Toxiques légaux, d’Henri Boullier

Comment les firmes chimiques ont mis la main sur le contrôle de leurs produits

Depuis les années 1960, d’ambitieux dispositifs réglementaires promettent de contrôler les produits chimiques auxquels nous sommes exposés quotidiennement. Pourtant, les rares « interdictions » prononcées sont systématiquement assorties de dérogations permettant de continuer à les utiliser. Pourquoi les États semblent-ils incapables de prononcer des décisions fermes ? Comment la commercialisation de substances toxiques est-elle devenue « légale » ?

Ce livre montre comment les grandes entreprises chimiques ont inscrit dans le droit l’impossibilité d’interdire leurs molécules, si toxiques soient-elles. Depuis 2006, le règlement REACH encadre leur commercialisation en Europe. Ce texte promettait de résoudre la méconnaissance des effets de dizaines de milliers de substances présentes sur le marché et d’améliorer leur contrôle. Finalement, les entreprises sont au cœur de la fabrique de l’expertise et les agences publiques se retrouvent à évaluer les risques de produits pour lesquels elles n’ont aucune donnée solide. En suivant la trajectoire de trois molécules dangereuses – un sel métallique, un solvant et un plastifiant –, l’enquête de l’auteur montre comment REACH organise leur maintien sur le marché.

L’histoire retracée dans ce livre est caractéristique de la manière dont certaines grandes réformes contemporaines masquent en fait un désengagement de l’État sans précédent. L’expertise est externalisée, les données fournies sont insuffisantes, les procédures dérogatoires multiples. Les firmes maîtrisent, plus que jamais, les ressorts de cette bureaucratie industrielle.

Référence.

Do Harmful Chemicals in Health and Beauty Products Make Uterine Fibroids Grow ?

Phthalates exposure and uterine fibroid burden among women undergoing surgical treatment for fibroids: a preliminary study

A pilot study published in the journal Fertility and Sterility suggests that exposure to certain harmful chemicals called phthalates may lead to an increased burden of fibroids, uterine tumors that can cause heavy bleeding, pain, infertility, and other serious reproductive problems.

2019 Study Abstract

Objectives
To examine the association between phthalate exposure and two measures of uterine fibroid burden: diameter of largest fibroid and uterine volume.

Design
Pilot, cross-sectional study.

Setting
Academic medical center.

Patient(s)
Fifty-seven premenopausal women undergoing either hysterectomy or myomectomy for fibroids.

Intervention(s)
None.

Main Outcome Measure(s)
The diameter of the largest fibroid and uterine dimensions were abstracted from medical records. Spot urine samples were analyzed for 14 phthalate biomarkers using mass spectrometry. We estimated associations between fibroid outcomes and individual phthalate metabolites, sum of di(2-ethylhexyl) phthalate metabolites (∑DEHP), and a weighted sum of anti-androgenic phthalate metabolites (∑AA Phthalates) using linear regression, adjusting for age, race/ethnicity, and body mass index. Fibroid outcomes were also examined dichotomously (divided at the median) using logistic regression.

Results
Most women were of black ethnicity, overweight or obese, and college educated. In multivariable models, higher levels of mono-hydroxyisobutyl phthalate, monocarboxyoctyl phthalate, monocarboxynonyl phthalate, mono(2-ethylhexyl) phthalate, mono(2-ethyl-5-hydroxyhexyl phthalate) (MEHHP), mono(2-ethyl-5-oxohexyl) phthalate (MEOHP), and mono(2-ethyl-5-carboxypentyl) phthalate (MECPP), ∑DEHP, and ∑AA Phthalates were positively associated with uterine volume. Associations were most pronounced for individual DEHP metabolites (MEHHP, MEOHP, MECPP), ∑DEHP, and ∑AA Phthalates. For example, a doubling in ∑DEHP and ∑AA Phthalates was associated with 33.2% (95% confidence interval 6.6–66.5) and 26.8% (95% confidence interval 2.2–57.4) increase in uterine volume, respectively. There were few associations between phthalate biomarkers and fibroid size.

Conclusions
Exposure to some phthalate biomarkers was positively associated with uterine volume, which further supports the hypothesis that phthalate exposures may be associated with fibroid outcomes. Additional studies are needed to confirm these relationships.

The George Washington University press release.

