Newly launched on Tuesday 10 February, the Critical Windows of Development is a unique interactive web page from The Endocrine Disruption Exchange (TEDX) that provides a remarkable pictorial review of the scientific knowledge about endocrine disrupting chemicals. It that pairs human development in the womb with laboratory research showing where and when low-dose exposure to endocrine-disrupting chemicals like bisphenol A (BPA), phthalates, and dioxin has effects. Future chemicals to be included are PCBs, PBDEs, DDT and more.
Before a baby is born, it is exposed to a myriad of endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDCs). EDCs interfere with the delicate system of vital hormones, glands and organs that control how a baby develops and functions throughout life. EDCs such as BPA, dioxin and phthalates can penetrate the womb and cause adverse effects at extremely low exposure levels.
These chemicals are found in water and baby bottles, food cans, dental resins, cleaning products, cosmetics, fragrances, packaging and construction material, cars, planes, recreational and electronic equipment etc.
TEDX has reviewed hundreds of peer-reviewed papers on BPA, dioxin, and phthalates, and condensed their findings into an easy-to-use interactive table that is easy to use and which provides clear visual illustration of the breadth of effects. With just a click of the mouse you can see what systems, glands and organs are affected by exposure at specific time points during gestation and for what duration;and you can click to see what is occurring at that same time point in human development.
This first comprehensive mapping of in utero exposures drawn from animal studies and applied to human development has huge implications and many potential uses. It can help decision-makers and risk assessors to “see the big picture” and grasp the totality of evidence about the chemicals featured.
Two of the chemicals / chemical groups featured in the Critical Windows of Development tool are subject to the newest European chemicals legislation, known as REACH. REACH has established a new system to improve health and environmental protection through better management of ‘industrial’ chemicals, many of which end up in everyday consumer products.
Arguably REACH sets a new global standard for the integrated management of chemicals, particularly in attempting to address long-term chronic exposures and its implications for public health by gradually eliminating the most dangerous chemicals from use.
The new Critical Windows of Development tool shows what is known about the health effects from phthalates and Bisphenol A. Under REACH, if these chemicals qualify as ‘Substances of Very High Concern’ (SVHC), their uses would only allowed through a new permission procedure called Authorisation, and / or eventually be banned. To date, however, Bisphenol A has not yet been officially named as a ‘substance of very high concern’, nor has it been placed in the line-up for the closer control of ‘authorisation’; via the so-called “Candidate List”. Chemicals can only be nominated to the Candidate List by the action of an EU Member State government, or by the instruction of the European Commission to the new European Chemicals Agency. The Critical Windows of Development table makes it amply clear that Bisphenol A’s impacts are sufficient to warrant it’s nomination to the Candidate List as soon as possible.
Three phthalates, DBP, BBP and DEHP, have been placed on the Candidate List, and their priority ranking for the authorization procedure is currently the subject of a public consultation.
The Critical Windows of Development table shows why these phthalates should be given top priority ranking, and processed through Authorisation as soon as possible.
Moreover, the synthesis enabled by the Critical Windows of Development table underscores the urgent need for REACH to recognise the cumulative effects of chemicals on humans and the environment, and to control chemicals accordingly.
TEDX (The Endocrine Disruption Exchange, Inc.) is an US organization that focuses primarily on the human health and environmental problems caused by low-dose and/or ambient exposure to chemicals that interfere with development and function, called endocrine disruptors.
It was founded by Dr. Theo Colborn, who has written and lectured widely on the human health and environmental threat posed by endocrine disruptors and other industrially-produced chemicals at low concentrations in the environment. She is a co-author of the book entitled “Our Stolen Future”.
Written on 13 February 2009.