Endocrine disruptors and hormone levels during pregnancy

May 7 , 1:00 pm 2:00 pm EDT

Can endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDCs) influence a mother’s hormone levels during pregnancy? In this webinar, Brad Ryva and Dr. Diana Pacyga will discuss their recent study investigating this possibility in pregnant women enrolled in the Illinois Kids Development Study (I-KIDS). This is one of the first studies to investigate mixtures of EDCs and hormone levels during pregnancy. They studied known EDCs, including DEHP and bisphenol A (BPA), as well as chemicals used as replacements, such as DiNCH and bisphenol S (BPS). 

They reported that exposure to certain chemicals during pregnancy was associated with altered maternal hormone levels. In some cases the relationships differed depending on fetal sex. Since hormone levels guide development of the fetus and have effects that can last throughout life, these findings are critically important.

This webinar will be moderated by Sarah Howard of the Healthy Environment and Endocrine Disruptor Strategies (HEEDS) program of Environmental Health Sciences.

March 8 , 1:00 pm 2:00 pm EST

International Women’s Day 2024 Convergence: Calls for Action to End the Era of Fossil Fuels and Accelerate a Just Transition

We are in a climate emergency, and now more than ever we need to end the era of fossil fuels, and advance solutions for a Just Transition to ensure a healthy and just planet for current and future generations!

Confirmed speakers to date:
— Puyr Tembé, Secretary of Indigenous Peoples in Para State, Brazil
— Mitzi Jonelle Tan, Convenor and International Spokesperson for Youth Advocates for Climate Action Philippines (YACAP), Philippines
— Neema Namadamu, Founder and Executive Director of Hero Women Rising, and WECAN Coordinator in the DR Congo
— Tzeporah Berman, Chair, Fossil Fuel Non-Proliferation Treaty, Canada
— Ruth Nyambura, African Ecofeminist Collective, Kenya
— Osprey Orielle Lake, Founder and Executive Director of Women’s Earth and Climate Action Network (WECAN), USA

During this Convergence on International Women’s Day, we are bringing together global women leaders in all their diversity to share the many ways they are working and strategizing to build the solutions needed for an equitable and Just Transition— including food sovereignty, gender responsive climate policies, regenerative economics, forest protection, Indigenous rights, rights of nature, demilitarism, phasing out fossil fuels, and much more. The temperature is rising, and so are we!

November 29, 2023 , 4:00 pm 5:00 pm EST

While finding cures for breast cancer is crucial, directing resources toward prevention will have a much larger impact on society by reducing incidence of the disease. Prevention efforts can decrease the occurrence of breast cancer, alleviating individuals from the physical, emotional, and financial hardships associated with the diagnosis. 

Research indicates that over half of cancer cases are preventable, with environmental chemicals playing a large role in their development. Given that many of these chemical hazards can be avoided, they represent opportunities for proactive prevention. In Alaska, female breast cancer is the most common cancer diagnosed among Alaska Native women. An increasing number of breast cancer cases cannot be explained by known risk factors such as family history, age or reproductive history.

ACAT recently released Protecting Our Mamaqs: An Environmental Health Toolkit for Breast Cancer Prevention, which is designed to train community health aides and other health care professionals about environmental contaminants that are linked with breast cancer. “Mamaqs” is the Yupik work for breasts – the title reflects our commitment to addressing high rates of breast cancer among Alaska Native people.

In this webinar, Nancy Buermeyer, director of program and policy at Breast Cancer Prevention Partners, will discuss her organization’s work in eliminating toxic chemicals and other environmental exposures linked to the disease. For the last 3 decades, Breast Cancer Prevention Partners has been leading the way for science-based public education and policy advocacy to reduce the risk of breast cancer and other health harms liked to environmental chemicals.

Krystal Redman (KR), executive director of Breast Cancer Action, will discuss pinkwashing. This term, coined in 2002 by Breast Cancer Action, refers to situations in which a company or organization claims to care about breast cancer by promoting a pink ribbon product, while at the same time manufacturing, producing, or selling products that are linked to the disease. KR will discuss Breast Cancer Action’s Think Before You Pink campaign, which calls for more transparency and accountability from companies that take part in breast cancer fundraising, and encourages consumers to ask critical questions about pink ribbon propaganda.