Components of plastic : experimental studies in animals and relevance for human health

You are what you eat, and drink

Abstract

Components used in plastics, such as phthalates, bisphenol A (BPA), polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDE) and tetrabromobisphenol A (TBBPA), are detected in humans. In addition to their utility in plastics, an inadvertent characteristic of these chemicals is the ability to alter the endocrine system. Phthalates function as anti-androgens while the main action attributed to BPA is oestrogen-like activity. PBDE and TBBPA have been shown to disrupt thyroid hormone homeostasis while PBDEs also exhibit anti-androgen action. Experimental investigations in animals indicate a wide variety of effects associated with exposure to these compounds, causing concern regarding potential risk to human health. For example, the spectrum of effects following perinatal exposure of male rats to phthalates has remarkable similarities to the testicular dysgenesis syndrome in humans. Concentrations of BPA in the foetal mouse within the range of unconjugated BPA levels observed in human foetal blood have produced effects in animal experiments. Finally, thyroid hormones are essential for normal neurological development and reproductive function. Human body burdens of these chemicals are detected with high prevalence, and concentrations in young children, a group particularly sensitive to exogenous insults, are typically higher, indicating the need to decrease exposure to these compounds.

General Conclusions

Exposure of humans to pharmaceuticals is deliberate, with the intention of achieving a desired effect. Development and testing of medications involves a series of evaluations culminating in human clinical trials before marketing is approved. This is quite different from the situation with chemicals, whose presence in biota and humans is inadvertent. In the field of toxicology, information regarding potential human health effects is mainly derived from experimental studies and, when available, from epidemiological studies. Difficulties are not only encountered with extrapolation from animal models to humans, but epidemiological studies are also thwarted by drawbacks such as controlling for confounding factors. In particular, subjects are exposed to an assortment of chemicals on a daily basis and, often, lack of data regarding the extent of exposure at what may have been the critical time frame. One of the goals of toxicology is to identify effects in animal models with the aim to lower the risks of negatively impacting human health. Implicit in this task is that toxicological data, derived from animal studies indicating a potential for adverse effects, serve as a basis to limit exposure before effects appear or are confirmed in humans. The evidence from animal studies on single exposures to the chemicals discussed here suggests the potential for risk to human health. Moreover, data derived from co-exposure studies support the contention that the assortment of chemicals to which we are exposed on a daily basis increases the likelihood of health effects. The high prevalence of body burdens of these chemicals and simultaneous exposure to a number of substances, in conjunction with the fact that the highest concentrations have been demonstrated in the developing young, a sensitive subpopulation of society, indicate the need to decrease the exposure to these compounds.

Read the full study (free access) on NCBI PubMed, 2009 Jul 27.

How chemicals can affect the health of developing children

There is an increased concern about endocrine-disrupting chemicals, especially their interference on the thyroid gland

The impact of such chemicals on thyroid hormone levels, especially those of pregnant women during the first three months of pregnancy, may result in neurodevelopmental diseases, autism and IQ loss in the unborn child.

Barbara Demeneix, Professor from the French National Museum of Natural History, explains why these chemicals affect the signalling of thyroid hormones and what we can do to protect our children.

Video published on 7 February 2018, by EUchemicals.

What are you putting on your baby? Or on your genitals?

Sanitary pads and diapers contain higher phthalate contents than those in common commercial plastic products

2019 Study Highlights

  • Three VOCs and 4 phthalates were measured in commercial sanitary pads and diapers.
  • Air in the packages of sanitary pads and diapers contained as high as 5.9 ppb of VOCs.
  • Sanitary pads and diapers contained as high as 8,014.9 ppb of phthalates.
  • VOCs and phthalates contained in the commercial products considerably vary among the brands.

Abstract

Sanitary pads and diapers are made of synthetic plastic materials that can potentially be released while being used. This study measured the amounts of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) (methylene chloride, toluene, and xylene) and phthalates (DBP, DEHP, DEP, and BBP) contained in sanitary pads and diapers. In sanitary pads, 5,900- and 130-fold differences of VOC and phthalate concentrations were seen among the brands. In the diapers, 3- and 63-fold differences of VOC and phthalate concentrations were detected among the brands. VOC concentrations from the sanitary pads and diapers were similar to that of the residential air. However, phthalate concentrations of sanitary pads and diapers were significantly higher than those found in common commercial plastic products. As sanitary pads and diapers are in direct contact with external genitalia for an extended period, there is a probability that a considerable amount of VOCs or phthalates could be absorbed into the reproductive system.

 

A policy of pollution prevention is clearly preferable to pollution control

REACH, animal testing, and the precautionary principle

Video published on 21 November 2012, by Dove Medical Press.

Read REACH, animal testing, and the precautionary principle, 10/2017.

Reference.

