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Call it an existential crisis. According to a 2017 analysis co-authored by Shanna, the Western world's collective swimmers have been taking a dive — between 1973 and 2011, there was a 59% decrease in sperm count.
Your hormones have been hijacked.
<p>Your body's astonishing, finely calibrated signal system – a system that controls everything from your weight to your fertility to your mood – has been scrambled by loosely regulated chemicals manufacturers use in a myriad of ways including in consumer products.</p><p>These hijackers – known to scientists as "endocrine-disrupting chemicals" – are threatening our existence as a species. Driving this problem are chemical companies focused only on cheap plastics and regulators unwilling to do anything about it.</p><p>I know that sounds dramatic. I wish it weren't true. But thousands of rigorous research projects costing hundreds of millions of dollars over the past two decades has made it clear.</p><p>Male fertility is dropping precipitously, and it is clear that these chemicals are at the heart of it. I'm half the man my grandfather was, and my grandsons will be half the man I am. In some countries, half of all couples seeking pregnancy require medical intervention.</p><p>This is what's so important about a ground-breaking book on fertility, <a href="https://www.shannaswan.com/" target="_blank">"Count Down,"</a> published this week by Shanna Swan, my good friend and a pioneering reproductive epidemiologist at Mount Sinai's Icahn School of Medicine. She lays out, in vivid detail, the environmental factors contributing to dropping fertility rates worldwide.</p><p>Grounded in irrefutable science and laced with dry, engaging wit, this epic book asks monumental questions. If you dream of children, grandchildren and generations beyond, you must read it.</p><p>But the problems with endocrine-disrupting chemicals do not stop at our bodies.</p>
Web of life at risk<p>The web of life on which we depend is also at risk, as these chemicals work their way through sensitive and complex ecosystems. For example, insect populations are collapsing worldwide, and the science shows that these chemicals are playing a significant role in this. When combined with climate change and habitat destruction, the pressures are enormous.</p><p>We also know that early exposure to endocrine-disrupting chemicals reduces IQ. To paraphrase another scientist, we may not be smart enough to solve this problem before we realize how bad it is.</p><p>Our hospitals are full of patients whose chronic diseases are triggered and/or worsened by endocrine-disrupting chemical's, including diabetes, obesity, and cancer. Setting aside for the moment the astonishing emotional cost of not being able to conceive or being saddled with chronic, debilitating illnesses, the impact on our national health, productivity and health care costs is clearly in the hundreds of billions of dollars.</p><p>My granddaughter, now 2 years old, was born in Alta Bates Hospital in Oakland, California, two months premature. The plastics in the devices that were used to save her life were essential. Yet I'd bet a year's salary that the reason she was born prematurely is that my daughter was living in San Francisco during the fires in Paradise, California, of early November 2018, when thousands of pounds of plastics burned for days and coated the Bay Area with their smoke. [For more, watch the <a href="http://bit.ly/JPMPlasticSummit" target="_blank">short video</a> below.]</p>
<p><em>Pete Myers is the founder and chief scientist of Environmental Health Sciences, publisher of EHN.org and DailyClimate.org.</em></p><p><em>Banner photo credit: <a href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/lumaxart/2364734203/in/photolist-4AXT6n-29ZYgJq-HtCWCA-7gYTRv-62y6vE-7DTQ8q-gTpQZW-62y5SQ-62tQFR-gTpNA7-62tQDR-26kAneN-2kgwfsn-2kgwEpB-2kgwEfD-2kgwEqy-2kgsuKR-2kgsuDU-2kgwfAd-2kgwEbk-2kgwfjb-2kgsuxM-9YSWx6-2kgwftz-D7tmfp-2kgwfh7-5zgmsa-2kgwfsN-2kgwfvo-2kgsuCg-2kgwfmF-29ZYVKq-2kgwfnT-2kgsuF7-2kgsuJU-2kgwEmv-2kgwfop-2kgwfu1-KrpXtc-2kgsuA2-2kgsuME-gTq5B6-2kgsuP3-a92xDd-5vWCUV-2kgwfjS-4cckG-gTpXW2-gTqKLM-CfeUe" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank">Scott Maxwell/flickr</a></em></p>
The need for reform<span style="display:block;position:relative;padding-top:56.25%;" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="0b4b462427467ecfb693478370c1af21"><iframe lazy-loadable="true" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/OifnPOAolLw?rel=0" width="100%" height="auto" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" style="position:absolute;top:0;left:0;width:100%;height:100%;"></iframe></span><p> We need different materials. We need to test those that we use now. Not a single plastic molecule now in our environment has been fully tested for endocrine-disrupting properties. Not a single one. </p><p> At Environmental Health Sciences, we've been working to reform regulatory science for decades. We know that the Food and Drug Administration is using inaccurate standards for testing derived from 16th century science. We know that tiny amounts of these chemicals can corrupt hormonal responses. The high dose testing used by the FDA are utterly incapable of detecting these low dose effects. Hence federal regulatory standards—what is safe and what is not—are laughable and irrelevant to human health.</p><p> We need all sectors of our economy and society involved in this. Every single victory we've had in this work has included demand for safer materials and better products from the end consumer. It is an absurd situation that we live in this First World economy, where any number of conveniences and products are available, yet we remain awash with endocrine-disrupting chemicals that are hijacking our most sensitive and essential human functions. </p><p> Please excuse my scientific jargon - but that's just nuts. Dr. Swan's book shows how high the stakes are. </p>
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On fertility, we are running out of time.
