity of arsenic (As) on behavior in adulthood.
  • Developmental PS and EAMs exposures alter serum corticosterone.
  • The developmental effects of endocrine active metals are often sex-specific.
  • Early environments may enhance neurotoxicity endocrine active compounds.

Abstract

Metals, including lead (Pb), methylmercury (MeHg) and arsenic (As), are long-known developmental neurotoxicants. More recently, environmental context has been recognized to modulate metals toxicity, including nutritional state and stress exposure. Modulation of metal toxicity by stress exposure can occur through shared targeting of endocrine systems, such as the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis (HPA). Our previous rodent research has identified that prenatal stress (PS) modulates neurotoxicity of two endocrine active metals (EAMs), Pb and MeHg, by altering HPA and CNS systems disrupting behavior.

Here, we review this research and further test the hypothesis that prenatal stress modulates metals neurotoxicity by expanding to test the effect of developmental As ± PS exposure. Serum corticosterone and behavior was assessed in offspring of dams exposed to As ± PS. PS increased female offspring serum corticosterone at birth, while developmental As exposure decreased adult serum corticosterone in both sexes. As + PS induced reductions in locomotor activity in females and reduced response rates on a Fixed Interval schedule of reinforcement in males, with the latter suggesting unique learning deficits only in the combined exposure. As-exposed males showed increased time in the open arms of an elevated plus maze and decreased novel object recognition whereas females did not. These data further confirm the hypothesis that combined exposure to chemical (EAMs) and non-chemical (PS) stressors results in enhanced neurobehavioral toxicity. Given that humans are exposed to multiple environmental risk factors that alter endocrine function in development, such models are critical for risk assessment and public health protection, particularly for children.

EDCs potential long-lasting effects on children’s neurodevelopment

Placental CpG methylation of HPA-axis genes is associated with cognitive impairment at age 10 among children born extremely preterm

2018 Study Highlights

  • Placental CpG methylation in relation to cognition at age 10 was evaluated.
  • Ten HPA axis-associated genes were associated with cognitive function.
  • The transcriptional regulator MECP2 was enriched within the ten HPA axis genes.
  • Placental CpG methylation in the context of fetal development is discussed.
  • This study relates to the developmental origins of health and disease hypothesis.

Summary

The results of this study highlight a set of 10 HPA axis-associated genes that displayed an association between increased placental CpG methylation and either moderate/severe cognitive impairment or low/low normal cognitive function at age 10 years. Many of these genes regulate both placental function and HPA axis function. The identified genes are also known to play integral roles in memory, learning, and the development of psychological disorders and there is evidence that exposure to EDCs may influence their expression as well. Furthermore, given the plasticity of the epigenome during the prenatal period, these alterations could be influenced by exposure to environmental contaminants, including EDCs. Growing research supports that exposure to common EDCs, including estrogenic compound like BPA, may dysregulate several genes involved in regulation of the HPA axis. This work provides a basis for which to subsequently investigate the role of EDCs on the HPA axis. Future work should incorporate exposure data as it relates to epigenetic modifications of the HPA axis-associated genes, as these data could provide more information as to how EDCs mechanistically disrupt the HPA axis and potentially provide biomarkers for exposure and laterlife cognitive impairments in mid-childhood.

Behavioral aspects involved in obesogenic actions of EDCs

Perinatal exposure to endocrine disrupting compounds and the control of feeding behavior – An overview

2018 Study Highlights

  • Perinatal exposure to EDC can disrupt energy homeostasis leading to obesity and diabetes.
  • Most perinatal studies only report crude food or energy intake, if at all.
  • Perinatal studies should analyze meal patterns and response to peripheral peptide hormones.
  • These studies should also examine hypothalamic-hindbrain neurocircuitry.

