Director of the Commonweal Biomonitoring Resource Center
On Wednesday, July 25th, the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works will vote on an improved version of the Safe Chemicals Act, an act that reforms the current set of federal regulations, the Toxic Substances Control Act, which governs toxic chemicals production and use. TSCA entered into force in 1976, and as recent articles in the Chicago Tribune point out, is in need of being brought up to date to reflect current scientific knowledge about the capacity of toxic chemicals to compromise the health and safety of humans and ecosystems. This new version is the result of many months of discussions among key stakeholders and represents a major step forward in balancing stakeholder interests and concerns. Richard Denison from the Environmental Defense Fund provides an overview of the Safe Chemicals Act in his recent blog post, A pivotal moment for TSCA reform.
Ted Schettler, MD, MPH
In an important development in the debate about health risks associated with fracking for natural gas, Elaine Hill, a doctoral candidate at Cornell University, has carried out a detailed analysis of certain birth outcomes in Pennsylvania, before and after fracking began. She used a “difference-in-difference” study design, which enabled her to compare outcomes in two groups of people:
- Group 1: People living prescribed distances from a location where a well had been permitted but never drilled
- Group 2: People living the same distances from a location where a well had been permitted and subsequently drilled
She compared birth outcomes in groups 1 and 2 before and after any wells were drilled.
Karin Russ, MS, RN, CHE’s Fertility and Reproductive Health Working Group Coordinator
Years ago, I was a nurse caring for a patient who had just had her sixth miscarriage. She was, as one might expect, emotionally devastated and searching for answers as to why this might have happened. At the time, some potential physiological causes were examined, but environmental factors were not considered.
As CHE celebrates its 10th anniversary, significant progress has been made toward educating professionals and the public on environmental contributors to infertility, early pregnancy loss, and impacts on the developing fetus. Since CHE’s early years, the Fertility and Reproductive Health Working Group has sought to bring attention to the growing body of research linking environmental factors to problems with reproductive health. In the male, many environmental agents are associated with decreased sperm quality and increased risk of prostate cancer. Women are more susceptible to endometriosis, polycystic ovary disease, and problems with in vitro fertilization following exposure to some environmental chemicals. A substantial body of scientific literature demonstrates the crucial nature of fetal environmental exposures on developmental origins of adult health and disease.