Endocrine-Disrupting Chemicals Exposure Elimination Act of 2011
If the bill were to become law, the NIEHS, a part of the National Institutes of Health, could have chemicals outlawed much sooner than otherwise possible.
The chemicals, which can be either naturally occurring or artificial, are found in everyday products like detergents, flame retardants, foods and cosmetics. Researchers have found they interfere with the function of hormones and could adversely affect human health.
Research into endocrine-disrupting chemicals began when biologists started noticing bizarre reproductive problems in many wildlife populations. One of the most famous examples from the 1970s, DDT, accumulated at higher and higher concentrations up the food chain, nearly driving the bald eagle, which preys on large fish and other birds, to extinction.
Adult bald eagles didn't immediately die from DDT, but the chemical affected their ability to produce healthy offspring. That's what many fear is happening to humans too, as we sit at the top of our food chain and expose ourselves to many types of endocrine disruptors, like BPA, through the products we use every day.
"We are almost like a third world country when it comes to regulating chemicals," vom Saal said. "It's very difficult for people interested in the public's health to understand how does this become a political, partisan, issue when people on both sides have family that are showing diseases related to these chemicals. What is going on here?"