Abstract

Endocrine disrupting compounds (EDC) are ubiquitous environmental contaminants that can interact with steroid and nuclear receptors or alter hormone production. Many studies have reported that perinatal exposure to EDC including bisphenol A, PCB, dioxins, and DDT disrupt energy balance, body weight, adiposity, or glucose homeostasis in rodent offspring. However, little information exists on the effects of perinatal EDC exposure on the control of feeding behaviors and meal pattern (size, frequency, duration), which may contribute to their obesogenic properties. Feeding behaviors are controlled centrally through communication between the hindbrain and hypothalamus with inputs from the emotion and reward centers of the brain and modulated by peripheral hormones like ghrelin and leptin. Discrete hypothalamic nuclei (arcuate nucleus, paraventricular nucleus, lateral and dorsomedial hypothalamus, and ventromedial nucleus) project numerous reciprocal neural connections between each other and to other brain regions including the hindbrain (nucleus tractus solitarius and parabrachial nucleus).

Most studies on the effects of perinatal EDC exposure examine simple crude food intake over the course of the experiment or for a short period in adult models. In addition, these studies do not examine EDC’s impacts on the feeding neurocircuitry of the hypothalamus-hindbrain, the response to peripheral hormones (leptin, ghrelin, cholecystokinin, etc.) after refeeding, or other feeding behavior paradigms. The purpose of this review is to discuss those few studies that report crude food or energy intake after perinatal EDC exposure and to explore the need for deeper investigations in the hypothalamic-hindbrain neurocircuitry and discrete feeding behaviors..

Do EDCs contribute to the rise in ASD ?

Are endocrine disrupting compounds environmental risk factors for autism spectrum disorder?

2018 Study Highlights

  • The increasing prevalence of autism spectrum disorder (ASD) has stimulated research on contributory environmental factors.
  • Human exposures to a broad group of ubiquitously dispersed endocrine disrupting compounds (EDCs) are steadily increasing.
  • Prenatal EDC exposures have been shown to associate with ASD-traits as well as neurobehaviors in both humans and animals.
  • Gene expression profiling of EDC-exposed animals and cultured human cells reveals transcriptomic changes associated with ASD.
  • Transgenerational effects of EDCs on neurobehaviors suggest potential epigenetic contributions to the heritability of ASD.

Abstract

Recent research on the etiology of autism spectrum disorder (ASD) has shifted in part from a singular focus on genetic causes to the involvement of environmental factors and their gene interactions. This shift in focus is a result of the rapidly increasing prevalence of ASD coupled with the incomplete penetrance of this disorder in monozygotic twins. One such area of environmentally focused research is the association of exposures to endocrine disrupting compounds (EDCs) with elevated risk for ASD. EDCs are exogenous chemicals that can alter endogenous hormone activity and homeostasis, thus potentially disrupting the action of sex and other natural hormones at all stages of human development. Inasmuch as sex hormones play a fundamental role in brain development and sexual differentiation, exposure to EDCs in utero during critical stages of development can have lasting neurological and other physiological influences on the developing fetus and, ultimately, the child as well as adult.

This review will focus on the possible contributions of EDCs to autism risk and pathogenesis by first discussing the influence of endogenous sex hormones on the autistic phenotype, followed by a review of documented human exposures to EDCs and associations with behaviors relevant to ASD. Mechanistic links between EDC exposures and aberrant neurodevelopment and behaviors are then considered, with emphasis on EDC-induced transcriptional profiles derived from animal and cellular studies. Finally, this review will discuss possible mechanisms through which EDC exposure can lead to persistent changes in gene expression and phenotype, which may in turn contribute to transgenerational inheritance of ASD.

How EDCs affect the development and manifestation of sexual traits, reproductive competence, and sexual behavior

Mate choice, sexual selection, and endocrine-disrupting chemicals

2018 Study Highlights

  • EDCs perturb all levels of reproduction.
  • Sexual selection acts on individuals but consequences are on populations.
  • EDCs potentially disrupt the ability to select a mate.
  • Mate selection requires complementarity in assessment and perception of potential mates.

Abstract

Humans have disproportionately affected the habitat and survival of species through environmental contamination. Important among these anthropogenic influences is the proliferation of organic chemicals, some of which perturb hormone systems, the latter referred to as endocrine-disrupting chemicals (EDCs).

EDCs are widespread in the environment and affect all levels of reproduction, including development of reproductive organs, hormone release and regulation through the life cycle, the development of secondary sexual characteristics, and the maturation and maintenance of adult physiology and behavior.

