CHE’s Top 10 Environmental Health Stories, October through December 2012

For our second quarterly Top 10 list, we again selected news articles, journal articles, policy decisions and events that we consider “game-changers” in one way or another: they all have had a significant impact, or are likely to have a significant impact on thinking and action in the field; they’ve changed the conversation on a topic or expanded the scope of the conversation to a new audience or awareness; and/or they are likely to be pivotal in defining a new trend.

These were selected from several dozen candidates for this list:

  1. Workshop ‘Low Dose Effects and Non-Monotonic Dose Responses for Endocrine Active Chemicals’
    This groundbreaking international meeting in September moved the conversation about low-dose effects from endocrine disrupting chemicals significantly forward in re-examining the ways in which chemicals are tested for endocrine disrupting properties and how risk to human health is managed.
    See also a report from the World Health Organization: Endocrine disrupters and child health; movement from the EPA: EPA responds to scientists’ concerns, initiates new effort for low-dose, hormone-like chemicals and an article in Nature magazine: Toxicology: the learning curve.
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Will My Child Learn Green Chemistry?

Elise Miller, MEd
CHE Director

Every other week my seven-year-old goes with his buddy after school to ‘chemistry club’—meaning they spend an hour with a retired science teacher who taught in various schools for 40 years. His “lab” is something out of the early 20th century, complete with rows of dusty bottles with handwritten labels noting specific chemicals or simply “danger”, wires and gadgets that cover shelves and spill out of boxes, and an antique wood stove that never quite gets the room warm. He introduced the periodic table on the first day, and since then, has shown them everything from electromagnetic fields to explosive chemical reactions. The boys love him, even though he shifts quickly from one experiment to the next and gives them information that I recall not learning until at least high school.

Given the 20 years I have worked on environmental health issues, I observe this class both with exhilaration—watching these young kids get excited about learning how the world works, and with discomfort—wondering if they are protected enough from hazardous exposures, knowing all too well what certain contaminants can do to undermine healthy development.

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