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Low-level Chemical Exposure Unlikely to Disrupt Endocrine System

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Publication Date: April 2002

Publisher(s): Reason Foundation

Author(s): Joel Schwartz

Topic: Environment (Radioactive and dangerous substances)

Type: Brief


Endocrine disruption has been unequivocally demonstrated in humans and animals at relatively high doses of chemicals--many times greater than typical human or animal exposures to environmental contaminants. Endocrine disruption has also been demonstrated in a few aquatic species due to low exposures to a few chemicals. However, the evidence for adverse hormonal effects from low-level chemical exposures in humans is much weaker. Subtle neurological effects may have occurred in some children due to PCB exposure in the womb, though the evidence is inconsistent. There does not appear to be credible evidence for hormonally active chemicals causing increases in breast cancer risk, or declines in sperm counts. Overall, the evidence suggests it is unlikely that adverse health effects due to endocrine disruption have occurred in humans from exposures to small amounts of foreign chemicals in the environment.