However, what is not well-known is how the confluence of EDC actions on the manifestation of morphological and behavioral sexual traits influences mate choice, a process that requires the reciprocal evaluation of and/or acceptance of a sexual partner. Moreover, the outcomes of EDC-induced perturbations are likely to influence sexual selection; yet this has rarely been directly tested.

Here, we provide background on the development and manifestation of sexual traits, reproductive competence, and the neurobiology of sexual behavior, and evidence for their perturbation by EDCs. Selection acts on individuals, with the consequences manifest in populations, and we discuss the implications for EDC contamination of these processes, and the future of species.

EU’s criteria for regulating EDCs do not go far enough

Endocrine Society calls for revising strategy to protect public health

Washington, DCThe Endocrine Society expressed continued concerns today that the European Union’s (EU’s) criteria for regulating endocrine-disrupting chemicals (EDCs) in pesticides and biocides do not go far enough to protect public health.

An EDC is a chemical that mimics, blocks or interferes with the body’s hormones. EDCs contribute to serious health problems such as diabetes, obesity, neurodevelopmental disorders and reproductive problems.

The criteria for biocides take effect today and will be implemented according to a guidance document issued by the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) and the European Food Safety Agency (EFSA). The Society’s scientific experts remain concerned that the final criteria require an excessively high level of proof that a chemical is an endocrine disruptor, and that the guidance document creates further unnecessary barriers to regulating harmful EDCs.

The Endocrine Society asserts that the finding of an adverse effect that involves hormones or endocrine systems should be sufficient to identify an EDC. A detailed study of action and mechanisms should not be required.

In addition, the guidance has a limited scope. It looks at only four endocrine pathways, and fails to address other pathways that affect important functions such as metabolism, body weight and insulin action.

EDC regulations should be designed to protect the most vulnerable populations–including fetuses, children and adolescents–from irreversible effects. EDCs are found in a number of products, including food contact materials, manufacturing chemicals, children’s toys, cosmetics and personal care products. Those potential sources of exposure need to be addressed beyond the EU’s biocides and pesticide laws.

In its position statement, the Society called for the EU to revise its 1999 strategy on EDCs to account for new scientific information developed in recent years and with the aim of minimizing exposure to hazardous EDCs throughout the environment and in consumer products.

Additional research also is needed to improve understanding of EDCs. New studies could explain how EDC exposures affect people during various life stages, including adolescence. More research also could shed light on how EDC exposure contributes to reproductive health issues, such as declining sperm counts.

BPA bad for children’s hearts, study suggests

Early BPA exposure may influence cardiac function, according to new study in neonatal rats

A new study paves the way for translational research examining cardiovascular disease risk factors associated with short-term BPA exposure in infancy. By examining neonatal rat heart cells, researchers find the immature heart may respond to BPA with a slowed heart rate, irregular heart rhythm and calcium instabilities. The significance of this research is that plastics revolutionized the way doctors treat young patients, especially patients with compromised immune or cardiac function.

2018 Study Abstract

Bisphenol chemicals are commonly used in the manufacturing of polycarbonate plastics, polyvinyl chloride plastics, resins, and thermal printing applications. Humans are inadvertently exposed to bisphenols through contact with consumer products and/or medical devices. Recent reports have shown a link between bisphenol-a (BPA) exposure and adverse cardiovascular outcomes; although these studies have been limited to adult subjects and models. Since cardiac physiology differs significantly between the developing and adult heart, we aimed to assess the impact of BPA exposure on cardiac function, using a neonatal cardiomyocyte model. Neonatal rat ventricular myocytes were monitored to assess cell viability, spontaneous beating rate, beat rate variability, and calcium-handling parameters in the presence of control or bisphenol-supplemented media. A range of doses were tested to mimic environmental exposure (10−9–10−8M), maximum clinical exposure (10−5M), and supraphysiological exposure levels (10−4M). Acute BPA exposure altered cardiomyocyte functionality, resulting in a slowed spontaneous beating rate and increased beat rate variability. BPA exposure also impaired intracellular calcium handling, resulting in diminished calcium transient amplitudes, prolonged calcium transient upstroke and duration time. Alterations in calcium handling also increased the propensity for alternans and skipped beats. Notably, the effect of BPA-treatment on calcium handling was partially reversible. Our data suggest that acute BPA exposure could precipitate secondary adverse effects on contractile performance and/or electrical alternans, both of which are dependent on intracellular calcium homeostasis.