And the growing number of plastics in our lives are accelerating the crunch.
<p>That's the core message in a pair of webinars this week on humanity's infertility crisis, centered around Tuesday's publication of "<a href="https://www.shannaswan.com/" target="_blank">Count Down</a>," by reproductive health expert Dr. Shanna Swan.</p><p>Worldwide, sperm counts have declined 50 percent in males the past 50 years, Swan noted. Other key aspects of human fertility – miscarriages, testosterone levels, premature egg depletion, difficulty conceiving – are all changing at a similar rate.</p><p>The data worldwide are so clear and so consistent, Swan noted on a webinar hosted by <a href="https://www.plasticpollutioncoalition.org/ppc-webinar-022421" target="_blank">Plastic Pollution Coalition</a> Wednesday, that the trend is unmistakable: by 2045 median sperm counts in men are headed toward zero.</p><p>"This means that half the men would have zero" viable sperm, Swan said, "and the rest would have very close to zero."</p><p>"We want to push this curve in a direction that keeps it from hitting zero."</p>
Phthalates: The 'everywhere' chemical<img lazy-loadable="true" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yNTY4NjkyOS9vcmlnaW4ucG5nIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTY0NDQzODAzOH0.tye62AJdIzWVhd5PS7Y6lZe74x2uxwhKUFio3wUQr1A/img.png?width=1245&coordinates=0%2C25%2C0%2C34&height=700" id="9c621" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="7343b83f2339720591ef8352ecc5c210" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" alt="sperm decline in western countries, by Shanna Swan" data-width="1245" data-height="700" /><p>This rise in infertility, Swan said, is the fault not of genetics – "this is too fast for genetic change" – but of our environment: Specifically hormone-hijacking compounds known as "endocrine-disrupting chemicals" found in everyday plastics used throughout the modern world.</p><p>These chemicals, particularly a family of EDCs called phthalates, are virtually inescapable, said Carnegie Mellon University chemist Terry Collins Tuesday on a webinar hosted by the Collaborative on Health and the Environment.</p><p>"Nothing you do – hardly anything – no, I think maybe nothing you do, from when you get up in the morning to when you go to sleep, is not permeated by chemicals that chemists have made," Collins said.</p><p>Nor is the infertility crisis limited to humans. Life worldwide faces similar or higher exposures to these pollutants. Scientists are seeing feminization in fish and gender blurring in frogs exposed to endocrine-disrupting compounds. </p><p>"We are now the canaries in the coalmine," said Pete Myers, founder of Environmental Health Sciences, publisher of EHN.org, during Wednesday's Plastic Pollution Coalition webinar. "We have to take the warnings from people and begin to ask, 'What should we be doing to protect the rest of life on Earth, along with people.' "</p>
Solutions to plastic pollution<span style="display:block;position:relative;padding-top:56.25%;" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="8d5201db74fe02b05ff58b4babc5c23d"><iframe lazy-loadable="true" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/zd7s6uh_mMs?rel=0" width="100%" height="auto" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" style="position:absolute;top:0;left:0;width:100%;height:100%;"></iframe></span><p>Those solutions aren't easy, panelists on both webinars agreed. </p><p>"While it's true we cannot shop ourselves out of this crisis, we can reduce our daily exposure," Swan said. </p><p>A few tips identified in "Count Down" and by panelists:</p><ul><li>Buy fresh, unprocessed food.</li><li>Don't eat canned food, unless you know how or whether manufacturers line their cans.</li><li>Don't eat out of plastic, or heat food in plastic.</li><li>Pay attention to cosmetics and personal care products, using guides like those generated by the Environmental Working Group.</li><li>Don't handle thermal paper receipts, as they are a chief pathway for <a href="https://www.ehn.org/prostate-bpa-2646167213.html" target="_blank">BPA, a known hormone hijacker.</a></li></ul>
