|Timeline of Endocrine Disruption and Man-Made Chemicals|
|Saturday, 08 February 2003 02:42|
The following timeline is based on a PBS feature aired in February of 1998 and featuring interviews with Theo Colborn, author of Our Stolen Future, Lois J. Guillette, PhD, and Fredrick Vom Saal.
1923 First estrogen bioassay is developed. The test detects estrogenic activity in biological extracts and determines relative potencies of compounds and mixed natural materials.
1929 Commercial production of PCBs begins in the United States in response to the electrical industry's need for a safer cooling and insulating fluid for industrial transformers and capacitors.
1948 Paul Muller is awarded a Nobel Prize in medicine for discovering the insect-killing properties of DDT.
1952 By this date, 4 separate scientific studies show women treated with DES to prevent miscarriage did no better than those treated with alternatives such as bed rest or sedatives. Further analysis will show that DES actually increases the number of miscarriages, premature births and deaths among infants.
1973 International Joint Commission (IJC) for the US and Canada singles out first "Areas of Concern" in the Great Lakes region, noting extensive pollution and threats to wildlife.
1976 DES is shown to cause developmental abnormalities in male mice and reproductive problems in humans.
1977 Use and manufacture of PCBs restricted by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. PCBs continue to be manufactured and sold overseas .
1978 Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement between US and Canada calls for virtual elimination of persistent toxic substances from Great Lakes basin.
1986 Paper industry pressures EPA to reconsider its 1985 Dioxin Risk Assessment in hopes of obtaining a less damaging judgment on dioxin's health effects.
1988 EPA begins its first reassessment of dioxin.
1990 The EPA and the Chlorine Institute (an industry group) co-sponsor the Banbury Conference on Dioxin, which takes place on Long Island, New York. Conference attendees reach a consensus on dioxin's probable mechanism of action. Theo Colborn co-authors "Great Lakes, Great Legacy?," detailing developmental, reproductive, metabolic and behavioral damage to wildlife from persistent chemical pollutants.
1990 Fifth Biennial report of IJC puts threat in plain language, saying that the principal danger of persistent organochlorine chemicals is to the fetus.
1990 Environmental groups around the Great Lakes form the Zero Discharge Alliance to oppose production of bioaccumulative toxic substances.
1991 The Chlorine Institute (an industry group) prematurely issues a press release stating that below a certain threshold of exposure, dioxin has no adverse effects. Group makes false claim that this was the consensus of the Banbury Conference.
1991 EPA administrator Bill Reilly states publicly that dioxin seems less dangerous than previously thought. He initiates a second EPA reassessment of dioxin.
1991 Greenpeace tours 40 Great Lakes cities by boat in preparation for upcoming IJC meeting in Traverse City, Michigan. The publicity campaign focuses on the goal of zero dioxin discharge by the paper industry. Greenpeace distributes a report entitled: "The Product is the Poison: The Case for a Chlorine Phase-Out."
1992 Physician Niels Skakkebaek publishes a paper demonstrating that human sperm counts may have declined 50 percent over the last 50 years.
1993 Referring to the perceived decrease in human sperm counts, scientist Lou Guillette tells the US Congress, "Every man sitting in this room today is half the man his grandfather was, and the question is, are our children going to be half the men we are?" A link between environmental estrogens and male reproductive problems is hypothesized in scientific papers.
1993 Chemical Manufacturers' Association forms the Chlorine Chemistry Council (CCC) to promote the industry's agenda in the debate over chlorine chemistry. CCC launches a public relations campaign, including television advertisements asserting the need for chlorine.
1996 President Clinton signs the Food Quality Protection Act and amendments to the Safe Drinking Water Act, establishing the EPA's Endocrine Disruptor Screening and Testing Advisory Committee (EDSTAC). EDSTAC is a unique advisory committee of 40 members from industry, academia, government and environmental groups. It is charged by Congress to develop a chemical screening program for endocrine disruptors by 1998, and to implement the program by August, 1999.
1996 Psychologists Sandra and Joe Jacobson report that children exposed to high levels of PCBs before birth have as much as a 6.2 point IQ deficit later in life.
1996 Dr. Harry Fisch publishes a study refuting any decline in US sperm counts. He found, instead, striking geographical variation in sperm counts across the U.S. While sperm counts remained constant in a given region between 1970 and 1994, New York had higher counts than Minnesota, which had higher counts than California. Fisch thinks that the geographical variation may have confused other research that, in 1992, showed a worldwide decline in human sperm counts.
1997 A study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows that hypospadias, a hormone-dependent genital defect, is on the rise in baby boys.
1997 The National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (HHS) holds its fourth major conference on estrogens in the environment in Arlington VA. Numerous scientific papers and reports are presented on toxicology, risk assessment and research for this emerging health concern.
1997 Tulane University scientists retract an environmental estrogen study published in a June 1996 issue of Science. The report had claimed that combinations of pesticides were as much as 1,600 times more potent as environmental estrogens than the individual pesticides. The research results couldn't be replicated and the study was retracted.
1998 The National Academy of Sciences Institute of Medicine is expected to issue its report on hormone-related toxicants in the environment. The NAS panel will critically review the literature, identify known and suspected impacts on fish, wildlife and humans, and recommend research, monitoring and testing priorities, among other activities. By August, the EPA committee EDSTAC is mandated to develop recommendations on how to screen and test chemicals for their potential to disrupt hormone function in humans and wildlife. EDSTAC's final plenary session is set for June 17-18 in Washington, D.C.
1998 A research paper published in the Journal of the American Medical Association reports that the proportion of males to females born has been declining in the US and Canada since the 1970s and in Denmark and the Netherlands between 1950 and 1994. The study's authors suggest that endocrine disruptors may play a role, pointing to increased numbers of male reproductive disorders. When the study is reported in the popular press, some scientists downplay the significance of the reported trend.
1998 Vice President Al Gore urges the chemical industry to voluntarily release vital health information about thousands of commonly used chemicals. He says such a move would "empower citizens with new knowledge" to safeguard their neighborhoods against potential chemical hazards.
1998 The United Nations Environment Programme meets in Montreal to expand throughout the world an agreement to ban, phase out or limit the production of Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs). POPs are chemical substances that persist in the environment, bioaccumulate through the food web, and pose a risk of causing adverse effects on human health and the environment. Persistent Organic Pollutants include: aldrin, dieldrin, endrin, chlordane, DDT, heptachlor, hexachlorobenzene, mirex, toxaphene, PCBs, dioxins, and furans.
1998 On Earth Day, the Chemical Manufacturers' Association announces it will urge its members to voluntarily increase their health effects testing program of industrial chemicals to 100 chemicals a year by 2003.
This article appeared in Wise Traditions in Food, Farming and the Healing Arts, the quarterly magazine of the Weston A. Price Foundation, Fall 2002.
written by Gillian Broughton, Apr 14 2010
|Last Updated on Saturday, 06 June 2009 00:44|