More Information

  • Disruption of neonatal cardiomyocyte physiology following exposure to bisphenol-a, nature, 09 May 2018.
  • Early BPA exposure may influence cardiac function, according to new study in neonatal rats, sciencedaily, May 14, 2018.
  • Image credit James Graham.

EU Obligation to Protect its People and the Environment from All Harm caused by Endocrine Disrupting Chemicals

A more protective European approach to endocrine disruptors is long overdue. Read our eight demands to the EU Commission for an EDC-Free future

EDC-Free Europe Statement on EU EDCs Strategy, May 2018.

Why we are concerned

Endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDCs) are increasing our chances of getting serious and potentially lethal diseases and health disorders as highlighted by experts from the World Health Organization (WHO), scientists from the Endocrine Society, and others. In these reviews of scientific literature, impacts from EDCs have been linked to reproductive and fertility problems such as drastically falling sperm rates, as well as hormone dependent cancers such as breast and prostate cancers. Neurological impairments including autism and IQ loss as well as metabolic changes including obesity and diabetes have also been associated with exposures to EDCs. In wildlife, there is further evidence of reproductive and developmental harm linked to impairments in endocrine function in a number of wildlife species: EDCs have been associated with changes in immunity and behaviour as well as skeletal deformities.

A growing body of science underpins the ways in which some people are more vulnerable than others to the health impacts of endocrine disruption, even in small doses, with effects sometimes appearing decades later. The time during development in the womb and during early childhood has been found to be a particularly sensitive window of exposure and has raised serious concerns among health professionals. In 2015 over 100 national societies of obstetricians and gynaecologists from around the world called on policymakers to prioritise reducing exposures as an important means of disease prevention.

Avoiding EDCs is not a choice that a person can make anymore. EDCs are found everywhere in our daily lives: from high-profile substances, such as the bisphenols used in the making of certain plastic bottles and can linings, and restricted phthalates that are still found in one out of five toys; the flame retardants used in sofas; the pesticides sprayed on and ending up in our food; and the antimicrobial biocides found in cleaning products. They are nearly everywhere, both at home and in the workplace. The nonprofit research institute the Endocrine Disruption Exchange (TEDX) lists over 1,400 potential EDCs, the WHO mentions over 800 EDCs, and many more suspected EDCs still need to be investigated.

EDCs end up in all of us – children and adults alike – contaminating our bodies without our consent or knowledge. Human biomonitoring samples of urine, hair and blood across Europe are starting to demonstrate the extent of that internal pollution. In France, over 20 EDCs were found in women tested for the presence of these chemicals in 2015. The European Biomonitoring Initiative has included many EDCs and potential EDCs in its priority list and the results will be used to inform policy decisions on specific substances.

Most importantly, EU laws regulating EDCs are not protecting us – the ones that are supposed to do so are patchy, not properly implemented and leave huge gaps where EDCs are not regulated at all such as in cosmetics, toys, textiles, furniture and food packaging and in other articles that we come into contact with every day.

What we want

In 2017 the EU Commission committed to bring out a new integrated strategy on EDCs which is supposed to cover ´for example toys, cosmetics and food packaging´. Previous attempts to update the existing EU Community Strategy on EDCs from 1999 with recent scientific advances and actions to tackle the problem was derailed by intense industry lobby in 2013 as documented by the investigation ‘Toxic Affair’.

We are calling on EU Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker to bring out a fully-fledged strategy before the summer of 2018. This would include a concrete action plan aiming for a high level of protection for human health, especially vulnerable groups, and the environment. Tangible activities should have clear targets, a timeline and a reasonable budget. This would be an opportunity for reconnecting the EU’s agenda with citizens’ demands for better public health protection on EDCs as illustrated by widely supported petitions developed and supported by the EDC-Free campaign partners in 2017. The first one was delivered to member states with almost half a million signatures in July, and the second one with over 300,000 signatures in October.