<p><em>Watch the Collaborative on Health and Environment <a href="https://www.healthandenvironment.org/webinars/96557" target="_blank">webinar here</a>.</em></p><p><em>The Plastic Pollution Coalition webinar on whether humanity will survive plastic pollution will be <a href="https://www.plasticpollutioncoalition.org/webinars" target="_blank">available here in about a week</a>, according to organizers.</em></p><p><em>Editor's note: Dr. Shanna Swan is an adjunct scientist with Environmental Health Sciences, publisher of EHN.org and DailyClimate.org.</em></p><p class="shortcode-media shortcode-media-rebelmouse-image image-crop-3x1"> <img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yNTY4Njk1NS9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTY2NTYzNDIzMH0.pejhobOy5cGRtplGXqwWb3mI0Rlu1aHeRenqo8_kAVA/img.jpg?width=1200&coordinates=0%2C4%2C0%2C11&height=400" id="25000" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="4fc32e58f9f6d6c97441ce5596b00366" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" data-width="1200" data-height="400"> </p>
Need for regulatory reform on plastics<img lazy-loadable="true" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yMzI4Nzg1MC9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTY3NTk0NTg0Mn0.1HAGP_Rhs6G-W6pTs6wYTfmyIBqMliCezOI9mgofMsg/img.jpg?width=1200&coordinates=0%2C0%2C0%2C0&height=800" id="1702b" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="982744a3960d5264547ed5d71bcf3fed" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" data-width="1200" data-height="800" />
Many chemicals found in plastics can have adverse effects on human health, including increased risk of infertility.<p>But what's really needed, panelists agreed, is education and policy change "at every level."</p><p>"Every aspect of government and of course regulatory agencies have to change," Collins said. "Advocacy and the media has to change. This is our challenge. We have almost no time."</p>
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Join host Plastic Pollution Coalition for a conversation with Shanna Swan, PhD, leading environmental and reproductive epidemiologist, and Dr. Pete Meyers, Founder and Chief Scientist of Environmental Health Sciences, about the toxic impact of plastics' chemicals on fertility. February 24, 2 pm PT / 5 pm ET. Sign up here.
EHN senior editor Brian Bienkowski talks to Dr. Shanna H. Swan—one of the world's leading environmental and reproductive epidemiologists—about her new book, Count Down: How Our Modern World Is Threatening Sperm Counts, Altering Male and Female Reproductive Development, and Imperiling the Future of the Human Race.
<p>Swan, a professor of environmental medicine and public health at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York City, discusses the role some chemicals play in decreased sperm counts, the physical and social impacts of infertility on men and women, and what this all means for our health and planet.</p>
Infertility and plastic pollution<iframe width="100%" height="166" scrolling="no" frameborder="no" allow="autoplay" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/987608272%3Fsecret_token%3Ds-1YOp6fM68FH&color=%23ff5500&auto_play=false&hide_related=false&show_comments=true&show_user=true&show_reposts=false&show_teaser=true"></iframe><div style="font-size: 10px; color: #cccccc;line-break: anywhere;word-break: normal;overflow: hidden;white-space: nowrap;text-overflow: ellipsis; font-family: Interstate,Lucida Grande,Lucida Sans Unicode,Lucida Sans,Garuda,Verdana,Tahoma,sans-serif;font-weight: 100;"><a href="https://soundcloud.com/environmental-health-news" title="Environmental Health News" target="_blank" style="color: #cccccc; text-decoration: none;">Environmental Health News</a> · <a href="https://soundcloud.com/environmental-health-news/a-conversation-with-shanna-swan-about-her-new-book-count-down/s-1YOp6fM68FH" title="A conversation with Shanna Swan about her new book, Count Down" target="_blank" style="color: #cccccc; text-decoration: none;">A conversation with Shanna Swan about her new book, Count Down</a></div>
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Fertility issues are on the rise, and new literature points to ways that your environment may be part of the problem. We've rounded up some changes you can make in your life to promote a healthy reproductive system.
