Prevent and Mitigate the Effects of Endocrine-Disrupting Chemicals

June 10 , 9:30 am June 11 , 5:30 pm EDT

The National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH) is partnering with the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS) to hold a 2-day workshop to stimulate discussion about and interest in researching ways to reduce and mitigate the effects of endocrine-disrupting chemicals (EDCs) in people who have been exposed. “Complementary and Integrative Interventions To Prevent and Mitigate the Effects of Endocrine-Disrupting Chemicals” will take place June 10–11, 2024. Spanish-language interpretation will be provided for those who indicate the need. 

Register now to join virtually.

  • Members of the public may join by livestream and ask questions in advance of the meeting. 

July 2 , 1:00 pm 2:00 pm EDT

One in six children in the U.S. has a developmental disability and the prevalence of those disabilities has increased over the past decade. Families with low incomes and families of color have long faced disproportionate exposures to toxic chemicals and pollutants known to hinder brain development. These inequities stem from histories of discriminatory policies. 

A recently published literature review, initiated by Project TENDR (Targeting Environmental Neuro-Development Risks), sheds light on the disparities in neurodevelopmental outcomes in children in low-income families and communities of color in the United States. The scoping review, which analyzes more than 200 studies conducted between 1974 and 2022, maps existing literature on seven neurotoxicants, including combustion-related air pollution, lead, mercury, pesticides, phthalates, PBDEs, and PCBs. 

“As a result of discriminatory practices and policies, families with low incomes and families of color are currently and historically disproportionately exposed to chemicals without their knowledge or consent where they live, work, play, pray, and learn,” says co-lead author Dr. Devon Payne-Sturges.

As part of the review process, Project TENDR Health Disparities Workgroup members met with community and environmental justice leaders to identify possible areas of collaboration and opportunities for the research to support the work of the environmental justice organizations.

The review underscores the need for action at all levels of government to limit, lower, and eliminate existing pollutants and toxic chemicals in our environments in order to achieve environmental justice and health equity. It calls for stronger workplace protections and an end to siting chemical and plastics manufacturing facilities in/near communities of color and low-income communities.

In this 1.5 hour discussion hosted by CHE Alaska, Dr. Payne-Sturges and Dr. Tanya Khemet Taiwo, the lead authors of the report, will present their findings and recommendations. Dr. Kristie Ellickson will demonstrate a searchable database of studies on disparities in exposures and impacts. ACAT’s Environmental Health and Justice Director Vi Waghiyi will talk about neurodevelopmental disparities and health inequities specifically in Alaska Native children.

December 12, 2023 , 1:00 pm 2:00 pm EST

Polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) are acutely toxic at high concentrations. At lower concentrations they are endocrine-disrupting chemicals (EDCs), with multiple effects on human health. In this webinar, Dr. Tom Zoeller will discuss how the endocrine disrupting effects of PCBs can affect human brain development. Lessons from PCBs can also help us to understand the effects of other EDCs on the developing brain and nervous system. 

There are 209 theoretical PCB “congeners,” although just over 100 of them occur in industrial systems. These chemicals were used in a wide variety of products from electrical, heat transfer and hydraulic systems, to paints and dyes and other construction applications. 

Dr. Zoeller will present findings from a recent review of the evidence on how PCBs cause neuroendocrine effects. PCB congeners can be very roughly divided into “dioxin-like” and “non-dioxin-like” PCBs. But among the non-dioxin-like PCBs, health effects can vary widely. For example, at very low concentrations, PCB 95 (2,2’,3,5’,6-Pentachlorobiphenyl) can activate the ryanodine receptor. This receptor is critical in brain development and brain function. Other PCB congeners, such as PCBs 105 and 118 among others, can affect the thyroid hormone system. Thyroid hormone is essential for normal brain development.

An important observation in this field is that dioxin-like PCBs can induce the expression of an enzyme that modifies (hydroxylates) two specific non-dioxin-like PCBs that then activate thyroid hormone receptors. This work explains why a chemical exposure can have tissue-specific, or even cell-specific, effects on hormone signaling. It is also a warning about how in vitro assays — so-called New Approach Methodologies (NAMs) — are interpreted.

The story of PCBs also provides lessons about chemical regulations to protect human health and the environment. Commercial production of PCBs was banned in the 1970s, but humans are still contaminated with PCBs — including those that are residual as well as those that are inadvertently produced. PCBs were banned as a class, yet PFAS are still being examined in a one-by-one manner. 

This webinar will be moderated by Sharyle Patton, Director of the Biomonitoring Resource Center.

November 16, 2023 , 1:00 pm 2:00 pm EST

The US military has used firefighting foams containing per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) for several decades. (PFAS are also commonly added to plastics.) The Department of Defense (DoD) has designated PFAS as emerging contaminants due to their long environmental persistence, contamination of drinking water supplies and potential associations with several health outcomes (including cancer). 

In this half-hour EDC Strategies Partnership webinar, Dr. Mark Purdue will present findings from a recent study investigating serum PFAS concentrations and their associations with testicular cancer risk among Air Force servicemen, using samples from the DoD Serum Repository.

The study found an association between military firefighting work and elevated serum levels of certain PFAS. The study also found a relationship between PFOS serum levels and risk of testicular germ cell tumors. 

October 19, 2023 , 2:00 pm 3:00 pm EDT

A number of cancers are hormone-mediated. These include prostate, breast, ovarian, endometrial, testicular, and thyroid cancer, as well as melanoma. Many industrial chemicals found in consumer products and in the environment are endocrine disruptors, and could influence risk of hormone-mediated cancers. 

Dr. Max Aung will present the results of a recent study that examined the relationship between certain chemicals and risk of hormone-mediated cancers. Specifically, the study examined current levels of phenols, parabens, and PFAS chemicals in blood and urine of study participants, and examined the relationship between those exposure levels and past diagnosis of a hormone-mediated cancer. The study used data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) for the period 2005 to 2018. 

The study found a relationship between exposure to these chemicals and increased likelihood of a past diagnosis of one of the cancers. For example, for women, the study found a positive association between several biomarkers of PFAS exposure and melanoma. The study also found positive associations between certain PFAS and phenols and ovarian cancer. The study highlights racial disparities in exposures to certain toxicants, and points to the need for greater surveillance of certain chemical exposures and regulatory action to reduce or eliminate these exposures. 

The webinar will be moderated by Génon Jensen, Founder and Executive Director of the Health and Environment Alliance (HEAL).