EcoWaste Coalition Sounds the Alarm over Endocrine Disrupting Chemicals that can Cause Reproductive Disorders

A visiting ecotoxicologist from Sweden has called attention to a class of chemicals causing adverse health effects, including undescended testicles, shortened penises and reduced sperm production.

At a forum organized yesterday in Quezon City by the EcoWaste Coalition, a toxics watchdog, Dr. Markus Johansson from the Swedish Society for Nature Conservation (SSNC) spoke about EDCs or endocrine disrupting chemicals and their effects to human health, especially to the male specie.

To emphasize the issue of consumer safety from EDCs, EcoWaste volunteers during the forum held two baskets filled with common products for kids and adults and a baby doll holding a mini-placard that says “are these products safe for me?”

EDCs are substances that disrupt the body’s hormonal system and thereby causing adverse health effects, including organ malformation, disturbed puberty, behavioral disorders, obesity and diabetes.

Some of the more well-known EDCs include industrial chemicals such as bisphenol A, nonylphenol, phthalates and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), heavy metals such as lead and cadmium in paint, pesticides such as DDT, endosulfan and vinclozolin, and common ingredients of personal care products such as parabens and phthalates.

”EDCs are fast becoming an issue of global concern because of their potential harmful impacts to the capacity of humans to reproduce healthy offsprings,” said Johansson who is in the country as visiting resource person of the EcoWaste Coalition.

”We all need to be worried about EDCs and take action as these ubiquitous chemicals can badly affect the health and future of our communities and nations,” he said.

Some of the glaring effects of exposure to EDCs include malformed and shortened penises, undescended testicles, reduced sperm production, decreased age of puberty and increased rate in testicular cancer among males, stated Johansson

Among females, EDCs can alter reproductive development, including reduced fertility and early onset of breast and menopause. EDCs are linked to increased incidents of breast cancer and reduced fecundity, he said.

For his part, Thony Dizon of the EcoWaste Coalition’s Project PROTECT said: “As a precautionary measure, the government should ban chemicals suspected of interfering with endocrine functions and the industry should be compelled to replace them with benign alternatives for human and environmental health.”

To better describe the causal relationship between EDCs and adverse health effects, Johansson cited trends from several studies indicating that “the bulk of evidence” against EDCs is growing:

1. Boys, whose mothers were exposed to PCBs and dioxins during pregnancy, had a reduced sperm quality at the age of 20.
2. Boys, whose mothers were exposed to DDT during pregnancy, had a higher frequency of developing testicular cancer 30 years later.
3. Boys of hairdressers (who are exposed to hair sprays) and farmers (who are exposed to pesticides) had shown an elevated frequency of urogenital malformations.
4. Boys who had a prenatal exposure to phathalates had a reduced masculine play distance.
”The unborn child is most sensitive to EDCs,” Johansson pointed out.

To prevent fetal exposure, he suggested that pregnant or breastfeeding women, should particularly: 1) avoid cosmetics and personal care products, including sprays, with EDCs, 2) avoid exposure to lead-containing paint and dust, 3) avoid plastic toys for kids, especially PVC toys, 4) wash new clothes to remove excess chemicals, 5) buy organic food if possible, and 6) keep homes and offices clean and well-ventilated.


Note: Markus Johansson, PhD in Biology, works as an Ecotoxicologist and Scientific Officer at the Swedish Society for Nature Conservation. Previously, Markus worked for several years as a risk assessor of biocides at the Swedish Chemicals Agency.