REACH, animal testing, and the precautionary principle

In drug, EDCs, chemical safety tests, using one species to represent another simply doesn’t work

Abstract, 2012

Relatively little is known about the toxicity of the many chemicals in existence today. This has prompted European Union regulatory authorities to launch a major chemicals testing program, known as Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemicals (REACH). Although the driving force behind REACH is ostensibly based on the precautionary principle, in practice, the evidence suggests that it is oriented more toward risk assessment than precaution. In addition, the test methods used to assess chemical risk also raise questions about the efficacy of REACH in achieving its stated aims of protecting human health and the environment. These tests rely in large part on animal models. However, based on empirical evidence and on well-established principles of evolutionary biology and complex systems, the animal model fails as a predictive modality for humans. In turn, these concerns raise significant ethical and legal issues that must be addressed urgently. Immediate measures should include a major biomonitoring program to reliably assess the chemical burden in European Union citizens as a means of prioritizing the most dangerous substances present in the environment. Blood and urine biomarkers are useful tools with which to implement biomonitoring and to help guide public policy. An ecological paradigm, based on pollution prevention, rather than pollution control and risk assessment of individual chemicals, represents a superior strategy, to prevent global chemical pollution and toxicity risks to human health.

Reference. Image theecologist.

Recycling plastics resulting in toys and other items being saturated with flame retardants harmful substances

European study exposing toxic e-waste chemicals in children’s products spurs calls for policy to end recycling exemptions for hazardous waste

Brussels, 16.10.2018 – Environmental health researchers released alarming evidence  that toxic brominated flame retardants, hazardous chemicals from electronic waste that are known to disrupt thyroid function and cause neurological and attention deficits in children, are contaminating recycled plastics in consumer products across Europe.

The International Federation of Gynecology and Obstetrics World Congress 2018

XXII FIGO 2018, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

The FIGO World Congress of Gynecology and Obstetrics is the single largest global congress on maternal and infant health, bringing together obstetricians, gynecologists and related health professionals from around the world.

The #FIGO2018 XXII FIGO World Congress of Gynecology and Obstetrics will take place in the beautiful city of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil from 14-19 October 2018.

Environmental threats to human health

FIGO Media Briefing, Environmental Health, London, 1 October, 2018

In the last 40 years, there has been a global increase in human exposure to a variety of potentially toxic chemicals in the environment.

Research shows that whether we are concerned with reproductive health, cancer, infertility, neonatal and childhood health or neurodevelopment; toxic exposures are implicated.

World leaders have acknowledged that minimising environmental threats to human health and reproduction is a necessity if we are to substantially reduce the number of deaths and illnesses from hazardous chemicals and air, water and soil pollution and contamination, and therefore progress towards the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development (SDGs).

“We are at the very beginning of a tsunami that will require local leadership: California has placed a priority on energy independence which can improve air quality and reduce birth defects, prematurity, asthma and heart disease. The European Union has limited exposure to endocrine disruptors. China instituted a host of measures in 2013, so that by 2018 there has been a reduction of air particulate matter by 32%. They declared a war on pollution and are winning!”

Jeanne Conry, MD, PhD, Co-Chair, FIGO Working Group on Reproductive and Developmental Environmental Health, USA.

91% of the world’s population lives in places where air quality exceeds WHO guideline limits. Air pollution is a major environmental risk to health. By reducing air pollution levels, countries can reduce the burden of disease from stroke, heart disease, lung cancer, and both chronic and acute respiratory diseases, including asthma. The lower the levels of air pollution, the better the cardiovascular and respiratory health of the population will be, both long- and short-term.

“Our first challenge is awareness: Most clinicians are not aware that environmental exposures impact health. Most of us assume that the chemicals released into the environment, that we are exposed to as we apply make-up, prepare food, or breathe air, have been studied. They have not. Clinicians need to understand that the lack of research doesn’t mean they are safe, and makes the burden of proof very difficult, because our patients are exposed repeatedly to many chemicals in many ways through many types of exposure”.

Jeanne Conry, MD, PhD, Co-Chair, FIGO Working Group on Reproductive and Developmental Environmental Health, USA

This month, October 14 – 19, over 10,000 health professionals are attending FIGO World Congress 2018 in Rio de Janiero. Environmental Health is a core theme throughout the event, with key sessions being covered include:

  • Impact of Environmental Toxics on Global Women’s Health
  • Environmental Reproductive Health and the Heath Care Provider: Evidence based approaches to providing advice
  • Research agenda to illuminate how the environment affects reproductive and developmental health
  • “Training the Trainers” to talk with their patients and the public about environmental impacts on health

“Our challenge is priorities: When we are faced with maternal mortality, cancer, and violence, it may seem we do not have the “band width” or capacity to discuss the environment. BUT we need to help clinicians understand they are equipped to discuss this subject and lead their patients in awareness, and that advocacy for change is essential”.

Jeanne Conry, MD, PhD, Co-Chair, FIGO Working Group on Reproductive and Developmental Environmental Health, USA.

Reference.