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(fwd) CDC & NIH Join in Testing Exposure of Americans to Env. Estrogens..

  National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences
    Monday, November 24, 1997
    7:00 AM Eastern Time
  NIEHS contact:
  Bill Grigg
  (919) 541-2605
  Tom Hawkins
  919) 541-1402
  CDC contact:
  Charlis Thompson
  404) 639-3286
                                                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
  exposure to
                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
  public health
                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,
  mirex, lindane,
                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
  exposure to
                each of the chemicals and help us set priorities for the
  studies done
                in the National Toxicology Program. Comparing the levels with
                health and toxicity data, we should be able to determine if
  some of
                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