An EU EDC strategy could also support and build on efforts by progressive countries, such as France, Sweden and Denmark, which are already implementing actions on EDCs. Belgium has just announced the launch of a national action plan on EDCs. It should be in the interest of the European Commission to promote harmonisation when it leads to an equal and high level of protection for all EU citizens, and supports the avoidance of barriers to trade within the European single market. Today, a clear EU commitment is needed to reduce people`s exposure to EDCs in a more comprehensive way throughout Europe.

This is not only a unique opportunity to increase well-being by preventing diseases, but it can also contribute to reducing the rising costs associated with EDC-related illnesses, as showed by a study evaluating the bill at a staggering 163 billion Euros a year for Europe, even though its scope covered only a few, rather than all, EDC-related illnesses. This is also an opportunity for policy coherence and for the EU to set a regulatory framework that builds the foundations for a truly non-toxic circular economy by encouraging industrial innovation through safer substitution. Considering that our exposure to preventable environmental chemicals is estimated to result in health costs worth 10% of global GDP, there is a real business case for promoting safe substitution to toxic EDCs through a comprehensive EU strategy for action.

We need a comprehensive action plan that effectively prevents further impacts on health and ends wildlife loss associated with EDCs. It needs to set out legal actions for eliminating exposure and to contribute towards meeting the 2030 commitments set out in the Sustainable Development Goals to “substantially reduce the number of deaths and illnesses from hazardous chemicals and air, water, and soil pollution and contamination“.

The EU EDC Strategy must reflect the most recent advances in science and draw the logical conclusions from them by complementing existing obligations in the EU regulatory context. The following identifies the eight crucial elements that the EDC strategy needs to include to enable the EU to effectively protect health and the environment against EDCs.

Essential elements of an EU Endocrine Disrupting Chemicals Strategy

  1. Consider public health and precaution as the cornerstones of a new EU EDC Strategy
    Protect those who are most vulnerable. Reduce exposures to children to prevent suffering from EDC-related diseases and the spiralling costs associated with treating them. Build on and expand the short-, medium- and long-term actions from the 1999 EU EDC strategy and augment their effectiveness.
  2. Enhance public awareness of EDCs – connect it with the EU’s work on protecting citizen’s health
    A recent Eurobarometer survey found that two out of three European citizens are concerned about exposure to chemicals in their daily lives through food, air, drinking water and consumer products or other items, as well as in the workplace. Less than half of the same group felt well informed about the potential dangers of chemicals. A Europe-wide campaign to raise awareness on EDCs is needed.
    Specific focuses of such a campaign should include:

