For years, there have been dire warnings from researchers about how our kids’ biology is being messed with by the products we use in everyday life. We’ve been reporting on these things in Natural Life for what seems like a very long time: sunscreens, soap, cosmetics, plastics and cleaning products, to name just a few of the topics we’ve covered. We’ve also written about how substances like DDT, dioxins and PCBs are also known hormone-disruptors.
So we’re pleased to hear that a EU committee of the Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) is studying a new Danish report on the subject and hopes to agree on a regulatory approach by the end of this year.
Among other things, the report notes that two-year-old children are being exposed to dangerous levels of hormone-disrupting chemicals in like as rubber clogs, sun creams, soft toys, bath mats and more. The report says that while risks in individual items have been recognized, the cumulative impact – the so-called “cocktail effect” of such chemicals, particularly on boys, is being ignored. Another concern is that products aren’t often tested on children, whose smaller body size makes them more vulnerable to the dangers of these chemicals. Exposure can result from both direct use and from dust in indoor air.
Phthalates, used as softeners in everything from soaps to soft toys, can block the action of testosterone in the womb and are alleged to cause low sperm counts, high rates of testicular cancer and malformations of the sexual organs. In fact, research has suggested that if exposed in the early days of pregnancy, male fetuses can be de-masculinized. Phthalates have also been found in food as a result of environmental pollution
The study notes that “…The amounts that two-year-olds absorb from the [preservatives] parabens propylparaben and butylparaben can constitute a risk for estrogen-like disruptions of the endocrine system. This contribution originates predominantly from cosmetic products such as oil-based creams, moisturizing creams, lotions and sunscreen.”
Unfortunately, environmental campaigners fear that the government will water down controlling regulations in order to favor industry. We’ll keep watching.