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EPA report on endocrine disruptors

From: GROUP PRESS 202-260-4355 <PRESS@epamail.epa.gov>
To: Multiple recipients of list <epa-press@webster.rtpnc.epa.gov>
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X-Comment: U.S. EPA Press Releases

For Release:   Thursday, March 13, 1997

EPA Releases Interim Report on Current 
Research About Endocrine Disrupting Chemicals 

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency today is releasing an interim 
review of existing scientific research on endocrine disruptors -- 
certain chemicals and other environmental agents suspected of 
disrupting the hormonal or endocrine systems of humans and animals.  
The report concludes that animals and wildlife can be adversely 
affected by these chemicals and that despite limited data on the 
effects on humans, the potential risks, especially to young children, 
warrant further research.  
Entitled the "Special Report on Environmental Endocrine Disruption: An 
Effects Assessment and Analysis," the interim assessment includes a 
review of nearly 300 peer-reviewed studies that examine the effects of 
a number of chemicals on the endocrine systems of humans, laboratory 
animals and wildlife.  The report was prepared by a technical panel of 
EPA scientists assembled by the Agency's Risk Assessment Forum.

"The studies we reviewed demonstrate that exposure to certain 
endocrine disrupting chemicals can lead to disturbing health effects 
in animals, including cancer, sterility, and developmental problems, 
among others," said Dr. Robert Huggett, EPA Assistant Administrator 
for the Office of Research and Development. 

"The findings contained in our assessment send a strong signal for 
more research on the effects of endocrine disrupting chemicals, 
particularly into their possible effects on humans, where we currently 
do not have enough information to conclusively determine the potential 
risks of existing exposures," said Dr. Huggett.  "At EPA we have 
already begun to prioritize our research efforts so as to build on our 
knowledge of these effects and improve our understanding of potential 
implications for our children and our future."

Under the 1996 Food Quality and Protection Act and the newly amended 
Safe Drinking Water Act, EPA has recently established an advisory 
committee with representatives from industry and other major 
stakeholders to develop a cooperative screening and testing program 
designed to identify chemicals that can disrupt the endocrine system 
and determine the risk they may pose to human health and the 
environment.  The Agency and its scientists also are developing a 
national research strategy to help establish priorities within the 
Office of Research and Development, provide a framework for regulatory 
programs within EPA and coordinate efforts among other Federal 
agencies through the President's Office of Science and Technology 
Policy.  Based on this draft strategy, work on various aspects of 
endocrine disruptors is ongoing at EPA's research and development 
laboratories, and throughout various offices and programs.  

Additionally, in an effort to tap scientific expertise outside the 
Agency, the Office of Research and Development has plans to award a 
series of competitive research grants on endocrine disruption to 
academic and not-for-profit institutions during fiscal year 1997.  The 
Agency also is funding a more extensive effort by the National Academy 
of Sciences to examine the scientific literature on endocrine-related 
chemicals in the environment and publish that review later this year.

The first part of EPA's interim assessment provides a general 
discussion on the endocrine system and how chemical or other potential 
"endocrine disruptors" may alter the normal function of hormones in 
humans and animals.  Subsequent chapters summarize the findings of 
studies that examine the link between endocrine disrupting chemicals 
and a range of health effects, including cancer, harm to male and 
female reproductive systems, and thyroid damage.  While these effects 
have been seen in numerous animal studies, the report notes that, with 
few exceptions, evidence of these kinds of effects in humans is 
limited.  Exceptions mentioned in the report include incidents of 
occupational exposure and exposure of pregnant women to the drug DES 

Specifically the report highlights the need for more information on 
the intensity, frequency, and duration of human exposure to chemicals 
that have been demonstrated to disrupt the endocrine systems of 
animals.  The report notes the need for more research on the effects 
of chemical mixtures with endocrine disrupting potential, and calls 
for a strengthening of specific cause-and-effect data.  In the 
wildlife studies reviewed, the report concludes that it should be 
determined whether the adverse effects seen in animals at various 
sites are confined to isolated areas or are representative of more 
widespread conditions.  Other recommendations and data gaps identified 
in the report address the need for chemical screening guidelines, and 
for more exploration into the potential effects of endocrine 
disruptors in sensitive populations, including children.  Also 
included in the report is an interim position from EPA's Science 
Policy Council that states that the Agency will use evidence of 
endocrine disruption to prioritize testing needs, which will improve 
EPA's ability to reduce risks and may lead to regulatory action.  

To obtain a hardcopy of EPA's interim assessment,  reporters can 
contact Denise Kearns at 202-260-4376.  The public can order the 
report from EPA's Office of Research and Development at 513-569-7562.  
It also is available on the Internet at http://www.epa.gov/ORD/

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