    • Informing parents before and during pregnancy, and families in general, about ways to minimise exposures in everyday life.
    • The dissemination of good practice for exposure reductions and health advice connected to grassroots and local agendas and the creation of a bank of success stories showing how the EU is making a difference.
    • Information and training materials for medical, health and educational professionals and multiplier groups so that they can advise the public on reducing their exposures.
    • A response to consumers’ concerns and the provision of tools for traceability and the right to know for chemicals in products.
  3. Improve regulation: Increase the control of the use of EDCs across all sectors
    • Make a plan with timetables to implement suitable EDC criteria in all relevant EU laws to identify and reduce exposures to EDCs.
    • Address missed deadlines first, like the 2015 one for cosmetics and obvious loopholes like toys, food packaging regulations. Commit to addressing other relevant EU legislation and sources of exposure, such as public procurement, worker’s exposure, textiles, etc. and deliver on the 7th EAP commitment.
    • Support the implementation of the EU Plastics Strategy by banning the presence of EDCs in plastics in particular as the presence of EDCs can hinder recyclability and negatively affect the value of recyclates.
    • EDCs should be regulated with the presumption that no safe threshold for exposure can be set with sufficient certainty.
    • EDCs should be regulated by using group approaches based on similar structures and similar properties to avoid regrettable substitution.
    • Implement and enforce, efficiently and ambitiously, the existing regulatory obligations controlling the use of EDCs. This includes speeding up the inclusion of EDCs in the REACH candidate list of substances of very high concern and the adoption of measures to limit exposure, such as REACH restrictions or REACH authorisation. Currently only 12 substances have been identified as EDCs under REACH.
    • Accelerate the assessment of EDCs to implement restrictions on them in pesticides and biocides.
    • Create new sectorial laws to ensure robust protection in priority for consumer products. For most consumer products, e.g. textiles, child care articles, plastics there is no specific provision addressing EDCs.
  4. Reduce our EDC daily cocktail: Replace the substance-by-substance approach by including all possible sources of exposure to multiple chemicals
    • Prioritise the identification and regulation of the most problematic groups of hormone disrupting chemicals and swiftly act on known co-exposures to harmful chemicals from various sources (e.g. indoor air pollution, dust, food contact materials). Move from a single substance risk assessment to cumulative assessments for chemicals acting on the same adverse outcome and similar chemicals. Sweden and Denmark are looking at this issue in the context of their national work.
    • Respond more swiftly to early warning signals from new scientific findings about potential health or environmental damages in re-approvals and authorisations of substances. When concerns show up in one chemical use, a risk evaluation should automatically be triggered across legislative ‘silos’ to fully assess the impact of cumulative exposures and to ensure swift action in the absence of full scientific certainty.
  5. Speed up testing, screening and identification of EDCs
    • Update test requirements with new and updated screens and test methods in all relevant EU laws so that data gaps will be closed and EDCs can be identified. The EU should systematically make industry responsible for providing sufficient evidence to demonstrate safety.
    • Prioritise data collection on potential EDCs and draw up lists to communicate to consumers and business alike.
    • Improve the screening and testing guidelines used to identify EDCs and address data gaps.
  6. Work towards a clean ´Circular economy´ and a non-toxic environment: Avoid toxic substances such as EDCs in products from the start
    • Need to have full traceability to avoid finding EDCs in recycled materials.
    • Need to have producer responsibility. Each company should be obliged to inform consumers about the chemical content of their products, including the packaging.
    • Need to have the same level of protection from EDCs for primary and secondary materials, which means that when an EDC is banned from a virgin material, it should be banned from recycled materials as well, contrary to current practice.
  7. Enhance European market leadership for safer substitution with no regrets and promotion of innovative solutions
    • Support initiatives that guide companies to move away from EDCs. Some examples can be found at chemsec.org – market place, the ‘dating platform’ for companies trying to meet a provider of safer alternatives.
    • Limit and avoid the use of pesticides in agriculture and the management of green or urban areas and set specific targets for an overall reduction of pesticide use in line with the Sustainable Use of Pesticides Directive (2009/128/EC).
    • Encourage communication campaigns at a national level in order for citizens to be 1) more mindful about chemical use in their daily lives, in particular during pregnancy and with children, 2) to have the right to know about EDCs in products.
  8. Monitor the health and environmental effects of single, groups and mixtures of ED substances to capture all sources of EDC exposure ‘across the board’ and respond swiftly to minimise them
    • Ensure sufficient focus on investigating chemicals of new and emerging concern which are used as replacements for banned chemicals in the context of the EU Human Biomonitoring Initiative.
    • Develop sensitive test methods with new endpoints such as chemicals interfering with brain development and ensure they are appropriately considered within the regulatory evaluations.

EDC-Free Europe is a coalition of public interest groups representing more than 70 environmental, health, women’s and consumer groups across Europe who share a concern about hormone disrupting chemicals (EDCs) and their impact on our health and wildlife. Campaign partners include trade unions, consumers, public health and healthcare professionals, advocates for cancer prevention, environmentalists and women’s groups.