Infertility and environmental health: the facts<ul><li>Sperm count is declining steeply, significantly, and continuously in Western countries, with no signs of tapering off. Erectile dysfunction is on the rise, and women are facing increasing rates of miscarriage and difficulty conceiving.</li><li>Why? A huge factor is our environmental health. Hormones (particularly testosterone and estrogen) are what make reproductive function possible, and our hormones are increasingly being negatively affected by harmful, endocrine-disrupting chemicals commonplace in the modern world—in our homes, foods, and lifestyles.</li></ul>
What you can do about it<p>It should be noted that infertility can be caused by any number of factors, including medical conditions that cannot be solved with a simple change at home. </p><blockquote><em>If you or a loved one are struggling with infertility, our hearts and sympathies are with you. Your pain is validated and we hope you receive answers to your struggles.</em></blockquote><p>Read on to discover our tips to restore or improve reproductive health by removing harmful habits and chemicals from your environment.</p>
Infertility: Edit your health<img lazy-loadable="true" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yNTU2NzE5MC9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYxNTkzNzE5Nn0.T5vbJ0XWSeztiNvLerC-1Q2H_2-j0F9k-4gq0cf0yC4/img.jpg?width=980" id="c195d" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="8eef72aa968c09c9c17f02f2be7b5e6c" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" alt="exercises to promote fertility" data-width="800" data-height="531" />
Practices like yoga or stretching are great ways to reduce stress and move your body. (Credit: distelfliege/flickr)<ul><li>If you smoke, quit! Smoking is toxic, period. If someone in your household smokes, urge them to quit or institute a no-smoking ban in the house. It is just as important to avoid secondhand smoke.</li><li>Maintain a healthy weight. Make sure your caloric intake is right for your body and strive for moderate exercise.</li><li>Eat cleanly! Focus on whole foods and less processed meals and snacks. Studies have found that eating a Mediterranean-style diet is linked to increased fertility.</li><li>Minimize negative/constant stress—or find ways to manage it. Hobbies such as meditation or yoga that encourage practiced breathing are great options to reduce the physical toll of stress.</li></ul>
Infertility: Edit your home<img lazy-loadable="true" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yNTY3MzE5MC9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTY2MzgxOTczOH0.SReWmF3bKmvCWwBBOILpj_kC6-QB0zTWKkmngYwsDUE/img.jpg?width=1400&coordinates=0%2C0%2C0%2C0&height=481" id="f13e4" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="f52f4976f0feaa007f6bc9a8573ae1b6" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" alt="Shanna Swan Count Down" data-width="1400" data-height="481" />
In the kitchen<img lazy-loadable="true" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yNTU2NzIxNS9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYxNjAwNTY0Mn0.bakRp4iEkhxfVEHc72Uaut9n8JG2A-_W3ngIP2DndRM/img.jpg?width=980" id="47d8d" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="3678383ac39276d5b8c7600897f57f1e" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" alt="healthy eating infertility" data-width="800" data-height="531" />
Cast iron pans are safe cookware that actually add iron into your diet! (Credit: Mark Bonica/flickr)<ul><li>Buy organic, fresh, unprocessed foods whenever possible. <a href="https://www.ehn.org/clean-grocery-shopping-guide-2648563801.html" target="_blank">Read our grocery shopping guide for more tips about food.</a></li><li>Switch to glass, ceramics, or stainless steel for food storage: plastics often contain endocrine-disrupting chemicals that affect fertility. <a href="https://www.ehn.org/bpa-pollution-2645493129.html" target="_blank">Learn more about the dangers of plastic here.</a></li><li>Ban plastic from the microwave. If you have a plastic splatter cover, use paper towel, parchment paper, or an upside-down plate instead.</li><li>Upgrade your cookware: non-stick may make life easier, but it is made with unsafe chemical compounds that seep into your food. Cast-iron and stainless steel are great alternatives.</li><li>Filter tap water. Glass filter pitchers are an inexpensive solution; if you want to invest you may opt for an under-the-sink filter.</li><li>Check your cleaning products—many mainstream products are full of unsafe chemicals. <a href="https://www.ehn.org/how-to-shop-for-cleaning-products-while-avoiding-toxics-2648130273.html" target="_blank">Check out our guide to safe cleaning products for more info.</a></li></ul>
