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(fwd) CDC & NIH Join in Testing Exposure of Americans to Env. Estrogens..
NATIONAL INSTITUTES OF HEALTH
National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences
EMBARGOED FOR RELEASE
Monday, November 24, 1997
7:00 AM Eastern Time
CDC and NIH Join in Testing
Exposure of Americans to Environmental Estrogens and Other
NIH's National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences and the
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's National Center for
Environmental Health have launched a study of blood and urine
samples to determine the amount of exposure that Americans have
to environmental estrogens.
In sufficient amounts, these chemicals can act like the female
hormone estrogen. Although the effects of any exposure are
some scientists have suggested that environmental estrogens might
be reducing sperm counts in men and causing breast cancer,
and other reproductive diseases in women. At present, scientists
know little about which of the environmental estrogens people are
exposed to and how much exposure they have. The study underway by
NIH and CDC will address these questions.
Richard J. Jackson, M.D., director of CDC's National Center for
Environmental Health, said, "This kind of assessment of
environmental estrogens is absolutely critical to the
credible assessment of potential health risk from these compounds.
The study builds on CDC's longstanding expertise in measuring
substances in people's blood and urine and is a valuable
collaboration with NIEHS."
Kenneth Olden, Ph.D.,director of both NIEHS and the National
Toxicology Program, which is headquartered at NIEHS, said, "The
study will help us develop priorities for studying the potential
adverse health effects of exposure to environmental estrogens. We
hope this kind of collaboration will be expanded in the future to
address many other toxic substances that we know or suspect cause
cancer, reproductive, and other health effects."
The NIEHS and NTP are providing $2.1 million to CDC to measure
approximately 50 environmental estrogens in 200 persons to
determine levels of exposure to the population. CDC and NIEHS will
jointly agree on the final list of environmental estrogens to be
measured in people. Among the more familiar chemicals that will be
tested for are: insecticides such as arsenic, dieldrin,
parathion and DDT and its metabolites; herbicides such as 2,4-D,
alachlor and atrazine; nematocides such as aldicarb; fungicides,
plant and fungal estrogens, and industrial chemicals such as
cadmium, lead, mercury, PCBs and dioxins. CDC will use existing
analytical methods for blood and urine to measure most of the
chemicals and develop new analytical methods to measure 10 to 20
of the environmental estrogens.
The coordinator for this research for NIEHS and NTP, George
Ph.D., said, "This project will give us an idea of human
each of the chemicals and help us set priorities for the
in the National Toxicology Program. Comparing the levels with
health and toxicity data, we should be able to determine if
the higher exposures we find are linked to increased incidences of
By measuring chemicals in people's blood and urine, scientists can
determine what chemicals Americans are being exposed to, how
much exposure is occurring to each chemical, what population
are at high risk of excessive exposure, and whether interventions
aimed at reducing exposure to a chemical have actually been
effective and reduced the chemical level in people.
For example, blood lead measurements obtained as part of the
National Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys conducted by
CDC's National Center for Health Statistics have documented a more
than 78% reduction in lead in the U.S. population, since
99.8% of lead
has been removed from gasoline and lead is no longer used in food
and drink cans in the U.S. Similar assessments could be made for
other toxic substances to determine whether the U.S. populations'
exposure is increasing or decreasing. This exposure information
helps prioritize public health efforts in environmental health and
direct toxicologic research towards exposures of most health