September 14, 2023 , 1:00 pm 2:00 pm EDT

Toxic chemicals are ubiquitous in the environment. Fewer than one percent of the more than 40,000 chemicals imported, processed, or used in the U.S. are regularly biomonitored. Still fewer have been evaluated for adverse health outcomes during pregnancy. Chemical exposures during pregnancy have been linked with lifelong consequences for maternal and child health including cardiovascular disease, diabetes, adverse infant neurodevelopment, and reproductive outcomes. These health outcomes are increasing at rates that cannot be fully explained by genetics or improvements in diagnostics.

Non-targeted analysis (NTA) methods can help tentatively identify chemicals that are not regularly studied. These chemicals can then be quantified through “targeted” methods, giving us the ability to evaluate associations with adverse health outcomes.

Dr. Jessica Trowbridge and Dr. Tracey Woodruff will present findings of their new study, Extending Nontargeted Discovery of Environmental Chemical Exposures during Pregnancy and Their Association with Pregnancy Complications—A Cross-Sectional Study. This research uses the results of NTA methods to identify nine environmental chemicals in maternal samples and in cord blood, and their association with adverse pregnancy outcomes — measuring some of these chemicals for the first time in pregnant people.

Researchers found that chemical exposure is widespread, including to perfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), abnormal fatty acids used in plastics production, and solvents used in consumer products, pesticide production, and plastics production. PFAS and abnormal fatty acids were found to be associated with increased odds of gestational diabetes mellitus and hypertensive disorders of pregnancy.

This study demonstrates the power of non-targeted methods to identify and measure environmental chemicals that are not regularly studied. It adds to the evidence that exposure to environmental contaminants can have lifelong consequences for pregnancy and health.

This webinar will be moderated by Sharyle Patton, Director of the Biomonitoring Resource Center and member of the CHE Advisory Team.

July 20, 2023 , 1:00 pm 2:00 pm EDT

Exposure assessment is a core element of risk assessment, which is used as the basis for regulatory decision making on chemicals in the US. Exposure assessment systematically fails to provide realistic information to policymakers, leading to underestimates of risk and inadequate regulation. 

Phthalates, a class of chemicals that affect male reproductive development among other adverse effects, provide an example of chemicals that are inadequately regulated, due in part to incomplete assessments of exposure. Phthalates are used widely in plastics, personal care products, fragrances, and other applications. 

In this webinar, Dr. Bhavna Shamasunder will explain the problems with current approaches to exposure assessment, and will describe ways in which EPA could improve its approach in the short term. She will present the example of phthalates as a case study of the patchwork regulatory environment, the ways in which incomplete exposure assessments contribute to the problem, and the options for improving EPA’s approach. Her discussion of exposure assessment will draw upon and build on a recent study, Addressing Systemic Problems with Exposure Assessments to Protect the Public’s Health

Women of color are disproportionately exposed to consumer product chemicals. Many of these chemicals are endocrine-active. Exposure is associated with hormone-mediated health conditions including uterine fibroids, preterm birth, diabetes, asthma, immunosuppression, and breast cancer. Dr. Shamasunder and Dr. Astrid Williams will discuss racial disparities in exposures to phthalates and implications for health, drawing upon the findings of the Taking Stock study on impacts of beauty products on Black and Latina women’s health. Dr. Micaela Martinez of WE ACT for Environmental Justice will add to the conversation, sharing information on policy initiatives related to toxic chemicals in personal care products. 

The webinar will be moderated by Jonathan Kalmuss-Katz of Earthjustice, who will place the discussion in a framework of on-going work to address the cumulative risk of phthalates and other chemicals of high concern under the Toxic Substances Control Act. He will also discuss implications for environmental justice activities at EPA, and will highlight opportunities to take action on this issue. 

This webinar is the first of two webinars cosponsored by CHE, the Program on Reproductive Health and the Environment (PRHE)’s Science Action Network, and the UCSF Environmental Research and Translation for Health (EaRTH) Center, in which speakers will discuss the implications of a series of recent studies from PRHE on options for strengthening the chemical regulatory process. Together, these studies offer a road map through which EPA has the opportunity to improve regulation of chemicals in the short term, with existing authorities.