Reference. Image credit @EDCFree

Toxic substances linked to a range of adverse health impacts present in carpets sold in the EU

Swept under the rug: new report reveals toxics in European carpets threatening health, environment and circular economy

A new study identifies over 59 hazardous substances found in carpets sold in the EU, including endocrine disruptors and carcinogens, linked to serious health conditions such as cancers, learning disabilities and fertility problems. Exposure to these toxics via inhalation, ingestion and dermal contact proves extremely harmful to pregnant women, babies and small children who are particularly vulnerable to the effects of exposure to chemicals, as well as workers in the carpet industry who are exposed to those chemicals because of inadequate safety measures. Many of these toxic chemicals are also persistent polluters that stay in the environment and can cause adverse impacts on ecosystems. In some cases, health and environmental impacts only show decades later.

Hazardous toxics in carpets also pose additional obstacles to the recycling process, impacting the quality of the recycled end material and the cost-effectiveness of recycling. Less stringent regulations for recycled materials can lead to now-restricted chemicals persisting in recycled products and consequently harm health. In addition, at least 37 toxic substances have not been restricted and/or banned for use in carpets. Many of these have not even been fully evaluated for their health and environmental impacts. 10 substances are currently identified by the EU as Substances of Very High Concern (SVHC), of which only 4 are banned from the market.

The report contains a series of clear recommendations to the EU, Member States and manufacturers aimed at adopting a health-first approach towards the circular economy. It recommends protecting the environment and the health of European citizens by eliminating toxic substances, strengthening regulations for new products, consistent and faster chemicals regulation as well as producer responsibility and eco-design measures to ensure toxic-free carpets.

Reference.

Exposure to low levels of BPA during pregnancy can lead to altered brain development

These findings suggest that gestational exposure to BPA can lead to lasting and permanent changes in the brain

Chicago, IL – New research in mice provides an explanation for how exposure to the widely used chemical bisphenol A (BPA) during pregnancy, even at levels lower than the regulated “safe” human exposure level, can lead to altered brain development and behavior later in life. The research was presented Monday, March 19 at ENDO 2018, the 100th annual meeting of the Endocrine Society in Chicago, Ill.

BPA is a chemical that is added to many commercial products, including water bottles, paper receipts, can liners and food storage containers. It is known as an endocrine-disrupting chemical—a chemical that interferes with the body’s hormones.

“Decades of research in over 1,000 animal and 100 human epidemiological studies have demonstrated a link between BPA exposure and adverse health outcomes,”

said lead researcher Deborah Kurrasch, Ph.D., Associate Professor at the University of Calgary in Calgary, Canada.

“This is especially true for the developing brain, which is particularly sensitive to the estrogen-promoting effects of BPA during gestation. Indeed, several human studies have now correlated early life BPA exposure with behavioral problems later in childhood, suggesting BPA permanently alters brain development that leads to lasting effects on neural functioning.”

she noted.

Governmental agencies around the world, including the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, Health Canada, and European Food Safety Authority, declare BPA to be safe.

“One reason for this disparity is the absence of a smoking gun: if BPA is so toxic to developing brains, then where is the evidence of defective brains?”  “Our study is the first to use environmentally relevant doses of BPA and show exposure to the chemical during brain development can affect the timing of the birth of nerve cells, or neurons.”

Kurrasch said.

The researchers studied three groups of pregnant mice. One group ate food without BPA; a second group at food with high doses of BPA; and a third ate low-dose BPA food. They found an increase in the number of neurons created during early development in mouse pups exposed to high and low doses of BPA during pregnancy, compared with those not exposed to BPA.

“This is important because specific neurons are known to be born at a very distinct time points, and if they are born early—as is the case here—then presumably these early neurons will migrate to the wrong place and form the wrong connections. These findings start to provide a rationale as to how BPA might affect developing brains,”

Kurrasch said.

Siblings to these pups were given behavioral tests to assess whether the early birth of neurons led to changes that affected brain function later in life. The researchers found mice that were exposed to BPA-high and BPA-low food during gestation exhibited some behaviors that match those observed in human children whose mothers had high levels of BPA during pregnancy.

“The public is becoming well educated on the debate surrounding BPA safety, as well as other chemicals.” “Although there is still work to be done to translate these rodent effects to human pregnancy, this research could provide expectant mothers with important information on what to avoid to best protect their babies.”

Kurrasch said.