A group of biologists, chemists, and environmental health scientists from North America and Europe has developed a testing system for manufacturers to determine whether their products are free of endocrine disruptors.
These chemicals, such as bisphenol A (BPA), which are commonly used in consumer products, mimic the human body’s hormones and can lead to medical problems, such as cancer, learning disabilities, and immune system disorders, reports Science Codex. The testing system devised by the researchers would help manufacturers prevent the chemicals from getting to their products.
“Endocrine disrupting chemicals are a clear and present danger to the welfare of all living species,” says Terry Collins, the Teresa Heinz Professor in Green Chemistry, director of the Institute for Green Science at Carnegie Mellon University, and one of the members of the research team. “It is important for people everywhere and especially for future generations that we strive to design chemicals that are not endocrine disruptors themselves and materials that are inherently free of endocrine disruptors.”
Rarely have chemists been asked to consider products’ potential developmental toxicity. As a result, consumer products often unintentionally contain chemicals like endocrine disruptors. Then the manufacturer must replace the products with safer components, such as when BPA was discovered in popular baby products.
The 23 authors in the research team say that product recalls and bans do not prevent endocrine disruptors from being introduced into products during the manufacturing stage. Furthermore, the authors say, governments have not devised adequate methods for regulating endocrine disruptors. A testing system for these chemicals is imperative and will help manufacturers avoid future regulatory interventions, the authors say.
Science Codex explains how the system was devised:
The researchers used 20 years of research on endocrine disruptors to create a five-tiered testing system called the Tiered Protocol for Endocrine Disruption (TiPED). Manufacturers can use any of the tiers to test their products based on their needs. Each tier increases with complexity and cost, as well as with the reliability of results. As a proof of concept, the researchers tested six known endocrine disruptors using all five tests. Each disruptor was identified as being ‘endocrine active’ by one or more of the tests.
The researchers hope that manufacturers will use this system at the early stages of product development so they can more easily detect endocrine disruptors and prevent them from being incorporated into the products. The researchers will update their testing system as new research on endocrine disruptors becomes available. The authors’ study, “Designing Endocrine Disruption Out of the Next Generation of Chemicals,” will be published in the January 2013 issue of the Royal Society of Chemistry journal Green Chemistry, and is currently available online.
Source: “Green scientists, propose safety testing system for development of new chemicals,” Science Codex, 12/7/12
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