New at

From: Robina Suwol
Date: 20 Jun 2003
Time: 16:29:15
Remote Name:


New Science

Strong link established between pesticide exposure and reduced sperm quality in mid-West men. Research in the US mid-West has discovered that men with elevated exposures to alachlor, diazinon and atrazine are dramatically more likely to have reduced sperm quality. The study is the first to show such a link for common, current-use pesticides, and its findings are particularly troubling because the most likely route of exposure is through drinking water. The three pesticides implicated by the research are widespread contaminants in mid-West water systems.

New research implicates a common plastic compound in interfering with long-term memory formation, brain development and weight control. A team of Spanish scientists has found that extremely low levels of bisphenol A (BPA) can stimulate a key gene _expression pathway by turning on a transcription factor called CREB. BPA is used to make polycarbonate plastic, and as the plastic ages or is heated the molecule contaminants food and water stored in polycarbonate containers. Genes under the control of CREB are involved in a host of developmental and physiological systems, including long-term memory formation, brain development and weight control. These results raise the possibility that reducing exposure to bisphenol A may assist in preventing a range of health effects.

American Academy of Pediatrics: more research needed to establish safety of phthalates. In a review of existing scientific literature about health risks of phthalates, a committee of the AAP concludes that too little information exists to ensure the safety of phthalates, especially for vulnerable stages of development. Animal research clearly shows they harm fetal development, particularly of the male reproductive tract. And human data document widespread exposure. While cautious in its conclusions, the report clearly undermines industry assertions that decades of use of phthalates demonstrates their safety.

Recent press

Washington Post:
Pressure on arsenic-treated wood. Pressure-treated wood containing arsenic has come under increasing attack over the past two years, because of health risks. While the wood treatment industry has agreed to a voluntary phase out of domestic manufacturing, sales continue at stores like Lowes and Home Depot. Questions are being raised about the wisdom of leaving existing playground and deck structures in place. Two DC-based advocacy organizations conclude that routine exposure to pressure treated wood elevates lifetime risks of cancer significantly

Los Angeles Times: Court orders EPA to consider data from human pesticide tests. "A federal appeals court directed the government to resume considering the results of tests on human subjects as it determines acceptable exposure levels to toxic pesticides." EPA had halted use of human testing because of ethical questions and also because data from adults would not resolve questions about children's vulnerability. Hence the tests would not be useful in adjusting safety standards derived from animal studies so that they would better reflect human sensitivities. Industry argued that EPA had violated process in implementing the ban without proper consultation with interested parties.

Seattle Post-Intelligencer: Birth control drugs in sewage may harm fish reproduction. An article in the Seattle PI describes research results from the Batelle Marine Sciences Laboratory in Sequiem, WA, revealing that a synthetic hormone widely used in birth control pills can impair fertility in adult male trout. The compound, ethynil estradiol, is excreted in the urine of women taking birth control pills and reaches rivers after treated waste water is released from sewage treatment plants. The treatment process does not remove many pharmaceutical drugs or hormonally-active pesticides. Research by the lab was carried out with captive trout, close relatives of salmon. Batelle's scientists found that the lowest level they used, less than 1/80th the level found commonly in rivers, were sufficient to impair fertility.

Last changed: March 14, 2006