In the bathroom<img lazy-loadable="true" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yNTU2NzI2NS9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYyNTc5MjU5NH0.7YHbroo26lypbiEkYaWcjImuTkI2KadtK-j_8UT00Fw/img.jpg?width=2000&coordinates=0%2C717%2C0%2C1250&height=1500" id="06425" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="e97bd67c953f437bbd7395006f38c678" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" alt="safe products infertility" data-width="2000" data-height="1500" />
Make sure you're using products free from harmful chemicals on your body. (Credit: Mathilde Langevin/Unsplash)<ul><li>Check the labels on your bathroom products: <em>fragrance-free, paraben-free, phthalate-free</em> and organic labels are all great signs. You can also scan the ingredients lists for red-flag chemicals such as: triclosan, parabens, and dibutyl phthalate. Use the <a href="https://www.ewg.org/skindeep/" target="_blank">EWG Skin Deep database</a> to vet your personal products.</li><li>Ditch the vinyl shower curtain—that new shower curtain smell is chemical-off gassing. Choose a cotton or linen based curtain instead.</li><li>Banish air fresheners—use natural fresheners (an open window, baking soda, essential oils) instead.</li></ul>
Everywhere else<img lazy-loadable="true" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yNTU2NzI0OC9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYzODExNTgzMX0.QsSVvxEDi1U5fHqdH1Ib3ar7IT-0017GioQ8NugRMHw/img.jpg?width=980" id="fd157" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="c63ea1341dbaf76d29e0828ee02fa459" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" alt="clear air helping infertility" data-width="800" data-height="600" />
Opening a window is a simple way to provide fresh air and allow dust and smells to escape. (Credit: glasseyes view/flickr)<ul><li>Remove wall-to-wall carpet. If you've been considering wood or tile, here's your sign: many synthetic carpets can emit harmful chemicals for years. If you want a rug, choose wool or plant materials such as jute or sisal.</li><li>Prevent dust build-up. Dust can absorb chemicals in the air and keep them lingering in your home. Vacuum rugs and wipe furniture, trim, windowsills, fans, TVs, etc. Make sure to have a window open while you're cleaning!</li><li>Leave shoes at the door! When you wear your shoes throughout the house, you're tracking in all kinds of chemicals. If you like wearing shoes inside, consider a dedicated pair of "indoor shoes" or slippers.</li><li>Clean out your closet—use cedar chips or lavender sachets instead of mothballs, and use "green" dry-cleaning services over traditional methods. If that isn't possible, let the clothes air out outside or in your garage for a day before putting them back in your closet.</li><li>Say no to plastic bags!</li><li>We asked 22 endocrinologists what products they use - and steer clear of—in their homes. <a href="https://www.ehn.org/nontoxic-products-2648564261.html" target="_blank">Check out their responses here.</a></li></ul>
Learn more about environmental influences on infertility<ul><li>For more information and action steps, be sure to check out <em>Count Down: How Our Modern World Is Threatening Sperm Counts, Altering Male and Female Reproductive Development, and Imperiling the Future of the Human Race</em> by EHS adjunct scientist Shanna Swan, PhD: <a href="https://www.shannaswan.com/" target="_blank">available for purchase here.</a></li><li><a href="https://www.ehn.org/st/Subscribe_to_Above_The_Fold" target="_blank">Sign up for our Above the Fold Newsletter </a>to stay up to date about impacts on the environment and your health.</li></ul>
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Six women in Congress are demanding federal regulators take steps to remove phthalates and other hormone-hijacking chemicals from medical products, especially IV bags and neonatal equipment.
