NOTE: this article is extracted directly from: “Key UCSF Medical School Committee Approves Stealth Syndromes Study.” (Caution: 110 footnotes ahead)
The human health effects of low-level concentrations of certain Chemicals of Emerging Concern (CECs) has stirred immense controversy between traditional toxicologists and a more recent, emerging body of scientists grounded in epigenetics and molecular-level effects.
Traditional toxicologists — especially those employed by chemical and plastics manufacturers — insist that current risk evaluations of high concentration levels are applicable low concentrations and that a firm No Observed Adverse Effects Level (NOAEL) of safety can be established.
On the other hand, a more recent and growing body of peer-reviewed, published data indicates that many CECs exhibit non-monotonic behavior and present risks to humans at low concentrations.
That controversy continues partly because of the lack of controlled human studies and the almost complete absence of investigations into effects of combinations of CECs.
Exposure to environmental chemicals in the U.S. is widespread20.
More than 84,000 chemicals are approved for use in the United States today1.And at least 4,000 of those are present in food contact materials2,3,4. The health effects of most of those chemicals is unknown and/or incomplete5..
While controversial by some, many of these chemicals in low-level concentrations are increasingly classified as endocrine disruptors22,23.
Among chemicals of emerging concern (CEC) are Bisphenol A (BPA) and phthalates, both of which are present in approximately 97% of the U.S. population.6,8 Public concern over the risks from these chemicals have resulted in the reduction of concentrations of some7 but also increases in concentrations of substitutes which are also of concern. 39
BPA is used to strengthen and offer heat resistance to common plastics such as polycarbonate. Phthalates are added to plastics for flexibility. Those two compounds are among the most common and widely studied chemicals of emerging concern. For that reason, this study will use them as proxies for overall chemical contamination.
Bisphenol A (BPA) and phthalates have become nearly ubiquitous in our environment and can be found in many different products, including the plastic in water bottles and baby bottles, thermal paper for printers, and even in dental sealants and medical devices including intravenous fluid and chemotherapy bags and tubing 8,9,10,1,12,13,14.
In addition food and beverage packaging are substantial contributors to the CEC Burden8,15,16,17,25,26.
Consumers are exposed to many chemicals of concern from leaching and migration of chemicals from plastics and other food contact materials.8,14,15,16, 30-37
Other chemicals of concern are deliberately added to consumer and household products such as detergents, cosmetics, lotions, and fragrances38.
Still other contamination may result from the harvest and processing of food products17.
Causes For Concern
Human and animal studies have identified those compounds as contributors to cancer24,40-52,, cardiovascular disorders53-61, obesity62-68, type 2 diabetes69-72, metabolic syndrome73-77, neurological and behavioral disorders including Alzheimer’s Disease78-84, as well as reproductive85-94, and developmental95-102 disorders and allergies103-110.
Specific Exposure Routes
- Migration/leaching of chemicals from packaging materials,
- Deliberate addition of chemicals used as preservatives, flavorings, scents, texture enhancers, coloring agents etc.4,
- Contamination by unknown compounds formed by chemical reactions among multiple intentionally used constituent chemicals18.
Food and beverages specifically:
- Incidental contamination via migration/leaching of chemicals from harvesting and processing17.
- Home food-handling can also accelerate migration through heating, microwaving, ultraviolet light exposure (including fluorescent lighting) and the contact of oils and alcohols with plastics.
12.2 PRELIMINARY STUDIES
All studies so far that evaluate potential adverse health effects of CECs by controlled exposure have been done in vitro or in vivo using murine or other non-human models. Despite the fact that that all of the CECs in question are nearly ubiquitous in the human environment, ethical concerns have prevented controlled exposure studies. Practical concerns also complicate controlled human exposure studies because ubiquitous exposure to mixtures of CECs make it impossible to create an adequate control population.
Because of that,a small number of interventional dietary studies have been done. These studies have focused on foods and beverages because thet constitute major sources of CECs. Dietary interventions are easier to control and offer opportunities to reduce health risks24,27.
Recent dietary interventions16, 17,28 have found significant reductions in the targeted chemicals measured concurrent with study designs to replace pre-prepared meals and other foods with known levels of endocrine disruptors with a fresh, home-prepared
Those interventional studies have been:
- time-limited (3 -16 days),
- involved relatively small numbers of test subjects (20 – 40),,
- imposed very general dietary restrictions (whole diet, fresh foods)
The most significant failing, however, is the failure to connect the reduced levels of CECs to any measurable indication of health benefits.
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