<p> The U.S. has made "minimal progress" in reducing harmful exposures in the United States over the past 20 years—even as alternatives become available and other jurisdictions, notably Europe and California, take steps to reduce patient risk, say Reps. Katie Porter, Jackie Speier, Anna Eshoo, Lucille Roybal-Allard (all D-Calif.), Susan Wild (D-Pa.) and Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.). </p><div class="twitter-tweet twitter-tweet-rendered" style="display: flex; max-width: 550px; width: 100%; margin-top: 10px; margin-bottom: 10px;"><iframe allowfullscreen="true" allowtransparency="true" class="" data-tweet-id="1362596081469546498" frameborder="0" id="twitter-widget-0" scrolling="no" src="https://platform.twitter.com/embed/Tweet.html?dnt=false&embedId=twitter-widget-0&frame=false&hideCard=false&hideThread=false&id=1362596081469546498&lang=en&origin=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.ehn.org%2Fr%2Fentryeditor%2F2650625484%23publish&theme=light&widgetsVersion=889aa01%3A1612811843556&width=550px" style="position: static; visibility: visible; width: 550px; height: 571px; display: block; flex-grow: 1;" title="Twitter Tweet"></iframe></div> <script async="" charset="utf-8" src="https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js"></script><p> "Patients should not be exposed to phthalates and EDCs [endocrine-disrupting chemicals] when they seek medical treatment," the representatives wrote in a letter to acting Food and Drug Administration chief Dr. Janet Woodcock. "It's also not something parents should worry about when their infant is receiving critical treatment in the neonatal intensive care unit." </p><p> The Congresswomen called on the FDA to create a "senior level" working group to do three things: </p><ol class="ee-ol"><li>Review and update FDA guidelines on the use of phthalates and other hormone-hijacking chemicals in IV bags and other medical equipment; </li><li>Identify and recommend rules needed to protect patients from toxics exposure in medical products; and </li><li>Establish an education program to build "clinician awareness" of the risks of using medical devices with toxic additives like DEHP. </li></ol><p> "The time for action on this health risk is long overdue," the lawmakers said.</p>
<p class=""><em>Download a copy of the letter here: </em></p><p class="pdf-loader"><a href="https://roar-assets-auto.rbl.ms/documents/8190/Letter%20to%20FDA%20about%20DEHP%20IV%20Bags.pdf" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="88be32bc56823b7197570f4a44ea94e9">Letter to FDA about DEHP IV Bags.pdf</a></p><p><em>Banner photo by <a href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/martinlabar/2230004679" target="_blank">Martin LaBar/flickr</a></em></p>
Evidence of DEHP harm to reproduction, fertility<p>Manufacturers add phthalates like DEHP to plastic products to increase flexibility and reduce brittleness. Some medical products such as IV bags and tubing can contain up to 40 percent DEHP by weight, according to an <a href="https://noharm-uscanada.org/documents/polyvinyl-chloride-health-care-rationale-choosing-alternatives" target="_blank">analysis</a> by Health Care Without Harm.</p><p>Those additives leach to varying degrees from medical devices. DEHP is particularly problematic, as extensive research suggests exposures during critical periods of development can interfere with testosterone production and disrupt normal male reproductive development.</p><p>The European Union considers DEHP a reproductive toxicant and an endocrine disruptor; rules developed in 2017 require risk-benefit analysis before phthalates like DEHP can be used in medical devices.</p><p>California has declared DEHP a reproductive and developmental toxicant and a carcinogen and advises patients to request DEHP-free devices when seeking medical care.</p><h3><em>Related: <a href="https://www.ehn.org/endocrine-disruptors-in-medicine-2646307813.html" target="_blank">The danger of hormone-mimicking chemicals in medical devices and meds</a></em></h3><p>Meanwhile the FDA hasn't updated its rules since 2002, when it recommended health care providers "consider" alternatives to DEHP when treating high-risk patients.</p><p>That needs to change, the lawmakers say.</p><p>"Despite these findings and the growing body of evidence that has confirmed earlier research and identified additional risks of adverse health effects on vulnerable patients, there has been minimal progress in the U.S. over the last 20 years in reducing the use of DEHP in medical devices," the lawmakers said.</p><p>"It is time for a reckoning in the healthcare community to address our role in exposing patients to potentially harmful chemicals."</p>
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